To set the stage, he describes Portland this way:
This city, it would seem, is the last place where evangelical Christianity would show its brightest colors. The Rose City sports an ultrasecular reputation. ...How has evangelical Christianity wormed its way into a secular city? The author spends much of the second half of his piece describing how the mega-church has done it, saying things like "history teaches that the church is often at its vibrant best in competitive, pluralistic environments," and attributing its recent success with its non-preachy outreach efforts. Before he gets into the boring details, however, he unwittingly touches upon the much more fundamental issue of why a progressive city could happily partner with their supposed cultural nemeses, the evangelicals, and what this means for the future of Christianity in our culture:
Regional land and transportation planning is so progressive that conservative pundit George Will has likened the Portland ethos to a disease, worrying in a column about it "metastasizing" to other parts of the country. [bold added]
Although Portland is hardly the only place where evangelical Christianity is evolving (and making new friends in the process), there is little doubt that evangelicals here are on the front end of a deep-change trend that is taking Christianity into its new future. What's especially interesting is the "why?" — the strong likelihood that Christianity's best face is showing up here in the unchurched mecca not in spite of the city's secularism and skepticism, but because of them. [emphasis in original]It should not be surprising that the moral vacuum created by the nihilism of the left--the "city's secularism and skepticism" noted by the author--is driving people to the only alternative they know of: Christian altruism. That the progressives in this example are already gleefully practicing altruists, added to the fact that man requires moral standards whether he recognizes that fact or not, means that the denial of any objective moral code by the progressives makes them ripe candidates to be subsumed by their more philosophically consistent brethren. Of course, the Christians don't offer an objective moral code grounded in the facts of reality and the nature of man--only rational egoism is such an objective moral code--but because progressives deny the existence of objective truth to begin with...
The author holds that Christianity's "best face" is consistent self-sacrifice, service, and "preaching through idealistic action rather than pious words," and that this is the current transformation Evangelicalism is undergoing. By being less preachy, they are more acceptable to secular skeptics. Because they both share sacrifice of the one to the many as the moral ideal, they are thus more willing to create "church-city partnership[s]."
Although this concept is similar to the government-church integration implicit in the "Faith-Based Organizations" introduced by George Bush, this "church-city partnership" is different in two crucial aspects: its grassroots, independent nature, and the fact that it is happening in one of the most leftist cities in the country. This phrase should chill the blood of anyone who values liberty. It shows the path to theocracy. When we add in the other trend of merging environmentalism and Christianity (the "stewards of the earth" idea), the picture that emerges is truly frightening.