"Are Evangelicals Likeable?"

That was the headline on a news release last week from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and its president, Richard Land.

Land, by the way, was on Time magazine's list of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" in 2005.

A subhead on the news release said, "If Evangelicals Want to Reach the World with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, We Must Show People How Much We Care on a Personal Level."

Seems strange that that needs to be said.

I remember being taught that in Sunday school more than 60 years ago.

"The more people know about different religions, the less they like Evangelicals, reports The Christian Post," the news release says.

Land added, that that "should be dismaying to those who seek to evangelize the world."

No argument there.

The news release said that a recent "What Americans Know About Religion" study found that "Americans with a high level of religious knowledge have a warmer view of Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants and Buddhists than they have of evangelical Christians."

"The question stemming from this study should be, 'Why?' "Land said. "Why, when people learn about Evangelicals, does the ‘likeability’ factor decrease? Do people view Evangelicals less favorably because they tend to stand firm on the foundational teachings of Holy Scripture when it comes to marriage, homosexuality and other societal issues?

"Is it because Evangelicals and politics have become intertwined in many people’s minds in the recent past? Is it perhaps because the Evangelical community is indeed divided on some issues, including how to handle social justice initiatives?

"Whatever the reasons, it is important that Evangelicals better demonstrate their love for each and every one of their fellow human beings and their desire to see everyone come personally to a saving knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord. If we want to share Jesus’ Gospel with the world, we must do everything we can to show people how much we care about them personally and individually."

The line about Evangelicals and politics becoming intertwined is important.

In recent years, Evangelicals have given the impression, at least, that they are more interested in winning votes for the GOP than in winning souls for God.

And that impression needs to be reversed.

A man told me once that he stopped going to a certain church when a woman told him, "I hear you're a Democrat. I thought you were a Christian."

I see posts on Facebook from people who call themselves Christians, constantly hurling insults at those who disagree with them.

You don't win converts like that.

A people called to love one another should be better than that.

Oh, well, it's something to think about this Sunday morning.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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