Beliefs Columns Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Can American evangelicalism be saved?

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and editor of "Still Evangelical." Images courtesy of InterVarsity Press.

(RNS) — Shocked. Devastated. And most of all, worried about the future.

That’s how I’d describe the tone of the new book “Still Evangelical?: Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning,” in which evangelical leaders grapple with the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, which galvanized an identity crisis for American evangelicals.

As contributor Shane Claiborne puts it in the book, when more than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for a man whose “actions and life choices contradict the core values of evangelicalism itself,” there’s a problem: Jesus and the GOP have been whirled up in a blender, and there may not be hope of separating them ever again.

What, then, happens to the term “evangelical”?

I spoke with Mark Labberton, who edited the volume at the request of InterVarsity Press, about the book and what it represents. Their goal, he says, was “to have an array of people from across the evangelical spectrum from left to the right, and also to have a diversity of voices with gender and race. It included people who were leaders of institutions or organizations, or people that are involved in movements, like Shane Claiborne or Lisa Sharon Harper.”

Harper, an African-American woman whose essay opens the collection, is a case study of how complicated the term “evangelical” is, because when the media use it, what they often mean is white evangelicals. Which would not include her. Yet she opens the book by revealing the come-to-Jesus moment she experienced as a young teenager in 1983, a conversion story that would be familiar to many evangelicals, replete as it is with memories of Amy Grant concerts, camp meetings and altar calls on a sawdust trail.

And she’s not alone. Many of the essayists are Christians of color, including InterVarsity President Tom Lin, seminary professor Soong-Chan Rah, and pastor and activist Sandra Maria Van Opstal, who contributes the book’s most arresting metaphor when she writes:

“My blood type is O-negative, so I am the universal donor—a blood bank’s dream. A universal donor can give to anyone, so hospital shelves are lined with O negative. The reverse is not true; the universal donor can receive only O negative blood. In seminary, I learned that the universal theological donor is a white evangelical. This donor is always translating books into other languages, planting churches in other countries, setting up seminaries on other continents, and sending professors to teach global Christians. And this donor never seems to receive from the global church.”

Part of the impetus for the book, says Labberton, is to challenge a narrative that equates “white” with “normative” by soliciting the voices of nonwhite Christian

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and editor of “Still Evangelical?” book. Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Press

leaders. It’s a way of troubling the waters of what people mean when they say “evangelical,” which Labberton says has become “an almost unusable word … so indefinite that it’s difficult to determine what people mean when they use it.”

Labberton’s own weekend is a case in point. As the president of the evangelical flagship institution Fuller Theological Seminary, Labberton is deep in the thick of American evangelicalism. When I spoke to him on Thursday (March 1), he was heading to a speaking event in California, then getting on a plane to attend Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday. There he would be surrounded by various strands of evangelicalism, from the old-school Christian crusading of Billy himself to the relentless political crusading of Billy’s son Franklin.


READ: Billy Graham’s granddaughter sends a wise message to her famous uncle


And that’s just varieties of white evangelicalism. There are so many others, many of which have been uncentered, marginalized or ignored. One problem caused by people like Franklin Graham and other Trump supporters, according to several essayists in this book, is that they are actively alienating evangelical Christians of a rising generation who care about diversity, inclusion and having leaders who practice what they preach.

“The fundamental instinct of millennials about life is that it’s about authenticity and integrity, so the crisis of this election is that evangelicals appear to be willing to sell their birthright for political power, but surrender authenticity and integrity,” says Labberton. “They’re people who are longing, and who are disillusioned by an older generation who have sold themselves for influence, while compromising the gospel and its central character.”

But there’s hope for evangelicalism, if the essays in this book are any indication. There can be rebirth from the ashes of evangelicalism’s cultural captivity.

“Evangelicalism is far deeper, wider, and greater than its particular foibles born of particular times,” writes Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior, in an essay that Labberton holds up as his favorite in the book. She maintains that it was evangelicalism that catalyzed an “activist spirit” inside of her, “molding and refining a passion to do right politically, socially, personally.”

