Pastor and best-selling author Tony Evans recently claimed that the declining morality and growing societal issues in the United States have to do with Christians being more "cultural" than "biblical."
In a sit-down interview with The Christian Post, Evans addressed several topics, including God's judgment and racial reconciliation in the church.
"Our identity is to be rooted in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. But we've gotten so ingrained in the thinking of the culture that we wind up being parakeets to what the society is saying, rather than taking a solid, loving but clear stance on what God is saying," Evans asserted.
Evans, the founder and President of The Urban Alternative and the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, recently published an updated version of his 2015 book, Oneness Embraced: A Kingdom Approach to Race, Reconciliation, and Justice.
In the book, Evans, 72, provides an alternative method for viewing racial tensions in the country and breaks down the biblical understanding of unity.
"From womb to tomb, God identifies the person as a bearer of the image of God, so much so that James 3:9 says that you can't even curse a person because they are created in the image of God," he told The Christian Post.
"The dignity of every human being has to be held in the highest standard less you insult God. And when you understand that that is how God made us, and that is how he wants us to relate, God is not colorblind, He's just not blinded by color," the pastor continued. "He recognizes and has created the uniquenesses of the cultures in which we are born and the ethnicities, but He never wants that to be the deciding factor for decision making in our lives."
Evans also contended that it is idolatrous to elevate things like identity, race or national allegiance over Christianity.
"Whenever that national allegiance causes you to have non-Christian perspectives, underneath the flag, then what you have done is you've created a national idol that God must resist, reject and judge," he asserted.
He added that America is now facing God's judgment because of "the failure of the Church to be the people of God that represents His Kingdom more than we represent the nation."
Evans referenced 2 Chronicles 15:3-6, which reads, in part: "One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress," and Romans 1, which addresses God removing Himself from those who have drifted away from Him.
"What we're seeing now is conflict, and the conflict is the judgment because God has been removed, and the idolatry of culture, nationalism, and race has replaced God's primacy in our lives. He's allowing a conflict until it gets so bad that we wake up and look up," he said.
"What God does is He lets things continually decline until we get desperate enough to return to His standard, and His standard is biblical unity," he added.
Evans also noted that disunity in the churches prompts God to remove Himself.
"He keeps Himself away because He can't be Himself because of His unified nature," he explained.
"So we're actually praying, preaching and having worship services while telling God He's not invited because of our illegitimate disunity, which means we just wasted our time," he continued.
In response, Evans urged Christians to practice reconciliation and unity, including those of other cultures and ethnicities, "without compromising the essentials of the faith."
"From God's throne comes righteousness and justice. Righteousness is the standard of right and wrong that is established by God," he said. "Justice is the equitable application of God's moral law applied in society. So one is vertical obedience, and the other is a horizontal relationship. And whenever you have the vertical and horizontal, you can have the cross." Evans contended.
"The way you know you're being serious about the conflicts in the culture is that you are visibly and verbally involved in reconciling things that have been historically divided. If all we're doing is discussion, discussing our division and not creating the windshield of reconciliation because we're living in the rearview mirror of our past history, we will not be moving where God is moving," Evans added. "And if we're not moving where God is moving, we're moving by ourselves."
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.