Evangelicals and Public Relations

(Dennis Fuller) #1

Skeptics that I meet do not respect evangelical Protestants, and I think I know why. In my discussions in-person or online, the non-Christian questions both the intelligence and the cultural sophistication of Evangelicals, and they will frequently point to a scandal-ridden TV evangelist to support their stereotype. Non-Christians, in my experience, will not abandon this stereotype when one quotes Scripture regarding false prophets or lists Christian intellectuals that the unbeliever has never heard of. I believe that we should concede that there are problems with prominent ministries and the Christian community needs to do more to protect its public reputation.

However, whenever I share my concerns about our public reputation with fellow Christians, they seem disinterested. They either dismiss our having any actual reputation problems, or they will point out that Jesus was unpopular. Yes, Jesus was unpopular, but for the right reasons. Meanwhile, a health-and-wealth evangelist who had been bankrupted by previous scandals, is back on television selling tiny vials of spring water and promising all sorts of miracles for his patrons.

Am I missing something here, or should we do more to distinguish ourselves from the bad actors within the Christian community?

(SeanO) #2

@Dennis_Fuller I think that rather than worrying about peoples’ opinion of the term evangelical the best thing to do is simply claim the name of Christ and, as Paul said, be a ‘living letter’ to everyone we encounter. That way we change peoples’ perspective of Christians one person at a time by the way we love them and one another. We’ll never be able to get rid of all the religious frauds, but we can be an example of Christ’s love to those in our circle of influence. I linked an article from Christianity Today with some interesting data on the term ‘evangelical’ and an instructive example of a Pastor who only uses that term around those who understand what it truly means. I think it has some good food for thought.

What are your thoughts about the article? I believe it is a little dated, but still relevant.

2 Corinthians 3:3 - You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

“I still employ the term evangelical within academic circles, but I avoid the term elsewhere,” one Evangelical Free Church pastor admitted.

Ultimately, evangelical Christians might do well not to spend too much time worrying about what others think of us. Christians in general, and evangelical Christians in particular (depending on how you ask the question), are well-regarded in this country. If nothing else, there’s little we can do to change other people’s opinions anyway. Telling ourselves over and over that others don’t like us is not only inaccurate, it also potentially hinders the very faith that we seek to advance.

(Keldon Scott) #3

I understand what you are saying and there is truth to the concern. But, where do we draw the line? Do we distinguish ourselves from evangelicals, the historical church, the Old Testament anecdotes, other Denominational differences? I think that @SeanO makes really good points. In addition, I think if we do a better job associating ourselves with Jesus rather than worrying about what the skeptic tries to stereotype we have a better chance of staying on topic and task. Conceding the abuses due to the depravity of man is appropriate. But I think those abuses are not biblical so having the skeptic turned to the actual biblical provision rather than the abuses of it would be a good diversion for them. God-bless your journey and me the Lord give you provision of understanding.

(Dennis Fuller) #4

Thanks for your response, Sean. I’m on this site sporadically given my work demands, hence the delayed response. I would describe myself as an Evangelical inasmuch as I’m a conservative and understand that proselytizing the faith, sharing the message salvation through Christ, is our cardinal duty. If that is why the world despises us, so be it. The article gives me hope that maybe we are losing popularity for the right reasons. Consider the new abortion law that passed in New York today. We increasingly find ourselves among people who will not abide objective morality or any group, Evangelicals among them, that champion objective moral values and duties.

(Dennis Fuller) #5

Thanks, Keldon. One reason why I am passionate about apologetics is that it affords us the opportunity to demonstrate our intellectual mettle. I’m thankful for you and Sean. Keep defending the faith.