Dozens of leaders from prominant evangelical seminaries, churches and organizations will meet next Monday and Tuesday at Wheaton College in Illinois to discuss the future of evangelicalism in light of the Donald Trump presidency.
“It is an attempt to try and show how we should be thinking in such a way that our theology is what is the central concern versus our political commitments,” Darrell Bock, executive director of cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary and one of the organizers of the invite-only meeting, told The Christian Post.
Around 50 evangelical scholars, pastors and activists will attend next week’s meeting. As first reported by The Washington Post, attendees will reportedly include prominent figures like bestselling author and pastor Tim Keller and New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard.
The meeting will also include a number of center-left Christian leaders and those who have publicly expressed displeasure with President Trump.
Among those reportedly scheduled to participate are Fuller Seminary President Mark Labberton, former Wesleyan Church General Superintendent Jo Anne Lyon, North Carolina Bishop Claude Alexander, Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer, Harold Smith of Christianity Today, World Relief’s Jenny Yang and Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Bock said those attending will be “mostly national leaders,” and that there will also be at least one leader representing every continent in the world.
The meeting comes at a time in which some feel the public perception of the term “evangelical” has become distorted and has taken on more of a political meaning rather than its theological one.
According to the National Association of Evangelicals, the term “evangelical” classifies all Christians regardless of political beliefs who believe in four basic truths:
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
With there having been massive amounts of media attention in the last two years on Trump’s support from white evangelicals and the engagement of white evangelical leaders with the administration, some are concerned that those who don’t know the theological definition of the term may generally think of evangelicals as being pro-Trump Christians.
While next week’s discussion will try not to focus on Trump and politics, organizer Doug Birdsall, honorary chair of the Lausanne movement of evangelicals, told The Washington Post that Trump will be the “elephant in the room.”
“When you Google evangelicals, you get Trump,” Birdsall was quoted as saying. “When people say what does it mean to be an evangelical, people don’t say evangelism or the Gospel. There’s a grotesque caricature of what it means to be an evangelical.”
Bock said that while there is a schedule with certain presenters, the meeting will largely “proceed as a conversation.”
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Source: Christian Post