Centrist Organization Spotlight: The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
One of our key beliefs at FaithfulPolitics.org is that a holistically biblical approach to politics will not fall only on the right or left of the political spectrum, but rather, somewhere in the center. For the next few weeks we will be promoting organizations that demonstrate a commitment to centrist politics.
The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good was formed a little over a year ago by David Gushee, Rich Cizik, and Steven Martin. Cizik had recently been forced to resign from his position at the National Association of Evangelicals for comments he made about gay marriage, but the truth was that he had long been on thin ice for his vocal advocacy for the environment, something that did not sit well with many of the NAE’s constituents. Gushee, an ethics professor at Mercer University, made a profound contribution to centrist politics with his book, The Future of Faith in American Politics (you can read our review here). Martin is a pastor and documentary filmmaker.
The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) says in their mission statement that they “exist to advance human well-being as an expression of our love for Jesus Christ, which is itself a grateful response to his love for us and for a good but suffering world.” Their vision statement is filled with what may be termed evangelism through political engagement. The NEP asserts that Christians’ witness has been badly damaged by our partisan and worldly political engagement, and that by seeking to promote the common good, we will bring more into a saving relationship with Christ, certainly an accurate diagnosis and worthy goal. They also state that their agenda is “holistic rather than narrowly focused.” The issues they single out include what is traditionally seen as left leaning (poverty, environment, human rights) and right leaning (sanctity of life, family).
The NEP should certainly be commended for attempting to return an ethos of evangelism to political engagement, and their vision statement points to a good start for centrist politics. Unfortunately, however, in their first year of existence the NEP has been little more than another Evangelical leftist organization. They tip their hat to centrism, but their advocacy lies solely on the left. Creation care, ending torture, nuclear disarmament, hospital visitation rights for homosexuals, and social justice are all good, biblical positions, but focusing only on these issues–as the NEP has done–does not make them centrist. Let us pray that as the NEP continues to mature and develop that they will return to their founding vision, and promote a holistically biblical vision in the public square.