White Evangelicalism: Witnesses to the Wrong Resurrection – Chapter 1: The State of Evangelicalism in America

by John Ellis

“The temptations of political and cultural power have been strong for white evangelicals.”[1] Thomas Kidd

A recent poll conducted by Pew Research uncovered that 36 percent of self-professing evangelicals in America believe that causal sex is sometimes or always acceptable. Pew defines casual sex as “sex between two consenting adults who are not in a committed romantic relationship.” The 36 percent number takes on any even more shameful hue when noting that the definition of casual sex doesn’t include sex between two consenting adults who are cohabiting or in a long-term “dating” relationship. To spell it out in colloquial English, shacking up and knocking boots is not considered casual sex in Pew’s definition. This raises the question of how many more self-professing evangelicals believe that sex is okay between “committed” partners who are not married?

Ligonier Ministry’s State of Theology survey may be a better barometer for evangelical thoughts and beliefs. Sadly, the results for 2020 reveal that 32 percent of evangelicals either somewhat agree or strongly agree with the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not a God.” The response by evangelicals to the “The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being” is even worse. 51 percent of evangelical respondents agreed somewhat or strongly with that heretical claim.

Polling can be tricky, though. Reading and interpreting polling data even more so. For example, what percentage of respondents who claim to be evangelical are evangelical in any meaningful sense of the word? Still, the results are a revealing piece of the overall picture of white evangelicalism in America. And when viewed as a whole, the picture of evangelicalism is bleak, bearing little resemblance to Jesus. True, its defenders can point to things like adoption rates and charitable giving[2], but are those things truly the face of white evangelicalism?

For many, though, the overall picture of evangelicalism is blurred by inadequate definitions. As an evangelical and historian, Thomas Kidd has done as much as anyone (if not more) to help situate the history of evangelicalism in the broader history of the Church and within our own time and place. In his recent book Who Is an Evangelical?, Kidd recognizes that, “The evangelical crisis has several overlapping facets, including (1) confusion about the term.”[3] His book goes on to explicate the term evangelical while diagnosing where and how the movement drifted from its moorings. Kidd sees the allure of political power as a main driver in the tarnished image of evangelicalism. Two pages later, establishing a baseline of who evangelicals are in order to help explore the evangelical landscape’s morass and offer a way out, Kidd offers the definition that, “Evangelicals are born-again Protestants who cherish the Bible as the Word of God and who emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit [emphasis kept].”[4]

While not having a quarrel with Kidd’s definition as a simple proposition, I believe that it fails to adequately steer the respondent into a fully fleshed out and nuanced look into the myriad of competing and contra-biblical ideologies that birthed, shaped, and continues to shape evangelicalism. His definition is an ideal. The reality is far less pure. To put it bluntly, I agree with Frances Fitzgerald who argues, “[Evangelicals] are also the most American of religious groups.”[5]

In subsequent chapters, I’ll deconstruct various ideologies and worldviews that make up white evangelicalism in America. In this chapter, I want to point to what I believe is the overriding harmful state of evangelicalism: a crisis of identity leading to a refusal to think and live eschatologically. Theological understanding is poor among evangelicals because their primary identity is not in Christ but in being an American. Their imagination and ethics aren’t shaped by Christ’s Kingdom but by a temporal kingdom.

Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer makes the claim that, “Thanks to the death of Christ, we have union with Christ, and hence reconciliation with God. What the doctrine of atonement directs us to imagine (because it cannot empirically be observed) is God’s acceptance of us ‘in Christ,’ and hence our union with Christ. … To be ‘in’ Christ is a compelling image that pertains less to where than to what and who we are. To be ‘in Christ’ is to be under Christ’s lordship. To be in Christ is to be part of the vanguard of a new creation animated by Christ’s Spirit [emphasis kept].”[6] Christians’ vocation, then, is “to grow into their new identities and play their parts in public with passion and truth. They are to ‘grow up’ into Christ (Eph. 4:15).”[7] Vanhoozer concludes, “Our vocation thus becomes our identity: we achieve genuine selfhood precisely as witnesses to Jesus Christ, to the gospel truth about God and humankind alike.”[8]

Gazing over the landscape of contemporary white evangelicalism in America, it becomes readily apparent that the movement is defined far more by a temporal, finite where instead of the what and who that Vanhoozer urges us to embrace in Christ’s Spirit. The vocation of white evangelicals reveals that their hope is found in an anthropocentric definition of human flourishing that’s lived out in the here and now. Like the prodigal son, evangelicals want their inheritance on their terms.

Before moving forward, a briefish explanation of human flourishing and its potential for guiding us into differing teleological ethical paths is possibly required. For that, I lean heavily on Charles Taylor:

“Every person, and every society, lives with or by some conception(s) of what human flourishing is: what constitutes a fulfilled life? What makes life really worth living? What would we most admire people for? We can’t help asking these and related questions in our lives. And our struggles to answer them define the view or views that we try to live by, or between which we hover. At another level, these views are codified, sometimes in philosophical theories, sometimes in moral codes, sometimes in religious practices and devotion. These and the varied ill-formulated practices which people around us engage in constitute the resources that our society offers each one of us as we try to lead our lives. … Does the highest, the best life involve our seeking, or acknowledging, or serving a good which is beyond, in the sense of independent of human flourishing? In which case, the highest, most real, authentic or adequate human flourishing could include our aiming (also) in our range of final goals at something other than human flourishing.”[9]

How our fears and desires shape our lives is revealing. What we hold most dear (what we worship) shapes our lives. “It’s clear that in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition the answer to [the questions in the quote above] is affirmative. Loving, worshipping God is the ultimate end. Of course, in this tradition God is seen as willing human flourishing, but devotion to God is not seen as contingent on this. The injunction ‘Thy will be done’ isn’t equivalent to ‘Let humans flourish’, even though we know that God wills human flourishing.”[10]

When human flourishing is elevated above worshipping God in its fullest sense, which requires submission to Him in all things, our ethics are affected. Working backwards, in this chapter I seek to demonstrate how white evangelicals’ ethics are affected by an idolatrous view of human flourishing. In later chapters, I will go back to the philosophies that have led us to this idolatrous view. For now, ask yourself, how would (does) my conservative evangelical family and friends respond to criticisms of the American Dream? To criticisms of the founding of the United States? To criticisms of this country’s treatment of minorities? To criticisms of the larger white evangelical community’s relationship to politicians and the political power those relationships afford? Ask yourself, how do I respond, for that matter.

The pandemic and presidential campaign of 2020 has allowed us to see responses to those questions and more. As I’ve heard in more than one sermon by more than one pastor, what makes us angry often reveals our idols.

In-person and social media interactions are veritable landmine fields of potential relationship destroyers if certain topics are broached. An us versus them mentality has calcified in society. People who threaten our preferred way of life are seen as the enemy. Power is sought after at all costs and defended at all costs. However, the belief that we are owed a certain way of life and the belief that it’s our duty as Christians and Americans – American Christians – to defend and preserve that way of life is antithetical to the story of the Bible, especially as contained in the teachings and examples of the New Testament. That story explicitly tells us that we are aliens – unwanted immigrants, if you will.

It’s astonishing how dismissive many professing evangelicals’ actions and words seem to be towards Jesus’ warning that, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18-20a).” In addition to Jesus’ words, the Apostle Peter, in no uncertain terms, refers to God’s people as “sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11).” Various translations use the word “strangers,” “pilgrims,” “foreigners,” and even “aliens” in place of the ESV’s “sojourners and exiles.” The point – Peter’s divinely inspired point – is that Christians are to live as God’s people who are not yet living in God’s place. Yet, to hear and watch many evangelicals is to conclude that the United States of America is their preferred home and where most of their hope rests.

The amount of vitriolic and caustic language, the seething anger that dominates much of our contemporary political, sociological, and, yes, theological discourse, especially online, reveals our hearts. What must an unbelieving world conclude when observing those who profess to be God’s people get so angrily worked up when their preferred political candidate loses? What must an unbelieving world conclude when those who profess to be God’s people demand their right to engage in the luxury of dining out sans face mask? What must an unbelieving world conclude when those who profess to be God’s people insist that our culturally constructed and temporal society be preserved at all costs, even if those costs include the suffering of fellow Image Bearers struggling under the yoke of the Fall in economic, health, and personal safety ways in which most Americans have not been asked to suffer? Well, a natural conclusion is that we are all scrapping over the same plot of land; we are all jockeying for position in the same kingdom that is ultimately a zero-sum game because it is finite.

