(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

The “Christian Left“, for lack of a better name, seems to be very handy in coming out against historic Evangelicalism.  While not looking to specifically include politics in our discussion, it’s really a false dichotomy to exclude it outright because much of our faith get’s lived out every day in what we call – “politics”.  This Presidential election appears to be no different with groups such as RED LETTER CHRISTIANS with TONY CAMPOLO and folks like JIM WALLIS, and JEN HATMAKER to name a few.

Common themes such as ABORTION and HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (and today, various other GENDER issues) are used to clobber Evangelical Christians during every election by both the secular society and other Christians (Progressives, Liberal, Left-Leaning, Emerging, Missional….etc.).  I think it needs to be said very clearly that Christians should not retreat from the ABORTION, HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE debate.  If Evangelicals (and to differing degrees Roman Catholics) don’t raise these issues, NOBODY else will.  This issues inolve important aspects of the life that God has given us.  Scripture speaks clearly on the importance of families, life, relationship…..etc.  Instead of cowering when Millenial Christians or Emerging Church Christians proudly criticize Evangelicals for holding to these views on these hot-button issues, we should remind folks of how important these issue are in God’s eyes.  We should be more concerned with that as opposed to wanting favor from society by becoming more like society instead of changing society.

In an interview with CP, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy said the RED LETTER CHRISTIANS movement’s interpretative reasoning was “destructive and dangerous because it implies the whole of Scripture is less than reliable and that modern individuals in one culture can singularly reinterpret or reject historic Christian ethical teaching without counsel of universal Church.”

“So a few words from Jesus supposedly mandate unlimited welfare state, opposition to military, gun abolition, etc.,” said Tooley. “Meanwhile, too often historic Church teachings about abortion on homosexuality are dismissed because Jesus did not specifically address it. But Jesus did talk about marriage – but evidently not enough to convince liberals.  Jesus didn’t talk about incest but does that make incest ok?  Of course not.

Another example of the Christian Left includes a recent interview between Christian author, public speaker and reality-TV personality JEN HATMAKER and Religion News Services discussing her perspective on the 2016 presidential election, included a discussion of her views on homosexuality, abortion, and Black Lives Matter with the implied connection to what so-called  “Evangelicals” believe today.

Derryck Green of Juicy Ecumenism makes several good points in summarizing her views.  Some of Green’s main points include several important observation about how those who associate with the Christian Left can characterize political discussions.  It is important to realize these characteristics because many Christians (especially among young adults) fall for their reasoning without realizing the contradictions inherent to their points as well as the opposite view taken by most Evangelicals before them.

With regard to the Presidential election, Green identifies problems with both major party candidates.  Green goes on to say that “there is very little internal disagreement about the moral conflict of supporting Hillary Clinton in light of her repeated and predictable tendency of systematic corruption and dishonesty. Many on the Christian Left have simply rationalized and compartmentalized Clinton’s unrestricted character flaws- not so much as the lesser of two evils (though there is some of that)- as a political and moral obligation to support her. By default, they also support other progressive social policies of the Left.”

In the interview with HATMAKER —it is not difficult to realize that there are many half-truths and straw man positions— Hatmaker began by addressing and glossing over Hillary Clinton’s wretched character, admitting that she’s still open to voting for Clinton come November.  She criticizes Donald Trump’s behavior as unfit for the presidency.  

But she quickly goes on to overgeneralize those who support Donald Trump – describing them as anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalists and white supremacists. This is just a regurgitation by those on the Left to denigrate those who support Trump and deceive those who are undecided.  It’s not that there are those who support these beliefs within the Trump camp, but let’s remember that there are those who hold to many different kinds of controversial beliefs in both the Clinton and Grump camps. This election, more so than others, has seen an explosion of biased coverage and ad-hominem attacks by many – especially by those on the Left.

Green states that  – “I think it’s a mistake to dismiss and unfairly generalize those, Christians included, who reject this kind of disgraceful racial populism, but still maintain support for Donald Trump.

