“You know what, I made a mistake and you are right you can be here” said no cop ever. And they wonder why there is a disconnect.
She is 100% correct. The actual “checkpoint “ begins where an I.D. must be presented. Everything else is either a queue or an exit aisle-way. Those airport police just walking past without so much as a glance in her direction, let alone an apology, is proof positive of their immature egos.
It is so baffling to these types when people don’t comply with whatever they say. They truly think that if they say something, anything, everything, it must be met with compliance or you are just being difficult.He “literally” was pulling stuff out of his A. “Those are cautionary signs.” WTF is that?The second cop didn’t even speak to her. He just beckoned her to follow like she was a puppy. Both cops just stalked off without mentioning she was right, it was ok to do what she was doing. I admire her for keeping her cool while standing her ground.It’s the “bully” playbook 101. They are so used to just telling people what to do and people blindly following their directives….that they blow a fuse when someone stands up to them….they just keep repeating themselves. That’s why people like this woman are often deemed “difficult” or “a problem”….They HATE the fact that some people actually realize most of what comes out of their mouths is fabricated.Authority when lawfully and effectively challenged will take one of two directions One is very confused and walks away and Two become violent and force their will upon the person questioning their false authority.“You are arguing semantics.” This is a complete miss use of the word. Semantics is the study of meaning, more specifically it is the study of how LANGUAGE gives proper meaning. So when an officer says, “you are arguing semantics” the reply might be “are you saying, the law doesn’t MEAN what it says.”This is a perfect example of “Too many people, with nothing to do”!! A woman with a camera should not even be a problem.. They definitely need to cut about half of those jobs!!! I wonder if it’s tax funded!? Anyone know if they are private or publicly funded?One cop says to the other “what, they’re not coming to back up our copsplainin’ BS?” “No, no one will back us up”. “Well what happened to the thin blue line, I really want to exert my authority on this little woman?” “I’m sorry George but apparently she has Rights” “Gosh Darn it Larry, I may just have to go home and push my wife around then” “Yeah, me too”“That’s semantics…” How to demonstrate that you’re an idiot. She’s absolutely correct, in that semantics is important, because it deals with what we mean when we say a thing. An enormous amount of any work in philosophy and science is centred on defining terms. The only time it’s proper to dismiss an argument as semantic is when the argument centres around disagreement in what a word means. Once you’ve defined your terms, you get on to the interesting stuff. The proper semantic content of any discussion is to provide clarity.Where the “checkpoint starts” is very similar to the 100 mile radius Customs has from the US border which basically covers 90% of the entire US population. Its ridiculous.they never have the curtousy to say ‘sorry, we were wrong’ they just slink away like naughty school boysI’m a TSA employee and she is correct. The TSA does allow people to take photos of the security checkpoint as long as they don’t interfere with the process. She’s In a publicly accessible area on the public side of the airport. As long as she’s not impeding people from leaving or trying to walk up the exit lane into a secure area without going through screening shes fine. I’ve counseled officers at my airport for confronting people about filming. We have a line marked where people are free to film as long as they dont go past that line and set the alarms off she’s fine. We have people filming quite often. Edit… The airport police officer is wrong. The screening process doesn’t start until you present yourself for screening. Handing your ID to the ticket checker.I always wonder at what point do they realize “the shit aint happening”. Every officer is different in how they present their failure to perform the discharge of their duties(the majority of LEOs do this on a daily basis), so its interesting to see if they’re actually ignorant of the law, or they just think citizens are and they can get away with bullying people with lies and intimidation. I personally like to take an aggressive approach from the jump, because it tends to let the beta males masquerading as alphas know that their tactics are not going to work with me and their best bet is just to keep it moving. That way we can skip the 10 to 15 minutes of pointless dialogue where they try to convince me of their lies, and we can get right to them moving the fuck on or escalating and attempting to violate my rights.Overstepping their authority, and they’re so used to nobody ever pushing back. Those days are quickly ending, every day more people are the victims of this type of abuse.I love how it’s all directives and in her space until they get set straight and they can’t even look at her as they walk past..There is a sign that indicates where the screening area is and a CLEARLY distinct transition between different types of flooring beginning exactly where the screening area is indicated to begin… Officer, just look down.It’s funny how they never admit that they were wrong, just leave or walk away and try not to make eye contact or acknowledge the person at all.How can you simultaneously be in the screening process AND being in the exit aisle? As far as I’m aware, the people exiting are not in the screening process.Why won’t they just state the law if they thought she was breaking the law ?It’s obviously apparent that the security checkpoint area would begin where the carpet ends. Airport police are notorious for overstepping their authority in the guise of national security.