Towards the end of The Drama of Doctrine, Vanhoozer offers this conclusion that, “To rehearse the coming kingdom of God is the church’s joyful privilege and solemn responsibility.”[11] For many, that raises the question of what does “the coming kingdom of God” refer to? Unfortunately, many white evangelicals have not been exposed to teaching and preaching that takes our union with Christ as a launching pad to call us to speak, live, and hope eschatologically. Many of the most popular sermons, books that dominate the Christian best seller lists, and blogs posts and articles are centered on ethical applications that are designed to help us flourish in the here and now using definitions of flourishing that have largely been created and designed by the very here and now to which we will one day leave behind.

Peter’s imperative that we, “[live] as servants of God (1 Peter 2:16)” is an antidote to this self-centered, imminent perspective. Throughout his first epistle, Peter gives Kingdom ethical imperatives – “abstain from passions of the flesh (2:11),” “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable (2:12),” “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution (2:13),” “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil (2:16),” “keep loving one another earnestly (4:8),” “show hospitality to one another without grumbling (4:9),” “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another (4:10),” to list a few. Peter also calls us to suffer patiently and joyfully, “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (2:21).” He then adds, “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (4:13).” Later, in chapter 5, we are given the end game. Peter explains that he, too, is, “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed (v. 1).” After some final exhortations, Peter provides the glorious, eschatological promise that, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (v. 10).” Our flourishing is to come. Our current calling is to be witnesses of Christ, to his suffering and resurrection. Our hope and longing are in the future, not in the here and now, and our words and actions should reflect that hope and longing.

In the next chapter, I will provide a more detailed exegesis of the future kingdom, specifically its soteriological implications that lead to Kingdom ethics. For the purpose of this chapter, the brief look at our calling to live, move, and breath eschatologically is to confront readers with, frankly, what is an obvious proposition that is amen-producing for most white evangelicals. In a vacuum, my final sentence of the previous paragraph would receive very little pushback (if any) in most white evangelical spaces. And in confronting readers with that truth, I am going to use it as an observation deck from which to make comments about a certain ideology that many white evangelicals adhere to and ethically utilize, no matter where in DeYoung’s taxonomy they fit. Furthermore, I contend that that ideology is antithetical to living eschatologically.

To put it another way, Charles Taylor explains that under the most-widely assumed definition of secularity – “a nonsectarian, neutral, and areligious space or standpoint”[12] – we ethically operate and maneuver through varying spheres of existence – “economic, political, cultural, education, professional, recreational”[13] – in ways that have little to no reference point in God. Our actions in most of the spheres of the rhythms of our daily life are centered and controlled by an immanent embrace of the here and now. In other words, within this framework, God is over there. My current life is here, and my concerns in the here and now, while often paying lip service to my faith, are worked out via methods and with objectives that pertain to here and not there. So long as I don’t steal, murder, commit adultery, go to church regularly (even read my Bible regularly), and tithe, I am doing my eschatological due diligence, freeing me to make ethical decisions that preserve however I define flourishing here. Within that framework, pragmatism rules the day. And pragmatism is an ideology that creates the fuzziness between the various (and growing) sets within white evangelicalism; it’s a shared ideology.

There is an easy (and currently popular) tack to the uncovering and sermonizing about the “sins” of white evangelicalism in America. Landing blows on conservatives sells books, after all. To be fair, it’s true that, “In surveys conservative activists also reported that there was only one Christian view on political issues, and that political liberals could not be true Christians.”[14] There is a widespread conflation of the Republican party with the Kingdom of Christ. But I also want to make clear that the ideologies and worldviews that plague white evangelicalism are not a “conservative” issue. Many of those who pride themselves on their enlightened evangelicalism possess the same contra-biblical worldviews. They, too, have as their primary vocation a striving for an anthropocentric definition of human flourishing that’s lived out in the here and now. Bearing witness to the wrong resurrection is not an us versus them problem; it’s an our problem, no matter where on the political and sociological evangelical spectrum of that “our” you believe yourself to be.[15] To that end, the overall state of white evangelicalism in America can be summed up by the word pragmatism.