Evangelicalism can survive the damage done by its political enthrallment, but only if it embraces change and diverse voices.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

141 Comments

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  • Can American evangelicalism be saved?

    Only when it loses the ideology label of being an “ism”, and stops using faith as a weapon. Only when it returns to faith as a path to salvation, and not as a means to power, money, dominion, and revenge.

    Only when it stops being a political party.

    Only when it stops defining itself by whom it is against.

    Only when it realizes that “cultural depravity” is not a compliment, especially coming from other evangelicals.

  • “…but only if it embraces change and diverse voices.”

    Oh yeah. We already know what’s being sold in THAT brown paper bag. Ain’t buying, thanks — certainly not without first taking the stuff out of the bag for a full Scriptural examination.

    Meanwhile, this book sure ain’t anything that’s gonna “save” evangelicalism. Especially not if it’s general thrust is I-Hate-Trump-And-You-Evangelicals-Better-Hate-Him-Too.

    Evangelicalism will honestly be divided, for a long time to come. That’s bad, I agree. But not nearly as bad as evangelicals swallowing some of the Hazmat that’s being offered under the label of “progressive” these days.

  • I don’t remember Christ telling us to be “evangelical” so I won’t worry about the loss of the term

  • That “81% of evangelicals voted for” the President has been repeated so often it is almost as though it were true and supported by hard data. It is not.

    That “Jesus and the GOP have been whirled up in a blender” may be true, but the operators of the blenders are pundits like Jana Riess and Shane Claiborne who are unknown to most Christians and whose opinions only matter to themselves and to the far left aisle of the Christian community.

  • I would add that it must recognize that this world is older that 6000 years and that science is a way of understanding this reality

  • I think some will go along with that…maybe compromise. So let’s make it 10,000 years !!

  • Self-identification is notoriously unreliable in polling.

    70% of those polled who identified themselves as “Catholic” in a recent poll had not attended a Mass for two or more years.

  • These evolutionists — not the creationists — will fight you all the way on your proposed 10,000-year compromise.

    (Why, you ask? Because the worn-out, has-been, religion of evolution cannot explain Damien’s existence and blueprints, even if you spot those Darwinists 4 billion years for the fun of it.)

  • You can put the kibosh on all religions in 10 seconds so Christianity in any form will not survive.

  • No disrespect to anybody (and certainly not yourself), but make no mistake: survival ain’t the point of evangelicalism.

    If these one-sided, Trump-hating “Progressives” wanna cry & stress about evangelicalism’s survival in the Age Of Trump, then okay. Trump (and Hillary) do have issues, as I already said. We all do, including Progressives.

    But WE ain’t crying about survival. WE are not scared of secular Goliaths, nor social media, nor media polls. WE do not water down the authority and accuracy of the Bible. We don’t water down the salvation, new life, healing, and deliverance that a loving God offers to all people via Jesus.

    “These who have turned the world upside down, have come here too!!” (Acts 17:6b) That’s us, Susan. That’s “evangelicals.”

  • Of course you cry about survival. Poor persecuted christians. Big bad gay goliath. Threatened by everything. Democrats. Progressives. Islam. And on and on.

    Everything.

  • This isn’t about being a progressive. I just want to be left alone. I want Evangelicals and all Christians to leave Jews alone. They should only proselytize to Christians. The Southern Baptists had a dvision that was devoted solely to converting Jews. I’m not sure if it still exists. Yes, but not all the ways the world has been turned upside down have been good. They have been very bad for Jews. Don’t tell me how evangelicals love Jews. They want to love Jews out of existence. My orignial question was too broad. My question should have can Evangelicals leave Jews alone.

  • If “(C)an Evangelicals leave Jews alone(?)” translates “Can evangelicals carve out a special exemption for Jews from what they believe is their divine mandate to convert the entire human race to Christianity?”, I believe the answer is “no”.

    If anyone, Jewish or not, communicates they do not want to hear about it, in most circumstances “no” means “no”.

  • You are apparently unaware that there are scientists who are evangelicals who believe in evolution.

  • Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

  • Putting the kibosh on all religion and their evangelists in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

  • It seems obvious to me that the key to understanding evangelicals lies in psychology: why is it that attracts some folks to evangelicalism? What do they hope to find?

    As long as there are people with certain needs–most obviously, the need to avoid ambiguity, and the need for some form of social dominance, the need for some authoritative source to tell them what to think–there will be evangelicals and other extremists.

  • Of course there are. But they have proven equally unable to explain Damien’s existence and blueprints via the religion of evolution.

  • What all this is, is: Evangelicalism has finally become just another religion.

    Welcome to the real world, Evangelicals.

    You’re no longer special or unique. The Elect no more. A Separate People now extinct.

    Well done.

    Too bad for my God & Jesus: what are They to do now?

  • It’s not about persecution, but progressives. These “Progressives” are so scared of evangelicalism “not surviving”, so scared of Millennials, Collegians, and Gen-Z kids, (and flat-out scared of Goliath), that they’re messing up. Watering down their Bibles and their Christianity. Way too one-sided, way too scared to openly rag on liberals the way they openly rag on conservatives.

    But WE ain’t the folks needing to worry about survival. It is your atheist gig and your LGBT movement that are the fish in the barrel, Ben. Nearly half the “Nones” already reject your Atheism, so WE got the inside track. Evangelicals steal and comfort SSA-afflicted folks every week, and in Christ, they will never again wear the chains of gay slavery. We thus destroy your prized Obergefell, one valued and beloved life at a time.

  • I have no real idea who this Damien is, tho I suspect you are not referring to St. Damien but to some name for the devil.

    You say “Damien’s existence”–please tell me who this Damien is, and how I can ascertain his/her/its existence.

    Also, the main body of people who do not believe (i.e., understand) evolution are certain religious believers who tend to be very poorly-educated in science.

  • Umm, no, there’s no devilment in there. I’m just referring to Damien Priestly, the poster. That’s his chosen moniker. Everybody’s got the right to be referred to by whatever moniker they choose (and whatever the moderators will allow.)

    But I could have chosen the poster “Howard Kay” just as quickly. The religion of evolution fails — utterly fails — to explain Howard Kay’s existence & blueprints.

    Evolution can’t even explain your current writing and posting abilities, Mr. Kay. What’cha think about that situation?

  • Nor can evolution explain why people with minimal science education think evolution is a religion, or is not useful, or is false, or is a religion..

    What are YOUR qualifications to understand or comment on evolution? For that matter, what are your qualifications to understand the bible?

  • Unless a better approach is available, it is what it is. We use what is available. “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic” 🙂 Speaking for myself, I haven’t been to the Catholic liturgy in more than eleven years, but I still embrace the Catholic faith tradition, albeit with reservations based on historical and philosophical grounds.

  • Yes, Damien here, member of the highly prestigious Priestly family of parts unknown…

    …and like everybody else Damien is a highly evolved primate, just like you. Evolution and natural-selection is just like the theory of planets going around the sun…Completely settled science. People have to stop insulting everybody’s intelligence pretending that creationism, with it’s chief scientist Ken Ham…is anything but a laughing-stock !!

  • Like Fundamentalism, evangelicalism can only be in trouble if we let be recognized for other traits than its theological beliefs. Certainly, it is deeply disturbing why so many evangelicals voted for Trump. But we can use that fact to point out that, like for other groups, we are not all the same. And I think the real fear among us political non-conservative evangelicals is of our doing. We want the pubic to think of our group as being a monolith. But the real danger here is denying the Christian fellowship we have with those of us who hold to different political persuasions.

  • Evangelicalism must abandon its heresies and return to mainstream Christianity before it can be saved. This means ridding its self of all the Calvinist dogma and it’s so called literal miss-interpretation of the King James version of the Bible. Then making amends to all of those who have been abused by this cult especially the African-American community for supporting slavery, women for its role in subjugating them, and to all of us Vietnam vets for supporting that illegal & immoral war.

