Defining 'evangelical,' or not, in 2013
By the end of that media storm, Warren said members of his team were starting to place bets before each interview on whether the perfunctory gay-marriage question would be the first, or the second, question asked.
On CNN, interviewer Piers Morgan noted that the U.S. Constitution and the Bible are "well-intentioned" but "inherently flawed." Morgan continued: "My point to you about gay rights for example -- it's time for an amendment to the Bible."
Warren, of course, disagreed: "I do not believe the Bible is flawed, and I willingly admit ... that I base my worldview on the Bible, which I believe is true, and truth. ... It was true 1,000 years ago, it'll be true 1,000 years from today."
Time after time, said Warren, interviewers assumed that his beliefs on moral and cultural issues -- from salvation to sexual ethics -- were based on mere politics, rather than on convictions about the Bible and centuries of doctrine.
"I've decided that when people don't have faith, politics is their religion," he said. "Politics is the only thing that is really real to many people in our world today. ... So if politics isn't at the center of your life, then many people just can't understand what you're saying."
In the end, said Warren, it may be time for various brands of conservative Protestants -- Baptists, charismatics, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Calvinists and others -- to stop trying to crowd under a common "evangelical" umbrella. They need to start talking more about the specific traditions that shape their lives.
"Maybe 'evangelical' will be like the word 'liberal,'" he said. "When that word turned into a negative, everybody on the left just turned into 'progressives' and they moved right on. ... Maybe it's time to give the word 'evangelical' a rest."
(Terry Mattingly is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads the GetReligion.org project to study religion and the news.)
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