In 1971, the famous Rules for Radicals was published, or, rather, infamous if you’d prefer. Political philosopher and social activist Saul Alinsky subtitled his book “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” Written shortly before his death in 1972, Alinsky poured his life of community activism spent in search of social justice for the marginalized into the book. Influencing the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the book and its author has become somewhat of a bogeyman for thought-leaders and media influencers within the conservative Christian movement in America. Although Texas Republican Dick Armey did distribute the book to members of the Tea Party affiliate organization FreedomWorks. His feud with James Dobson aside, Armey hits all the right notes for many white evangelicals in this country – an emphasis on liberty, proponent of the flat tax, and devoted patriot who welds his love for God with his love for the United States of America.

Beginning a book (series of articles) about evangelicalism in America with Saul Alinsky and Rules for Radicals may seem like an odd starting place. But the bit about Dick Armey is not a non-sequitur. Armey understood that Alinsky’s “rules” can not only work in this “Christian” nation of ours but also fit very comfortably within the worldview of white conservative evangelicalism. Whether they’ve read the book or not, I daresay that a comfortable majority of white evangelicals in America function in society according to many of Alinsky’s “rules,” particularly his chapter “Of Means and Ends,” in which Alinsky concludes, “Means and ends are so qualitatively interrelated that the true question has never been the proverbial one, ‘Does the End justify the Means?’ but always has been ‘Does this particular end justify this particular means?’ [emphasis kept].”[16]

The chapter is chock full of arguments that sound as if they could be equally trumpeted from the platform of CPAC or on the Twitter feed of a newly enlightened evangelical advocate for social justice. For example, Alinsky makes clear, “that the kind of means selected and how they can be used is significantly dependent upon the face of the enemy, or the character of his opposition.”[17] That quote contains the dueling arguments of both sides of the white evangelical civil war. On one side, the justification for voting for Trump lies in the part that sees means as, “significantly dependent upon the face of the enemy.” On the other side, the justification for laying aside the totality of Christ’s ethics when voting for pro-abortion, pro-lgtbq candidates can be found in, “the character of his opposition.”

Diving into his “rules pertaining to the ethics of means and ends” is to clearly see the ethical playbook of white evangelicals in America. In the chapter, Alinsky provides eleven rules. I won’t look at all of them, but a quick overview of a few of them will demonstrate the validity of my claim.

The first rule is, “That one’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.”[18]

Although a heated issue for white evangelicals, abortion is an abstract issue for many. When weighing the ethics of voting, for example, justifications abound for a pragmatic compromise to ignore God’s total concern for life. Often, the justifications live in the pragmatic house of concern for the life of other Image Bearers; good and right concerns, to be sure, but citizens of Christ’s Kingdom are to have a holistically vocational approach to ethics. Looking at the “other side” reveals a vice-versa, two sides of the same coin picture.

Alinsky’s second, third, and fourths rules are similar. “The second rule of the ethics of means and ends is that the judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.” “The third rule of ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means.” “The fourth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that judgement must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.”[19]

Alinsky provides several examples in support of those three rules, including the tactics used by the underground Resistance to the Nazis, the competing perspectives of the Declaration of Independence, and Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus. However, there is a better example to demonstrate what Alinsky means when he urges, “Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times.”[20]

Many Americans look askance, at best, whenever the morality of the United States’ involvement in World War II is questioned at all. In the minds of many, WWII is as perfect an example of the motivation and execution of a just war as there is. At worst, charges of being a heretical traitor are lobbed in the direction of any questioner of America’s morality regarding WWII. Aware of those landmines, and with an overarching pedagogical objective to help readers begin to evaluate their overall worship (or lack thereof) of this country that warps their ethics and priorities alongside my current objective of demonstrating how Alinsky’s rules apply, I offer this question regarding America’s morality in WWII: does the defeat of Hitler justify the partnership with Stalin and the subsequent selling out of Eastern Europe that led to the torture and murder of countless citizens under the Stalinist regime, including many followers of Jesus? Make no mistake, the West, including America’s leaders were aware of Stalin’s evil. For many, the kneejerk reaction to that question is one sown, fed, and watered by pro-American perspectives. To even question the means is anathema. On the surface, it’s a politically charged question; the United States was at war; the time and place dictated actions that others in different times and places have no right to question – hitting all three of the above rules of Alinsky. For a follower of Jesus, though, the question should be viewed through the lens of biblically informed ethics. And I’m not going to spend much time making an argument either way. Although, I suspect readers will be able to determine which side of the question my answer falls out on. My point is to illustrate how not only our enacted ethics but also our responses to ethical questions are often shaped by ideologies that are not taught in the Bible.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Kings of Israel, both the Northern and Southern kingdoms, were warned and forbidden from partnering with godless leaders and countries when facing enemies. Politically motivated marriages to foreign wives were also forbidden to Israel’s kings. The flourishing of God’s people was (and is) covenantal. In relation to my question about America’s involvement in WWII, those commands either have to be viewed through the lens of theonomy or as a non-citizen. And the Bible is clear that Christians are to consider themselves non-citizens. The question of what America should do is not the same question as to how Christians should view and respond to what America does, although for Christians the answers to both will likely never (shouldn’t ever) diverge.[21]  

