The Question That Will Define Us
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by Rolley Haggard
Dave: Hey Norm, what’s the correct pronunciation of the word “evangelical”? Is it “EVV-angelical,” or “EEV-angelical”? Long E or short E?
Norm: Long E.
Dave: So, “EEV-angelical,” right?
Dave: You sound pretty sure of yourself.
Norm: I am pretty sure of myself.
Dave: Oh? And how can you be so sure yours is the correct pronunciation? I’ve heard it used both ways.
Norm: Because I know the theology behind it.
Dave: Theology? What’s theology got to do with the way you pronounce “evangelical”?
Norm: Simple. Using my pronunciation, if you take the “angelic” out of “evangelical,” phonetically speaking, what does that leave?
Norm: I rest my case.
[Author’s note: A halo each for “Dave” and “Norm” if the interaction above registers Honorable Mention in WikiLeaks’ heavenly counterpart.]
* * *
The point of that little squib is to introduce an observation regarding American evangelical Christianity: It has lost the angelic. Or, to borrow language from Mark Twain, reports of its moral demise have been greatly understated.
Permit me, myself an evangelical, to explain.
Visualize for a moment, if you will, objectivity. To that end, imagine you are an alien come to earth for the first time. Being of vastly superior intellectual capability, you assess in mere moments the entire catalog of recorded human knowledge.
Being, furthermore, an unbiased and highly rational creature, you reach accurate, definitive conclusions on certain things that, sadly, the majority of mankind is still quibbling—in many cases, warring—over, even after centuries of opportunities to “get it right.”
One of the more important conclusions you reach is that Christianity is true, and that while there are varying degrees of truth and enlightenment to be found in some of the other religions, Christianity, by dint of possessing from the Creator-Redeemer Himself an infallible and inerrant written revelation called the Bible, is uniquely qualified to be properly described as “the one true faith.”
So far, so good.
But then you make a disturbing observation. Those who call themselves “Christians” by and large look quite different from what you would expect. Not all, of course, but the great majority. The problem is this: Though they say they believe the Bible and love Jesus Christ, they live lives wholly out of character with what an objective and unbiased observer, like you, would expect.
You ponder this. You note that Christianity concedes that even those whom the Bible calls “saints” are still in a very real sense merely “splendid sinners” who have been forgiven and are gradually being made holy. So a certain—even in some instances a significant—amount of sin and unfaithfulness is to be expected and should not be considered especially inconsistent.
However, the deviation you have observed is wildly off-the-charts. What you have observed is moral dissonance orders of magnitude beyond anything you would have expected. Indeed, in comparing your findings with data from a mere couple generations prior, you discover that today’s Christianity is astonishingly comparable to the ultimate complicity with the very epitome of evil: the German church’s unwillingness to speak out against the wholesale genocide of Jews in the Third Reich.
What you see today is a “Christianity” just like that, standing by largely silent and apathetic as the surrounding culture slaughters its children on the altar of convenience, in numbers more common to astronomical calculations than to homicide reports or even to death tallies from world wars.
The “bride of Christ,” you note with irony, vastly more resembles the unfaithful wife willing to compromise herself for enjoyment’s sake, than the honorable woman determined at all costs to be true to a Husband characterized by unselfish sacrificial love. This wayward bride, you reflect, is every bit as accepting (in practice) of a “final solution” to the irksome impositions of unwanted human beings as were her Teutonic predecessors, with this single, trivial difference: All her victims are fetuses.
Your objective assessment kicks into high gear. You ask, “What would true Christianity look like in a culture that thus kills its children? Would it look like this? Would it have on its hands the blood of 56 million aborted people—blood that was shed with its tacit permission, its implicit approval, its effective complicity?”
You remark to yourself that the Christians of this present generation could have spoken up, but they didn’t.
They could have regularly and passionately preached against this horrific evil, but they didn’t.
They could have prayed and marched and held vigils day and night, but they didn’t.
They could have voted and lobbied and advocated and cried aloud without ceasing, but they didn’t.
They could have written letters and held signs and stood outside abortion clinics day in and day out, but they didn’t.
They could have made it clear to their elected leaders, their neighbors, and perhaps most importantly to themselves, that here is an unspeakably great evil that cannot, that must not be tolerated. But they didn’t. By and large they didn’t.
And by their not doing what they could have done about this great evil, they committed an even greater evil, because they knew better than to let it happen and they let it happen anyway. They gave sanction to it by their silence. As a direct result of their not doing what they could have done and should have done, year after year for 40 years, 56 million utterly helpless human beings created in the image of God were murdered in cold blood with virtually no opposition and scarcely a second thought.
You are stunned with disbelief.
You glance at your watch. You’re already late for responsibilities on the other side of the galaxy. You must go.
As Earth recedes, you survey the contemporary religious landscape one last time. One last time, you consider the monolithic question that will define this generation:
“What does Christianity look like in a culture that kills its children?”
The answer comes thundering back to you, the Objective Observer (as indeed it must to any honest, objective observer):
“Not like this.”
* * *
Folks, it’s time we put the “angelic” back into “evangelical”. Not to do so is to relegate ourselves to the wrong side of history. Again. And for that there’s literally hell to pay.
* * *
When Judah’s Lion comes to fetch His cubs
And finds them lying slain upon the lap
Of her who, pleasure-drunk with other loves,
Abandoned wifely bed and mother’s pap
To sate her soul with selfish dalliance
Disdaining fetuses for phalluses
And faithfulness for filthy prurience,
Bethink you He will brook her pretenses?
No; He will roar with purpose terrible
And freeze with justice quick her lust-hot blood
For crimes against His babes unbearable
And nuptial acts as treacherous as lewd;
And Hell’s ironic sneer will mock her death
As, fetal-like, she slumps beneath His wrath.
Rolley Haggard is a feature writer for BreakPoint. Reprinted with permission.