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Rachel Held Evans @rachelheldevans
, 14 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: Some recent articles/statements from @timkellernyc, @edstetzer, @BethMooreLPM & others have me thinking (as a lot of folks have) about the state of American evangelicalism...
I've been struggling to think of a way to offer this critique with all the respect, affection, and heartache I feel as someone who was raised in the evangelical movement, who benefited enormously from it, who still prays for its well-being, but who no longer identifies with it...
We've seen a lot of reflective pieces from evangelical leaders (Keller's in the New Yorker being the most recent) attempting to consider/explain the white evangelical alliance with Trump, Moore, Bannon, & white nationalism...
I appreciate that many, like Keller & Mark Galli & Ed Stetzer, are concerned about this alliance. But it bothers me that so many of their pieces attempt to downplay or explain it away by questioning the statistics....
So we see article after article after article insisting that all those surveys that show 80%+ support for Trump are including people who aren't *REAL* evangelicals (who gets to decide what a *real* evangelical is remains unclear) so the alliance is not as troubling as it seems..
But then, in the very same article (Keller's for example), those numbers are used to argue that progressive Christians who attend mainline churches are in steep decline, while evangelicals are growing. You can't have it both ways....
So I think I finally figured out what this is about: Let's call it "evangelical exceptionalism."
(Either those are "real" evangelicals or they're not. You can't count them when you like what they say and not count them when you don't.)
I'm familiar with evangelical exceptionalism because I grew up with it. It was the idea that the "world" (or "culture") is secular, dark, & lost. Only evangelical Christians (not Catholics, not Mainline Protestants) carry the light...
Many (white) evangelicals believe the *world* is affected by racism, greed, sexual immorality, & idolatry, but evangelical Christians are not. The world is lost; evangelicals know the way. The world has questions; evangelicals have the answers...
And so there is an unwillingness among many evangelicals to admit SOMETHING'S WRONG HERE; evangelical culture has been profoundly affected by racism, religious nationalism, individualism, greed, etc. They can't admit that because the believe themselves to be exceptional....
But there are some NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS here. Evangelical women. (Think @BethMooreLPM, @KatelynBeaty). People of color. (Everyone from @lisasharper to @prophiphop). These folks are far more willing to question evangelical exceptionalism & acknowledge SOMETHING'S WRONG....
So I guess my point is this: The truly prophetic voices in evangelicalism right now are not the (mostly white male) ones explaining the Trump/evangelical alliance away, but the (mostly female/POC) ones calling for repentance...
I'm Episcopalian now. And yet I just can't seem to shake evangelicalism. I still care. I still want it to be better, to deliver on the promises it offered me as a child. And if there's any hope of that, it's through repentance, led by those once in the margins. FIN.
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