The Religious Left’s appeal for the Religious Right to “broaden its agenda” to include poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment ignores the fact that conservative evangelicals have always had a strong commitment to these issues. So if conservative evangelicals are already leading the efforts to relieve poverty and disease, what’s behind the call to “broaden the agenda”? Another agenda altogether.
What’s really happening here is an attempt by the Left to define evangelicalism down by moving it away from its emphasis on the power of the gospel to change lives. The church’s ability to affect social and cultural change, bringing relief to the poor and suffering, is rooted first and foremost in its commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and what the gospel says about the condition of man in sin which results in the symptoms of poverty and disease.
The Religious Left invalidates the conservative evangelical commitment to humanitarian relief because we are achieving our ends in the name of Jesus Christ through the gospel, without the assistance of government funding. The fundamental tenant of modern liberalism is that a government program funded by redistributed wealth is the preferred method of humanitarian relief rather than what the church is accomplishing by faith through compassionate hearts.
The new voices of the Religious Left -- Rick Warren, Joel Hunter, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, et al -- are defining down what it means to be an evangelical by making the symptoms of man’s sin (poverty, disease, etc.) a priority rather than addressing the cause of those symptoms (sin) and the cure found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.