It strikes us as odd to have to say what the title of this blog does. Evangelicals, like most people of faith, believe that all humans are created in the image and likeness of God and that this identity makes each individual worthy of dignity and respect, care and protection. God has a special concern for the most vulnerable in any society. We proclaim the love of God for the orphan and the widow, the poor and the oppressed, the abused and assaulted. God calls us to stand with them, to comfort them in their distress, to protect them when and how we can, and to heal them from the ravages of this broken world. This is the true spirit of evangelical Christianity, and the true spirit of most evangelicals we know.
Nonetheless, we recognize that the witness of evangelicals has come under scrutiny of late. Some of our churches have not always responded well when accusations of sexual abuse have surfaced among them. And we acknowledge that throughout American history most people of faith have supported political candidates more for their agenda than for their character. And we understand that impulse, even as we decry the pursuit of power of which it speaks; the abuse of power should never be spoken among us who serve a Savior who surrendered power to redeem us.
We are pleased to serve an institution that has attempted, in intentional ways, to train church and community leaders how to inform and protect the constituencies they serve toward safer churches, homes, and communities. Our seminary trains therapists to help bring healing to those who have been hurt and those who commit such acts, often out of trauma they themselves have experienced. Sexual abuse, assault, and harassments are violations not only against the humanity of the persons affected but also against the good will of a God who created us for better than this. We have personally witnessed the ripple effects of such behavior throughout our society.
Yet Evangelicals need to do better. Our own institution needs to do better. That need is not imposed on us solely by the aggrieved voices of society; it also speaks prophetically to us out of our own commitments. The original, broad meaning of “evangelical” was “one who brings good news.” When we live up to our highest calling and deepest desires, evangelicals stand with all who have been wounded by this broken world and offer them the good news of grace and redemption.
Tony Blair, President, Evangelical Seminary
Jim Ehrman, Vice President and Dean, Evangelical Seminary