July 25, 2023 Editor

The American Evangelical Church Is in Crisis. There’s Only One Way Out.

Evangelicals can have revival or nostalgia—but not both.

By Russell Moore

July 25, 2023

image above: Religion and Right-Wing Politics: How Evangelicals Reshaped Elections – The New York Times

WN: Noted evangelical American leader Russell Moore presents powerfully the need for American evangelical renewal, if by-and-large majority American white evangelicals fail to avert their own “moral tragedy (A. W. Tozer).”

This “moral tragedy,” highlighted in the accompanying photo with current Ultimate Evangelical Corrupter Donald Trump, is brilliantly charted in, and seen in my book review of,  Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by Kristin Kobes du MezCaveat lector.


This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which The Atlantic editors recommend a single must-read,  Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.

The No. 1 question that younger evangelicals ask me is how to relate to their parents and mentors who want to talk about culture-war politics and internet conspiracy theories instead of prayer or the Bible. These young people are committed to their Christian faith, but they feel despair and cynicism about the Church’s future. Almost none of them even call themselves “evangelical” anymore, now that the label is confused with political categories. “Sometimes I feel like I’m crazy,” one pastor said to me just days ago. “Does no one see that the Church is in crisis?”

Indeed it is. I am a conservative evangelical—previously the head of the public-policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. For years I dealt with evangelical backlash, including from some of my closest allies and friends, over my opposition to Donald Trump and my views on issues such as racial justice and Church sexual abuse. I hardly thought of myself as a “dissident.” Instead, I believed I was just what I’d always been: a loyal Southern Baptist evangelical trying to apply what I’d learned from children’s Sunday school onward about basic Christian morality and justice. Still, I felt like an outcast and a heretic. I felt homeless. And two years ago, I left the Southern Baptist world I loved.

As The Guardian noted in an editorial after the 2016 presidential election,

In the end, a market-driven religion gives rise to a market-driven approach to truth, and this development ultimately eviscerated conservative Christianity in the US and left it the possession of hypocrites and hucksters.

It is my considered opinion that under the present circumstances [post-World War II era] we do not want revival at all. A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years.–evangelical preacher A. W. Tozer
Surveys show that, when compared with other religious groups and the general population, white evangelicals are the most susceptible to white-nationalist tropes such as the “Great Replacement” theory, and their institutions caricature the most basic commitments to racial justice as “critical race theory.” Denominations that are glacially slow to recognize documented sexual-abuse cover-ups are lightning quick to expel congregations they find to be too affirming of women’s leadership.

Please click on: The American Evangelical Church Is in Crisis.

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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