Things an INTJ Hates
1. Incompetent power-holders
Few things will make an INTJ angrier than a boss or authority figure that seems undeserving of their position. If they see a person in charge that does not appear to think through their actions, avoids making decisions, or only seems to have gotten where they are through blatant self-promotion, it will be very difficult for an INTJ to keep their mouth shut. Above all else, these thinkers value brilliance, self-confidence, and the ability to make firm, effective decisions.
2. Constant social interaction
INTJs, like all introverts, need lots of time to themselves. No matter how much they love hanging out with a particular person, if they find themselves unable to escape from said person to read a book or work on a project, they’ll become exhausted and get more and more difficult to be around.
To be clear, we’re talking about constant social interaction with a good friend. Partly owing to their Extroverted Thinking function, many INTJs absolutely love to talk, but only about the subjects that they’ve explored and thought about very deeply (usually having a scientific, social, or psychological bent). Small talk is probably not going to happen. If it absolutely needs to happen, INTJs will probably disappear as soon as they can.
People who routinely lie definitely bother an INTJ, but because this type is incredibly intuitive, what bothers them more is the person who is dishonest with themselves. It’s true that INTJs can be absolutely wrong about who a person really is, but they usually learn from experience to trust their intuitive hunches. Right or wrong, if an INTJ thinks you’re in a bad career, relationship, or life trajectory, they’ll probably tell you. Bluntly.
4. Tears and feelings
It’s not that INTJs don’t care. If you’re in their life, they definitely care about what you’re going through. Feelings just make them nervous, and the more they try to take emotions into account, usually the worse they do at pleasing other people. INTJs do feel, but they tend to take a pragmatic approach to their emotions, trying to optimize their lives and relationships based on what they can immediately control. They also expect the people in their lives to try to behave rationally.
Reading and education are incredibly important to INTJs, but they aren’t total monsters about it. If you haven’t read a book that they have or don’t know anything about a subject that they know a lot about, they’ll understand. That said, if you throw your opinion around without reading the article, or frequently talk about how useless education is, you’re probably not going to make an INTJ happy.
6. When people don’t use their knowledge
INTJs love to learn and are insatiably curious. But, surprisingly, they’re not the type to learn and learn and never do anything with that knowledge. These thinkers act as much as they learn, and what drives them crazy is running into someone who loves to think about ideas but never tries to put them into practice. INTJs want to test out their theories in real life, instead of only playing around with ideas in their heads.
7. Rules and the status quo
Playing by the rules is not very important to INTJs. Give them a list of rules and they may endlessly question you, bend the rules, and even break them if they see a better way. INTJs are always innovating and tweaking. If they don’t have the opportunity to do that, they’ll be very, very, unhappy — and you’ll probably hear about it.
8. Routine tasks
Obviously, routine tasks are not looking good for this personality type. INTJs are easily bored with process work and are not good at paper-pushing. They might, say, go to the gym, but only after they’ve created the best, most research-backed and efficient way of working out. Groceries, clothing, cooking, anything routine, will never be done the same way every day — if at all. Or they’ll delegate these tasks.
9. Social niceties
INTJs enjoy friendships and need people just as much as anyone else. However, getting people to play along with that goal is a source of endless frustration for this personality type. Analytical approaches are pretty much useless when trying to connect with another person, and INTJs usually come to know this through painful experience. They may be better off displaying their brilliance and waiting for other people to come to them instead of becoming frustrated with “the game” of social interaction.
10. Aimless activities
To hang out with an INTJ, you either need to have a plan or prepare to have one made for you. They’re not inclined to play anything by ear, and they hate uncoordinated activities. That said, their hatred for all unplanned things can result in master plans for the best day ever. Just make sure that you define what “the best day ever” is in advance — otherwise you might end up enrolled in a materials engineering course.
11. When people want to stay the same
INTJs are constantly changing and growing, and they demand that others do the same. Improving processes and techniques usually morphs over time into a tireless obsession with improving themselves and their relationships. Growth is a must, and INTJs will be bored to death if they are forced to do the same things day in and day out.
