Jim Wallis: Polarizer or Unifier?

Townhall.com Janice Shaw Crouse April 17, 2007

Jim Wallis has devoted his whole career to trying to force the round peg of leftist ideology into the square hole of biblical orthodoxy. When he wrote his “vision” designed to “transcend” the ideologies of the religious left and right, he ended up further polarizing instead of unifying the two evangelical movements. He rails against the “political language” of the right as well as the tendency of conservative evangelicals, in his opinion, to claim their use of scripture as authoritative. In so doing, Wallis hoists himself on his own petard.

Nobody does leftist religious rhetoric any better than Wallis. This is a man who complains that the war in Iraq “has often been cloaked in the name and symbols of our faith.” This is a man who laments any linking of “American imperial designs with God’s purposes.” Yet, he recently led a so-called “anti-war worship service” at the National Cathedral. His basic thesis was that the war in Iraq is not just a mistake; it is, instead, “morally wrong” and “an offense against God.” Does rhetoric get any more messianic or political than that? Have you ever seen anyone who does a better job of cloaking the names and symbols of faith to his positions on contemporary issues? Don’t you want to ask who made him “God” and why his pronouncements should be authoritative?

Wallis and his cohorts on the left seem to think that they invented the relationship of religion to social justice. In the late nineteenth century, however, social justice was an integral part of religious faith. For instance, the prohibition movement was grounded in Christian thought. Both Francis Willard and Carrie Nation considered themselves “agents of God” in their fight against “demon rum.” Evangelicals were leaders in the abolition movement as famously noted in the life of William Wilberforce and portrayed in the movie, “Amazing Grace.” Evangelicals also led prison and labor reform efforts along with building hospitals, caring for the homeless and widows, and establishing colleges.

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