I applaud the effort on Edwards’ part but feel his message will create little change. If Edwards is any kind of indicator where Evangelicals want to go then they have a long road to travel with regards to many issues. Politics being one. Edwards equates politics with social action. I don’t understand how pushing for moral legislation will create legitimate change and transformation within society. It’s one thing to restrict someone from crossing a line. It’s an entirely different thing to transform a person so that the line is never even considered as something to be crossed.
Also, I disagree with Evangelicals approaches to anything anti-Christian. They (or at least Edwards) see things like secularization and extreme Islam as issues to be fiercely attacked. It’s important to have answers for our faith and to be able to defend it, but Evangelicals have a defensive nature in general, leftover from reactions to the Enlightenment and the rise of Evolution, and they declare a holy war against issues instead of being so engaged in the work of Christ that their actions and their love speak for themselves.
Also, Edwards, admitting that Evangelicals fell behind in social work through most of the 20th century—stresses the work done since 1970 and even in the 18th and 19th centuries—doesn’t seem to relate a holistic approach to missional work. Personal salvation is their starting point, it’s the main focus, at the expense of clean drinking water, or medication for those dying of AIDS, or protections for the oppressed. Not that Evangelicals don’t offer those things. But it’s as if Evangelicals want to save people just because Jesus commanded them to, not because they genuinely love them. Because we’re also called to love them, and in loving them, we missionally not only provide Christ, but also provide a blanket, or a glass of water, or a soccer ball.
An Agenda For Change helped me see where much of my frustration towards Evangelicals is coming from. At times I agreed with Edwards’ points wholeheartedly, at others I was cringing and frustrated. It’s a needed agenda for evangelicals, I just wish it embraced more change.
Dr. Wesley Paddock (I don’t know if that’s his real name) offers a more in-depth book review (here).