As I briefly noted in my overview post, Hart argues that evangelicalism has grown to stand far more for conservative politics than for any coherent statement of biblical faith. He writes:
Evangelicalism came to national attention when believers claiming that identity entered the drama (stage right, of course) of electoral politics. That occurrence gave academics who study religion in the United States lots of material to analyze. The emergence of evangelicalism as a political lobby may also have spelled the demise of this particular faith because it diverted born-again Protestants' attention from spiritual to temporal realities [emphasis mine].So is this all we're about? Political power? Maybe I should go a step farther because Hart may have stopped short. These days, evangelicals (fundamentalists too!) can do more than vote. We can also buy. We are every bit as much materialistic consumers as the secular left and center. We evangelicals are getting rich, and we're acquiring a refined taste to go with it. So now, we don't have to wait for elections and the great levelling "one man one vote" principle for our voices to be heard. We can do like big business and the mainline denominations have always done and just go buy our power like everyone else.p. 176
One can certainly argue that the recent spate of evangelical furor over "The Book of Daniel" and "The End of the Spear" is an accurate rebuke of real error. But are these culture wars really where we want to focus our efforts? Is our politicial/economic weight really that for which we want to be known?
Someone, please make it stop.
I love the conclusion of Charles Marsh in his New York Times op-ed from January 20th, "Wayward Christian Soldiers":
What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness.