Peter Wehner sees civil war breaking out among evangelicals in the US.

For anyone with a past or present connection to evangelicalism, Wehner’s essay at The Atlantic is a sobering and challenging, but important, read:

“For many Christians, their politics has become more of an identity marker than their faith. They might insist that they are interpreting their politics through the prism of scripture, with the former subordinate to the latter, but in fact scripture and biblical ethics are often distorted to fit their politics.”

My brief comment on Facebook:

not sure how this relates to our situation here in Canada. But, having started ordained ministry in a “mainline” church during the decline of the 80’s, this comment struck me with force:

“Evangelical ministries and churches fit the ‘spirit of the age,’ growing rapidly in the 1970s, and retaining more of their members even as many mainline denominations declined.” 

I can’t count the number of times I was told in the past that the only reason for the decline in “mainline denominations” and the growth of evangelicalism was the fact that the former had sold out to the spirit of the age and forsaken the true faith, while the latter had remained true to the Gospel.

ALAN BEAN follows up on Wehner’s comments with important insights of his own:

if a civil war is tearing American white evangelicalism apart, we must ask why now?  Sure, Trump cannot be ignored, but could such a man have so successfully captured a major slice of American Christianity it any other era?  I don’t think he could.

Consider the massive changes white evangelicals have faced in the present century:

  • The election of America’s first Black president
  • The legalization of gay marriage
  • The Black Lives Matter movement
  • An upsurge in popular attention to America’s racial history (particularly among the young)
  • Public attention to non-binary sexual identity
  • A steadily widening wealth gap and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression
  • Two incredibly expensive wars America could not win
  • Growing public perplexity with the climate crisis.

I could go on, but you get the message.  America’s white evangelicals (males in particular) see each of these developments as a catastrophe.  As a consequence, large portions of the evangelical subculture have quite literally gone mad.  They are no longer in touch with reality because, for decades now, reality has been defined by non-evangelical politicians, scientists, academics, and entertainers.  A large slice of the white evangelical pie no longer believes these people, but has nowhere else to turn… 

Evangelicals… have cobbled together a brand of personal piety entirely lacking in social application.  We’re about saving souls, we have said, not changing society.  A religion nurtured in slave culture is bound to be like that.  Evangelicals, as a consequence, oppose practically every form of social change but have little in the way of a positive program.  We tell our people that the only practical application is evangelism.  “Go ye into all the world and make disciples” is our favorite passage.  We leave off the end of the sentence “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”