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1. Many ex-Evangelicals leave when our understanding of Jesus comes to clash w/ right-wing culture wars and our criticism is deflected. BUT
2. It simply isn’t true that “anyone who has actually read the Gospels” will opt for social justice Christianity or bust. Not how this works
3. There was a time when I insisted the “real” Jesus of the gospels was nothing like Evangelicals, who are like the Pharisees he attacked.
4. That move still resonates with me on some level, but these days I object when people call conservative Evangelicals fake Christians.
5. And not only do I object on intellectual grounds; I also feel like the #FakeChristians approach erases my experience in Evangelicalism.
6. People in the Evangelical communities I grew up in DO READ THE BIBLE. A lot. In church, in morning quiet times. Cover to cover in a year.
7. I honestly feel miffed that I even have to point this out, but you’d better believe Evangelicals read the gospels often.
8. And memorizing Bible verses and passages is a huge part of Evangelical subculture. Awana. Sword drills. Sunday school. Christian schools.
9. Evangelicals have a specific relationship to the Bible, individually and as a community and there’s nothing “fake” about it.
10. And to be quite honest, if you’re capable of suggesting that Evangelicals haven’t read the gospels, #YouDontKnowEvangelicals. At all.
11. “I was being rhetorical,” you will say. “I mean to criticize how they pick and choose verses to support their radical views.” Two points
12. First, phrasing matters. That Evangelicals read and memorize scripture matters. Second, every Christian interpretation picks and chooses
13. There are many passages in the Bible that can be used to support illiberal and authoritarian views. Some are sayings attributed to Jesus
14. Luke 14:26 - “Whoever does not hate father and mother... even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Geez, authoritarian cult leader much?
15. I wrote an essay arguing this case. It’s one of my most widely read and widely disliked pieces. I stand by it: chrisstroop.com/2017/05/03/abo…
16. At some point I hope to follow this up with a more detailed on authoritarian Evangelical practice and scriptural exegesis.
17. But I hope that in an introductory way this at least debunks the argumentum ad “fake Christians.” #YouDontKnowEvangelicals #EmptyThePews
18. I affirm those who leave toxic Christianity for healthy religion or no religion. This isn’t about whether one path out is “better.”
19. Nor is it a claim that *only* authoritarian Christianity is “real,” while progressive Christianity is “fake.” Both are real.
20. Debates about what “real” Christianity is are internal to the cultural system of Christianity. But fundamentalism is real religion.
21. Empirically, authoritarian, imperial Christianity is Christianity. And it’s been a dominant factor in the history of Christianity.
22. The harm done by authoritarian Christianity can only be addressed by facing it as a strand of Christianity as opposed to deflecting.
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