Hard to “evangelize” when you continually alienate

By John D. Pierce

Having long ago left most traces of my earlier Southern Baptist identity, I have little interest in the denominational workings that were once part of my life.

Also, I resist commenting (usually) on their antics — including their annual summer meeting, which I attended for many years. It’s just all so irrelevant to my life and faith now.

But headlines pop up and I can’t help but notice how denominational leaders are always  — year after year, decade after decade  — proclaiming that their problems (both self-inflicted and the result of cultural realities) will be solved through increased “evangelism.” That is again the pulpit-pounding response — this time to the loss of more than a million members.

From the very root of the word to the core of its purpose evangelism is, or should be, the faithful act of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ — long a central practice of fervent believers.

But here’s the problem: the news coming from Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelical Christians is rarely good.

Their headline-making actions usually have nothing to do with Jesus, but rather are self-serving, politicized efforts to gain government influence, the relegation of women to secondary status, condemnations of gay and lesbian persons as well as others considered moral outcasts, and internal debates over whether their preferred political leader who reflects none of the values their churches have long taught their children should be greeted with a loose hug or full-mouth kiss.

Therefore, the call to “evangelism” rings hollow when rooted in contradiction and alienation. It can only serve to recruit others who seek religious justification for attitudes and actions Jesus never embraced.

How about some good news for a change?

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