Finding Christian leaders concerned with global climate change is one thing, but it's hard for the secular media to find an evangelical Christian who can assent to one of the Left's most favored sacraments, abortion.
That's where Newsweek's Lisa Miller comes in finding a new challenge to the traditionally pro-life political views of evangelical Christians. Miller invites readers to meet Adam Hamilton, a Methodist pastor and pro-choice "evangelical" (pictured at right). Or as Hamilton prefers, a pro-lifer with a "heavy heart."
From Miller's article "How Would Jesus Choose?" in the April 14 issue (emphasis mine):
Adam Hamilton does not call himself "pro-choice." He prefers "pro-life with a heavy heart." What that means, as he explains in his new book "Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White," is that he believes abortion should be available and legal, that there are instances in which it might be necessary and that those instances should be very rare. Further, he says, the abortion debate has been too hot for too long, and that, as a Christian minister, his job is to try "to support people no matter what decision they make." As an evangelical megachurch pastor in Kansas, a man educated at Oral Roberts University, Hamilton speaks carefully, aware that he's staking out a controversial position.
Hamilton wants pro-choice and pro-life advocates to join forces to reduce the number of abortions and he enumerates seven areas where they could find common ground. Let both sides agree that adequate information about birth control can help prevent pregnancy, he says. And let both sides agree that the longer a pregnancy progresses, the more morally problematic an abortion becomes.
That's funny, as an evangelical Christian I must have been misreading all those times Jesus told people to "go and sin no more." He must have really meant, "I hope you don't sin, but I'll support you no matter what decision you make."
Of course, Miller is at best confused and at worst downright mistaken to call Hamilton an evangelical. Not once did Miller note that Hamilton is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, an increasingly liberal mainline Protestant denomination, or that he received his Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University. Miller chose to focus instead on Hamilton's affiliation with the decidedly more fundamentalist Oral Roberts University, where he received his bachelor of arts for pastoral ministry, and to brand Hamilton as the head of an "evangelical megachurch." With 12,000 members and over 7,000 souls in attendance on any given Sunday, the megachurch tag is hard to disagree with, but does evangelical really fit the theology or temperment of Hamilton's Church of the Resurrection?
The term evangelical itself has assumed numerous definitions over its nearly 500-year history beginning with the Protestant Reformation. Evangelicals today are perhaps best noted, organizationally, by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The United Methodist Church, of which Hamilton's church is a member congregation, does not belong to the NAE.
What's more, there's a marked contrast between the NAE's upfront listing of its Statement of Beliefs to that of Hamilton's Church of the Resurrection (COR) "Our Beliefs" page, which punts visitors to the UMC Web site for anything of theological substance.
The NAE Statement of Faith:
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hamilton's church's statement of faith (emphasis mine):
United Methodists hold to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith. We are evangelical, but moderates rather than fundamentalists. We value the intellect and modern science, while at the same time looking to the Bible as the authoritative guide for faith and practice. Methodists have a passionate faith with strong convictions, but we also recognize that the world is not always black and white. We are willing to ask questions, to wrestle with difficult issues, and to do so with grace and compassion.
Methodists have been known for our emphasis on a personal faith, lived out in concrete ways in the world. We have historically valued well-informed and passionate preaching, worship that was lively, and small groups where people could grow in faith.
Methodists have open hearts, and open minds--and welcome anyone interested in learning more about the Christian faith.
Photo of Hamilton via Church of the Resurrection's Web site.