Are Martin Luther King Jr and Pat Robertson both Evangelicals?

August 1, 2012 — Leave a comment
Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr.

In these hot-house times, nothing  seems to grow with greater distaste in liberal circles then the label, “evangelical Christian.”

The  “evangelical” marker  has become almost synonymous with a fire-breathing, judgmental, teeth-clenching horror.

That’s, in part,because evangelicals have come to be associated over the last 25 years with blowhards.

Bodies were still being recovered from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti when Pat Robertson said the country was struck because it made a “pact with the devil.”

And just two weeks ago, as we are still trying to cope with the Aurora atrocity, Jerry Newcombe , a spokesman for the evangelical group Truth In Action  let the world’s mourners know that some of the Aurora victims were going to hell.
Now everyone is having a field day with fast food chicken.
God should be suing these guys for defamation.
Partly because of such self-righteousness, the entire evangelical movement is often pilloried among progressives as reactionary, myopic, anti-intellectual and, ironic as it may be, immoral.

The term evangelical has its  roots in the Greek word for “gospel” or “good news“. In that sense, to be an evangelical  means to be a believer of the Gospel, therefore, the message of Jesus Christ. At the risk of over simplification and a charge of arrogance, I want to argue that the Evangelical faith is nothing more or other than the historic Christian faith.

By that definition, both Pat Robertson and Martin Luther King Jr. would be considered evangelical. They both believe in the original , biblical, apostolic faith.

Yet it  seems to me that the greatest need in evangelism today is the humility to let God be God.

Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson

Neither Jerry Newcombe  nor  Pat Robertson should be interpreting the signs of natural disaster or human-induced  cataclysm. That’s God’s world. Even Jesus deferred to his Father when he said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even…the son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

Jesus did not respond to the religious. He loved His church but he didn’t like religion,  nor those Pharisees.

The motive any evangelical should have is  to concern him or herself for the glory of God, not the glory of the church or his or her own human glory. Nor is it within the right of any man, not even an evangelical (who is Bible-centered) to pass judgement as God in cataclysmic times.

The evangelical message is the gospel of God, as given by Christ and his apostles, not the traditions of men or our own opinions.

Centuries ago, serious religious study was  demanding and rigorous; in contrast, anyone could declare himself a scientist and go in the business of, say, alchemy.

These days, it’s the reverse. A PHD in chemistry is a rigorous degree, while a preacher can explain the Bible on television without mastering Hebrew or Greek — or even showing interest in the nuances of the original texts.

Those self-appointed evangelical leaders come across as hypocrites, monetizing Jesus rather than emulating him. Many who claim to be “pro-life” seem little concerned with human life post-uterus. Those are the preachers who win headlines, but also disdain.

Time: Urging  Biblical Literacy

Time: Urging Biblical Literacy

At the same time there are evangelicals  who are disproportionately likely to donate part of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More importantly, like Martin Luther King Jr., they go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape,  sex trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people we will ever  meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics) who truly live their faith.

It saddens and sickens me to see how men use the Bible for their own glory.

Why does any of this matter?

Because  people of faith  and secular humanists  alike do fantastic work on humanitarian issues. Unfortunately, they often don’t work together because of mutual suspicions. If we could bridge this perception issue,   we would make far more progress on the world’s ills.

What is the number one “keyword” in the  Bible?  “Love”.  I do  not know how many thousands of times it is mentioned.

We Evangelicals don’t seem to lead with it.

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