Alinsky isn’t entirely wrong when he claims that means and ends are “qualitatively interrelated.” How we define flourishing and from whom and how that flourishing is mediated goes a long way towards dictating our ethics. When professed followers of King Jesus place the locus of flourishing in the here and now, their ethics will reflect that. When followers of King Jesus rightly place the locus of flourishing in the eschaton, their ethics will be a reflection of the Kingdom in which their hope and longing is placed.

Ironically, one of the more consistent rebuttals of my claim actually underscores my belief. Multiple conversation partners, both online and in person, have argued that the examples of Joseph, Esther, Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego demonstrate that pragmatism is allowed when obeying the command to “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7).”

Firstly, it should be pointed out (reminded) that how we define the primary “welfare of the city” will greatly shape our ethics. Yes, Christians should desire our communities to flourish. But that flourishment must primarily be eschatological. The Psalms are replete with reminders that the wicked who flourish in the here and now face a coming judgment. While suffering an eternity under God’s just wrath, whatever flourishing God’s enemies enjoyed in the here and now will be of zero comfort to them. Psalm 79 is a textbook case for how the temporal flourishing of God’s enemies will be turned to judgement/suffering while the temporal suffering of God’s people will be turned to blessing/flourishing. One could almost take the throw-a-dart-at-it approach to the Psalms to find further examples.

Please do not hear what I’m not saying. The Church has been known throughout the generations for her desire to serve and protect the vulnerable and suffering. Mercy ministries are an integral part of Kingdom ethics. I’m not arguing otherwise; I’m arguing that the means of mercy ministries should be informed by eschatology and not pragmatism.

Secondly, the Old Testament saints listed above are known by us because of their unwillingness to compromise.[22] They all faced death and the Bible praises them and holds them up as examples pointing to the coming Messiah because of their refusal to engage in pragmatism. For sure, Daniel was a sinner. No doubt, there were times in his life and career where he compromised, but the Bible doesn’t record those instances. Instead, all the anecdotes are of Daniel staunchly refusing to compromise. He refused to eat the King’s meat. He refused to flatter the King’s ear when explaining the meaning of his dreams. He refused to stop praying. Same with his three friends. Where and how does the Bible record their pragmatism? Bluntly, it doesn’t. It should also be pointed out that none of them sought power. It was foisted upon them, even though they refused to play by the ethics of their time and place (and in spite of their godly refusal) and, instead, obeyed their true King’s ethics knowing that doing so would likely be a great hindrance to their flourishing in the here and now. Being tossed in the lion’s den or a fiery furnace are far greater threats to flourishing in the here and now than having your YouTube video yanked.

Moving on, three more examples of Alinsky’s rules will suffice to make my point. Rule five is, “That concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.”[23] The refrain “I voted for fill-in-the-blank because no other options were available” is a constant dialectic drumbeat of pragmatic white evangelicals on both sides of the political spectrum.

Rule eight states, “The morality of a means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.”[24] For many white evangelicals, the current stakes are sufficiently high enough, in their perspective, to justify compromise. “Religious liberty is at stake!” “White nationalism is on the cusp of reversing any gains in civil rights!” “Our daughters are going to be forced to shower with boys!” Those justifications, and others, reflect the belief that defeat is imminent. “We’re so close to overturning Roe v. Wade!” is a justification that reflects the belief that victory is imminent. For many white evangelicals, ethics are fungible if the target is near at hand or if perceived defeat is at the door.

Finally, Alinsky’s tenth rule explains that, “You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments.”[25] Similar to rule number five, this rule is echoed by many white evangelicals as they justify supporting a man as debauched and un-Christlike as Donald Trump. On the flip side, white evangelicals who support Biden often justify their support of a man who actively seeks to promote contra-biblical ethics with moral arguments about his character and his intentions and desires related to other ethically important concerns. Pragmatism abounds within white evangelicalism in America.

