Let’s get the bad news out of the way. It’s been a year since the election and among evangelicals… little has changed. I know, big reveal! Thank you, Captain Obvious!
But, here are the stats to back it up.
And, of course, it was worse the second time around (from 2016 to 2020): Some evangelicals who objected to Trump during the 2016 election—such as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler—ended up backing him in 2020 based on his track record on religious liberty, abortion, and other issues. In the Heart and Mind survey, evangelicals who were white, over 55, and weekly church attenders were most likely to agree with such stances, believing Trump kept his promises to champion matters important to faithful Christians.
No mass exodus from evangelicalism. No major philosophical shifts.
But… for those deconstructing and reconstructing, some observations.
First, Tim Keller is starting a four-part series analyzing the major culture shifts in the past few years. It’s thoughtful and insightful and I always appreciate the wisdom and discernment he carries. It IS a four part series and this one is the first, so it will be a long development of thought.
Second, Scot McKnight has been going through a series on deconstruction and reconstruction and terminology. It may be behind a paywall, but just in case it’s open HERE IS THE LINK.
What is needed is HONESTY. (We need to move away from the fake megachurch words of “authentic” or “transparent.” Neither of those things are happening.)
The message of God’s transforming powers and the call to discipleship and the Spirit-empowered life – the ideas of the Christian life – have made honesty and authenticity unwelcome in many churches. They want stories of conversion and transformation. Stories of doubt and struggle challenge the way things are supposed to be.
THIS is major. Megachurches and too many smaller churches trying to mimic megachurches are NOT into welcome conversations. Tough conversations. We want quick stories of victory and conversion and EVERYTHING IS GREAT AND JESUS IS LORD!
When someone has a question that is truly difficult, we tend to give a twitter-sized answer and then move on. (And here I am actually tempted to make that last sentence into a “tweet this” link.)
I am grateful for our liturgy in the Anglican Church. We are called to confession and it is practiced WEEKLY. There is space for silence. There is a corporate confession. There is absolution.
What is STILL needed is room for people to VOICE doubt and struggle in the context of the Church, whether a small group or to a pastor.
We do have our creeds and confessions. In themselves, I am so glad for them! We confess the Nicene Creed weekly. I confess the Apostles Creed daily. But it has to be MORE.
What churches articulate as theological confessions and creeds is a long way from what many in our pews think is important. Deconstructors into reconstructors, in other words, would like to see statements about justice or peace or economics. I’m not convinced the church is a political caucus for the hot-button topics driving social media, FoxNews, and CNN, but I am saying reconstructors want space for what concerns them so deeply.
Too often we confess the creed and then have a church full of people who still won’t welcome refugees or immigrants and think “Black Lives Matter” is a statement of socialism.
A final question, and this one I ask out of my role as an ordained deacon: WHAT DOES THE CHURCH MEAN IN THE WORLD? How are we truly serving the community right around us? Are we simply creating wonderful worship experiences and sending people off to continue their catechisms through slanted media, social media, and other echo chambers? Or, are we sending people out in mission so that small groups throughout the week are meeting with kids in youth programs, getting involved in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, teaching English to a class of immigrants, serving on school boards, city councils, and service organizations, and other impactful ideas right here among us?
As a deacon one of my callings is to interpret the needs of the world to the church. To do that, I need to be out in the community listening and helping. AND, I need to interpret the church to the world. I need to be a representative of love, justice, and compassion.
I’m tired of the same. I’m saddened at the stubbornness of the evangelical church in white conservative America.
I want more. I want Jesus igniting my life to be where HE would be during the week… and that’s not hiding out in my echo chambers.