I suspect many evangelicals have discounted the importance of the 'marginally committed' to our communities.
Those who are 'marginally committed' to a church might only show up once a month. They might even only show up on Christmas and Easter.

Yet when there are enough of them, they give a community a sense of energy and vitality that it otherwise would lack.
Because evangelicalism has its roots as a renewal movement within existing institutions--think Wesley as an Anglican--there are deep pressures to make everyone "fully committed."

That doesn't just mean church attendance: it means daily devotionals, Christian music, etc.
That pietism is immensely rewarding. I wouldn't trade my enthusiastic upbringing for anything.

But it also animates suspicions toward the marginally committed. Sometimes those suspicions rise to the level of trying to identify the 'unconverted' in our churches.
That pietism can also be exhausting, of course. It's hard to have the kind of chronic wakefulness to God's presence that evangelicals often aim at.

That difficulty is partially why monks exist, it seems to me.
The most recent manifestation of this dynamic of questioning the marginally committed was, I think, the "Radical Christianity" phenomenon--which like many such movements seems to have spent itself out.
[Shameless, almost-gratuituous self-promotion: I once wrote a cover story for @CTmagazine about 'radical Christianity.] christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/…
This impetus, though, has political dimensions: there is pervasive skepticism about those who seem to be only 'marginally committed' to, say, certain controversial moral positions--and the political judgments that *seem* to flow from them.
The tendency among politically engaged evangelicals is to argue that anyone who is not with us in our particular political program is against us.
They introduce purity tests in order to determine whether people are really on our side.

Sometimes those are statements. Other times they are votes.
The aim is to "clarify" where the (seemingly) marginally committed stand on a particularly divisive question. They want to draw a line in order to force people to make a decision about whether they are 'in or out'--in part because of the prior skepticism that people are 'in.'
In this sense, I think it's a mistake to speak about "evangelical [political] conservatives" these days. There are none: there are only reactionaries, who force people to demonstrate their bona fides by raising the costs for departing from 'political orthodoxy.'
The effect of this, though, is that it prematurely winnows people from our 'team.' Raising the stakes "reveals" that the marginally committed weren't *actually* committed--but it also leaves fewer people in the pews than there were before.

And that matters.
This is more or less the impetus within fundamentalism, as I understand it. Once a movement becomes predominantly focused on the threats to its integrity, it will begin seeing those threats everywhere--even in places where they may not be.
Now: "Whoever is not with Me is against Me" is a word from our Lord (Mt. 12:30).

But so is: "The one who is not against us is for us" (Mk. 9:40).
These two together supply excellent reason to not engage in the premature winnowing of the marginally committed, many of whom are with Jesus in their nominal affiliation with his body--or at least are not against his disciples.
They also supply, I think, good reason to check out of the perennial contest about what constitutes 'true evangelicalism'--which is largely animated by these dynamics.
There's more to say on all this. But lunch awaits, as does work.

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More from @mattleeanderson

7 Apr
Evangelicals routinely oscillate between reifying doubt as a mode of Christian living and rejecting it as "sinful."

The former is a reaction against unhealthy communal practices that the latter simply reinforces.
An anxious faith will invariably a brittle one.

At some point, we have to consider the possibility that people shaped by evangelical contexts routinely capitalize on "deconstructing" what they have received is an indicator that not all is well.
I say "routinely" advisedly. Folks might say they're "deconstructing" now, but it's the same process that people have been exploiting for the past twenty years or so (at least).
Read 11 tweets
6 Apr
The odds of me experiencing a heart-attack during the #NationalChampionship are higher than I'd like.

If you don't hear from me by tomorrow, it's been real, Twitter.

Go Baylor.
Update: there was no heart-attack. That was a fun, fun ride. I was cautiously optimistic before the game, but that was far more decisive than I could have hoped for.
I said to friends earlier in the year that this Baylor team, pre-Covid-break, was one of the best college basketball teams I'd ever seen.

Tonight vindicated that in a big, big way.
Read 6 tweets
5 Apr
I was an early mask defender. But Fauci's missteps made that position a harder sell to the American public, not easier.

Ignoring Fauci's very real, very unacknowledged (so far) mistakes only emboldens MAGA. washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-t…
Even at this juncture, our public health establishment seems bent on doing everything it can to undermine its own credibility.

Even if there *is* a fourth wave, using the language of 'impending doom' is grossly irresponsible.

Is there a fourth wave? Experts *disagree!* washingtonpost.com/health/2021/04…
Read 5 tweets
26 Jan
Evangelicalism's "social vision is fragmentary, often lacks substance and strategy, and focuses mainly on a one-issue or single-candidate approach." -- Carl Henry, 1980
In 1980, evangelicals were surging into politics. Henry: "Yet some observers fear--and with good reason--that this involvement may eventually become as politically misguided as was the activism of liberal Christianity earlier this century."
Henry: "If evangelicals settle only for single-issue or fragmentary [political] involvement, evangelicals will treat public concerns as but a marginal appendage to evangelism, and remain highly vulnerable to more comprehensive political strategies of nonevangelical groups."
Read 6 tweets
23 Oct 20
This is an admirable piece by @JohnPiper. But I'll confess I'm perplexed by the argument that pride is killing people equivalently to abortion, and that we should include that as part of our *political* reasoning. desiringgod.org/articles/polic…
One question is simply empirical: *does* a "culture-saturating, pro-self pride" actually kill people in the sense relevant that we could even compare it to abortion?

It certainly kills the soul, and we should fear that worse than the death of the body (Mt. 10:28).
While pride's effects on the polity may be considerable, they also seem indirect. Whether and how the government constrains the evils that arise from pride would therefore seem like an extraordinarily difficult matter of prudential judgment.
Read 7 tweets
24 Aug 20
The scandal the Religious Right has brought upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ by protecting such degeneracy breaks my heart. reuters.com/investigates/s…
This is false. The reason the media is fascinated is because they hate people who demand traditional moral values *for others* while flagrantly violating them *ourselves.*
A confident Christian witness depends upon the integrity of the church.

There is no circumventing the demand for holiness in our communities if we want to proclaim the Gospel with beauty and with power.
Read 8 tweets

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