February 10, 2008

More Jesus

I recently emailed a few people about my spiritually moving experience at the most recent PsalmWriters event. As I compared that experience of contemporary & traditional, personal piety & social justice, with my experiences at seminary--I found myself wanting more Jesus from Candler. The other night my cup was overflowing; at Candler my spiritual vitality is usually sucked out of me. It's not that extreme, but you know what I mean.

During the last couple of years I have tried to hold evangelism and social action together. I'm apart of the Candler Evangelical Society and the Social Concerns Network. But at Candler it seems like Jesus only represents why we should care about the poor and work for justice. When it comes to Jesus being someone who we should tell the world about and someone who is intimate with humanity, liberals cover their ears and cringe.

As evangelicals broaden their social agenda, I wonder if more liberal institutions might get left in the dust. Nicholas Kristof recently wrote, “Today, many evangelicals are powerful internationalists and humanitarians — and liberals haven’t awakened to the transformation.” (NY Times) In an article about his new book, Jim Wallis, one of the catalysts of this transformation, argues that “the evangelical community is changing dramatically to include issues such as poverty and pandemic diseases, environmental care and climate change, trafficking and human rights, genocide, war and peace.”

I realize Candler does do many things, after all we hosted Jim Wallis last year. And its students are making a difference in Atlanta and in the world; but isn’t there much more we could be doing? Might a greater evangelical witness, an emphasis on personal holiness, and more Jesus in our seminary result in more faithful Christians leading more faithful ministries?

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