Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who Are You?

In the pursuit of my studies this past two weeks I have been caught up with the question of identity. Who are we talking about? Who are they? Who are you? Who am I? Well at age 72 I well should know who I am and what I am?

It was WWII and I was in public school in New Jersey and from 1941 to 1945 each child was issued “dog tags” with our names and other identifying information. This was of course to identify us if we were killed in a bombing. A “P” identified me as a Protestant. From my very early beginnings I had a religious identity.

What brought this WWII event to mind is the identity crisis that the signers of ‘An Evangelical Manifesto’ seem to have. “We must reaffirm our identity.” I am not unsympathetic to their predicament; it is just that I have not had a need to reaffirm my identity.

As a believer in Christ I am called a Christian. I do not particularly like the word “evangelical” as it is an overlay. Evangelical makes me feel like I have been painted over, that is I am a Christian with a coat of something hiding my identity.

If I needed to reaffirm my identity where would I go, where would my identity, Christian, be affirmed?

I find references in the Book of Hebrews. Christians are they whom:
(1) God has forgiven their sins (10:17; 8:12)
(2) God has cleansed their consciences (9:14; 10:22)
(3) God has written his laws on their hearts (8:10; 10:16)
(4) God is producing holiness of life in them (2:11; 10:14; 13:21)
(5) God has given them an unshakable kingdom (12:28)
(6) God is pleased with them (11; 13:16, 21)
(7) They have faith (4:3; 6:12; 10:22, 38, 39; 12:2; 13:7; etc.)
(8) They have hope (6:11, 18; 7:19; 10:23)
(9) They have love (6:10; 10:33-34; 13:1)
(10) They worship and pray (12:28; 13:15; 4:16; 10:22)
(11) They obey God (5:9; 10:36; 12:10, 11, 14)
(12) They persevere (3:6, 14; 6:11; 10:23)
(13) They enter God’s rest (4:3, 11)
(14) They know God (8:11)
(15) They are God’s house, his children, and his people (3:6; 2:10, 13; 8:10)
(16) They share in Christ (3:14)
(17) They will receive future salvation (1:14; 7:25; 5:9; 9:28). Storm

It is great to read these assurances. Yes, call me a Christian. I know however that to be called “Christian” I must walk the walk of a Christian. So, I believe there is a need to reaffirm my walk.
That surely is as important as who I am.

Pray for those brothers and sisters who struggle with their identity and their walk, it is no small matter.

(Col 3:1-4) If however you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at God's right hand. Give your minds to the things that are above, not to the things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears--He is our true Life--then you also will appear with Him in glory. Weymouth Translation


Coffee Snob said...

When I read the Manifesto, I see something different in their "need to reaffirm our identity." I see it as a need to RECLAIM their identity - specifically to reclaim the definition of the world "evangelical." Seems to me - and apparently to the signers as well - that the word has been hijacked and redefined. Wherever we see the term in the media these days, it refers to the policially conservative, politically active, the "religious right." As I see the Manifesto, it is an attempt to reclaim the "evangel" - the good news - aspect of the term evangelical.

Putting words into the mouths (and pens) of the signers, the word "evangelical" must be yanked out of the hands of the religious right. It is not a political word, it is a religious word first and foremost.

Or have I completely misread the Manifesto?

Eutychus said...

Good point Coffee Snob. I know from reading the names of signers their passion to "define themselves according to the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth" and that is important. I am not unsympathetic to their predicament, but I am sceptical as to the lateness of their stand. I mentioned before that I believe a fair hearing is necessary.
I admit that it would be better to undertand the word Evangelical as religious, rather than politcal. But it seems that too is a point of the past. The damage is done, will this damage control work?

Jim said...

I really appreciated the Hebrews survey on identity, Eutychus.

CS, I think you're right on in assessing their goals. I think the signers of the document were a bit too ambitious, if only in the name chosen for their document. It seemed to suggest an all-encompassing statement of who evangelicals are, yet the document spent a great deal of thunder on distinction between evangelicals and a particular political party. That's important to say, but it hardly amounts to a "manifesto." If only they had named it something less grandiose. If anything, the document served as a revealer of the media's inability to process what they were being told. Right away, CNN published a story with a headline asking if this was a sign that Christians are more open to the Democratic Party in this election. The media can't seem to get it through their heads that Christianity is something other than a raw socio-political conquest. Although I can't blame them too much, given the way prominent Christians have preached the need to "take back America for Christ."

Raffi Shahinian said...

I had to do it. Andrew’s call at TSK compelled me.

A POST-EVANGELICAL MANIFESTO is now up and awaiting comment, criticism, or, more probably, to be blown out of the water.

Grace and Peace,
Raffi Shahinian
Parables of a Prodigal World