Wait, aren’t INTJs considered uncompromising and closed-minded? Think again. INTJs are more able to change their opinions and beliefs than most other Myers-Briggs personality types. They just need to be faced with overwhelming evidence. Give them rational evidence that they should change, and they probably will. When faced with someone who never changes despite sufficient evidence, INTJs will probably engineer their downfall.
Are You an INTJ?
Some of these points are things a lot of people will hate, and every INTJ is going to be a little different. If you can relate to most of them, however, chances are good that you’re an INTJ. Want to be one hundred percent sure? There’s an easy way to find out: Take this free personality assessment from Personality Hacker and see your personality type in minutes.
Do You Challenge Authority Often, Based on Your Personality Type
Some people believe in challenging authority and finding ways to make their own rules in life, while others prefer to follow the leader and do what is expected of them. Both paths certainly serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things, but for some it just feels like the right thing to challenge authority and make their own decisions. Here is how likely you are to challenge authority, based on your personality type.
INFJs do have a tendency to challenge authority, at least in an analytical sense. They prefer to consider whether or not the people in control deserve this position, and if they have their followers best interests at heart. INFJs often realize that most people in power will be corrupted by this, and might not deserve to be in their position. They are willing to challenge this authority, and often struggle to completely fall into line. At the same time INFJs don’t like being someone who constantly breaks rules or disobeys the expectations of their loved ones, so they search for some kind of balance.
ENFJs don’t believe in being someone who causes too much trouble, but at the same time they are passionate and strong-willed people. They often analyze the situation and are willing to mentally challenge authority and consider whether or not they should be following them. ENFJs don’t just accept things as they are, instead they believe in looking at the different angles. They use their intuition to decide whether or not they can truly trust someone, and if they deem someone worthy. If the ENFJ realizes that a person does not follow the right moral path, they are certainly likely to challenge their authority.
INFPs are willing to challenge authority in the right circumstances, especially someone who appears as immoral to them. If a person in a position of authority is rude and uncaring, it becomes difficult for the INFP to follow them without needing to often challenge their sense of power. For the INFP it is about following their own rules and path, and only listening to people who they can truly trust and rely on as morally sound.
ENFPs definitely believe in challenging authority, since they want to follow their own rules and path in life. If someone tries to control the ENFP it often makes them want to challenge this and fight against it. They don’t mind when someone else is in a position of authority, they simply want to be sure they are not taking advantage of this. They don’t like blindly following anything, instead the ENFP believes in analyzing, as well as following their intuition.
INTJs don’t mind following someone who is in a position of authority, for them it is about being logical. They will respect authority and rules, if those rules make sense and prove to make society more efficient. INTJs just don’t want to follow anyone who they consider to be foolish or ignorant, and will be willing to challenge them if this is the case. INTJs want to be sure they are being wise before challenging authority, and make these decisions after a lot of consideration.
ENTJs often prefer to be the person in the authority position, since they aren’t fans of having to follow others. They are natural leaders who want to be the ones setting the rules and making the decisions. They are willing to follow the rules and go with what the person in authority suggests, but only if it is the smart and efficient choice. ENTJs are not afraid of challenging authority, but they don’t do this for no reason at all.
INTPs do naturally challenge authority, since they don’t like feeling obligated to follow the rules. INTPs often feel it is their duty to challenge authority, in order to figure out if someone is doing things the wrong way. They aren’t rule followers by nature and prefer to go against what is expected of them. For the INTP this is the best way to learn and really uncover the truth in any given situation. They would rather explore the different possibilities, which sometimes makes them want to challenge authority.
ENTPs are not rule followers by nature and so they do actually enjoy challenging authority. They believe in going against what people expect in order to really learn and uncover different possible outcomes. ENTPs will certainly challenge authority, especially if they feel like the person in power needs to be challenged a bit. For the ENTP this is about uncovering the truth and learning more about people and situations.
ISTJs don’t like challenging authority most of the time, since they prefer to follow the rules rather than shake things up. This doesn’t mean they will blindly follow someone who is immoral, but they prefer to find people they can respect and follow. ISTJs simply believe in focusing on getting things done, and don’t like to get caught up in challenging authority and breaking the rules which prove to help them be more efficient.
ESTJs aren’t naturally likely to challenge authority, since they prefer to follow the rules. ESTJs want to be seen as a valued member of their community and so they don’t want to shake things up and cause trouble. ESTJs are capable of being in positions of authority themselves, and do generally prefer to be the leader. They are good at filling this role, and so instead of challenging authority they want to work towards becoming one themselves.
