A group of evangelical churches, organizations and seminaries will meet next week at Wheaton College to discuss the future of evangelism under President Donald Trump’s White House.
"It is an attempt to try and show how we should be thinking in such a way that our theology is what is the central concern versus our political commitments," said Darrell Bock, executive director of cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary.
The meeting is invite-only and about 50 pastors, activists and other religious leaders will attend. According to The Washington Post, pastor Tim Keller and New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard are among those attending.
Bock said the group will mostly be “national leaders,” but there would also be at least one leader representing every continent in the world.
Among those reportedly attending are Fuller Seminary President Mark Labberton, former Wesleyan Church General Superintendent Jo Anne Lyon, North Carolina Bishop Claude Alexander, Wheaton College's Ed Stetzer, Harold Smith of Christianity Today, World Relief's Jenny Yang and Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Doug Birdsall, honorary chair of the Lausanne movement of evangelicals, a global movement of evangelical leader, said politics is not the focus of the meeting but it is what he called “the elephant in the room.”
"When you Google evangelicals, you get Trump," Birdsall said. "When people say what does it mean to be an evangelical, people don't say evangelism or the Gospel. There's a grotesque caricature of what it means to be an evangelical."
Many conservative evangelicals supported Trump during his run for presidency because of his promises to push pro-life efforts and protect religious liberty.
The group is expected to discuss the evangelical leaders who have informally advised Trump’s administration.
"That's part of what we are going to be talking about," Bock said. "On the one hand, I think there are people who understand why they have done it. But there are questions about whether they have done it in the best way possible."
The meeting is being called a “conversation,” but there will be scheduled presentations.
"We have some people who are going to be doing some presentations about how they see the current situation and we are going to talk about it. It is literally designed to be a time to get together and have a group conversation," Bock said. "The concern is with the church expressing itself clearly about its theological commitment and its theological character in the midst of the environment we are in."
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Publication date: April 13, 2018