Recommended Read: Scot McKnight Writes About The Unmasking of Evangelicalism

Scot McKnight wrote an article about American evangelicalism that is on fire. It was being shared online yesterday and its a must read. Its about how American evangelicals are in the process of being unmasked. This blog is encouraging people to read this article. 

“When one losses their respect for someone it is an end all to all, because there’s no phoniness when we truly lose respect for someone for whatever reason. We either treat someone with dignity and respect or we don’t treat or acknowledge them at all. They either have earned our respect, never had our respect or lost the respect we once had, there’s no in between when it comes to respect.

Danny Santagato

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[c] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

1 Corinthians 3: 18-23 ESV

Hybels

Bill Hybels of Willowcreek

The other day Scot McKnight wrote an article about evangelicalism that is very hard hitting. Its about the implosion of evangelicalism and how evangelicals have no one to blame but themselves. From the mess in the Southern Baptists, to mega church pastor scandals, to racial issues to sex abuse. Then you add the growing political nature of the movement. Today many people no longer respect evangelicals, and they have no one to blame but themselves. This is a painful read but it is well worth it. You can find the article in, “The Unmasking of Evangelicalism.” 

7 thoughts on “Recommended Read: Scot McKnight Writes About The Unmasking of Evangelicalism

  1. As I had written earlier, McKnight describes the evangelical church as “a disorganized, ecumenical alliance of Christians” and then begins to disingenuously treat it as a homogenous group, painting the entire movement with a broad brush of condemnation.

    I am concerned that we live in a time where we fail to see the trees for the forest, taking the easy road of condemning an entire group for the action of a part of it. It is wrong to do that to any other group such as the black community or Democrats and it is just as wrong to do it to evangelicals.

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    • I understand what you are saying, and I agree with you . . . up to a point. It is indeed difficult to define “evangelicalism,” and frequently the polls and questionnaires and the various quantifiers end up allowing the population to be self-defined, i.e. someone is automatically lumped into “evangelical” if they self-identify as “evangelical.” I think the term “evangelical” when used in this case is often overly broad, including amongst its numbers groups ranging from fundamentalists to NAR pentecostals to seven-mountain dominionists. So it is true that painting this movement with a broad brush is an oversimplification.

      Also (and this is why the polls and statistics often reference “white evangelicals”), evangelicalism is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, and this introduces even more ecumenicism and diversity within the category. Often the political and cultural touchstones commonly associated with what people think when they hear “evangelicals” do not hold true in these sectors of evangelicalism, or at least are not as disproportionately skewed in one direction. (And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the fact that evangelicalism is also multi-national, and what is characteristic of portions of evangelicalism in America is not necessarily characteristic of evangelicalism in general.)

      Now, having acknowledged this, I will also say that in my particular circle of evangelicalism, I have seen a significant political and cultural shift over the last decade or two. From a political standpoint, the shift isn’t so much in voting preferences, as most of the fellow evangelicals in my spheres were always dependably Republican voters. The shift in the political mindset has been more in terms of yielding over completely to partisan media (believing *everything* said on that media, no matter how preposterous or outlandish or unabashedly partisan), and in terms of yielding over completely to certain individual politicians, praising them and defending them no matter what, and actually viewing them as some sort of deliverers and protectors of the faith, sometimes (often?) to the point of approaching idolatry.

      From a cultural standpoint, the shift accompanies the increasing reliance upon partisan media and politicians in forming world view (namely, seeing one’s faith through the prism of political preferences rather than vice versa), and has fostered a view of seeing the world in terms of a culture war, with all who don’t believe the exact same things being considered enemies. It is a culture born of tribalism, with increasing ill will (and sometimes outright hatred) directed against everyone not considered reliably “within the tribe.” Political disagreements are no longer seen as disagreements over the effectiveness of various policy options, but rather are attributed “our perfectly righteous side” being opposed by the malevolent motives of evil enemies. In my opinion, it is absolutely impossible to view the world through the lens of the gospel as a mission field when one sees it instead as a culture war battleground, with self-righteous anger and bitterness and malice directed at those seen as being “outside the fold.” And that means that what these people are practicing is no longer driven by the gospel of Christ, but by their own thoughts and desires.

      So within the spheres of evangelicalism within which I have traveled, I do observe these troubling shifts, and I do recognize what Scot McKnight is referencing when he speaks about how the world now views “evangelicals.” As you point out, to some extent this may be properly criticized as painting with a broad brush, but it is also true that for a large segment of American Christianity that self-identifies as “evangelicals,” the characterizations are often well-earned and the condemnation well-deserved.

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      • It is a culture born of tribalism, with increasing ill will (and sometimes outright hatred) directed against everyone not considered reliably “within the tribe.”

        When there are no more Heathens, start on the Heretics.
        When there are no more Heretics, start on the Apostates.
        When there are no more Apostates, start on those Less Devout Than Thou In Any Way.
        What do Predators eat after they have eaten all the Prey?

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  2. McKnight describes the evangelical church as “a disorganized, ecumenical alliance of Christians” and then begins to disingenuously treat it as a homogenous group, painting the entire movement with a broad brush of condemnation.

    I am concerned that we live in a time where we fail to see the trees for the forest, taking the easy road of condemning an entire group for the action of a part of it. It is wrong to do that to any other group such as the black community or Democrats and it is just as wrong to do it to evangelicals.

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  3. The irony is that “evangelicals” are not really evangelical. In my experience for all the talk of outreach and such, the community is quite closed.
    Sure, they’ll take your money and time but you’ll find most so called outreach events really play to the house.
    Went to a Christmas play at my wife’s church and after a really dumbed down message, the special guest was the music pastor’s 6 year old kid.
    An event for insiders, by insiders. For all the mission work, the world is no more closer to the evangelical version of it.
    Most of it is just passing water from one leaking bucket to another

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