New Initiative Hopes to Bridge the Divide in Evangelicalism

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A new body is being formed in an attempt to mend the rift that has developed in evangelicalism following the 2016 election.

The Congress of Christian Leaders (CCL) will seek to foster unity and serve growing Christian movements across the globe. It will be anchored on an unwavering commitment to righteousness and justice.

Founding the organization are American evangelical leaders Samuel Rodriguez and Rev. Johnnie Moore.

Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, will serve as the chairman of CCL. Rev. Moore, who is also an evangelical public relations executive, will serve as the organization’s founding president.

Moore told The Christian Post that the organization seeks to bridge a “gap between evangelicalism in the United States and around the world.”

Organization hopes to reunite evangelicalism

Members of the organization will include Christian organizations, pastors, denominational heads, business leaders, thought leaders and other notable Christian figures.

“In times of rapid change and upheaval as we’re experiencing today, it is imperative for the church to respond with bold, fresh thinking that is capable of bridging the establishment and the emerging,” Rodriguez says. “Our aim at the CCL is to say yes to all willing partners, private, denominational and governmental, and then apply uncompromising Christ-centered advocacy in support of uniting, growing, strengthening and empowering the entire church.”

“This organization, by virtue of its leadership, will be uniquely positioned to help bring unity to the evangelical and Christian movements that have too often been disparate, uncoordinated and unnecessarily contentious at times,” Rodriguez continued. “The CCL is the embodiment of our conviction that we are more powerful when we stand together for righteousness and justice. It is through our common bonds of faith that we will magnify our collective reach and impact for the cause of Christ on this earth.”

Divide in evangelicalism is wide

While unity in the severely divided evangelical movement is the goal, getting there will prove a challenge.

John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College, calls Moore and Rodriguez, and others who supported President Donald Trump, “court evangelicals.” A term he defines as “a Christian leader who has sacrificed deeply held convictions on the altar of worldly power.”

Conversely, he refers to himself and those who met recently at Wheaton College to discuss the state of evangelicalism and a variety of political issues “non-court evangelicals.”

He wrote of the CCL formation on his blog:

“I appreciate Moore’s attempt to stress unity over division, but there is a real naivety in some of his remarks above. Both Moore and Rodriguez seem to think that their support for Trump has done no damage to their witness or their ability to cast a large tent with this proposed organization. Frankly, I don’t see how ANY organization associated with Moore (and perhaps less so with Rodriguez) can be understood apart from their decision to support the presidency of Donald Trump. Moore and Rodriguez may have big dreams about creating a global coalition of evangelicals, but they seem pretty clueless about just how divided evangelicalism is at the moment and what role they have played in that division.”

Moore considers those objections unjustified.

“While there is kind of a media obsession with our relationship with the Trump administration, our relationship with the Trump administration represents, in the big picture, an extremely small piece of what we focus on and what we do around the world.”

“Sam and I both have the same point of view, which is that any time a political leader asks you for advice, you have an obligation to give that advice whether or not it is received,” Moore continued, adding that they would have advised Hillary Clinton had she won and asked for their advice.

“People who would try to be divisive around this announcement for that reason are either uninformed or they have other intentions. It doesn’t affect the reality of our actual reputation and work and our intentions.”

The Congress of Christian Leaders will unveil its founding board of trustees over the next several months and will announce its inaugural membership during its first formal meeting in the fall. These decisions will be the result of a “listening tour” Rodriguez and Moore will conduct over the next several months throughout the United States and around the world.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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