Wednesday, January 7, 2015

5 Reasons Why American Evangelicalism Completely Lost Me

I was reading a blog by Benjamin Corey on Patheos about why he would not consider returning to Evangelicalism and it resonated with some things I am writing in my current book project, “The Four Walls of Evangelical Christianity,” especially his point #4, that Evangelical Christianity is obsessed with taking power over our culture, which goes with my chapter on “The Theology of Dominance.” I am also currently reading John Davison Hunter’s book about the failed Evangelical attempt to change our secular culture through the efforts of the religious right (To Change the World, The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibilityof Christianity in the Late Modern World).

Below are the highlights of Benjamin Corey’s blog post which you can read in its entirety here.

5. Today’s Evangelicalism looks more like a political movement than Jesus.
Just try to have a regular conversation with the average Evangelical– chances are they’ll talk more about the political battles of the day than they’ll speak of Jesus, and that should be a major red flag to anyone who wants to pursue Jesus with reckless abandon. Without their political identity, many Evangelicals would not have a sense of identity at all.

4. Today’s Evangelicalism is obsessed with power.
The invitation of Jesus is to become a “servant of all,” setting aside the need/desire for power so that one can busy themselves taking the lowliest of positions– that of a servant. Since Evangelicalism has become more of a political movement than something that is part of the Jesus movement, its focus has shifted from becoming a servant to gaining and maintaining power.
When you combine the quest for power with political ideologies that are completely foreign to Christianity itself, they find themselves in a big mess– which is the state of American Evangelicalism today.

3. Today’s Evangelicalism seems generally unteachable and unwilling to wrestle with theology.
Too many Evangelicals are willing to learn only if new learning will reenforce what they already believe. There’s little room for growth, reinterpretation, or the constant need for contextualization of the scriptures. For a movement that prides itself on following the scriptures, I’m repeatedly shocked at the unwillingness to see what the scriptures actually say and the willingness to malign those who attempt to point the movement back to the source.

2. Today’s Evangelicalism doesn’t seem to share Jesus’ heart for outsiders.
Jesus was among the excluded, and lived a life where he was constantly inviting the others who were excluded to come in and have a seat at the table. Jesus was passionate about including people one would never think should be included.
Today’s Evangelicalism on the other hand, seems to be in a perpetual cycle of always redefining the lines– not to draw people in, but to keep even more people out. Instead of throwing a banquet and inviting in the outcasts (an image Jesus painted through one of his parables) it seems that Evangelicalism is more concerned with maintaining purity of the label than it is interested in inviting others to see and experience the “Good News” for which Evangelicalism is named after.
We should constantly be looking for ways to build bridges and invite people in–not building walls in order to keep people out.

1. Today’s Evangelicalism punishes people by withholding of relationships.
I’ve experienced what happens to Evangelicals who dare to question, who dare to read their Bibles, and who dare to actually apply some of Jesus’ teachings (such as the command to nonviolently love our enemies): the punishment of having all of my relationships taken away from me.
Whereas a year and a half ago I had a church family and a circle of friends in my local area, today we are completely isolated– all of the friends we had have now packed their bags and left. I may be widely read but in my local area, I have a total of one real-world friend left, and even he has admitted the he gets questioned by others as to why he’s friends with me.
Today’s Evangelicalism does this to folks who think outside Evangelical lines– it strips them of relationships, cuts them off, and severs ties. I can’t count the number of emails I get with folks sharing their stories in this regard– it is sadly all too commonplace.

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