After spending thirty years in the wilderness the "Christian left" is making its voice heard. From Washington, DC to Dallas, Texas, large conferences have been held in an attempt to politically mobilize these "progressive" Christians. Much can be said about this burgeoning movement, and much will be said in the coming months.
For now, let's start with this: as fellow believers, we should not be afraid to engage the evangelical left's ideas in a spirit of love. It would be a mistake, as we begin this dialogue, to view these men and women as "political enemies" rather than fellow members of the body of Christ. From the outset, we should insist that our discussions be grounded in our mutual love of Christ rather than our differing political commitments. Let Christ be the foundation upon which we all stand.
Many liberal evangelicals claim that the church, in its political thinking, has neglected a major aspect of Christ's concern: the poor and vulnerable. Their most cherished phrase is "social justice", and they say we conservatives have neglected it. Again, let's not dismiss this criticism out of hand. As I have written in the past, the Bible is unequivocal about our responsibility toward the poor. As Christians, we should not be shy about discussing our responsibility toward the "least of these," and we should think creatively about different ways in which we can serve them.
On the other hand, we are not simply talking about the responsibility of the church, but we are debating the role of government in crafting public policy solutions. As conservatives and liberals, we doubtless will find that our solutions to problems differ. When those substantial differences arise, it is the perfect opportunity to practice Christian charity as we calmly and thoughtfully explain the reasons for our differences. In the partisan and divisive political atmosphere of Washington, DC, let the whole world see how the Christians love each other despite their differences. Let the whole world see how we reason together, mutually striving to know the Truth in all things.