This pragmatism didn’t arise in a vacuum. In explaining what he means by the “buffered self” of modernity, Charles Taylor looks back to pre-modernity when societies believed, “that God is the ultimate guarantee that good will triumph.”[26] At the risk of me seeming to hypocritically idealize pre-modern societies[27], Taylor explains that as opposed to the “buffered self” of modernity, the belief in transcendence that ruled and directed over all things meant that, “going against God is not an option in the enchanted world.”[28] So, what happened? Why the shift? Why are white evangelicals so willing to violate Kingdom ethics even as they claim to worship and serve God? Taylor provides an answer.

It’s not a simple subtraction story, as many believe. Science didn’t come along and take transcendence away. “There has still to be a positive option of exclusive humanism on offer.”[29] And this is where I enter the transition from the broad accusation of pragmatism as one of the prevailing ethical guides of white evangelicalism to specific ideologies, philosophies, and overarching worldviews that lead to this contra-biblical pragmatism. Pragmatism is a symptom, not the disease infecting white evangelicalism.

One of my high school teachers previously worked as a banker. Multiple times in classroom lectures, he utilized the example of how banks train their workers to recognize counterfeit money. He explained to us that while training, the bank only allowed him to handle genuine paper currency. Finally, after his fingers had been conditioned to the feel of the money, the addition of a counterfeit bill was a “shock” to his fingers. Likewise, before moving on to “counterfeit” worldviews, chapter 2 will be a rehearsal of a genuine eschatological perspective.

[1] Thomas Kidd, Who Is An Evangelical? The History of a Movement In Crisis (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019), 33.

[2] When looked at closely, the ballyhooed charitable giving of conservative Christians in this country reveals that the majority of it is tithing. While I’m not dismissing the need, importance, and praiseworthiness of tithing, there is a difference between giving money so that your local church can keep the lights turned on in the gymnasium and giving money to the oppressed and needy of society. A breakdown of what percentage of the tithes of evangelicals support true mercy ministries, administration fees, building projects, missions, etc. would provide a better comparison to non-conservatives.

[3] Kidd, Who Is an Evangelical?, 2.

[4] Kidd, Who Is an Evangelical?, 4.

[5] Frances Fitzgerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017), 2.

[6] Kevin Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), 393.

[7] Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 394.

[8] Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 397.

[9] Taylor, A Secular Age, 16.

[10] Taylor, A Secular Age, 16-17.

[11] Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 443.

[12] James K. Smith, How Not To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 21.

[13] Taylor, A Secular Age, 2.

[14] Fitzgerald, The Evangelicals, 333.

[15] To be clear, God and country-styled political ideologies are, by far, the reigning false idol within white evangelism. Much of the rest of this book (series of articles) will deal specifically with that idol. At the beginning, though, I want to make sure that I’m not allowing “enlightened” evangelicals to stand comfortably on their temple’s steps while proclaiming, “I thank God I’m not like Trump supporting evangelicals.” Also, let it be known that my heart is filled with these same idols. I’m a product of white evangelicalism, too. By God’s grace, I’m striving for repentance that leads to robust identity in Christ and an eschatological ethic.

[16] Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 47.

[17] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 41.

[18] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 26.

[19] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 26, 29, and 30.

[20] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 30-31.

[21] This doesn’t mean that nations and kings have carte blanche to ignore God’s ethics. They, too, ultimately answer to the King of kings. But, again, their judgment is also ultimately eschatological. Until the Final Day, Christ’s Kingdom is not spread by the sword but by the Word. If America (or any country) violates God’s ethics, my calling as an ambassador of Christ’s Kingdom is to call for repentance through both my words and deeds. Admittedly, this is a thesis that deserves a fuller treatment.

[22] The inclusion of Esther in the list has always disturbed me. Her night with the king wasn’t pragmatism; it was the rape of a teenage girl.

[23] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 32.

[24] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 34.

[25] Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 36.

[26] Taylor, A Secular Age, 42.

[27] I simply want to show some of the distinctions between pre-modern societies and modern societies that have allowed for a conscious pragmatism by white evangelicals. Pre-modern societies have many sins and anthropocentric views that could be interacted with. That would require a separate book, though

[28] Taylor, A Secular Age, 41.

[29] Taylor, A Secular Age, 41.

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