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5/08/2009

POLITICS, POWER & PRIDE: How American Evangelicals Lost the Culture War and the Way Forward From Here

Evangelicals may finally be realizing that political activism is not the path to preserving the Christian character and culture of America. After 30 years of the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition and the religious right, America, last November, elected what are probably the most liberal president and congress in its history. Since that time 5 states have legalized homosexual marriage and others are poised to follow suit. Chuck Schumer, the influential, liberal senator from New York, gleefully declared that, “All this talk about family and traditional values is a thing of the past.” In the midst of all this, Dr. James Dobson, whom many would consider the most prominent voice of the religious right, solemnly announced, “We (evangelical Christians) have lost the culture war.”

Although this turn of events is disturbing for evangelical Christians, this could be the starting point for a national awakening unto God; but only if we admit our failures and turn from the notion that we can change America by our own efforts, political or otherwise.
We (Evangelicals) Have Been Wrong
Please understand that I am not suggesting that we should not be good citizens and participate in the political process; nor am I suggesting that God does not call some to civil service and statesmanship. But I am convinced that evangelical Christians in America crossed the line in trying to change America through political activism. We thought that if we could get enough Christians elected to Congress and elect a Christian president that we would preserve our Christian culture and heritage. Instead, politics, power and pride became characteristic of American evangelicalism, rather than prayer, compassion, humility and spiritual power. We forgot that America has a history of Spiritual awakenings and that this “revival heritage” has been the preserving force of our Christian culture.
God Will Not Ride in on Either an Elephant or a Donkey
Hopefully, some are beginning to realize that God’s purposes for America will not be realized through a political process or political party. As Dr. Tony Evans once said, “God will not ride into our midst on either an elephant (symbol of the Republican party) or a donkey (symbol of the Democrat party).”

In seeking a political solution to our spiritual problems we, as evangelical Christians, identified ourselves with a particular political party and, thereby, alienated ourselves from over half of the American populace. This is not good! Neither Jesus nor the earliest Christians identified themselves with any of the many political parties that were operative in their day; but, instead, preached a transcendent government or kingdom of God that would transform individuals (and thereby society) from within. We need to take a closer look at the New Testament in this area and adjust our thinking accordingly.
Let’s Remember Our Revival Heritage
Spiritual awakenings are an intrinsic part of American history. They are a vital part of who we are as a people. Perry Miller, the late professor of church history at Harvard University, said that the Declaration of Independence of 1776 was a direct result of the preaching of the evangelists of the First Great Awakening. Awakenings such as the First Great Awakening (1726-1750), the Second Great Awakening (1801-1840) and the great Prayer Revival of 1858 have preserved the Christian character of American culture at crucial times in our history. These were not religious excitements generated by the fleshly machinations of professional revivalists, but divine visitations in answer to the fervent, faith-filled prayers of God’s people.
It’s Time For Repentance & Change in the Church
America is in dire need of another national awakening. Such an awakening cannot be organized or strategized by skillful religious marketeers. Such awakenings are conceived in the womb of prayer and given birth through the absolute trust and simple obedience of God’s people.
If evangelical Christians are ready to admit that political activism is not the way to change America, this could be the beginning of our finest hour. If we will repent for our politics, for seeking power and for pride and call out to God with all our hearts, there is no reason why God will not answer with another national Spiritual awakening.
A Prayer For Spiritual Awakening
Here is a prayer that I offer for Spiritual awakening in this hour; and I pray that individuals and groups throughout America will begin to pray prayers such as this.

Oh LORD God, we come to You in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that we have missed the mark in all our efforts to save this nation. We repent of self-reliance and pride, and for imagining that we could make a difference in this nation by our own human efforts and through a mere political process. Oh LORD, we acknowledge that only you can change the heart of this nation and restore to it the fear and honor that belongs to You alone. We pray today that you will turn our hearts to you. Send the fire of your presence, power and love once again to this nation. We pray for another Great Awakening!

For an overview of Spiritual awakenings in America (and the world), see my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, available at www.amazon.com or www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.