Atlantic article, Evangelicals, and the culture war

(Christy Hemphill) #1

From that Atlantic article that every one I know is posting quotes of on Facebook, and I’m finally getting around to reading:

"As the prominent evangelical pastor Tim Keller—who is not a Trump loyalist—recently wrote in The New Yorker, “ ‘Evangelical’ used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with ‘hypocrite.’ ”


Race: A Brief History of its Origin, Failure and Alternative
(Jay Johnson) #2

Thanks for the link. Gerson has been reading my mail. haha. Just one example from the article:

“The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel to the death,” William Jennings Bryan argued. “If evolution wins … Christianity goes—not suddenly, of course, but gradually, for the two cannot stand together.” Many people of his background believed this. But their resistance was futile, for one incontrovertible reason: Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence. By denying this, evangelicals made their entire view of reality suspect. They were insisting, in effect, that the Christian faith requires a flight from reason.

From my “work-in-progress”:

If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult, some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. – Bruce Waltke

In late March 2010, BioLogos posted a short video featuring Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, who warned that continuing to deny evolution eventually would relegate evangelical Christianity to the status of a cult. Within days, the 79-yr-old theologian had resigned his teaching position at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and requested that the video be taken down. The evidence may have disappeared, but what of Waltke’s prediction? As of 2014, a majority of only three religious groups rejected evolution – Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelicals, and Mormons. The elder statesman of evangelical OT theology had a point

(Jay Johnson) #3

Just one more “concordism” between me and Gerson on this. (You shouldn’t encourage me like this! Pushing all my buttons!) He called it a “flight from reason.” I called it this:

As Christians, we serve the God of truth. Consequently, we have nothing to fear from the truth no matter the source, be it science or history. Francis Schaeffer influenced a generation of evangelicals with his 1968 book, Escape from Reason, in which he diagnosed the problems of modern Western culture as relativism and naturalism. This thought was one of the levers that set the Culture War into motion, but Schaeffer’s title ironically now applies to the sequel being written by his followers: Escape from Science.

(Jay Johnson) #4

McKnight has a take on Gerson’s article on the Jesus Creed: What Gerson Got Seriously Wrong.

Mainly, he takes issue with Gerson saying that evangelicals, unlike Catholics, don’t have a theory of social engagement. As examples, McKnight points to Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, as well as Kuyper and Schaeffer. The problem with the latter two is that they frame the evangelical response to modern culture in terms of a “war,” which we discussed more than a month ago in this thread:

@JRM offered a more nuanced view of Kuyper in that discussion. Perhaps he has a take on Gerson’s article, or McKnight’s reply to Gerson? Maybe a blog post of his own on the subject? (Sorry for the poking and prodding, Richard. haha)

(Christy Hemphill) #5

I moved this to a new topic. The referenced article has a lot of political commentary which would be off-limits to discuss here, but if people want to discuss the aspects that deal with Evangelical cultural engagement, especially in terms of science, have at it.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

From the McKnight response:


Yes, we all graduate familiar with Christ and Culture and it is probably cited every two months in a CT article, but I can count on one hand the number of Evangelicals in churches I have attended who had any concept of what was in that book if I mentioned it. Probably a fair point that Catholic lay people are just as unaware of the thinking of their luminaries as Evangelical lay people, though the ignorance of the average Catholic about their leadership’s teaching was alluded to in the original article.

(Laura) #7

Definitely a very interesting article. One theme that kept coming up for me (and related to the idea of “war”) is the reactionary nature of modern evangelicalism. Lately I’ve been trying to put my finger on the difference between “reacting” and “being reactionary” because there are so many times when reacting to something is very appropriate, even necessary, but it can be done without being reactionary in nature. This is one aspect where I think YEC (or more specifically AIG) mirrors modern evangelicalism, in that it is constantly providing reactionary sentiments to what is already happening in the world, paired with seemingly few unique contributions otherwise.

(Christy Hemphill) #8

Or like Evolution News and Views publishing nineteen articles critiquing Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s book (well, really just Dennis’ part) since January? Or the cohort of ID and Evangelical theology folks publishing a massive book just to rail against “theistic evolution”? ‘Reactionary’ is a good summation.

(David Heddle) #9

I “liked” your post but I really didn’t “like” it, so to speak: It’s truly depressing, because Keller is spot-on. Sigh indeed.

(Laura) #10

Yes! And I think BioLogos is a great contrast to that, because it obviously includes the intent to react to YEC and especially the way it is portrayed as being essential to the faith, but it does so in a way that mostly lacks the reactionary tone and fear-based screeds that I grew up with, and it also promotes more than it condemns. It’s refreshing!

(Wookin Panub) #11

I beg to differ. Keller is not spot on. “High moral ground” When did moral-ism become the Evangelical standard

(Christy Hemphill) #12

Why do you always decide people said things that are completely different from what they actually said?

(Wookin Panub) #13

Interesting…this person agrees with a person who said, and I quote, “Evangelical’ used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground” Obviously this is in response to Evangelicals who voted for Trump.

(Wookin Panub) #14

An Evangelical does not just look at a person’s moral character. They should vote for the candidate who best serves the purpose in spreading the gospel.
I am a conservative Republican and I would not have voted for Romney, because, even though Romney had a good moral character, he was a Mormon. I knew that the Mormon church would use a Romney Presidency to further blur the lines between Mormonism and Christianity. Tell me. How would Romney’s moral character have furthered the gospel message?

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(Christy Hemphill) #15

“moralism” the practice of moralizing, especially showing a tendency to make judgments about others’ morality.

“moral high ground” in ethical or political parlance, refers to the status of being respected for remaining moral, and adhering to and upholding a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness.

You falsely equated Tim Keller making the observation that Evangelicals are no longer respected for adhering to a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness with Tim Keller saying making judgments about other people’s morality is the Evangelical standard. Do you see how that is clearly twisting what was actually said?

(Christy Hemphill) #16

I deleted the part that spoke to Tim Keller’s thoughts and motivations, as it violates forum guidelines.

(Wookin Panub) #17

I did not falsely accuse Tim Keller of anything. Tim Keller’s main argument was about morals, which makes him a moralist. Tim Keller is right that some Christians are too political, which hurts the gospel. But Tim Keller goes too far as well. When he equates Evangelicals voting for Trump as a lowering of moral standard, because Trump is a racist, xenophobe etc… Quote: “His tribalism and hatred for “the other” stand in direct opposition to Jesus’s radical ethic of neighbor love”

Tim Keller does in no way make a solid enough biblical case as to why Evangelicals should not have voted for Trump. In the meantime makes a bias, one dimensional, worldly, non gospel accusation against his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to a God hating, God rebellious world. That my friend, makes my blood boil.

(Christy Hemphill) #18

Are you basing all of this off the quote at the top of the page, or are you referring to the entire New Yorker article? We don’t discuss politics here. My intention in bringing up the quote at the top of the page was to highlight yet another prominent Evangelical who is backing away from the term because of its connotations. The current connotation being “hypocrite.”

(Christy Hemphill) #19

Now you are twisting my words. I never said you falsely accused anyone of anything. I said you “falsely equated” two entirely different concepts, moralism and moral high ground. You can’t have a productive discussion if you don’t actually interact with what other people say.

(Christy Hemphill) #20

That wasn’t Tim Keller, it was Michael Gerson.