Burning (Straw) Man



Burning Man

I’m having a hard time getting rid of something I don’t want anymore. I may need your help. It’s my evangelical awareness. It haunts me like a small cloud that follows me everywhere, or like a straw man who whispers over my shoulder when I’m writing, “Don’t say this.” “Don’t even imply that; they won’t like it.”

I can remember when my spell checker didn’t even know what an evangelical was. That’s because evangelicals were the only ones who cared about what an evangelical was. Now everyone thinks they know what an evangelical is because the modern media has co-opted the term to mean something political.

It used to be an evangelical was a believer in Jesus who believed the Bible was the word of God, and the message it proclaims is all about saving people from their sins, and it is our job to get that message out to the world. Now an evangelical is a “religious” person who is against abortion, the LGBTQ and anyone who will challenge their own rights as a Christian in a court of law.

Evangelicals have become a voting bloc that politicians have to pay attention to because they have been the difference in the last few elections, which obviously feeds their egos and makes them think they are getting what they wanted, when, sadly, what they wanted has nothing to do with the gospel.

So from now on if I put “evangelicals” in quotes, that means I’m quoting what the world means when it uses the word. It’s the straw man.

Not that there aren’t many true believers in the “evangelical” camp, but their voices and concerns have been usurped by imposters who care more about making society bend to their liking and increasing their power to do so than they do about spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ or anything even close to resembling Grace Turned Outward.

To be sure, this is one of the reasons we love the millennials here at the Catch. They are the next wave, and they are already experiencing a spiritual resurgence that has nothing to do with us boomers or what we care about. They don’t give a hoot about the things most “evangelicals” right now seem willing to die for. If they are followers of Jesus, they only care about what the red letters in their Bible apps say. And those letters say nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, about the big issues claiming all the attention of “evangelicals” today. We need to partner with them by coming alongside and helping them with what they believe God is asking them to do. They will love to hear our stories, but it’s their book that is being written, and that’s the book we need to care about.

A word to the boomers: Come on guys, let’s admit it, we’re all AARP members who need to stop wishing for the old times. They’re gone. We need to wake up; get some millennials in our lives, listen to them, and start caring about the world and the people we are leaving behind, instead of trying to resuscitate the old one. The straw man is just that; he’s made out of straw. I know … let’s have a rave and burn that guy. We’ll call it Burning (Straw) Man, and we’ll hold it on the campus of Wheaton College. (And I actually think they would support that!)


I realize that in publishing this Catch, I am running the risk of losing some of you who are either in, or who sympathize strongly with, the current “evangelical” camp. However, I’m banking on the assumption that if you’ve been around the Catch for a while and you are one of those people I just described, you probably would have left a long time ago, unless you’re not really reading what I’m struggling with here every day.

Or maybe you are caught somewhere between being an evangelical and an “evangelical” but you like being stimulated to think differently. Fantastic. Stick around. We don’t claim to be even close to having all the answers, we just keep trying to find the truth and live it out in the world around us. And we need you to help us do that.


I’m one hundred times more passionate about creating Christians and churches that will be faithful, biblical, countercultural, and spiritually minded in a socialist America, in a Muslim America, in a communist America, than I am in preventing a Muslim America or a communist America. … My main calling is not to help America be anything, but to help the church be the church.    – John Piper

This entry was posted in Christianity and politics, Millennials, new frontier, Worldview and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Burning (Straw) Man

  1. Linn says:

    I am an older “evangelical”, but I prefer the term Christian or believer because people always assume things about me that aren’t true at all. I have similar outlooks on certain things like abortion and gay lifestyle/marriage, but I don’t believe in the belief of America being chosen by God to save the world (can’t find it in my Bible), that Israel is always right, and that Trump is the great white hope (perish the thought). I purposefully live in a culturally diverse urban area, and spend my time at church with the Spanish congregation. It’s why I love your blog.