  • The premise for this article is silly. The primary reason evangelicals voted for Trump was because of one of the worst court decisions in US history: Roe v. Wade (along with Doe v. Bolton the same day). Even Justice Ginsberg has stated Roe is based on an extreme statute.

    The so-called elites of this country have reaped what they sowed. I know lots of evangelicals and virtually none are active in politics. The stench is overwhelming.

  • I’ve personally experienced occasons when no is not accepted as no. I don’t think Christians should try to convert anyone but Christians. It is a special case with Jews. Christians never forcibly converted anyone but Jews as far as I know. In Medieval villages Jews were given the choice of conversion or death. There were mass suicides in some villages. In Spain and Portugal Jews were forced to convert and then if they secretly observed Jewish rituals and were caught. They were tortured and set on fire by the inquisition. I could go on and give other examples.

    Since you can’t be Jewish and accept Jesus as your personal savior. Any attempt to convert Jews reduces the number of Jews. The ultiamate goal for evangelicals is no Jews left on the planet.

  • Jose, if I gather correctly, you are a defender of the “pure” faith so to speak. As a nonbeliever I find your comment to Joseph particularly ironic.

  • I am sure you do. I find your comment to me about a different variety of non-believer doubly ironic.

  • You have remedies if no is not accepted as no, especially if there are witnesses, depending on the context.

    I suppose the irony of suggesting Christians convert Christians slipped past you.

    We are not in medieval times, we are not in Europe, and dusting that off doesn’t really advance the discussion.

    There was no “inquisition”, there were many “inquisitions”, some civil, some church-related. Generally folks sought the church-related since they were fairer.

    The ultimate goal of “evangelicals” is no non-Christians on the planet.

    The ultimate goal of Islam is no non-Muslims on the planet.

    As long as they both stay within the law, that’s how it is.

  • And I am glad that nibbling on crackers makes you happy!

    “Jose want a cracker?”

  • As we know, Pew is a respected polling organization. Jose prefers crackers to information 🙂

  • The BIble says the world all creation was cursed at the fall of man. Where is your science if what makes the world look older than it really is that curse? By the way, the “laws of nature”, where did they come from?

  • You know perfectly well that everyone who was born Christian is not a believing practicing Christian. It’s a blink of an eye in Jewish history. Those old Medieval ideas of Jews and Judaism are alive and well in America and around the word. Yes the inquisition occurred in many different countries, but one of its purposes was to always to find secret Jews.

  • The answer is NO. “Evangelicals” are in bed with right-wing politicians, and neither will survive that unholy alliance.

  • Your hate speech is ridiculous twaddle. You’re the one who’s “afflicted” — with ignorance and apparently, your own self-hatred.

  • That doesn’t mean they aren’t Catholic. If you’re baptized Catholic, you’re Catholic.

  • If you actually believe that your knowledge of nature can be found in the bible, then that allows you to live in fantasyland. If you believe this fantastic God exists, than we cannot know how or why things exist, or what the laws of nature are. He could have done anything to fool us.

    We discover what knowledge we can through experimentation, evidence, and reason, It has been possible to build the body of knowledge we call science, There is probably more that we don’t know than we do or ever will.. This never has and does not mean that what we don’t understand is God’s doing. It just means we don’t know it yet. One of these things is where did the natural laws come from.

    Scientific knowledge is based on the laws of nature that we have discovered. If there is a creator god with unlimited power, we can not believe in the entire body of science, because what we have discovered to be “laws” could be changed at the will of that god. We can either accept the knowledge of science to be true unless proven false, or accept the existence of a god who could change these laws at his will. This is why religion is not compatible with science.

    If I believed that the Bible was accurate, then I could create as many “scientific” fantasies as my different interpretations of what that book says.

  • need the laws of nature come from any anywhere. Anyway, the idea of them being “laws” is just a human construct to describe that which we observe. Otherwise…it’s just stuff that happens within the universe.

  • Rather than actually being willing to discuss what evolution really is…people like you make up weasel word labels like evolutionists, Darwinists and “religion of evolution.”

