Ask An Evangelical: Who is Your Leader?

What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Submit your question here.

By Elizabeth Backstrom

As an Evangelical, who is your leader?  And please for the love of all that is holy don’t say Jesus because we all know better.  Whose vision of Christianity are you following? We see the news and read the papers. Is it James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Falwell Jr., Rick Warren, or someone else? Thye are the spokesmen for your version Christianity and it would be nice to hear one of you give an honest answer.

This is a difficult one, because Christians truly don’t have one single leader. In a strictly denominational sense, various groups might have a president, but even a brief overview of the history of a single group (for example, this history of the Baptists) shows how convoluted the history and hierarchies of various groups within Christianity are. To make a long story short, there really is no single leader or even one group of Christians. Like many other religions, there are various types within it with their own views and practices. 

I believe, looking  at your question, that you are asking who might be the cultural leader of Christians, rather than strictly who is a leader on paper.  Again, we don’t have one, but certainly there are some who have louder voices than others – those with far-reaching television or Internet platforms, those in megachurches or those with significant political connections. Certainly these people would, in the traditional sense, be viewed as leaders, if only because they have access to influence. That power cannot and should not be ignored. 

However, it’s not accurate that they speak for all Christians, any more than it’s accurate that your elected Senator speaks the truth for every person in your state. How can this be? One person, no matter how influential, can only accurately represent the view of so many. 

That being said, my personal view is that silence in important matters can often equal being complicit with dangerous things. History is full of people who weren’t the leaders of movements, but also did nothing about them. I’ve heard this referred to as the 80-10-10 rule:  only 10% of people may be actively pursuing a certain policy, and 10% of people may be actively opposing it, but what allows either way to go forward is the 80% of people who do nothing. 

In that sense, the leader of Christians is really less important than the 80 percent and the choices we make every day. I believe as a group we’ve certainly made poor choices in our history, and also made a positive difference in the lives of others. We can choose to go either way going forward. Thank you again for writing. 

Read Scott McIntyre’s response to this question.

About Elizabeth Backstrom

Elizabeth Backstrom majored in journalism at Western Washington University and currently works as a content analyst and grant writer in Spokane. Her background is in newswriting and features, but if an overabundance of caffeine is consumed, she has been known to write a humor piece or two. Backstrom attended various Christian churches growing up in Spokane and currently attends First Covenant Church, an inner-city ministry in downtown Spokane.

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