Hope For, But Not In, Evangelicalism

Many North American Evangelicals have shown the world how they want to be more involved in the world of politicians than to be part of the world where the heart and mind are, with Jesus Christ.

Official White House presidential portrait. Head shot of Trump smiling in front of the U.S. flag, wearing a dark blue suit jacket with American flag lapel pin, white shirt, and light blue necktie.
Official portrait, 2017of the 45th president of the U.S.A., Donald John Trump

For some years now, it has been clear to the outside world that the United States of America is struggling with a major problem for the practice of its religion. The evangelical community, in particular, has repeatedly been let down by pastors who have chosen to praise and recommend certain politicians to their believers, as if they were the only true and honest politicians who would be in line with the idea of faith and who would also defend that faith. Even when the 45th President of the U.S.A. took the Bible in hand to commit sacrilege, those evangelical preachers stood by their idol.

An unbelievable number of evangelicals have allowed themselves to be stirred up by that self-willed President to even go to war for their country and attack the Capitol. They went at it with brute force and the whole world could see how they went mad and acted like animals. Anything but an example of how a Christian should behave.

That 2021 January 6th will forever be a blot on the white evangelical network.

American pastor and current PhD candidate in Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland Jared Stacy researches the intersection of theology and political conspiracies in the history of American Evangelicalism and wrote some interesting articles on this. He also in 2020-21 was processing his decision to leave Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., where he was ministering to young parishioners in their 20s and 30s until November 2020.

But in the four years since he had joined the church as a pastor, Stacy had found himself increasingly up against an invisible, powerful force taking hold of members of his congregation: conspiracy theories, disinformation and lies.

Stacy has seen the real consequences of these lies build up over the years; he says it has tainted the name of his faith.

“If Christians in America are serious about helping people see Jesus and what he’s about and what he claims, then the label ‘evangelical’ is a distraction because it bears, unfortunately, the weight of a violence,”

he told NPR.

“I would not use that term because of its association with Jan. 6.”

That’s the day the U.S. Capitol was attacked and invaded by a violent mob driven by what’s commonly known as “the big lie”: that President Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. The rioters moved toward the Capitol following a rally held by then-President Donald Trump, during which he repeated that big lie. Rioters say they were compelled to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s election, which was happening at that time at the Capitol. {Disinformation Fuels A White Evangelical Movement. It Led 1 Virginia Pastor To Quit}

Trump had so convincingly spoken to his fellow Americans that 3 in 5 white evangelicals say Biden was not legitimately elected. But that idea was fed by evangelical pastors who from the cancel also presented such lies. From Europe we could see how Donald Trump spread his poison and how certain evangelist preachers helped him to do so.

Among them is Pastor Ken Peters, who founded the Patriot Church in Knoxville, Tenn., last year.

“I believe that right now we have an illegitimate president in the White House and he was not elected by the people,”

Peters told NPR.

“I believe the truly ‘We the People’-elected, should-be president is residing in Florida right now.” {Disinformation Fuels A White Evangelical Movement. It Led 1 Virginia Pastor To Quit}

On its website, the Patriot Church is described as a movement:

“a church interceding on behalf of her nation.”

That movement has a name: Christian nationalism. Some conservative evangelical circles have incubated and spread these kinds of conspiracy theories — some of which have led to violence – for years. {Disinformation Fuels A White Evangelical Movement. It Led 1 Virginia Pastor To Quit}

The big problem America is facing today is that politics and religion have become totally intertwined and many evangelical churches have chosen to play the political game of the rulers.

Jared Stacy a.o. wrote:

American culture is predisposed towards the worship of great men defined by Western culture. Look no further than VP Mike Pence’s speech at last year’s GOP convention where he equated American patriots with Christian sainthood using Hebrews 11. It is a vision marked by a certain heroic strain, one that forces Jesus to play by its rules.  {Not So Biblical Manhood}

Jared Stacy calls 2021 January 6th a theological event. {January 6: A Failed Apocalypse} For him it is clear that

January 6th was more than a failed political coup. It was a failed theological apocalypse.{January 6: A Failed Apocalypse}

He looks at what he calls

failed theology at the heart of the violence.

and says

Calling this theology “evangelical” ignores the majority of the world’s evangelical Christians existing outside the United States, who have nothing to do with the sort of theo-political views that fueled the violence that day. But inside the house of American evangelicalism, where I come from, it’s equally ignorant to use the No-True-Scotsman to disown the mob and deny the distinct American evangelical influence among them.

