Q & R: An international public debate>

Here’s the Q:

Your books have always been an encouragement to me. I was also raised in a strict evangelical upbringing. But, contrary to you, I left the faith for many years, getting involved in zen Buddhism for several years, then reading the Bible at a crisis point in my life and receiving Christ – this time in my heart, not just my mind. But I always held some of my beliefs that didn’t fit into what was considered orthodoxy, for myself, picking up a few more along the way, keeping them mostly to myself as well.
Well, today I opened my email and found an article in Yahoo news about just what the religious beliefs of some of these Christian political candidates are. A very interesting article. And I thought, now is the time for a Christian debate on the issues. Just what do we think the Bible teaches about the Kingdom of God? What does that have to do with politics? With our daily activities? Just what is our mandate as Christians? What is this business about being born again? Being “filled with the Spirit”? What does the Bible teach (or not teach) about “spiritual warfare”? Or this idea of Wagner’s about demons and principalities? How are we meant to understand the Bible? Old Testament passages, especially those pertaining to warfare, capital punishment, homosexuality? What is orthodoxy? Fundamentalism? How could someone like you counter someone who claims to be a “Bible-believing Christian”, someone who implies, or perhaps even asserts that you are not?
I was thinking that now is the time for a discussion forum or debate on these subjects. These subjects are taking center stage right now, and the views of millions of Christians as well as non-Christians are at stake. What better time to discuss these issues than now? I was thinking a debate or some kind of live forum with people like yourself, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Bill Hybels and others such as John MacArthur, these politicians like Perry and Bachmann, people from Falwell or Oral Roberts University could be a very fruitful thing for people to watch. You might even win over some minds and hearts to Jesus, as you understand him. If you did this, it should be publicized internationally (I live in Germany, and people here are also interested, even if largely uninformed on these subjects), and televised at least nationally and made available on the internet.
What do you think?

Here’s the R:

I think it’s a great idea – a serious dialogue among Christians about key theological issues that affect US policy. Here would be my preliminary list of topics:
– Abortion/Gay Marriage: This is a given. It would be great to have a forum where responsible holders of several different viewpoints could briefly make their case – without vilification of the other views. Then it would be good to move on to other important issues that often get eclipsed by this one issue.
– Poverty/Wealth/Inequality/Debt: A huge issue … wouldn’t you love to hear someone like Tony Campolo engaging with a Republican supporter on this?
– War/Torture/Death Penalty: Again – it would be refreshing and stimulating to hear a range of Christians make their cases.
– Climate/Environment/Energy/Consumption – Here’s a theological conversation worth having!
– Pluralism/Islamaphobia/Inter-religious Dialogue – again, incredibly important these days.
– Immigration – What is our theology of national borders, human rights, and human need?
– Christian Zionism/Palestine – A huge issue that too seldom gets discussed openly and intelligently.
– Faith and the Presidency: What does it mean for Rick Perry to have ties to the New Apostolic Reformation movement, or for Mitt Romney to be a Mormon, or for President Obama to be a more progressive Christian?
The question is … who would sponsor such a series of theological conversations? And who should be invited to address the various topics? And what format would facilitate the best quality of engagement? (It would be great to see some dialogue about this at my Facebook page –
You never know … someone may read this who could actually make it happen.