Younger Christian leaders are picking new causes; many are joining the Obama bandwagon as it crosses America, and their elders are not impressed.
"Who in the next generation will be willing to take the heat, when it's so much safer and more comfortable to avoid controversial subjects?" asked James Dobson of Focus on the Family at the National Religious Broadcasters conference.
With the evangelical leaders who fought against abortion -- and for protection of the institution of marriage -- now retiring and dying, a void is beginning to appear. Just like a little wooden boat floating downstream, many evangelical Christians are adrift in new swift currents of a "social gospel."
Respected researcher Berit Kjos aptly explains the changes: "God calls us to serve the poor and fills our hearts with love for the needy. That's why His true followers around the world have willingly given their lives to share His truth and love in perilous places. But today's world-centered church illustrates a different kind of service. Designed to please man rather than God, it trains its servers to hide the 'offensive' truths of the gospel."
"Like Rick Warren," Kjos says, "it uses the Bible to validate its purposes but emphasizes organizational behavior rather than Biblical beliefs -- in short, deeds instead of creeds. Behind its noble appearance hides a postmodern version of the century-old 'Christian Socialism.'"
Evidence of this is the emphasis on problems in Africa/AIDS and the virtual abandoning of the more controversial right-to-life issues. A seismic shift is occurring, from battling the secular culture to seeking safe ground from difficult issues. These younger evangelical leaders crave "respectability" and they seek approval from wider society and secular media. They are heading for much safer territory where one is less likely to step on toes or cause offense for speaking the truth.
Liberal writer Tom Krattenmaker likes the change. Krattenmaker, a self-described "non-evangelical progressive religion writer from the People's Republic of Portland (OR)" was pleasantly surprised when visiting the evangelical sports ministry Athletes in Action. AIA is a division of Campus Crusade for Christ, founded by conservative Bill Bright, who died in 2003.
Krattenmaker wrote: "If a larger pattern can be drawn from my recent perception-changing journey to one of the great bastions of conservative evangelicalism, the walls of division are not as formidable as culture warriors might like us to believe. They might even be shrinking."