So everyone’s leaving evangelicalism? Now, that’s good news! What we talk about when we talk about evangelicalism (This is the book Rob Bell should have wrote) is nothing less than politics. And I think we can all agree that as of late politics have been all-consuming and well a bit much.
In America, it’s no longer faith & politics, it’s faith/politics.
The decades – long experiment of testing the evangel, good news of Jesus, against it’s both Republican and Democrat control variables has pronounced a verifiable conclusion, to the tune of 81%! That’s scientific validity folks! Evangelicalism is politics.
Evangelical faith in America is representative of a whole host of political perspectives that, no surprise – naturally should follow from one’s expressed religious belief, only here, faith has been sublimated into those very perspectives. The Hegelian synthesis has occurred. Faith to the common evangelical is one in the same, or at least an 81% match, with shrinking the government, standing for the anthem, anti-abortion, deporting illegal immigrants and while we’re at it – creating jobs!
It’s never good practice to shoot from the hip at targets so complex and nuanced as western evangelicalism but humor me a minute. David Bebbington’s pinpoint definition for evangelicalism offers four qualities: biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism and activism. Your average evangelical may or may not identify with these qualities: a particular regard for the bible, the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the radical response in personal conversion and lastly the demonstrable expression of the gospel in life. But whether they identified with these qualities or not, evangelicals, up to this point, could have always put a check mark in this box as It positioned them in some implicit, respectable manner as a follower of Jesus; a bible-believing, Christ-centered, transformed disciple of Jesus.
This is now no longer the case.
Core Christian beliefs have been eroding in the US and Canada steadily for the past few decades, however the cultural Christian could always assent to the convenient identity of ‘evangelical’ without ever understanding the content of the label. It was at best benign, though respectable. But now, the politicization of the word evangelical has riddled it with contempt. To many it is on the verge of being derisive.
So it would seem, the right response to evangelicals leaving home is to applaud them. Not a sarcastic slow-clap but an authentic cheer for someone who has soured on one thing in order to taste again the sweetness of the sure thing. Evangelicals are leaving home to come home to Jesus.
So, to my good natured, well-intentioned evangelical friends:
You can stop saying that Jesus was neither a democrat nor republican, yet the problem persists: you are either a democrat or republican. These are the first labels you reach for, and notably not the label of “follower of Christ”. You’ve heralded your sacred conscious to such heights for the sake of liberty that you cannot not taste the freedom of submission to your Lord, Jesus Christ.