    Let’s talk about what you perceive is incorrect about this robust theory.

  • I am not a Christian but I can imagine how sad it must be to have this religion with thousands of variant sects and the inability for them all to respectfully agree to disagree.

  • An evangelical would say( since i used to be one) that the Great Commission was Jesus’ command to “make disciples” of all nations (i.e. evangelize). Only later did I realize he probably would have meant just spreading his view of Judaism.

  • What are some aspects of progressive of which you disagree?

    For the record, I do not personally hate Trump. His policies and incompetency are incorrect and embarrassing but I actual pity him because he simply never understood what this was all about.

    I imagien he probably does not even want it any more.

  • I have not yet seen any stats that show this claim to be true.

    Roe is not based on any statute but on the constitutional precept of right to privacy,

  • “WE do not water down the authority and accuracy of the Bible. ”

    What evidence indicates this book is authoritative or accurate?

  • Technically, Christianity is a volitional religion so no one could be born a Christian.

  • Whether or not X number of people are atheists says nothing about whether or not any god claims are true.

    If anything, we are seeing an increase in atheism worldwide.

    “the chains of gay slavery” Project much?

  • Of course “we” do. The Bible says no divorce and remarriage except for adultery. But someone thought that that wasn’t all that convenient.

    Now whom could I be referring to?

  • Why bother with the scientific fantasies when there is a plethora of religious fantasies to choose from? ???

  • If Christianity is a volitional religion, how could Christians forcibly convert Jews or give Jews the choice of conversion or death?

  • Some philosophy that never gets old!!

    “The Two Universal Sects

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
    One, man intelligent without religion,

    The second, religious without intellect. ”

    Al-Ma’arri
    , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth.”

  • My best guess–based on many years of observing evangelicals–is that there are multiple reasons why folks are attracted to evangelicalism, and that fear of death *may* be one of them. Dislike or hatred of minorities–but discomfort with such hatred–may be another .

  • At this point Christian history is about 66% as long a Jewish history. While I appreciate a good turn of phrase, “It’s a blink of an eye in Jewish history.” is just plain inaccurate.

    Your first sentence really does not address the point I made about Christians and Muslims, both of whom are charged – they believe by divine command – to convert everyone.

    The only country in which an inquisition, in this case the state’s inquisition, sought to find “secret Jews” that I am aware of was Spain’s. In reaction to the Muslim conquest, and the long bloody battle to regain their own country, Spain engaged in what might well be termed “religious cleansing”.

  • Aaah, yes, well, this is the typical evangelical/religious extremist approach to all kinds of matters, isn’t it?–make assumptions in the absence of data.

    Thank you for once again showing us typical behavior of evangelicals (etc)..

  • Leftism is inherently anti-religious (unless your religion is secular hedonism). “Christian left” is an oxymoron. Go out among the Christian right, and you will find countless dollars and countless hours devoted both to preaching the realities of sin and salvation, and spent giving to the poor, running food pantries, etc.

    Can the “Christian left” say the same thing? Does, in addition to its social justice radicalism, it do so much as lift a finger to preach repentance? Does it emphasize at all the evils of sexual immorality? Does it run programs to promote chastity, obedience to scripture, etc? No. Overwhelmingly, no.

    Leftism – political, economic, fiscal, and theological – is a path to ruin for all involved.

  • It’s true that evangelical voters are almost unanimously what they call “pro life”. This was not caused by Roe v Wade. Since at least the Eisenhower Administration the Evangelical leaders and the ultra wealthy have been working together to gain power and give a friendly face to big business. At the time of the Supreme Court decision, the president of the SBC agreed with the decision while being against abortion for Christians. (Evangelicals). In the late 80’s leaders of this business/Evangelical group decided they needed an issue to unite all Evangelicals around the Republican Party. A powerful evangelical leader and author, Francis Graham, created a visual and written indoctrination program against abortion. Evangelicals were subjected to this from the pulpit, with videos at church, and books. This program has been very effective. Not in saving babies, but as a political tool. At this point it is very difficult for a Republican politician not to be against abortion and get elected. A voter who’s main concern is stopping abortion needs to vote Republican. This and the belief that America is special and should be first. and lead by Christians, is being called Christian Nationalism and is in control of this government.

