If you want to know one of the things that I believe is most desperately wrong with present-day evangelical Protestant-dom, the post which I wish to direct your attention to today will lay it all out for you.
Rush Limbaugh has been one of the leading voices in all of conservative politics for the last two decades. He is passionate about America, about the need to defeat liberals and to rescue America by returning to conservative values. Much of what he upholds are values which our distinctively Christian message drives us to uphold as well. But if you look closely, you will find that there is nothing distinctively Christian in his message. By his own admission, he believes in the Christian God–as far as that goes. But the kind of God that you would glean from his message is a God who is for America, opposed to the policies of liberals, and all in favor of capitalism, limited government, freedom, democracy, and the pursuit of what we would call the American Dream.
And yet this is the archetype of the typical Christian disciple in many, many places in evangelical Protestant-dom nowadays. Michael Spencer refers to this phenomenon as the “Limbaugh-ization” of evangelicals.
The problem is that we in evangelical Protestant-dom have overidentified ourselves with the culture war for the last two to three decades. The result of all this is that we have produced a generation of believers who can tell you spot on what they believe in regard to abortion and gay marriage primarily, and perhaps on secondary issues such as gun control, capital punishment, immigration, etc. They can tell you how their positions on all these issues tie in with their belief in God. They MAY (if you’re lucky) be able to tie their positions on these issues to some sort of Biblical basis. But when it comes to articulating anything remotely resembling the historic Christian faith in regards to such distinctive Christian doctrines as the creation, the fall, the Gospel, the authority of Scripture, the church, the Kingdom of God and the lordship of Christ–good luck. Not gonna happen.
I voted for Obama in the previous election cycle. My vote was largely motivated by protest against the culture war emphasis in evangelical Protestant-dom. What got me was that so many evangelicals were so fixated upon the issues of abortion and gay marriage, and so dead set against Obama because of his opposition to our position on those issues, that they were willing to completely and totally overlook the fact that their guy had no semblance of a distinctive message whatsoever–except “Don’t vote for Obama because…”.
The Church of Jesus Christ is NOT some voting bloc to be mobilized at will for the sake of the conservative political cause/candidate du jour. I feel an intense revulsion towards those culture war types who have such a low view of the Church that they think our purpose is nothing more than to support or promote their agenda, whatever it may be. The mainline Protestant denominations couldn’t get away with this; they are now hemorrhaging members because of their insistence upon being wed to a liberal political agenda. Evangelical Protestant-dom is only a couple of decades away from a similar fate if it continues to insist upon being wed to a conservative political agenda–or any agenda other than that of the historic Christian faith.