We have now heard Donald Trump’s words, literally ad nauseam, as he boasted about forcing himself on women, kissing them and grabbing them. Now, while the Republican Party implodes, many conservative evangelicals are brushing off the comments.
To keep the evangelical belief system intact, a person needs to be a part of the subculture. You need to be surrounded by like-minded people who can look past scientific realities, uphold a separate role for women, and give unquestioned support to the GOP.
“Is there a back door out of hell?” I asked the students seated across the table from me. The question hung there for a minute as they considered it. If they said yes, what would that mean about how they had always thought about hell? If they said no, what would that mean about how they had always thought about God? In fall 2014, I had the opportunity to teach Contemporary Religious Thought.
Brian Steensland and Philip Goff's valuable anthology addresses a topic that usually flies under the media's radar: "new" evangelicals' progressive social engagement.
Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist, recently warned that the rise of Ebola signaled that we are living in the last days. Few people noticed. Christian filmmaker Paul Lalonde released an awful movie in October about the end of the world. Despite snagging Nicolas Cage for the lead role, Lalonde’s retooling of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s bestselling Left Behind books fell flat with audiences. Evangelical apocalypticism looks almost dead.
A recent meeting of the Conference on Faith and History featured a paper session titled “20th century evangelicalism.” Surprisingly, all three papers focused on conservative Protestant gender ideologies in the years since World War II. Just a few years ago, I would have expected studies of evangelicalism to emphasize political influence. Is gender the hot new topic?
The old stereotype is that evangelicals are unable or unwilling to talk about sex. Lately, the reality is the opposite.
Recently Victoria Osteen, wife of pastor Joel Osteen, made some comments that concerned many Christians. Apparently, she stated that worship was not for God but for the worshiper, that when people obey God, they should do it for themselves (although she later revised some of these comments). For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity.
Francis Schaeffer has changed thousands of lives, including mine. This other, earlier “Pope Francis” might not bear the same weight he once did. However, a Christianity Today readers’ poll once placed him above John Calvin in influence. Following World War II, Schaeffer had left behind separatist fundamentalism to help Billy Graham and the Jesus Movement usher in a golden age of evangelical conservative prestige.
Randall Balmer uses Jimmy Carter's career to trace the history of progressive religious beliefs in the post-Watergate political environment.
Steven Miller positions evangelicalism as the foil for other thinkers, movers, and shakers: it seemed so powerful and ubiquitous that those outside of the tent felt compelled to address it.
Long before Sarah Palin met CPAC and the Duck Dynasty clan discovered A&E, George Gallup Jr. famously declared 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical.” Subsequent commentators often pluralized “evangelical.” They might have done the same for “year,” too. In many years hence—1980, say, or 2004—it was 1976 all over again, to judge from the headlines. Those election years highlighted the Christian Right, a force that was not on Gallup’s radar screen back when Jimmy Carter was the prototypical evangelical in public life. The years of the evangelicals were not only about campaign politics, however.
At the heart of evangelicals’ conflicted identity, Molly Worthen argues, is the “struggle to reconcile reason with revelation, heart with head, and private piety with the public square.”
Power is a gift, a means of peacemaking, a God-sanctioned key to human flourishing. This is the striking claim advanced in Andy Crouch's engaging new book.