The issue is politics; the presenting painful reality is Trump. The reality is 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump. The word “evangelical” now means Trump-voter. The word “evangelical” is spoiled.
.. Most don’t even know what Conservative means — economically or governmentally especially — while some think Republican means anti-abortion, pro-war, pro-NRA, pro-big business, anti-immigration, anti-Obamacare, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-taxes. Pro Fox News, Anti-CNN.
.. Populism runs rampant among the Republican voters, not least among evangelicals, and part of this is that evangelicalism is itself populist.
.. Eventually “Evangelical” will dwindle in numbers down to Republican.
.. When that happens no one will be one bit surprised Evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=[Candidate’s name]. That’s what the term will mean because only they will claim the term.
.. At one time we got to define this term by theology as a coalition of post Great Awakening orthodox Christians who affirmed the Bible, personal conversion, the centrality of the cross as God’s saving event, and activism when it comes to evangelism and social goods.
.. The Reformed side of evangelicalism didn’t want the Holiness and Anabaptist and Restorationist crowds as equals and those last three have basically avoided the term for themselves.
.. Then came Reagan and Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and James Kennedy and theology and sociology were usurped by politics.
.. Evangelical meant Republican. What they didn’t recognize is that “evangelical” became “whiteness” and many Latin Americans and African Americans and Asian Americans were excluded.
.. Folks, very few English and Irish and Scottish evangelicals, not to ignore the others just mentioned, are politicals like our Republicans; many of them are more like our Democrats and many are more like Bernie Sanders than ordinary Democrats. What do you think they hear or think when they see evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=Trump?
They often say to me, “Don’t call me ‘evangelical’ if you mean Republican!”
.. Today the term evangelical in the USA means (supposedly) conservative in politics, and hence “Votes Republican.” This definition is not going away. The political folks have won.
Let the political evangelicals have the term.
.. The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have done it; they’re Democrats. Evangelicals have followed suit; they’re Republicans.