ISFJs don’t usually challenge authority, instead they prefer to follow the rules and keep focused on what is important to them. ISFJs care about providing for their loved ones and so they don’t like doing anything which might get in the way of this. For the ISFJ challenging authority seems like a messy thing to do, which could cause them to shake things up in a negative manner. They would much rather follow the rules so that they can work towards a good future for their loved ones.
ESFJs don’t challenge authority for no reason, but this doesn’t mean they don’t do this occasionally. For the ESFJ it depends on what the authority is presenting to them, and if it goes against their beliefs and what they have grown accustomed to. When the ESFJ is raised with certain beliefs they don’t enjoy when authority tries to defy this or make them change their minds, and so in these situations they actually will challenge authority and have a hard time to really following.
ISTPs don’t mind challenging authority, and sometimes they do this naturally without even thinking about it. For the ISTP it is best to follow their own path and so they don’t like being told what to do. If they feel inspired to go in a certain direction, it becomes difficult for them to listen to some authority telling them they can’t.
ESTPs are more likely to challenge authority when they are younger, but they do this as adults as well. For them it is about going in the right direction and not allowing others to control or force them. If the ESTP feels like the person in authority is foolish and making the wrong choices, then they will be much more likely to challenge them.
ISFPs are certainly willing to challenge authority, since they find it hard to follow what other people expect of them. They often dance to the beat of their own drum, making it difficult to simply fall into line. ISFPs will challenge authority, or in some cases completely ignored it and go about living life on their own terms.
ESFPs really aren’t afraid of challenging authority and often know how to go about this in the right way. They believe in following their own path in life and don’t like doing what people command of them. If the ESFP wants to explore a different option then they belief in doing this freely without really feeling restrained by others. They are willing to challenge authority when they know it is the right choice for them, and are not afraid of this.
We are very independent, therefore we might not always appreciate authority. Personally, I don’t mind authority as long as their rules are logical and beneficial to me. If someone over me is forcing me to do something I think is pointless, harmful, or just not beneficial in any way, I get annoyed because someone else is holding me back from what I could be. That is when I can’t tolerate authority, however I think it is fine as long as they aren’t too controlling.
The only authority INTJs obey is logic and reasoning.
There’s no authority in the INTJ’s mind. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, junior or senior in rank, doesn’t matter who you are.
We pay no attention to titles or authority. We do what’s honest and what we perceive to be the correct course of action. We have few qualms about challenging authority figures if we think their course of action is wrong. We question the utility of rules. If the rule results or will result in what we think is a good outcome, we’ll follow it. Otherwise… it would almost irk us to leave it unchallenged, the consequences of doing so be damned.
How does an INTJ deal with authority?
We INTJs are some of the best subordinates. We’re smart, observant, attentive, goal and system oriented, and usually very caring. We generally don’t like gossip or petty going-ons.
For competent authority, we’re usually a dream.
For incompetent authority, well, we’re either outta there, or we’ll help the figurehead or puppet destroy themselves with their own incompetence by just encouraging them to keep doing what they are doing x10 to speed up the process. We’ll take up the slack in the work they should be doing as a leader, but discreetly from behind the scenes. If an authority figure is incompetent, it’s best they keep other incompetent people around them so they can keep their head above water by bullying and convincingly pointing their finger at others around them to distract from the real issue coming from the top.
If you know how to lead though, an INTJ is quite possibly the Spock to your Kirk…your very best advocate and true blue friend (just never a yes-man).
I handle it just fine if it’s competent.
If it’s not competent or the rules are stupid, then there are … issues. I’m the sort to use the system against itself. I was the kid who worked the system in high school to make sure I was never in class but was always out of class on some kind of school activity or other. I got so good at it that there were some weeks I could avoid all but maybe a day and a half or so of actual class. I figured I didn’t need to be there so long as my grades stayed up.
I can do the same with incompetent leadership from people too if I have to.
But if I like the system and the people, I am perfectly happy to do what I’m directed.
Why we’re coming apart, and how we might come together again.
New fractures are forming within the American evangelical movement, fractures that do not run along the usual regional, denominational, ethnic, or political lines. Couples, families, friends, and congregations once united in their commitment to Christ are now dividing over seemingly irreconcilable views of the world. In fact, they are not merely dividing but becoming incomprehensible to one another.
