By Jan Markell
The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, isn't surprised that many young evangelicals are moving to the left politically. He states, "There is a sense among younger evangelicals that the conservative movement has gained a bad reputation as being against things rather than for them." Mohler continues, "I think the younger generation of evangelicals looks at a lot of older evangelicals and says, 'You just don't get it. You're not connecting with the issues. You're too happy, too consumerist, and too materialistic. You're living in an evangelical subculture."
Younger Christians who might be a part of the Emergent movement, which is quite in line with the "Religious Left," have been seriously influenced by such leaders as Brian McLaren, Tony Campollo, Jim Wallis, and a host of others. And the bottom line is that the under-30 generation could be casting a deciding vote this coming November.
Dr. James Dobson says, "With evangelical leaders who fought against abortion and for protection of the institution of marriage now retiring or passing away, a void is starting to appear. Just like a little wooden boat floating downstream, many evangelical Christians are adrift in new swift currents of a 'social gospel."
Researcher and author Berit Kjos suggests that there is now an emphasis on deeds instead of creeds. She suggests that behind its noble appearance hides a post-modern version of "Christian Socialism," which many of these young people have bought into. They are more world-centered and perhaps less Word-centered.
Their focus is not that of their parents' generation. This generation is not bound by anything the "Christian Right" may have focused on. They primarily want to think about caring for the planet and the poor, and will vote accordingly in November. And based on every political analysis, that age group will be turning out in record numbers in November as they did for the primary election. It seems to matter little what denomination they might claim. The more socially minded leaders they follow, be they Emergent or the "Religious Left," have convinced them that it is all right to set aside issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage and replace those with ridding Africa of AIDS. This cannot be ignored.
Conservatives are not against helping the sick and needy; however, they also will not abandon the defenseless unborn to the grinder of modern secular abortion mills. The "Christian Right" will remain more concerned about "spiritual poverty" and biblical illiteracy. But neither side has a lock on morality or anything else.
It remains to be seen if these young people who are Emergent Church enthusiasts or followers of the pied pipers of the "Religious Left" will actually solve the problems for which they have a burden. One has to wonder if the post-modern generation even has a grasp on what true Socialism is and its failure around the globe upon masses of people. To hear some of their leaders talk, today's religious conservatives should hang their head in shame for the sin of neglect of . . . you fill in the blank.
Change is in the wind, and the Emergent Church and "Religious Left" have done an incredible job of marketing their social gospel and have changed the face of evangelicalism whether conservatives like it or not.
In the 1990s my home state of Minnesota elected a buffoon of a Governor named Jesse Ventura. We paid a steep price for that, and he sailed into office on the vote of the under-30 generation. If the post-moderns have their way in November, a similar result is guaranteed as they sweep the Left into office. McLaren, Campollo, Wallis, and associates have paved the way for them and made the grass look much greener on the other side of conservatism. But thanks to the Fall in the Garden, every square foot of grass on either side is full of weeds, and there is really no panacea for the world's desperate problems except for the Lord's return.
That does not mean that until that time some of the issues being raised should not be attended to. But expectations should be kept relatively low. And no matter what administration rides into the White House on January 20, 2009, much of the glowing campaign rhetoric will fizzle out as man is not the problem solver nor is bigger government. The only solution is the government that is upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).
But the answer to the original question is "yes," the Emergent Church has left a permanent footprint on the landscape of the Western world and will likely sooner rather than later even sway foreign policy. Sadly, nine out of ten Christians cannot tell you what the Emergent Church is, so taking marching orders from their questionable leaders it grows larger by the day.
Learn more about the Emergent movement at our Web site and the category of "Spiritual Deception."