Open Letter to My Evangelical Family

May 20, 2018

Dear Brothers & Sisters:

I have waited to compose this letter, hoping against hope that I was wrong in my observations. In fairness, I didn’t want to reach premature conclusions. However, after deep meditation, composure, and prayerful reflection, God compels me to speak out.

I am a longtime Christian, theologically trained, dedicated, experienced pastor, denominational leader, and avowed Evangelical Christian myself. In addition, I was mentored by white and black evangelical leaders with orthodoxy, a proud product of Southwestern Baptist Theological and Fuller Theological Seminaries. Over 40 years in global Christian ministry, I have authored 10 books, while widely lecturing at churches and conferences.

So, in viewing recent events and statements by evangelical Christian leaders, I am dismayed, disheartened, disillusioned, with a broken heart, deep sadness, and moral confusion.

I address you as brothers and sisters because of my profound respect for the evangelical Christian tradition. Over the years, you taught me that principle takes precedence over pragmatism; that Christians operate from a categorical ethic, rather than a situational one; that biblical conviction is more significant than societal whims; that integrity is not an electoral commodity.

While hearing you preach, listening to your seminary lectures, or reading your books, you taught me the value of Scripture, faith, optimism and the future. Of late, however, your words seem to convey opportunism, negativity, pessimism, and the now.

My evangelical family, in your recent actions, I am afraid you have veered from your biblical worldview. You seem to have bartered away godly imperatives for a comfortable seat at the table of access, power and influence.

Specifically, I raise the issue of evangelical Christian leaders’ blind, full-throated endorsement of Republican-oriented politicians. These persons, are often, in my view, divisive, contrarian, crafty, mean, cold, heartless, right-wing conservatives. Indeed, ‘tis true: “Politics make strange bedfellows.”

The alliance of evangelical Christian leaders and political figures of a certain ilk greatly concerns me.

According to its best rendering, “evangelicalism” references the movement in modern Christianity, transcending denominational and confessional boundaries, that emphasizes conformity to the basic tenets of the faith and a missionary outreach of compassion and urgency. It holds that through Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary, taking our sin and paying our debt in His sinless sacrifice, from which God raised Him on the third day, sinners are redeemed. As a result, Christians now enjoy current hope, and shall, enjoy eternal hope.

It regards Scripture as the divinely-inspired record of God’s revelation, the infallible, authoritative guide for faith and practice.

Further still, evangelicalism heralds the good news (gospel) of the Word, as the means of bringing new persons to faith and redemption through Christ’s substitutionary death and bodily resurrection.

Important doctrines of evangelicalism are the Trinity; Christ’s incarnation; the virgin birth; His bodily resurrection; the reality of miracles and the supernatural realm; the church as the body of Christ; the sacraments as effectual signs of grace; immortality of the soul; and the final resurrection.

Fundamentally, evangelicalism asserts that there will be, in the indeterminate future, a visible, personal return of Jesus Christ (Rapture) to set up His kingdom of righteousness, a new heaven and earth, one without end. This is the blessed hope, for which all Christians long.

In summary, evangelicalism is more than a series of orthodox dogmatic assertions; it is affirmation of the central beliefs of historic Christianity.

In the 21st century, evangelical leaders hold sway in Christian media, lead Christian schools/universities, host national conferences, write influential books, and serve mega-churches. Indeed, they exert tremendous influence. That moral influence is coveted by secular persons, especially politicians.

In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I exhort evangelical leaders to utilize your national/global megaphone with love, grace, humility, moderation, and mercy for all humanity.

When your objectivity is compromised, your enable politicians and persons of questionable morality and motives to glibly operate with your spiritual imprimatur.

Ours is a time when venerated news organizations such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, AP, Time and Newsweek are labeled “fake news.”

On the other side, presumably “true news,” albeit with a conservative slant is represented by Fox News, Brietbart, CBN, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, National Enquirer, Christianity Today, and a few cable outlets.

Upholding your preferred beliefs, are you not subjectively choosing your sources of information, facts, statistics and data? Historically, the media should be respected as guarantors of objectivity, questioning their government at every turn. Little wonder, then, that “freedom of the press” is among the first rights guaranteed to Americans in the US Constitution.

Further, I am dismayed by your compromise on biblical principle, as too many evangelical leaders genuflect before the altar of political expediency.

When an estimated 80% of evangelical voters give allegiance to one political party in America, I am saddened by this blind loyalty. Where is the balance?

In the scheme of relevant national concerns, evangelicals too often reserve their voice for “hot-button” ones (pro-life; limited government, no taxes, free-enterprise system, strong military, secure borders, anti-immigration, easy access to guns, pro-Israel, home/charter schools, and the like).

While I applaud the above matters, there is more to a godly agenda, such as an end to police brutality of minorities, quality urban schools, countering racism in America, compassion for the marginalized, celebration of diversity, full citizenship rights, a livable wage for all workers, health-care for all, climate-change research, balance of military/safety-net programs, gun-policy reform, and more.

Evangelical leaders’ silence on the latter issues drowns out your vocal support of the former ones.

