I just started a new venture. Recovering Evangelical (RE) is a new website started by Christopher LaTondresse and several others who have been a little disillusioned and disappointed by the way Evangelicalism has developed. I was asked by my friend Andrew Ulasich to write in two short articles a month in the Misplaced Jesus category. Below is a description of RE’s vision.
Jesus opened his public ministry with an inaugural address in his hometown synagogue. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, he said “The spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” Throughout the gospels, these two words, “good news”, are rooted in the Greek word “evangel”. Many forget that Jesus’ use of this word is the source of the contemporary word “evangelism”—i.e. public witness about the “good news” or “gospel”—a fundamental feature of the evangelical movement in America from the 19th century big-tent revivals of Charles Finney to the 20th century stadium crusades of Billy Graham.These insights offer both an encouragement and a call to our generation.
Firstly, at its most basic level, if the gospel is not good news to poor people—those whoJesus called “the least of these” 2—it may be the gospel of American evangelicalism, but it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, the often forgotten history of American evangelicalism includes abolitionists (like Charles Finney), champions for Women’s Suffrage (like Elizabeth Cady Stanton), founders of soup kitchens and homeless shelters (like the Salvation Army) 3 and opponents of nuclear weapons (Billy Graham once called them “sinful”).
To this end, the goal of the Recovering Evangelical movement is not to rescue evangelicalism or institutional Christianity in America, per se. At least not as we know it. Rather, it is a generational call to return to the heart of Jesus’ inaugural vision—his Nazareth Manifesto—where he ﬁrst used the word “evangel” and then went on to model it with his life. Furthermore, Recovering Evangelical challenges our generation to rediscover the ways in which the American church has been faithful to this call in the past, as a means of discovering clues for addressing our current dilemma; and to mobilize our generation to faithfully live out this calling. Meanwhile, we need to repent of the ways in which our parent’s generation—and, yes, our own generation—has failed to live up to Jesus’ life and teachings. Togetherwe need to learn from the mistakes of the past in order to forge a better future together. The good news is that many of us are already taking up this mantle.
Recovering Evangelical believes there’s still something inherently redemptive and transformational about Jesus’ vision for the world; that even broken things can be restored, renovated or reformed—starting with the very best of what our generation has to offer.Jesus once said the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed: small, inconspicuous and easy to ignore. However, given time, it grows into something that cannot go unnoticed. Like yeast in a batch of dough, this Kingdom is a catalyst that transforms the whole from the inside out; from the bottom up.Embracing this vision, Recovering Evangelical takes Jesus at his word. We are starting a revolution. We are creating the new normal. We seek nothing less than to change the image of what it means to follow Jesus in America, connecting those who are already living out this vision and inviting others to observe and participate in the some of the wildly redemptive ways our generation is changing the world. Just as Jesus used stories to provoke, teach and inspire, Recovering Evangelical will seek out the brightest lights and rising stars of our generation and lift them up as parables of God’s hope in action. We will identify, recruit and empower these young leaders—offering a platform, increasing the visibility of their work, connecting them to one another, and sustaining a movement of like-minded peers committed to helping each other shape the future of what it means to follow Jesus in America.
I may not agree with everything written on the site (which is the collaboration of a variety of writers), but that is one of the reason’s I am really excited. I don’t believe any of us believe we have a cornerstone on truth (although we believe what we are saying is true), rather we all have a deep conviction that conversation can help truth rise within a society that is so convoluted by both relevancy and fundamentalism. Essentially, we embrace that truth is messy.
Writing for RE not going to take away from my writing for Urban Faith, rather it is an addition and different angle. Plus the audiences for both website are different. Urban Faith is mainly African-American (though not wholly) and probably has a wide age or readership than RE which is a site targeted at younger individuals and perhaps those who have a wider variety of theological belief.
If you haven’t read my first post on Hip-Hop you should jump on it. Here