We can wonder how far that evangelical influence went. To what extent did evangelical preachers contribute to stirring up the crowd against the legal power and infrastructure of the United States?

According to Stacy for too long, evangelicals have acted in ways that betray Jesus while arguing they are actually loyal to Jesus.

In the name of culture war victory, evangelicals have lost our integrity and with it our ability to make plain the gospel hidden in our name. {Our Evangelical Betrayal}

He continues

For evangelicals, this betrayal has taken many forms:

whether a cultish loyalty to Trump in defense of “our Christian nation”, or a reticence to deal with homefront failures on race and abuse in the name of “church unity”, or our reduction of a pro-life ethic to supporting a political platform. We argue these betrayals are actually displays of loyalty, just like  Henry [King Henry V] ’s traitorous advisor. {Our Evangelical Betrayal}

Then-presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a worship service at the International Church of Las Vegas on Oct. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Then-presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a worship service at the International Church of Las Vegas on Oct. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

We remember:

  • Evangelicalism in the United States is experiencing a multi-faceted crisis of identity.
  • the hope of the mob was undeniably theological on January 6th {January 6: A Failed Apocalypse}
  • The largest US Protestant evangelical denomination = Southern Baptist Convention  SBC facing it’s biggest threat ever {Why I’m Here} = a massive crisis of polity between its executive leadership & democratically elected messengers + scandalous evil of sexual abuse by multiple Southern Baptist pastors
  • mishandling of sexual abuse allegations =>
  • Southern Baptists debating boundaries for their cooperative efforts, everything from women receiving the title “pastor” on staff (or teaching in mixed-gender environments) to the potential use or abuse of race-related theories arising from secular ideologies.
  • overall picture of numerical decline for SBC is discouraging
  • Evangelical political alliances worked on Evangelicalism for generations
  • Since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 due in part to strong support from White evangelical Protestants > White Americans who viewed Trump favourably and did not identify as evangelicals in 2016 were much more likely than White Trump sceptics to begin identifying as born-again or evangelical Protestants by 2020.
  • Among White respondents (both voters and nonvoters) who identified as evangelical Protestants in 2016 and expressed at least some ambivalence about Trump, 88% still identified as evangelicals in 2020, while 12% no longer did so. {More White Americans adopted than shed evangelical label during Trump presidency, especially his supporters}
  • US evangelicals = complicit in both forming + being conformed by an American culture with prevailing notions of white supremacy, American exceptionalism, and individualism.

+

Preceding

  1. Right-wing fundamentalist Christians to dictate the U.S.A.
  2. Looking at 2021 in a nutshell
  3. One year ago people who said they love America stormed the Capitol
  4. Is it Time to Abandon “Evangelical?”
  5. The Moral Character of Public Officials: Remembering January 6
  6. How the term Evangelical has grown to blur theology and ideology
  7. Andrew McWilliams-Doty looks at evangelicals
  8. Why I’m Here

