Happy Election Day. I hope you’ve exercised a privilege known to precious few people in human history: voting. I did, much as I was confused by who to vote for in the local soil conservation race. To think I prided myself on being politically engaged as a Christian.
While we’re on this topic (of voting, not the Louisville-area soil conservation race), please check out Jessica Prol’s stimulating essay on “Young Evangelicals, Common Ground, and the New Social Witness.” Jessica is a bright light in the burgeoning project that is the new evangelical social witness. Here’s what she had to say yesterday about fighting evil in this fallen world and being an evangelical witness in meaningful, if sometimes small, ways:
We are the Facebook generation—trying to be faithful and relevant amidst the clutter of an active Twitter feed and 24/7 news cycle. We may know more about the world’s events and needs than did our parents at our age. But I suggest that we are also more distracted and fragmented. In this dizzying swirl of information and “friendships” we run the risk of detaching ourselves from authentic—in-the-flesh communities. We are tempted to find our own churches, families, and neighborhoods too small for our grand ideas.
What is at least one way we respond to a call like this? By, well, voting. Vote with your conscience on fire, to strike a light in the dark, to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Give special attention to religious liberty, the preservation of marriage and the fight for children in the womb. And consider this helpful piece by Eric Teetsel, referenced by Jessica in her essay.
I suggest that the rising generation of Christians, regardless of political affiliation, should place a higher priority on individual relationships, hidden faithfulness, and commitment to a local body of believers. God has used his people—like William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King—to organize great social resistance to social evils. But it is the paradox of the Christian life: God often uses individuals who are prepared to be small, hidden, faithful, and accountable to other believers. We may be called to wrestle with monumental injustice, but we will be most effective when we remain attentive to the challenges at our doorstep and the efforts already being made to alleviate such problems.
Young evangelicals are just picking up steam in constructing a new means of social witness, which definitely looks to have the three prongs just mentioned as a crucial part of its program. Keep your eyes peeled. This is exciting to see. The coffee pot is most definitely “on,” and it is brewing.
By the way, a helpful book on Christian economic and societal engagement has just appeared. It’s by my Boyce College faculty colleague Chad Brand, and it’s entitled Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer on Work, Economics, and Civic Stewardship (Christian’s Library Press, 2012). No less a reputable institution than the Acton Institute is responsible for bringing this volume to print (I don’t yet have a hard link to Amazon for the book–here are Chad’s thoughts on these texts). Acton tracked Chad down and urged him to write this primer. It’s part of a much larger project he’s coauthored on a theology and history of work. I’m eager to get my hands on that one, too.