Recently, a group of my college friends, all raised and nurtured in healthy evangelical families and congregations, reconnected online in search of understanding. One person mourned that she could no longer understand her parents or how their views of the world had so suddenly and painfully shifted. Another described friends who were demographically identical, who had once stood beside him on practically every issue, but who now promoted ideas he found shocking. Still another said her church was breaking up, driven apart by mutual suspicion and misunderstanding.
“These were my people,” one said, “but now I don’t know who they are, or maybe I don’t know who I am.”
What do you do when you feel you’re losing the people you love to a false reality? What do you do with the humbling truth that they have precisely the same fear about you?
The quandary is not unique to evangelicals. But fellow believers who once stood shoulder to shoulder now find that tectonic shifts have thrust them apart, their continents are separating, and they cannot find a bridge back to common ground. How could our views of reality diverge so dramatically—and is there anything we can do to draw together again?
The plausibility curve and the information curve
Among the most persistent interests of my academic career was the question of how people form beliefs. Not how they should form beliefs, in some idealized vision of perfected rationality, but how they actually form beliefs as embodied creatures embedded in communities and cultures. I want to introduce a simple conceptual tool, influenced in part by the work of Peter Berger, that may help us understand what is happening.
Imagine a horizontal plane that curves downward into a bowl, rises back again, and returns to a horizontal plane. The curve, from one end of the bowl to the other, represents the range of claims an individual finds believable. Let’s call it a plausibility curve. Claims that fall in the center of the curve will be perceived as most plausible; they require little evidence or argumentation before an individual will consent to believe. Claims falling near the edges are increasingly implausible as they deviate from the center, requiring progressively more persuasion. Claims falling entirely outside the plausibility curve are beyond the range of what a person might believe at a given point in time, and no amount of evidence or logic will be sufficient.
What determines the plausibility of a given claim is how well it conforms to what an individual experiences, already believes, and wants to believe. The full range of a person’s beliefs is rather like a photomosaic (see an example here): Thousands of experiences and perceptions of reality are joined together, and out of those thousands emerge larger patterns and impressions, higher-order beliefs about the nature of reality, the grand narratives of history, the nature of right and wrong, good and evil, and so forth. Attempts to change a single belief can feel fruitless when it is embedded in countless others. Where does one begin to address a thousand interlocking disagreements at once? Evidence to the contrary is almost irrelevant when a claim “fits” with an entire network of reinforcing beliefs. This is part of what gives a plausibility curve its enduring strength and resistance to change.
Desire plays a particularly complicated role in the plausibility curve. We may desire not to believe a claim because it would separate us from those we love, confront us with painful truths, require a change in our behavior, impose a social cost, or so on. We may desire to believe a certain claim because it would be fashionable, confirm our prejudices, set us apart from those around us, anger our parents, or for countless other reasons. We will require more persuasion for claims we do not want to believe, and less for those we do.
Like the Overton window in political theory, a plausibility curve can expand, contract, and shift. Friends or family members whose plausibility curves were once identical may find that they diverge over the course of time. Claims one person finds immediately plausible are almost inconceivable to the other. But how does this happen? That’s where the information curve comes in.
Imagine a mirror-image bowl above the plausibility curve. This is the information curve, and it reflects the individual’s external sources of information about the world—such as communities, authorities, and media. Those sources in the center of the information curve are deemed most trustworthy; claims that come from these sources are accepted almost without question. Sources of information on the outer ends of the bowl are considered less trustworthy, so their claims will be held up to greater scrutiny. Sources outside the curve entirely are, at least for this individual, so lacking in credibility that their claims are dismissed out of hand.
The center of the information curve will generally align with the center of the plausibility curve. The relationship is mutually reinforcing. Sources are considered more trustworthy when they deliver claims we find plausible, and claims are considered more plausible when they come from sources we trust. A source of information that consistently delivers claims in the center of the plausibility curve will come to be believed implicitly.
Change can begin on the level of the plausibility curve. Perhaps an individual joins a religious community and finds it is more loving and reasonable than she had expected. She will no longer find it plausible when a source claims that all religious communities are irrational and prejudiced, and this will gradually shift her information curve in favor of more reliable sources. Or another person experiences the loss of a child, and no longer desires to believe that death is the end of consciousness. He is more open to other claims, expands his sources of information, and slowly his beliefs shift.