Hatmaker then discussed her free-thinking views on gay marriage and LGBT community. For most of us,  it’s not surprising what she believes with respect to this issue. She says,”

Any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends… Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.

Green rightly concludes that it’s not about choosing whom to love. “That has never been the issue. People are free to choose whom to love without restriction.  It’s about reinventing marriage as a social justice concept.  Moreover, marriage isn’t a “civil right,” or a “liberty,” nor is it found in the Constitution. No one, gay or straight, had the “right” to marry until the Supreme Court created one specifically for gays and lesbians……And what about the civil rights of Christians who’ve experienced discrimination because of this newfound LGBTQIA “right”?”

Hatmaker follows that approach with the Supreme court.  She wants the church to accommodate gay/lesbian Christians with special considerations but the contradiction arises that the church doesn’t treat other people and issues in the same fashion.  For some reason, the church today has bought into either being convinced or being accommodating or being intimidated into catering to gay/lesbian issues. Should we as Christians excuse sin, twist our theology and blatantly go against God’s word and his design for marriage in order to exhibit religious compassion to the gay/lesbian community?  “Like many other groups the church is defined by orthodoxy, designated by what it believes just as it’s defined by what it doesn’t.”

Hatmaker goes on to explain her understanding of what it means to be pro-life.  Oh boy, hang on to your hats.  

She states that “my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion… pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic… has expanded.” (ya think?)

“There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby.” (really?)

Green rightly concludes that Hatmaker is using caricatures that are commonly used as an artificial talking point of the Left to deliberately malign Christians unfairly.  This discredits her.  She uses the artificial talking points from the left.

Hatmaker uses the superficial talking points of the Left to malign and deride fellow religious pro-lifers. It’s inappropriate, especially for a Christian.  Green asks – “Additionally, what pro-lifer/anti-abortion Christian is against helping poor single moms? Or supporting programs to help those in need (rather than grifters who seek personal gain through exploitation)? Jen Hatmaker lied about pro-life anti-abortion Christians presumably because they disagree with an expansive and corrupt welfare state that encourages dependency and compromises human dignity.”

Greem states – “A question raised is what does being “pro-refugee” mean? Sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything because Hatmaker doesn’t define it in real terms.  Same with her being “pro-Muslim”? What does that mean, exactly? Supporting all Muslims, even the ones who believe it’s Allah’s will to maim and kill nonbelievers and all those who refuse to submit to specific religious convictions?”

Hatmaker finishes by highlighting her racial justice cred, saying she supports Black Lives Matter based on “evidence and documented research.” She also voices concern over the potential (inevitable) treatment of her adopted black son by police in the future.

Green concludes –

“The church is AWOL on racial unity and reconciliation and it has outsourced its moral obligation to lead onto racial and social justice warriors. But no Christian should support Black Lives Matter. Period. It’s a movement methodically based on lies and deliberately diverts attention away from more pressing issues that would actually establish that black lives matter.”  As for evidence and research, both completely undermine the foundation Black Lives Matter is built on. And she would know this if she actually looked it up rather than trying to be right on all the right issues.

These positions are intellectually dishonest and intensely foolish. I’m not sure what happened to Jen Hatmaker but this exemplifies the shameful quality of thought on the Religious Left. Religious Progressives should follow the lead of their evangelical brethren and divorce themselves from progressive politics to salvage what’s left of their credibility.”

There is much disagreement today in both the political arena and within Evangelicalism.  We can’t ignore the political issues at our doorstep with our responsibility to participate in our free country that his contributed so much to spreading the Gospel around the world.  But the heart of these issues of contention are spiritual and not just political. As some move away from the Great Commission to carry out their version of what is basically the “social Gospel”, we risk moving away from one of the last command given by Jesus while on the earth.  His commandment was given to Christians in the NT Church – “go out and make disciples”.  Moving away from what Jesus commanded us to do can happen by denigrating the authority of God’s word. Once we do that, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, the church will continue to slide further away from God, the further we move away from God’s word.

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