Jonathan is a faith and culture writer who has published over 300 articles in respected outlets such as USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, BeliefNet, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet (2010), which Publisher's Weekly called "a must-read for churchgoers," and the forthcoming A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars (April 2012). As a respected Christian voice, he has been interviewed by ABC World News, NPR, CNN, PBS, Fox News, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The New Shape of Christian Political Engagement
Intro: Liberty & Falwell
* Critque of Jerry Falwell's understanding of christianity and politics.
What change is happening to politics?
History: 1950 respect of church and change of public policy "high tide of civil religion"; 1960 & 1970 the shock - civil rights, vietnam war, sexual revolution, hollywood, religiously treatening orthodoxy. First afteshock - preach on moral decline, moral majority, participate in politics...to take back America for Jesus. Second aftershock - evaluation of the relious right and left. Young ppl leaving the church. Too involved in religous culture wars. Hemmoraging from the inside. Image problem by outsiders. Reasons - us vs. Them mentality.
There are some that stick to stay. These young christians are new in three ways. The older generation:
* Last generation was highly partisan. Tied religion and politics.
* Focused on a narrow agenda.
* They were also divisive.
* Broad agenda
* Civil - partner and achieve with common ground issue.
The new shape is at this nexus. This generation has a desire to live their faith. Live out what we believe. To be courageous and humble.
Thoughts: it was clear that Merritt knew his stuff and was well-read. There was a point in the talk where he would rip off 5-6 book titles and proceed to quote them all. I personally appreciated his walk through the historical concept of how we got to where we're at. It seemed like he wanted to communicate that this generation of Christians are different than what its been in the past. And the approach of evangelism has shifted. He's right. It's the summary of "UnChristian" by Kinnaman and a flurry of emerging and anti-emerging church books. Everyone knows that things have shifted but the solution is different depending on who you talk to. At the end of his talk, i was left with questions like:
- What does this look like?
- Live like what? What do you mean by Christian?
- Did he caricature a few opinions in order to make his case?
Things have changed in evangelical america. The methods of the religious right and liberal left are not adequate for our day in age. We need to balance holding on to truth but also understand the context in which we live. I would suggest the following books as resources:
- "To Change the World" by Hunter
- "The Gospel Commission" by Horton
- "Living Christianly" by Morrow