What Needs Reform in American Religion Today?

Thabiti

On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, The Washington Post asked a diverse group of faith leaders the following question: “What do you think needs reforming in the practice of religion in the United States today?”

Here is a taste:

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of the Anacostia River Church in Washington, author and member of the Gospel Coalition, a group of leading American evangelical pastors

Evangelicalism, to be viable in a world of increasing conflict, will need to overhaul its understanding and practice of biblical justice.

The movement needs a reformation in its commitment to the poor, vulnerable, marginalized and oppressed. It needs to admit and repent any complicity in and indifference to oppression. God does not accept the “worship” of His people when they participate in oppression and injustice. Any religious movement that oppresses or mocks the poor insults its Maker.

Evangelicalism has been ethically compromised since George Whitefield, considered a founder of the movement in the 1700s, decided he could acceptably run an orphanage while using slaves. Evangelicalism has been theologically compromised since Jonathan Edwards, another major 1700s evangelical figure, decided to defend the revivals but not defend the release of Africans.

From its inception, in the example of its greatest figures, conservative Protestant Christianity has suffered a catastrophic inconsistency that comes from its willingness to divide the gospel message from the gospel life, to divide body and soul, indeed, to exploit the bodies of some while claiming to care for their souls. That sawing asunder of doctrine and duty continues to this day. We have yet to see evangelicalism “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” and “to practice the weightier matters of the law: mercy and justice and faithfulness.”

The movement still needs to learn that our Lord “desires mercy rather than sacrifice.” Until we see continued reform around biblical justice among professing evangelicals, the struggle continues.

Read the rest here.