Joel Hunter and the New Evangelicals
“We’re at a watershed in our history,” Joel Hunter told New Yorker writer Frances FitzGerald. “What has passed for an ‘evangelical’ up to now is a stereotype created by the people with the loudest voices. But there’s a whole constituency out there that it doesn’t apply to. Now something is happening. You can feel it like the force of a tsunami under the water.”
Hunter, who has been described as a leader among those tagged as New Evangelicals, will open the Adventist Forum Conference “Christians in the Public Square” Sept. 26-28 in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
Writing about “The New Evangelicals” in the June 30 issue of the New Yorker, Fitzgerald says that “the religious-right activists are no longer the only evangelical leaders peaking out. Since 2004, influential pastors and the heads of many large faith organizations have set a new national-policy agenda, one founded on their understanding of the life of Jesus and his ministry to the poor, the outcast, and the peacemakers. The movement has no single charismatic leader, no institutional center, and no specific goals. It doesn’t even have a name. But it is nonetheless posing the first major challenge to the religious right in a quarter of a century.
“Dr. Joel C. Hunter, the senior pastor of Northland: A Church Distributed in Orlando, Florida, who every week preaches to ten thousand people in his church and through the Internet, is one of the new leaders. . . He has worked with a group of evangelicals and secular progressives to try to establish common ground on such polarizing issues as abortion and the role of religion in public life.”
At the Forum Conference, Hunter will be speaking about the role of the congregation in the public square. At Northland, he emphasizes the need to serve the community as a whole. Members of his socially-engaged congregation say, “It’s not a church that wants to gather you in with the people of the same mind-set.” Lori Droppers told the New Yorker, “He pushed us out (into the community). . . .Sometimes I do long for the ‘holy huddle,’ but it’s the right thing to do.”
After reading the New Yorker article, I am really looking forward to the September Forum Conference. And I invite you to join us for what promises to be a lively weekend.
And in the meantime, what do you think about the Evangelical community in 2008? Is it changing? Do you see Adventists as an active part of it?
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