Change can also begin on the level of the information curve. An individual raised in a certain community with well-established authorities, such as her parents and pastors, goes to college and is introduced to new communities and authorities. If she judges them to be trustworthy sources of information, this new information curve will likely shift her plausibility curve. As her set of beliefs changes, she may even reach a point where the sources that once supplied most of her beliefs are no longer considered trustworthy at all. Or imagine a person who has lived his entire life consuming far-left media sources. He begins to listen to conservative media sources and finds their claims resonate with his experience—only slightly at first, but in increasing measure. Gradually he consumes more and more conservative media, expanding or shifting his information curve, and this in turn expands or shifts his plausibility curve. He may reach a point where his broader perceptions of the world—the deeper forces at work in history, the optimal ways of organizing societies and economies, the forces for good and evil in the world—have been wholly overturned.
Consider the 9/11 Truth movement and the QAnon movement. Most Americans will find the notion that the Bush administration orchestrated a massive terrorist attack in order to invade the Middle East and enrich their friends in the oil industry, or that global liberal elites would construct an international child trafficking operation for the purpose of pedophilia and cannibalism, beyond the bounds of their plausibility curve. Others, however, will find that one conspiracy or the other resonates with their plausibility curve, or their information curve may shift over time in such a way that brings their plausibility curve with it. Claims that once seemed impossible to contemplate came to appear conceivable, then plausible, then reasonable, and finally self-evident. Of course conservatives would sacrifice thousands of innocent lives to justify a “war for oil” because conservatives are greedy and that’s what conservatives do. Of course liberals would sacrifice thousands of children in order to advance their own health and power because liberals are perverse and that’s what liberals do.
As a final definitional note, let’s call the whole structure, the plausibility curve and the information curve, an informational world. An informational world encompasses how an individual or a community of individuals receives and processes information. Differing informational worlds will have differing facts and sources. Our challenge today is that we occupy multiple informational worlds with little in common and much hostility between them.
What does all of this have to do with the evangelical movement? A great deal.
The evangelical crises
The American evangelical movement has never been comprised of a single community. Depending on the criteria, estimates generally put the number of American evangelicals at 80-100 million. Even if we split the difference at 90 million, this would make the American evangelical population larger than every European nation save Russia. It is also diverse, reaching across all regions, races, and socioeconomic levels. What held the movement together historically was not only a shared set of moral and theological commitments, but a broadly similar view of the world and common sources of information. Their plausibility curves and information curves largely overlapped. There were some matters on which they differed, but the ground they shared in the middle served as a basis of mutual understanding and fellowship.
This sense of commonality grew increasingly strained as groups not formerly identified as evangelical came to be lumped together, defining the category “evangelical” less in theological terms and more in social, cultural, and political terms. This broader evangelical movement today is dividing into separate communities that still hold some moral and theological commitments in common but differ dramatically on their sources of information and their broader view of the world. Their informational worlds have little overlap. They can only discuss a narrow range of topics if they do not want to fall into painful and exasperated disagreement.
One group within American evangelicalism believes our religious liberties have never been more firmly established; another that they have never been at greater risk. One group believes racism is still systemic in American society; another that the “systemic racism” push is a progressive program to redistribute wealth and power to angry radicals. One is more concerned with the insurrection at the Capitol; another with the riots that followed the killing of George Floyd. One believes the Trump presidency was generationally damaging to Christian witness; another that it was enormously beneficial. One believes the former president attempted a coup; another that the Democrats stole the election. One believes masks and vaccines are marks of Christian love; another that the rejection of the same is a mark of Christian courage.
There are countless groups in between, of course, but these examples illustrate the tension: We occupy the same reality but starkly different worlds. There is a real question whether these worlds can (or should) draw back together again. This is a critical moment for our movement.
What, then, can be done? The model itself suggests where to start. If we move the information curves toward a common center, the plausibility curve will follow. Information comes through three sources: media, authorities, and community. One reason for our disunity is that these three sources are in crisis in American evangelicalism. I will only briefly outline these points.
First, the crisis of media is acute. Even as media today has grown more powerful and pervasive, it has also grown more fragmented and polarizing. The dynamics of modern media reward content that is immediate, angry, and hyperbolic, rendering the media into a marketplace for scorn sellers and hate merchants. Evangelicals find themselves torn between social media platforms and legacy media sources that openly advocate progressive causes and cancel conservative voices and far-right sources that traffic in paranoia and misinformation. In short, the digital media landscape has evolved to profit from our vices more than our virtues, and it has become incredibly effective at dividing audiences into hermetic media spheres that deliver only the information and commentary that confirms the audiences’ anxieties and antipathies.
