The negative view held by Non-Evangelicals about Evangelicals,
as reflected in a recent poll, is because believers have lost sight
of the Gospel's core message, said Billy Graham's grandson and
Florida pastor Tullian Tchividjian.
"The core message of the Christian faith has been lost in the
public sector because what we are primarily known for is our
political ideology or opinion," Tchividjian told The Christian
Over the last 30 years, the Religious Right has replaced
Christianity's foremost message of the Gospel with that of a
political movement, argued the current pastor of Coral Ridge
"We're well known for saying things, 'We exist to reclaim
America for Jesus,' and stuff like that and in the process what
has been lost, is the message which I trumpet in [my book] One
Way Love, which is God's inexhaustible grace for exhausted
sinners like you and me," said Tchividjian.
Tchividjian's claims came in response to a new Pew Research
study poll which suggests that only 30 percent of non-
Evangelical Americans feel warmly about this religious group.
The survey, which measures the country's religious groups'
feelings towards one another, also showed that 42 percent of
non-Evangelical Americans gave responses in the "middle"
towards this group, while the sentiments of 27 percent could be
described as cold.
"Specifically the reason why Evangelicals in America are unliked
by non-Evangelicals is because we've branded ourselves as a
political movement. It's not like Christians don't have opinions
about what's going in our world and what's happening in our
culture; I think that we do, I do, we all do, but when the primary
message that the world hears from us is, "We need to fix the
world…We need to stamp out all of the bad stuff," they don't hear the message that Jesus has entrusted in us," continued
What is the message Tchividjian believes that Evangelicals
ought to be sharing?
"In Luke 4, Jesus about says himself, "I have come to set the
captives free. I've come to liberate the oppressed. I have come
to save broken people," said Tchividjian.
For Christians who claimed that their negative image was a
consequence of them speaking an unpopular truth, Tchividjian
cautioned against automatically arriving at this conclusion.
"If people are going to stumble over what we say, it's going to be
because we're called to speak the Gospel which Paul says is a
stumbling block. But I can't go out there and be a jerk and align
myself with a political party or a candidate and get crucified on
either the right or the left and just say "I'm just a martyr for the
truth." No, you're not even speaking the truth that God has
called you to speak first and foremost."
Tchividjian also noted that it was problematic that not all
Evangelicals felt positively towards those who did not share
their faith. Pew's study revealed that while white Evangelicals
rated one another on average an 82 (with zero the coldest and
100 the highest,) only Jews and Catholics received a score over
60. Buddhists were scored a 39, Hindus a 38, Atheists a 25, and
Muslims a 30.
"Where there is a lack of love for others on the other side of the
aisle, there in that moment we are not accurately representing
the Christian faith," said Tchividjian.
Tchividjian suggested that Evangelicals wishing to positively
respond to the negative feedback of the survey might emulate his grandfather.
"He has told me that the biggest mistakes he made early on his
ministry, in the '50s and early '60s, was speaking too much
about cultural and political issues at his evangelistic crusades.
He says that's one of his big regrets from his early years in
ministry," said Tchividjian.
The turning point for Graham came after the Watergate scandal,
"He had sort of had, an a-hah moment when he realized 'I have
particular calling as an evangelist and that is to preach the
Gospel to human beings, regardless of whether they're red,
yellow, black, white, rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, gay,
straight, didn't matter. My job is to preach the Gospel to
After his realization, Graham "stopped endorsing particular
candidates publicly because he knew the moment he endorsed
the candidate of one particular party that the people on the other
side of the aisle wouldn't listen to what he had to say. He
wanted very much to be a bridge builder and the way he did that
was to stay above the fray and sticking to his calling."