Dried fruits and assorted nuts have become my favorite snack in recent weeks. Nestled in the grocery display among the cranberries, raisins and mango was a bag touting “Premium Pitted Dried Plums.”

It took me a moment to realize these were prunes. Clearly there was an effort here to improve an image. Prunes conjure up visions of the elderly and regularity — not exactly the full market share that producers of dried plums want to reach.

In the March 10, 2009 issue of The Christian Century, writer Rodney Clapp points out the need for evangelicals to work on their image as well.

He notes that evangelicalism has thrived while mainline Protestantism has declined over recent decades. Therefore, there is a false sense of security.

“Evangelicalism is a tradition that does not know it is in trouble,” he writes. “But I think it is, in fact, profoundly in trouble.”

Clapp points to the forced resignation of Richard Cizik from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for showing too much interest in global warming and too much tolerance of homosexuals.

This, Clapp said, is just one example of current evangelical leadership’s “deeply reactionary tendencies.”

As its basic definition, evangelical means a bearer of “good news.” The problem, as noted Clapp, is that much of what comes from the most vocal conservative evangelicals today does not sound like good news.

An image built on condemnation, intolerance and judgment is not very attractive. And, as Clapp has observed, “…Evangelicalism is in deep trouble because the gospel really is good news, and reactionaries are animated by bad news, by that which they stand against.”

His point is well made and one worthy of our consideration — while enjoying some cashews, almonds, cranberries and prun…dried plums.

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