This presents an extraordinary challenge for Christian discipleship. Media consumption has been climbing for years, and it soared amid the pandemic. Members of our congregations may spend a few hours a week in the Word of God (which should always be the Christian’s most important source of information and authority) but 40 hours or more mainlining the animosities of the day. Once the information curve begins a leftward or rightward drift, the algorithms of digital media and the manipulations of politicians and profiteers accelerate the momentum. Soon Christian communities that once shared a broader view of the world find they only agree on the bare essentials of faith. It will be difficult to address other parts of the information curve until we have brought some semblance of sanity into our media consumption. The longer we live in separate media worlds, the deeper and broader our divisions will become. The longer we give ourselves to media gluttony, skimping on the deeper nourishment that cultivates Christ within us, the less we will have in common.
The media crisis reaches across the whole of society, but the evangelical movement also faces an authority crisis of its own making. A generation of evangelical leaders who commanded immense respect, at least across the broad middle of American evangelicalism, have passed away. The current generation of evangelical institutional leaders, though markedly more diverse than their forebears, struggle to rise above the rampant ideological othering of our time. Moreover, the movement has seen countless leaders fall from grace in spectacularly destructive ways. At the same time, we have seen the rise of the celebrity pastor. It was once the case that a long obedience in the same direction, a life of humble study and service, earned a person a modicum of spiritual authority and a modest living. Today, a dashing profile and a talent for self-promotion can earn wealth and stardom in the Christian celebrity marketplace.
The consequence is disillusionment and division. While younger generations head for the exits, those who remain in our churches become further entrenched in their own ideological camps. If it is ever to be true again that broadly respected authorities form an important part of our shared information curve, it will be because we turn from a culture of celebrity to a culture of sanctification, where leadership is less about building a platform and more about carrying the cross of Christ. It will be because we remember the words of Jesus that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). It will also be because we relearn how to listen to men and women of wisdom, leaders as well as neighbors, without crucifying them over political differences.
The third way to shift the information curve is to address our crisis of community. Community is essential to Christian life. It deepens our knowledge of the Word, forges our shared identity in Christ, cultivates Christian character, and disciples our young. Yet the pressures, temptations, and glowing distractions of contemporary life have strained the ties that bind us, replacing the warmth and depth of incarnate community with a cold digital imitation. The pandemic has only deepened our isolation, causing many to look outside their churches to political tribes or conspiracist communities for a sense of purpose and belonging. Further, the hyper-politicization of the American evangelical movement has led to a political sorting. Congregants who do not like their pastors’ stances depart for other churches whose politics are the same as theirs. But congregations comprised of individuals whose informational worlds are nearly identical will tend toward rigidity and increasing radicalism—what Cass Sunstein calls the Law of Group Polarization.
Rather than withdrawing into communities of common loathing, the church should be offering a community of common love, a sanctuary from the fragmentation and polarization, from the loneliness and isolation of the present moment. The church should model what it means to care for one another in spite of our differences on social and political matters and affirm the incomparably deeper rootedness of our identity in Christ.
Michael O. Emerson, a sociologist and scholar of American religion at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently said he has studied religious congregations for 30 years but has “never seen” such an extraordinary level of conflict. “What is different now?” he asked. “The conflict is over entire worldviews—politics, race, how we are to be in the world, and even what religion and faith are for.” What I have offered above is a model for understanding how we have come to such a pass, and a mere suggestion of how we might begin the generational project before us.
We are not without hope. Lies ring hollow at the end of the day. Hatred is a poor imitation of purpose, celebrity a poor replacement for wisdom, and political tribes a poor comparison to authentic Christian community. We are a people defined by the resurrection of the Son of God. We are called to be redeemers and reconcilers.
So perhaps we can begin to build bridges across our informational worlds. Perhaps we can nurture a healthy media ecosystem that offers a balanced view of the world and a generous conversation about it. Perhaps we can restore a culture of leadership defined by humility over celebrity and integrity over influence. Perhaps we can invite those who have found counterfeit community in their political tribes to rediscover a richer and more robust community in Christ. All of these things will be essential to rebuilding a shared understanding of the world God created and what it means to follow Christ within it.
