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Christians must utilize storytelling, persuasiveness and courage to engage hostile culture: scholar

Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson speaks at a Heritage Foundation panel discussion on the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling in Washington, D.C. on June 30, 2015. |

Amid an increasingly hostile political culture, scholar Ryan Anderson is urging Christians to utilize the power of storytelling while demonstrating courage and persuasiveness. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, the newly-appointed president of the Washington-based Ethics & Public Policy Center, who was formerly with the Heritage Foundation, emphasized that the most important virtues for Christians to have as they contend for what is good and true in the public square are courage and persuasiveness. 

"We need courage because many of the truths we have to bear witness to are unpopular truths," Anderson said. "So it's going to be truths about human dignity which is grounded in the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God.

"And that we are created male and female and are created for each other in marriage."

Christians need to be witnessing to the fact that no one is expendable, he added, a reality that has been highlighted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Christians also must contend for an economy that works for everyone, not just one that works for people at the top of the pay scale, people in the knowledge sector. 

"One of the things that we've seen is that COVID hasn't been too bad for white-collar workers. It's been pretty bad for blue-collar workers and the unequal distributions of the burdens and benefits of our economic life."

Anderson argued against such tactics as "own the libs" and instead urged Christians to work to change hearts. 

"And that means we need to be making arguments and telling stories and partnering with people who can reach out to different communities," he said. 

In recent years, Anderson, who wrote the book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, hosted a number of cross-partisan panels at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think-tank where he served for years, focusing on issues where conservative and liberal views overlap, particularly on the topic of gender identity ideology and how it harmfully impacts women and girls. 

Transgenderism is a particularly challenging topic to engage and persuade inasmuch as its proponents deconstruct language and rationality, he noted. 

"Part of serving a God who is the Logos, not a God who is rational but a God who is rationality itself ... He is the Word." 

"Part of what we have to do is not just defend faith but defend reason itself, the possibility of rationality."

Asked where he wants to take the EPPC in the years to come, Anderson praised his predecessor, Ed Whelan, for building a great organization and a legacy he hopes to continue. 

"It's not like I have to take it somewhere new because it's already punching way above its weight class," he said. 

"Our thought is that we want to be the most intellectually serious and courageous kind of Judeo-Christian conservative think-tank in the world."

He emphasized the need for Christians to tell the stories about who they are, what they do, and what they are about — and not only when they are entangled in legal battles defending their constitutional rights because those stories are rarely heard.

The stories of people who are rarely heard, such as homosexuals who oppose same-sex marriage and children who were raised by a same-sex couple who love their moms but still missed having a dad — which are recounted in Anderson's book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom — must also be told, he stressed. 

"We need to do a better job of telling the stories of all the non-sexual stuff. The Church gets pigeonholed in this where it's most contra mundum. But we also need to think about telling the stories about 'What are the Little Sisters of the Poor doing when they are not suing the Obama administration?'"

"They take care of the elderly and the fragile and the dying, and they embody what a real death with dignity looks like. They surround these people in a family setting with love, care, affection. And we don't tell enough of those stories.

"We only tell the story of the faith-based homeless shelter when it's being sued for not allowing a man into the woman's shelter. But we could be telling the story of what shelters are doing every other day of the week in transforming lives," he added. 

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