Socially Minded Christianity

Socially Minded ChristianityFor the growing number of evangelical Christians who are disillusioned by the culture-war rhetoric of the Christian Right, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) is reframing the evangelical response to social justice issues. A faith-based nonprofit, the NEP serves as a rallying point for what they dub “the New Evangelicals,” Christians who adhere to orthodox theology but identify with a social progressive agenda.

The NEP and the Christian Right share the same traditional evangelical beliefs—belief in the authority of scripture as God’s Word, the virgin birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, the call to be born again and the command to share the good news. However, the NEP has positioned itself as an alternative to what it characterizes as the partisan and ideological culture-war of the Christian Right, best known for its allegiance to the Republican Party and their signature opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

In response to the culture-war they say has damaged the Christian witness and produced a gridlock instead of solutions, the NEP has cast a distinctly different vision for evangelical Christians—a renewed public witness with a different strategy and approach to effect change.

The strategy
The NEP is working to mobilize the growing constituency of New Evangelicals around important social justice issues and refocus evangelical Christianity back on the “evangel”—the good news about Jesus—something co-founder Richard Cizik feels has been obscured by the dogmatism of the Christian Right.

They distinguish their strategy from that of the Christian Right with two key principles. First, they are bridge-builders readily aligning themselves with partners outside of evangelical circles for the common good. Secondly, they are involved in public policy advocacy, but independent and not aligned with any one political party.

“We want to see a renewed Christian public witness in America for the sake of the Gospel. We want to see an engagement of Christians in American public life that is loving rather than angry; holistic rather than narrowly focused; healing rather than divisive; and independent of partisanship and ideology rather than subservient to party or ideology,” says Richard Cizik.
The issues

The NEP champions issues traditionally given low priority by the Christian Right such as nuclear disarmament and inter-faith dialogue. In some cases, they take an entirely different position, for example, advocating for affordable access to contraceptives and affirming human-caused global warming.

Nuclear disarmament
The NEP seeks to broaden the definition of “sanctity of life issues” by advocating for nuclear disarmament. They believe that evangelical Christians should lead the way in building a moral consensus around America’s leading role in nuclear disarmament. “To do so, America’s evangelicals must learn to see nuclear weapons as perhaps the ultimate sanctity of life issue, and respond accordingly,” they say.

Muslim-Christian dialogue
The NEP actively promotes interfaith dialogue, particularly between Muslims and Christians. “The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony…‘our eternal souls’ are at stake as well,” they say.

Creation care
The NEP believes that human-caused climate change (global warming) is real. They are deeply concerned about the impact of climate change on the world, but particularly on the poor. Through political advocacy and strategic partnerships and initiatives, they are committed to addressing climate change.

Human rights
The NEP is deeply concerned about human rights around the globe and actively promotes human rights for the marginalized. One of their more unique positions is their strong denouncement of U.S.-sponsored torture. They also advocate for humane treatment of detainees and investigations of abuse.

The dialogue
In 2012, the NEP published The New Evangelical Manifesto, a series of essays casting a vision for the New Evangelical movement. The first section covers the background and theology behind the movement in detail. A second section of essays explore how we can love our neighbors and who our neighbors are, covering topics like sex trafficking, feminism and Muslim relations. The final section of essays proposes evangelical positions on various hot-button issues including the death penalty, nuclear weapons, abortion and consumerism.

The NEP promotes dialogue about the intersection of faith and social justice through “Uncommon Voices”—a series of progressive blogs from Christian thinkers and activists. Many of these bloggers are also part of the NEP’s speaker’s bureau which offers expert speakers on topics including: “What are the ‘New Evangelicals’,” “Femmevangelical: Women & the Church,” “Islam 101: What you’re not hearing in the current debate” and “The Twin Apocalypses of Climate Change and Nuclear Disarmament.”

You can find additional information about the NEP and their positions on their website and Facebook page. They also accept donations, offer email updates and suggest other ways you can get involved.

Keri is a freelance writer from Charlotte, NC. She blogs regularly at keriwilliams.wordpress.com.

 

Tags:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.