Post-Jesus Christians are “Christians” who have decided to postpone following Jesus’s teaching until Jesus returns and ushers in 1000 years of peace.
Post-Jesus Christians hold that Jesus’s teachings do not need to be followed in our present era if they are a hindrance to obtaining the power they fear they need to help usher in the Kingdom of God.
Post-Jesus Christians (privately) hold that Jesus’s teachings are a nice thing to follow when dealing with the in-group of their fellow PJCs but may be disregarded when dealing with non-PJC neighbors.
Prophecy: What God Can Do For You
Post-Jesus Christians talk a lot about about prophecy, and unlike the Biblical Prophets, when they do, they punch down, rather than up:
You will know them by their fruit, because they only have one key message – God is going to “enlarge your tent” and “expand your influence“, he’s going to “give you great favor” and “bless you mightily”.
Later Craig Greenfield writes:
In Biblical times, there were two types of prophets.
- Firstly, there were those who feasted at the King’s table because they had been co-opted to speak well of evil leaders (1 Kings 18:19). They were always bringing these smarmy words of favor and influence and prosperity to the king. And the king lapped it up. Like a sucka.
- Secondly, there were those who were exiled to the caves, or beheaded (like John the Baptist) because they spoke out about the injustice or immorality of their leaders (1 Kings 18:4). The king didn’t like them very much. He tried to have them knee-capped.
An Inversion of Ben Franklin’s Morality
While many Post-Jesus Christians appeal to a historical “Christian Nation” , Post-Jesus Christians appear to be an inversion of founding father Ben Franklin, who in historian John Fea’s description, wanted to discard Jesus’s Divinity but retain and celebrate his ethical teachings.
Post-Jesus Christians value Jesus’s divinity, particularly his role of sacrificial lamb (for their salvation), but are eager to discard Jesus’s ethical teachings.
So what does this look like in practice?
Below are public quotations from prominent Court Evangelicals. These quotations are less extreme that I would expect to hear in private. A friend of mine speaks to supporters in private. He reports that they would (privately) celebrate the stuffing of election ballots in favor of their preferred candidate as a righteous act.
1) Court Evangelical: Anti-Sermon on the Mount
John Fea wrote about a conversation he had with Rob Schenck for the “Schenck Talks Bonhoeffer” podcast @ 19:27. Here’s a quote from Schenck talking about a conversation he had with a prominent evangelical at the Trump Inaugural Prayer Service:I must tell you something of a confession here. I was present at the Trump Inaugural Prayer Service held at the National Cathedral — not the smaller one held at Saint John’s Episcopal church across from the white house, but the one following the inauguration at the National Cathedral and I saw one of the notable Evangelicals that you’ve named in in our conversation. One of them, I won’t say which and we had it short exchange and I, I suggested to him that we needed to recalibrate our moral compass and that one way to do that might be to return to The Sermon on the Mount as a reference point. And he very quickly barked back at me. “We don’t have time for that. We have serious work to do.”
2) Jerry Falwell Jr: Anti-Turn the other cheek
We have blogged about Liberty University’s Falkirk Center before. The more I learn about this center the more I am convinced that it does not represent the teachings of Christianity. Recently someone on Twitter pointed out this paragraph in the Falkirk Center mission statement:
Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient. There is too much at stake in the battle for the soul of our nation. Bold, unapologetic action and initiative is needed, which is why we just launched the Falkirk Center, a think tank dedicated to restoring and defending American ideals and Judeo-Christian values in all aspects of life.
John Fea’s Update:
Several smart people have suggested that I may have misread Liberty University’s statement. They have said that the Falkirk Center was not denying that Jesus’s call to “turn the other cheek” is “insufficient” for individuals. Instead, the Falkirk Center is saying that we should not “abdicate” (the key word here) our responsibilities to engage on the “culture battlefield.”
I think this is a fair criticism, and I indeed may have misread the statement. For that I am sorry. But I don’t think I want to back away too strongly from what I wrote above. While several have correctly pointed out that Liberty University is not saying Jesus’s command to “turn the other cheek” is “insufficient” for individual Christians, the Falkirk Center does seem to be suggesting that it is “insufficient” for culture engagement.
Bill Bright and Loren Cunningham both received the same vision for America and the church in 1976. It was the 7 sphere’s of influence that God wanted to take for the kingdom. This series will deal with how we can do that through kingdom authority.