Living Faithfully in a Pluralistic Culture

Bethany Jenkins | November 17, 2014

Several weeks ago, Michael Gerson argued that evangelicals ought to be more introspective about how they engage culture. Citing a recent study showing that many evangelical millennials are turning away from “the embattled, political subculture of their parents,” he explained, “A desperate, angry, apocalyptic tone of social engagement alienates many people, including some of the children of those who practice it.”

For the most part, I agree with him. I, too, think “a purely reactive model of politics is not attractive, even internally.” Yet this advice is incomplete and insufficient:
There is an alternative. A commitment to civility, rooted in respect for universal human dignity. A passion for the common good, defined by inclusion of the most vulnerable. A belief in institutional religious freedom and pluralism for the benefit of everyone, including non-Christian faiths. 
Gerson tells us to commit, to care, to believe—acts that when driven by mere moralism will inevitably lead to failure, frustration, and exhaustion. If we want the freedom and courage to serve, not condemn others in a pluralistic culture, we need more than advice calling us to pursue the common good. We need the power to lay down our lives.

Calling and Assignment

One of…

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