The best-selling author of a newly released book says that despite a seemingly endless war between the "Christian Left" and the "Christian Right," there are a growing number of believers who fit neither camp and are perfectly pleased to be outside the diatribe.
Beyond Evangelical, which was officially released on Monday, looks at what has gone wrong with modern evangelicalism and where it seems to be headed, Frank Viola told The Christian Post.
"In short, it's a book that will encourage many Christians who feel stuck because they can't agree fully with the Christian Left or Christian Right and they are tired of the squabbling and vitriol," Viola explained. "The message of the book is helping them to realize that they are not alone."
Viola, who is a popular conference speaker and the best-selling author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life, including Epic Jesus, Revise Us Again, and From Eternity to Here, based his new book on his blog by the same name. Beyond Evangelical (short for Beyond Evangelicalism), is rated as one of the most popular blogs in Christian circles today.
He said he wants people reading the book to realize that "God's way isn't left or right, but Forward" and that "there's a Christocentric way of looking at all the issues that divide Christians on both sides."
"A way that doesn't fall into either the left or right categories. I'd like readers to see that Jesus Christ is larger than what many of us have made Him out to be," he said. "That He breaks out of both Calvinist and Arminian theological systems and boxes. And that Christians can in fact dialogue about issues about which we disagree on a higher plane than what we are used to seeing on television or hearing on radio."
In his blog post introducing his book, Viola points to recent studies indicatating that "evangelical Christians are known by the world as people who are narrow-minded, judgmental, self-righteous, legalistic, callous, hard-hearted, politically partisan, and quick to attack their own."
He states, "The face of evangelicalism is changing rapidly and the fissures in the movement are becoming more obvious each day. Civil discourse among evangelicals is rare. The norm is to draw battle lines and throw rocks at one another across those lines."
However, when asked by CP about whether he was optimistic about the current evangelical movement, he answered, "Yes, because there is a growing segment of Christians who are moving into a more Christocentric expression of orthodox, evangelical Christianity that doesn't fit into either the right or left camps; one that's not been co-opted by the Republican Party or hijacked by the Democratic Party but something that stands beyond both."
Viola notes that he is not alone in taking a "beyond evangelical" position on numerous theological and social issues. "Scot McKnight, Roger Olson, David Fitch, N.T. Wright, and the late Michael Spencer are some of the more prolific writers of our time who have been calling the body of Christ to a newer expression of evangelicalism that better bridges the horizons of Scripture and culture," he states. Chapter 18 in the book quotes these writers along with many others who are in agreement with his position.
"My hope is that the Lord would use this little book to give encouragement, clarity, language, and inspiration to all Jesus followers who are disaffected by the right vs. left wars, believing within their hearts that a higher way exists. If that describes you, then you are certainly not alone."
On the Web: http://frankviola.org/