Generous Orthodoxy  

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Liberal evangelicals, speak up!

Today on our local NPR station, WNYC (a staple of my existence), our extraordinarily intelligent and even-handed moderator, Brian Lehrer, interviewed the former Israeli government spokesman Zev Chafets, who has just published a book about Jews and evangelicals called A Match Made in Heaven. Chafets, a secular Jew who obviously relishes controversy, is warmly disposed toward so-called evangelical Christians because of their solid support of the state of Israel. In the interview, however, both Lehrer and Chafets show how little they know about any evangelicals other than the Tim Lahayes and Pat Robertsons. Chafets stated, with an air of great authority, that most Jews have never met an evangelical. His point was meant to be benevolent, demonstrating that evangelicals have gotten a bad rap from Jews. However, for evangelicals like myself with numerous Jewish friends and conversation partners, this narrow definition of biblical Christianity is endlessly frustrating. Not only frustrating, but inimical to the gospel.

I have tried, in conversation with Jewish acquaintances, to introduce the subject of the evangelical Left. But I am only one person. Unless more evangelicals of a politically left-leaning persuasion (or even a rightish but culturally hip orientation) speak up, forthrightly claiming the term evangelical, this disastrous misperception is going to continue to dominate all the discussion.