Tony Evans warns that Christians are ‘cultural’ not ‘biblical’
NASHVILLE — Moral and societal problems are worsening in the United States because Christians are becoming more “cultural” than “biblical,” and the country is facing God’s judgment as a result, according to pastor and best-selling author Tony Evans.
“We’ve been more cultural Christians than biblical Christians,” Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, told The Christian Post in an interview.
“Our identity must be rooted in the Imago Dei, in the image of God. But we are so set in the thinking of the culture that we end up being parakeets to what society says, rather than taking a firm, loving but clear stance on what God says,” he continued. .
The 72-year-old founder and president of The Urban Alternative is the author of more than 125 books, pamphlets and Bible studies. The first African-American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he recently published an updated version of his 2015 book, Unity Embraced: A Kingdom Approach to Race, Reconciliation, and Justice.
In it, he offers another way to look at racial tensions seen across the country and a biblical framework for unity, why it matters, what it is, and how it works.
“From the womb to the grave, God identifies the person as a bearer of the image of God, so much so that James 3:9 says you cannot even curse a person because they are created in the image of God,” he said. .
“The dignity of every human being must be maintained at the highest level, unless you insult God. And when you understand that, that’s how God created us and that’s how He wants us to relate, God is not color blind, He’s just not blinded by color. He recognizes and has created the uniqueness of the cultures we are born into and of the ethnicities, but He never wants that to be the deciding factor for decision-making in our lives.
Evans explained that to elevate anything – identity, race or national allegiance – above Christianity “is idolatry” and “anytime that national allegiance causes you to have non-Christian outlooks, under the flag , then what you have done is you have created a national idol which God must resist, reject and judge.
“I think one of the things we face now is the judgment on America because the Church is not the people of God who represent His Kingdom more than we represent the nation,” said the pastor.
God’s judgment is being played out now, he said, as evidenced by the conflicts that seem endless in recent years. He quoted 2 Chronicles 15:3-6, which reads, in part, “One nation was crushed by another, and one city by another, because God troubled them with every kind of distress,” and Romans 1, which talks about God straying from those who stray from him.
“What we see now is conflict, and conflict is judgment because God has been removed and idolatry of culture, nationalism and race has replaced the primacy of God in our lives,” said Evans. “He allows conflict until it gets so bad that we wake up and look up.”
“What God does is he lets things continually decline until we are desperate enough to return to his standard, and his standard is biblical unity,” the pastor continued. “God has a goal line and it is his kingdom, and his kingdom is his divine rule. And He wants to rule and nullify our ethnicity. He wants to rule and override our skin color. He wants to rule and nullify our human relationships when they get in the way of His divine standard. There must therefore be a radical return to biblical truth, biblical standards and biblical unity.
He explained that whenever God sees disunity, “He stands apart because he cannot be himself because of his unified nature.”
“So we pray, preach and hold worship services while telling God that he is not invited, because of our illegitimate disunity, which means we have simply wasted our time,” he said. -he declares.
The answer, Evans said, is reconciliation and unity, and that is something the Church desperately needs. He encouraged Christians to act as “bridge builders” and foster relationships with those who cross racial and cultural lines “without compromising the essence of the faith”.
“From the throne of God comes righteousness and justice. Justice is the standard of good and evil established by God. Justice is the fair application of God’s moral law applied in society. One is therefore a vertical obedience and the other a horizontal relationship. And whenever you have the vertical and the horizontal, you can have the cross. Evans supported.
“The way you know you’re serious about conflict in culture is that you’re visibly and verbally involved in reconciling things that have historically been divided. If we just argue, discuss our division and not create the windshield of reconciliation, because we live in the rearview mirror of our past history, we will not go where God is going. And if we’re not going where God is going, we’re going by ourselves.
Evans shared his thoughts on some of the other issues plaguing the Church, including the exodus of young people from the Church. A recent study found that Gen Z, born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is now the least religious generation to date, with 34% identifying as non-religious.
To combat this trend, the father-of-four said “we need to speak in the language that people listen to today”, and for the younger generation, social media and technology will be a driver of communication. He stressed the importance of “relationships and relevance” when it comes to involving young people in the church.
“I think we need to improve how you can use it to share your faith, because now you’re relevant to the communication mechanisms that are relevant in the culture, but then that has to be combined with the relationship,” a- he explained. “Because their generation is so relationship-driven, we want to provide points of connectivity…they’re so committed to making things better in the culture, it gives them a tool they can use to make a difference. while sharing their faith.”
Evans also issued a challenge to pastors and church leaders as scandals within the ministry continue to unfold and reports reveal that only 37% of pastors have a biblical worldview.
“I want to challenge them to stay committed to the Word and their relationship with the Lord as their primary focus, for ministry can become a God unto itself; he can become your idol”, the Win your spiritual battles says the author.
“And when ministry becomes your idol, God is in the background, and when God is in the background, you become vulnerable,” he continued. “So I would say keep that momentum towards the Word of God and the Person of God as a promise in your life, and then have people around you who can speak to you with authority. Don’t be an isolated Lone Ranger, because like a salmon swimming upstream, a bear can take you if you’re isolated, so you want to make sure you’re in relationships that can be lasting and authoritative in your life.
But though times may seem bleak, Evans pointed out that “we can still have hope” because one of two things is happening: God is allowing chaos because he’s setting things up for his return, or , if he doesn’t return in the short term, he’s doing a “divine reset and culture reshaping, because he’s been sidelined for too long”.
“He’s upsetting the apple cart until we get back in line with him so he can do something new,” Evans added. “Anyway, we’re going to be better off.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be contacted at: [email protected]