Why is it so lonely as many of us in the Christian prophetic tradition decry the rash of black males killed by law-enforcement across America? Why are evangelical voices silent amid the carnage? Is it impossible to even utter the word, “racism,” as if by not calling its name will render the notion obsolete?

In righteous indignation over the moral decay and depravity of America, please remember the compassion of our Savior. According to the Word of God, Christ initiated conversations and encounters with persons of dubious backgrounds/life circumstances (12 apostles, woman at the well, Mary of Magdala, Simon of Cyrene, tax-gathers, rugged fishermen, and others). Indeed, His parables often referenced those we might refer to as “under-dogs” in first-century Jewish society.

With a broken heart, I ask you, evangelical family, how can you lavish praise on prominent secular political leaders who vulgarly boast of sexual conquests? Where is your moral outrage?

Has proximity to klieg lights, microphones, access to the national media, along with testimony before officials in statehouses, halls of Congress, and the White House blinded you to moral principles founded upon the inspired, authoritative, inerrant Word of God?

If more of you would recall Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), it might remind you of His “social-justice” motif, along with kingdom of God priorities.

Why is it so easy to feed hungry children in Africa, Asia, Middle East and other third world countries – thousands of miles from America – while ignoring the hurting, marginalized masses of children right here?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the exotic locales which aid your media fund-raising efforts from guilty, entitled donors.

In a larger sense, evangelical leaders, in my judgment, have deviated from the prophetic posture of those in Scripture. Long ago, would Nathan the prophet have been effective if he and king David were uncritical buddies? (2 Sam. 12)

Would Elijah have been effective before king Ahab, if they had a prior cordial relationship (1 Kings 18;19)? What about John the Baptizer; would he and Herod appear together for a smiling “photo-op,” amid the latter’s incestuous relationship (Luke 3:20)?

Moreover, the allegations of Russian interference and political machinations to undermine the 2016 presidential election suggest attempts to undermine a free vote, a bulwark of American democracy. Do these reports bother your conscience or sense of fairness in any way?

Also, evangelicals should condemn influence-peddling, with large corporate contributions, at every level of government. Indeed, politics is a dirty game; thus, evangelical hands should remain pure and spotless!

How long will you, my evangelical family, continually explain away the flubs, flaws and foibles of those political figures you slavishly support?

What happened to your prophetic voice when America, in August 2017, was bifurcated by the Charlottesville, VA protests, as high office-holders claimed there were ‘bad people on both sides,” as avowed white supremacists, neo-Nazi, alt-right, Klansmen clashed with peaceful protestors. In the ensuing melee, one bystander was run over and killed by a crazed, Nazi-sympathizer. Amid this racial conflagration, there was not a word of rebuke from the larger evangelical community!

It is utterly inconceivable that two distinct worldviews could ever mesh together. Yet, today, many evangelical leaders obediently follow the political order, rather than setting the moral atmosphere for the nation.

Finally, even Jesus’ disciples knew that too much chumminess with political power would prove toxic. They deemed it honorable to “obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

Throughout this letter I have pointedly not mentioned names of the prominent evangelical Christian leaders whom I address, nor the political figures. My reasoning is: when names are mentioned, people tend to become defensive, as if personally attacked.

Rather, I have castigated an influential segment of the body of Christ. It pains me deeply that some of my brothers and sisters in the faith have, it seems, higher loyalty and greater devotion to a particular political party. By that choice, you have repudiated the central tenets of a compassionate, gracious Savior; the revelation of God in Scripture; sound judgment; past alliances; and moral principles.

A couple decades ago, a mentor of mine was offered a high government position, heading the US Civil Rights Commission. As a black leader, that vaunted office in Washington, DC beckoned to him. Of course, he gave the offer serious consideration: it would have provided greater income, larger staff, media attention, notoriety, contacts, status and influence.

After prayer before God, however, he turned the president’s job offer down. To have accepted the president’s offer, he felt, would have compromised his calling from God, and jeopardized his objectivity. He concluded, in poignant words: “I’m just a preacher.”

My evangelical family, we cannot serve two masters. The secular, political order fights against the spiritual and the supernatural one. God deserves the Christian’s highest allegiance!

In closing, I challenge my evangelical family to return to Scripture: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Prov. 14:34).

Or, we might find our way back to God and sound, moral leadership through adherence to a fundamental promise from God: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). The work lies in the actions of God’s “My people,” especially evangelical leaders.

The answer Christians seek will not ride in on a donkey (Democrats); nor on an elephant (Republicans); nor even an Independent voice.

Rather, the answer we need is the Lamb of God! Jesus is the answer for the world today!

At the foot of the Cross of Calvary, origin, ethnicity, race, gender, orientation, intellect, status, class, economics, and other distinctions all fall.

Praise the Lord!




Respectfully, a Brother in Christ,


Rev. Dr. Jarvis L. Collier, Pastor

Pleasant Green Baptist Church

Kansas City, KS

Editor, National Baptist Convention Voice


P.S. Please forgive the length of this letter. My hurt is deep, and I felt the need to fully explore my concerns. I await a response, if you are so inclined.

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