taking the words of Jesus seriously

Editor’s note: Five powerful and diverse evangelical voices came together in a first-ever “National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics” (Aug. 6, Facebook Live), moderated by Lisa Sharon Harper, to bravely start the conversation Evangelicals need to have in this consequential year for our nation: Charles Robinson from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma works with The Red Road, a non-profit that shares the love of Jesus with native people in a culturally relevant and biblically sound way. Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, is Fuller Seminary’s assistant professor of Integral Mission and Transformational Development in the school of Intercultural Studies and Centro Latino. Rev. Justin Adour is lead pastor of Redeemer East Harlem Church in New York City. Kyle J. Howard is a theologian and trauma-informed soul care provider. Andrea Lucado is a journalist and an author based in Texas. Everyone except Andrea is an Evangelical of color. What follows is the last of our 8-part series based on the National Town Hall, concluding with an important Call-to-Action for every reader. 

Evangelicals have been manipulated by one party for the past 40 years because in all that time, we’ve never actually talked about the wedge issues that drive us apart. Our inaction has allowed cancer to take over this part of this evangelical piece of the Body of Christ. It’s allowed whole denominations to be born to protect slavery and Jim Crow. Our panelists take on the fundamental question: What needs to change in the way that Evangelicals disciple, to ensure that our politics are being guided by the principles of our faith and not the reverse?

Kyle: I think it is extremely important that other Evangelicals understand that right now there is a rise of a false religion within your mix, called Christian Nationalism. It’s “God is not Christ, but God is this nation”, a religion of idolatry that is causing many of you to sacrifice your brother and sisters on the altar of power and political expediency. You must understand that the Gospel is about the cosmic reconciliation and reunification of all things under Christ. And what that means is you are not a citizen of this world, but you are a citizen in the Kingdom of God, and your priority is to advance human flourishing and light in this world. If you sacrifice that for political expediency, or for social power, you’re going to lose all of that, your own faith family, and your faith. So stay fast and hold fast to the reality that this kingdom is not your world, but you are from another world, and push forth with light rather than darkness.

Justin: For me, honor of Christ far exceeds any political party that we may align ourselves with winning. It is more important that we maintain our Christian witness and the honor of Christ in the way that we vote. That might mean different things to progressives and conservatives, but the way that we vote often dishonors Christ and undermines the witness and credibility of the church. There are alternatives to being co-opted by particular political parties. Honoring Christ and continuing to be a proper witness in the world means more than your political party winning. And so this whole lesser of two evils argument, I think, is absolute nonsense.

Alexia: There’s no perfect political party and I don’t know why we think there would be. At every juncture, we have to decide who is more reflective of the deepest values of our faith. Who reminds us more of Psalm 72. That’s a very personal decision, but we’re not even asking the question most of the time. We need to ask that question. It’s like testimony for us to live according to the answer.

READ: A Prayer for the King

Andrea: I think when it comes to this discipleship question and the Evangelical church, I think I worshiped and heard about a white Jesus for a long time. The Jesus that I’m coming to know now is much more radical, a Palestinian Jewish man who was oppressed and part of the minority group under Roman rule. I think that the context of Christ, the way that you teach who he was, is crucial. He’s not someone who just said, “Ask me into your heart. Have some quiet times until you go to heaven.” He’s someone who really made a change where he was, and his love was sacrificial. If that’s the Jesus that we teach, especially in my Evangelical spaces, that would be a game-changer for the way people view politics, for the way people view how change should be done in our country.

Charles: Manipulation of the gospel and Christians comes from both sides of the aisle. Jesus is not a political party. It’s about how you live in your life. It’s about how you’re treating people. The Declaration of Independence claims that all men are created equal. Well, back then we know what “all men” really meant. It was white land-owning males. Today, if we really want to change what the word “all” means, we’ve got to love people who don’t look like us. We’ve got to reach out to people who don’t vote like us. We’ve got to be a part of people’s lives. We’ve got to “discover common ground.” with other people. That’s where we’re going to make a difference, when you grow a community with people who are not like yourself.

Postscript: A Call to Conversation

If you were inspired by these voices, please lift up your own. Let’s have and continue this conversation. Let’s hear from each other. Please go to the comments section on our Facebook Live Town Hall feed and share the principles of our faith that matter to you when determining how you think we should be living together. Make your own video statement about the kind of politics that you are looking for, and the way we should be living together in the world. Make sure you use the hashtag, #evangelicalvote. Let us know if you’re interested in doing an op-ed in your local newspaper. We will help you with that. Write to us at [email protected]. However you reach out, we will respond. Look for more opportunities to walk together on Freedom Road.

Now go mail-in your vote! 

God bless you.

The National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics was convened by Freedom Road LLC in partnership with Evangelicals for Justice, The Voices Project, Global Immersion Project and Evangelicals for Social Action. Follow Freedom Road on Facebook and Instagram @FreedomRoadUs.

About The Author

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Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of Freedom Road, LLC, and the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed, "The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right." Asked why she does what she does, Lisa's answer is clear: “So that the church might be worthy of the moniker ‘Bride of Christ.'" Through preaching, writing, training, network development, and public witness, Lisa—an Auburn Senior Fellow—engages the church in the work of justice and peacemaking. She was named “#5 of the Top 13 Women to Watch in 2012” by the Center for American Progress and was awarded the 2013 Faith and Justice Leadership Award by the National Black Women’s Round Table. She formerly served as the Chief Church Engagement Officer at Sojourners.

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