Evangelicalism has lost credibility. It can only blame itself. We are watching its unmasking. Evangelicalism is a disorganized, ecumenical alliance of Christians with traditional beliefs, the necessity of a personal experience with God in Christ (new birth), and as a movement it (previously) had a strong commitment to evangelism.
I am 57 and I have been following Jesus for 38 years. I have waited a long time for someone with your integrity and reputation to say these things out loud. Thank you.
Scot, tragically it's hard to disagree with your analysis. As someone following this sorry tale from Europe I'd like to ask to what implications to do you see of (white) American evangelicalism's 'unmasking' for global evangelicalism? I'm thinking networks like Lausanne, Micah, International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE) which, in their theology and praxis are miles away from what you describe. Who want to hold on to the name evangelical and resist it being defined (and we could say defiled) by a very American experience but find themselves tarred with the same brush (I'd put myself in that last sentence). One of the least appreciated (it seems to me) aspects of American evangelicalism's horror story is the impact it has on the credibility and mission of the global church.
Yes! Some churches are not a sanctuary for women. But when women stop going because of toxicity they are told they are moving away from Christ! In effect, they are made to feel guilty for being a victim of toxic church and this becomes yet another power and control tactic to keep attendance from falling! How can people be moving away from Christ when Christ is not in that church?
What Andrew said ... & every major Christian publication everywhere. Can't thank you enough for the concision & conviction with which you wrote this. May our walk in this world be as His was ... grace & truth ... always.
I agree with Mr. Terry. I think that part of the problem is that many white evangelicals have never really read the New Testament. Jesus spoke truth to power, Jesus was hanging out with the lowest of the low in Jewish society (prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors). When was the last time you saw a white evangelical invite/bring a prostitute (of any ethnicity) to church? If you really read the NT you should be struck by how radical it really is...
Jesus did not affiliate with a political movement, although initially some of the disciples probably were hoping that he would (perhaps Simon the Zealot?). Jesus was so far beyond human politics.
American evangelicals grew comfortable with mixing their faith with a political party and with a white power structure. They just wanted to feel comfortable. If you really read the gospel with open eyes you will be uncomfortable. You will be led to do things for God that you never would have considered before.
Because of your Evangelical background and associations, I can imagine this was not easy for you to write. I appreciate that you did though.
This piece needs to be published in Christianity Today. Is this article behind the sub stack pay wall? This should be shared all around.
I guess the only cure for this, is to know and follow Jesus. Millennials and Celebrity pastors @CareyNiehof et al profit for 'teaching' others how to do church, instead of following Jesus. And they charge money- in other words make a living off the 'church'
My father in law pastored and grew one of the largest churches in BC at the time thru a focus on prayer and evangelism. He didn't tell people how to do it- or write on how to grow your church.
We suffer from too much celebrity-too little humility and no individual responsibility. The church has marketed itself and now it's a product no one wants.. but sigh- they need Jesus.
"The jig is up" is not a fishing term.
This is reminds me of something Gordon Fee wrote 20+ years ago, "Frankly, much of the fault lies with the church, especially those of us in the church who pride ourselves in being orthodox with regard to the historic faith. For all to often our orthodoxy has been either diluted by an unholy alliance with a given political agenda, or diminished by legalistic or relativistic ethics quite unrelated to the character of God, or rendered ineffective by a pervasive rationalism in an increasingly nonrationalistic world..." I have far too many friends who have left the church entirely because it sided with present age politics instead of King Jesus. It breaks my heart.
"Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" sounds like an insightful read. I am continually amazed at the numbers of Christian males who blithely quote Scripture out of its literary, cultural, and historical context when this dogma is challenged, completely ignoring the wounds it is inflicting on women. You'd think that if female, POC, poor, AND LGBTQ individuals are all crying out, saying, "You're hurting me!" then church folks would start to question their dogma. Instead, I've seen them double down, citing passages where Jesus was maybe not so nice. But they woefully forget that the ONLY sin Jesus had no mercy for was religious oppression.
It's time for the Church to get born again.
Sorry Scot, but powermongering is not limited to white males, but widely practiced by those in every tribe, tongue and nation. The United States is the least racist while most diverse nation on this planet because of white, male evangelicals. Sure, those with power have been massive moral failures. Haven't you read 1 and 2 Kings? To assume that somehow white, male Christians are above such failings is the ultimate white supremacist belief.
This is exactly why Critical Race Theory is so dangerous and anti-Christian. It place all guilt on one race while excusing the same sins in all other races. Unmask CRT and you find an elitist, racist, even fascist ideology pretending to be about justice and equality. Those pushing this nonsense what to burn down everything so they can bring forth the Millennium. That's a belief straight out of Hell.
I did notice that the SBC decided not to even discuss doing an independent investigation into their involvement in sex abuse cover-up which would allow for waiving of privilege, expanded interviews/access and an independent task force. I believe your article is somewhat prophetic. When we make amends, we ask the people who have been harmed what it would take to attempt to right the wrongs. Rachel Denhollender, a lawyer and a survivor plainly explained what needed to be done. They should have listened. Instead they criticized her. I am sure the same will be done to African American leaders. Many are asking that the SBC support CRT. If they are interested in making amends, they will ask people of color what they want and do it.
I actually have no dog in this fight. My mother did grow up in the baptist church, and I attended many charismatic churches after that. I now attend a small church in NC which would be considered evangelical. But, I actually think these "resolutions" are stupid. Why are they even commenting on political issues? They are not qualified. Leave that to the sociologists, historians, scientists, etc. Everybody (christ followers) can read the bible for themselves and discern through the holy spirit what it means for our modern culture.
There are legitimate concerns about the state of the church today. But I'm tired of those who criticize the church based on their own standards of compassion, goodness and care. If, for example, Christians shouldn't be involved in the political world, what is his alternative to ending the legal killing of preborn children? Would he also criticize Martin Luther King Jr or William Wilberforce for their political work as Christiansto stop political injustice ? It's easy to critize but people like this can't just critique and then leave no alternative.
Scott, love this article so much and totally agree. Will you expand what you mean here please? “Many evangelicals deny complicity while Southern Baptist leaders as well as theologians like Owen Strachan want to deny the use of academic disciplines designed to unmask complicity.“
Angry piece of writing. You paint with a wide brush. Corruption needs to be called out, but you vilify by association. I will never lose my love for the name "evangelism", "ευαγγέλιον", a word that describes what the gospel message is - the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and eternal life - now. I'm an evangelical, contemplative, social justice oriented, practice oriented, charismatic friendly, sacramental follower of Jesus. I love Jesus and people. What you write is important to hear. I suspect you might be preaching to the choir here, but nonetheless most of what you write is vital to hear and call out, but there seems to be an undertone of hostility here. Balance is important in all writing. Just a thought...maybe say something which will qualify what has (admittedly) become a small section of folk who don't walk in the path of those whom you correctly call out, yet still do hold to the original values you claim were at one time "respectable" in society. Peace...