I am not writing this letter to accuse but rather to advance understanding. And even though I am white, I am not writing as an outsider but as a fellow evangelical, part of the same spiritual family. May I pose some candid questions?
Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?
I have been very open in my criticism of white evangelicals, pointing out how we often put our trust in the Republican party and how we look to the latest candidate as some kind of political savior, only to be disappointed time and time again, complaining that the Republicans wanted our votes but did not stand up for our values. “We won’t get fooled again,” we say, only to repeat the same cycle four years later.
On Election Day morning, I posted an article entitled “A Warning to Moral Conservatives,” raising concerns that if Mitt Romney was elected, we would be making a grave mistake in looking to him to advance our moral and social agenda. I even wrote an article in June entitled “Mitt Romney Is Not the Answer,” and I often told my evangelical radio listeners that I would not argue with them if they could not vote for Romney because he was a Mormon. So, I do understand black Christian reticence towards Romney (for these reasons, among others).
If you want to learn about engaging the culture, go to New York City, stand in Times Square and simply look around. In fact, try not to look around. The multitude of flashing iconic images representing the latest music, art, movies, fashion and personalities virtually scream in your ear, every day influencing an increasingly homogenized global culture. Just like earthquakes can produce massive waves that travel thousands of miles from their origin, Manhattan produces a cultural tsunami that reaches all the way to Manila.
A recent meeting in New York with an executive from a major TV network confirmed my sense that as Christians, we are still lagging behind in the culture wars. In essence, this producer told me, “Christians aren’t shaping the culture in America; the culture is shaping them.”
Election Day ... it did it again! The results produced myriad emotions ranging from convulsive joy in some to severe depression in others.
I’m fascinated every time I see our democratic process unfold. The fact that we, the people, actually get to elect the leaders of our nation intrigues me. But we have learned to put so much hope in government that people are often crushed beyond measure if their candidate loses or relieved beyond reason when their candidate wins. Both emotional extremes are unnecessary since Scripture suggests that no matter who wins an election for office, we can still win.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority—that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV).
All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern.
Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1–3).
We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV).
Only the gospel, God’s Good News, has the power to change lives, heal hearts, and restore a nation.
I’m not an evangelist. I’m not a pastor. I’m not even a Bible teacher or a Youth Minister.
I’m a filmmaker, but I just so happen to be a filmmaker who attempts to do the near impossible for my films. I attempt to visibly film an invisible God.
Having traveled the world to make my first three feature films, Finger of God, Furious Love, and Father of Lights, it is probably safe to say that the last six years have given me a new perspective and quite an education on what God is doing around the world, as well as what kind of evangelism is working and what kinds are seemingly slogging through quicksand.