++

Additional reading

  1. Blinded crying blue murder having being made afraid by a bugaboo
  2. The clean sweeper of the whole caboodle
  3. Donald Trump his America
  4. United in an open society relying not on command and control but on freedom
  5. American social perception, classes and fear mongering
  6. The man outranking the others having the trump card
  7. Fearmongering succeeded and got the bugaboo a victory (Our World)
  8. Fearmongering succeeded and got the bugaboo a victory (Some View on the World)
  9. 2019 was #2 a Year of much deceit in the U.S.A.
  10. 2019 was #3 a Year of much deceit in the News World
  11. United States of America once more showing how it wants to Distort Historical Facts and Truth
  12. Who can tackle Donald Trump
  13. Voted against their system (Our World)
  14. Voted against their system (Some View on the World)
  15. Incidents of hate have become commonplace in the U.S.A. anno 2017 (Our World)
  16. Incidents of hate have become commonplace in the U.S.A. anno 2017 (Some View on the World)
  17. According to Pew Most White Evangelicals Don’t Think COVID-19 is a Medical Crisis
  18. In denial, Donald Trump continues to insist that nothing serious is at hand and everything is in control
  19. Trump going over the top bringing a blasphemous act
  20. A president daring to use the Bible for underlining his hate speech
  21. Trump going over the top bringing a blasphemous act (Our World)
  22. Trump going over the top bringing a blasphemous act (Some View on the world)
  23. The Hero of the greatest …. failures
  24. Hollowness of democracy
  25. 2020 in view #1 The 45th president of the U.S.A.
  26. 2020 in view #2 The 45th president of the U.S.A. not willing to go
  27. Stress-test for democracy #1 Storming of the Capitol in Washington
  28. Stress-test for democracy #2 A coup d’etat with bloodshed
  29. The death knell of an Empire
  30. What is Fascism and who are today’s Fascists?
  31. Trump has been buffetted by accusations of misconduct (Some View on the World)
  32. Trump has been buffetted by accusations of misconduct (Our World)
  33. Donald Trump requesting to block investigations about the insurrection
  34. The American clouds of Anti-Semitism
  35. A History Of The Culture Wars
  36. Beyond the Culture Wars
  37. 2021 in review #1 the most startling point
  38. January 6: A Failed Apocalypse
  39. One year ago a sacred place was attacked

+++

Related

  1. A Short History of Evangelical Confusion
  2. Reformed and Evangelical across Four Centuries: The Presbyterian Story in America
  3. Evangelicals Today and William Wilberforce
  4. Evangelicals Today and Authority
  5. Evangelicalism in the USA: Discipleship failure owing to catechesis failure
  6. A Warning to the Sheep
  7. Trumpists and Religious Nutcases – Selfishness.
  8. One Ring to Bind Them All: Conservative Christians and the Theocratic Impulse
  9. Facts, Strategies, and Hope
  10. U.S. politics
  11. Systematic Attack on Democracy
  12. Party over Country
  13. Why Is Trump Being So Pussy About Jan. 6th, MAGA? If He Was On The Phone With Other Patriots, Holding Back Police From Defending, Trying to Stop the Fraudulent Election Being Certified, Why Doesn’t He Embrace It?
  14. There really is a vast right-wing conspiracy
  15. The Original Big Lie
  16. Jonah Goldberg is right about a third party but wrong about why it’s needed
  17. Insurrection
  18. The Social Justice Fault Lines in Evangelicalism
  19. We are talking but are we hearing each other?
  20. Review: Struggling with Evangelicalism
  21. Christian Dominionist Politics and the National Guard.
  22. A MAGA-Defiant Military
  23. More Christian Nationalist Violence Is Likely After Jan. 6 | Time
  24. ‘Let’s go Brandon!’ Further Validates My Rejection of Evangelicalism
  25. The Stench of Extreme Nationalism.
  26. Combating Christian Nationalism without Giving into Outrage
  27. Trump Paired with Hitler and other Fascists of History
  28. Turn the Corner and See More Trumpism
  29. The January 6th Insurrection
  30. To Save Democracy, we Must Charge and Prosecute Trump
  31. January 6th: A Year Later
  32. Trump-Russia is not a hoax
  33. Seriously…It’s a Cult
  34. Lindsey Graham proves again that Trump owns the Republican Party
  35. Ways to steal future elections – Rig the Census

Jared Stacy

I still believe the best days for Evangelicalism are ahead, not behind. But I say this well aware that Evangelicalism in the United States is experiencing a multi-faceted crisis of identity. We cannot reduce God to a movement, but our attempts to do just that are being exposed in the current crisis. So let’s be clear about the crisis, even as we figure out how to hope. Let’s not hope in Evangelicalism, but for a better future where evangelical Christianity has renewed integrity and prophetic witness.

Hope can only exist with its hand firmly on the truth. So let’s consider the truth of this crisis from inside and outside.

The US evangelical crisis is internal. The largest US Protestant evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, is currently facing a massive crisis of polity between its executive leadership and democratically elected messengers. The cause of this crisis? Its purported mishandling of…

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Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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