Author and Christian leader Lance Ford believes that there are some major perception problems facing evangelicals, claiming that believers today have become more known for what they oppose than for what they actually stand for.
But rather than frame Christians as mere victims, Ford, whose new book "Revangelical," focuses on this very subject, said that Bible-believers, themselves, bear part of the blame for the negative stereotypes that surround modern-day evangelicalism.
"Although I believe there are many more evangelicals that are gentle, forgiving, and gracious than those who are not, there are a lot of folks in our camp that seem to have missed the essence and m.o. of Jesus and his gospel," he recently told TheBlaze. "We have become identified with political agendas, culture wars, and religious-centered demands that leave non-Christians shaking their heads and dismissing Christianity altogether."
Ford said that many nonbelievers see Christians as lacking compassion and understanding, citing both research and recent articles that he says prove that evangelicals are many times viewed as "harsh, judgmental, compassionless [and] homophobic."
He argued that stunning statistics — among them the notion that only 3 percent of non-Christian 20-30-year-old Americans hold a favorable view of evangelicals — should "send shockwaves through the leadership community of our churches."
But perception isn't the only challenge facing evangelicals today. Ford believes that the faithful need to realize that "Christendom is over in America" and that believers "don't hold home field advantage anymore," as the nation has diversified on both the religion and culture fronts.
"Theologically speaking, this means the church is in more of an exile state than an empire state. The church doesn’t get to set the rules for culture in America anymore" he said. "Blue laws are gone. Prime time television is filled with images, ideas, and language that would never reach the airwaves just a couple of decades ago."
In addition to acknowledging this paradigm shift, Ford, who called upon Christians to relearn the gospel, said that it is essential for believers to remember that their faith should come before anything else — a principle that he believes many Christians have failed to adhere to.
"To a significant level, patriotism, party affiliation, and national interests have shaped evangelical Christian thinking to the degree that it nullifies and trumps our identity as ambassadors and agents of what the Bible calls, a 'holy nation,'" he said.
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Rather than looking at the answers to the world's problems as being rooted in the realm of conservatism or liberalism — or even socialism or capitalism — Ford said that the antidote can truly be found when exploring what it means to live biblically.
"We must relearn the Amazing Grace of God," he said. "Do we continue to work for political solutions? Absolutely. But while we do that we still move forward in compassion and mercy. Jesus’s grace always trumps what caused the problem in the first place."
Ford told TheBlaze that he wrote "Revangelical," because he believes that Christianity still "carries the hope of the world." He's said that hoping to inspire people to challenge themselves and to put their faith before anything else.
"Somewhere along the way the gospel has been reduced to a message about life after death, that speaks too little to our human condition," he said. "Get your head and your heart into the head and heart of Jesus — and while you are doing that, get to know the 'others.' Find a way to develop relationships with those you have felt anger, judgment, or even hatred toward."
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