  2. Gary Mintchell says:

    I love the cloud picture, sort of like Pigpen in “Peanuts.” I’m with you. But…it’s time to expand the millennials reach. There is a “generation” after them coming of age. I’m beginning to see them at the engineering conferences I attend. Also, don’t lose sight of “Gen X”, they are not the “slackers” of popular media fiction.

    I’ll go help light the fire of the straw man. Keep it up, John. Back to the Jesus Movement roots.

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Excuse me Pastor John I maybe wrong, I have been before, yet can you please pretty please stop putting everyone in one or two camps and try a bit harder to refrain from judging anyone, an
    “evangelical” or an evangelical. The World does that enough, I don’t come here to read more of it…Matt 7:1 Judge not less you…

    Please correct me if I am wrong here, but to me a lot of what u wrote in Today’s Catch seems like judging… And God never gave you, me or anyone the right to do that: As u wrote here “A word to the boomers: Come on guys, let’s admit it, we’re all AARP members who need to stop wishing for the old times. They’re gone. We need to wake up; get some millennials in our lives, listen to them, and start caring about the world and the people we are leaving behind, instead of trying to resuscitate the old one.”

    Please stop from trying to speak for me! U have every right to speak for yourself, but for not me! And here’s some more verses:

    “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judges another?” (James 4: 10-12)

    I’m getting kind of fed-up w/ this “us” verses them BS! God never told anyone to do that, yet to love the that have differentiating opinions. Not try to classify w/ quote or non quotes!

    • jwfisch says:

      Mark, I hear you. In fact, you have heard a lot from this Catch about the very things you are citing here — judging and “us vs them” categorizing. So I appreciate you calling me out. However there does come a time when a prophet must speak out against what is wrong with what is going on in the name of the Lord. I am merely speaking out on a public stage about abuses of power and a compromise of the gospel. I am not pointing to any one person. People must judge themselves based on what I have pointed out. My passion is for the truth. When the truth is being distorted by the culture, the prophet in me must speak out.

      • Mark D Seguin says:

        Dear Pastor John now that I had some time to think & pray about this I sincerely wish I wouldn’t had so harsh… Yet still think & sincerely feel you should consider speaking for yourself not all baby boomers…

        PS So please forgive me for being so harsh w/ you – I love you as a man of God and have learned sooo much from you & your gorgeous wife, Marti….

  4. drewdsnider says:

    Spot-on, John! I’ve shied away from calling myself a “Christian”, for exactly that reason: what the advertising boys would call a “branding issue”. I prefer “Jesus Follower”, since He didn’t tell us to make Christians of all nations, but to spread the Gospel. I also believe in His advice to “let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify the Father.”

    And therein lies our 21st Century challenge: the canard that “you can be good without God” – a rave-fave among atheists and mistheists. Whatever we do, we have to make sure that God gets the glory, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are credited as the motivator and energizer. “I’m not that good,” should be our response when people pat us on the back for doing a good work: “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do” (said without the false humility that turns into pride if you’re not careful.

    Besides, if you take GOD out of GOOD, you’re left with O.

    • Sandie says:

      Respectfully Drew, but a mere “thank-you” and smile would suffice when people show appreciation. Otherwise we negate the good feeling we tried so hard to bring about and leave the ‘thanker’ with deflation. We need to aid the Spirit in drawing people to us and point to the Jesus in us. When the question is asked, THEN quietly point to WHO it is that makes the difference in your heart and life. A blessed, Merry Christmas to you!

  5. Wayne C Bridegroom says:

    Thanks John. Your words remind me of the Apostle Paul, “Oh you foolish Galatians…..” Part of a pastor’s responsibility is to correct the flock when it gets warped by it’s culture. Such is the writing in 1 Corinthians and Colossians.

  6. Yep!

    I spent 25 years as a chamber of commerce professional and interacted with a lot of elected “evangelicals.”

    Lot of truth in your comment…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.