For the Health of the Nation (Part 1 of 9)
In 2004 the National Association of Evangelicals released the groundbreaking document For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility. This historic document outlines seven different areas of concern for Evangelicals engaged in politics. We are taking nine weeks to highlight the importance of this document for our readers.
The importance of For the Health of the Nation for the Evangelical community can certainly not be underestimated. While the prominence of the Religious Right dominated all discussions of Evangelicals and politics for decades, the reality was that, in some cases, Evangelicals do have a much broader concern than the traditional go-to issues of abortion and gay-marriage. Following a rich, philosophical introduction, the document lists seven issues that the Bible demands Christians be concerned about. And while marriage and the sanctity of life play a prominent role–thereby appeasing the Right–they are certainly not the only focus. Creation care, promoting peace, and taking care of the poor and vulnerable also attracts those on the Left.
At the same time, dividing the seven areas of concern into camps of left or right misses the point of the NAE’s efforts. As Christians come closer to a truly biblical political agenda, the concept of left or right should fade. The question when approaching a political issue shouldn’t be, “what does my ideology tell me to believe about this?”, but rather, “what does the Bible teach about this issue?” As the document itself states:
Evangelicals may not always agree about policy, but we realize that we have many callings and commitments in common: commitments to the protection and well-being of families and children, of the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the unborn, of the persecuted and oppressed, and of the rest of the created order.
As we spend the following eight weeks looking into this document, let me encourage you to be open-minded, to listen to the biblical arguments for the issues, especially when it is something that goes against your current political philosophy. By engaging this discussion we hope that it will help promote a spirit of unity within the Church, and also broaden our agenda to a more inclusive and robust political involvement.