  • Most people in the left will not be concerned about Christian sexual sin like acts between consensual adults or loss of chastity. They are concerned about the morality of persons in relationships, Against patriarchy and oppression of women or children. They are concerned about the next generations and the sustainability of this planet.

    They oppose the radical right economics that supports the few rich at the expense of the many, They support living wages for all, free Health Care, and Education. A limit of individual wealth and income. Protection of natural resources and biological life.

    They are against America First foreign policy. A country that uses its economic and military power to frighten and oppress others is not great but evil, A great country is concerned about and cooperates with all humanity to increase everyones well being.

  • To fantasies is fun as long as you don’t believe in it. I am not a believer so I can’t do it as well as a Christian, It is their ability to create these differing religious fantasies that keeps them from getting along with each other.

  • Oh, they’ll be back. In the U.S., they’re going down, but a phoenix always rises from the ashes, so to speak, metaphorically.

  • Here we go again. Evangelicals voted for Trump, and it’s a sign that they are “slipping”. It is a lot simpler than that, though. Hillary is Evil !!!. Plain and simple. If Tim Kaine was the nominee, it is most likely that he’d be The President.

  • There’s no satisfying some people.

    OK. Vile, corrupt twaddle built on revenge fantasies, but twaddle nevertheless.

  • It’s really Important to know whether you are god’s BFFF, or merely a poseur posturing as god’s BFFF.

  • Personally, I would go with a need to be the One God’s One True Friend and Follower and Most Faithful Disciple. It’s just like being god, but without having to deal with all of those annoying rules, worshippers, and social obligations.

    But then, I’m a cynic.

  • Jesus saves.
    Moses invests.
    Buddha pays dividends compounded daily.
    I’d go with Buddha. Myself.

  • Nonsense.

    Rightism is inherently anti religious, if you happen to be of the wrong religion.

    The problem with sexual immorality is that you refuse to think about anything else, including facts, logic, and experience. Doesn’t say much about the people you are wagging your moralizing, busybody fingers at, but it does say a great deal about someone who obsesses about what makes someone else’s penis Spring to action.

  • I want nothing to do with she/he/it. I would not poseur either. Your comment confuses me.

  • Your “morality” fetish is duly noted, but its power is empty. I am with a church community that rejects your bigotry, yet provides food, shelter and clothing to those in need.

  • Well, no Christian history isn’t “about 66% as long a Jewish hitory. Not all Christians beleive that, especially about Jews. The Catholic Church has said that the original covenent still stands and the Pope has said that Catholics should not try to convert Jews.

    You don’t know much about Jewish history. The Inquistion in Portugal and Italy also sought to find ssecret Jews. You could be the descendant of a secret Jew.

  • Logic? Facts? Those are the slogans you use to defend your apathy about the breakdown of the traditional family? Rampant divorce? Unwed parenthood?

    The justification for focusing so heavily on sexual (im)morality is that it lies at the heart of so much sin and suffering, at least in our modern, westernized societies. Give me a generation that returned to traditional Christian sexual norms, and I could give you a generation that saw the alleviation or resolution of the majority of our social ills.

  • Tell me, why is it wrong to view the labor and persons of the poor as expendable and exploitable, but not the labor and persons of the rich? What is it that condemns treating the poor as machinery, but justifies viewing the rich as your personal ATM? If exploitation and dehumanization are wrong, they are wrong regardless of class or income.

    And to throw around the word “consent” when discussing Christian morality is ridiculous. God condemns any number of consensual acts, and “it feels good to me” gives you no right to overrule the divine.

    …even more ridiculous is professing concern for the next generation, while expressing ambivalence, if not outright support, for the abortion, contraception, divorce, unwed parenting, and alternative lifestyles that are detrimental to that generation.

  • Logic and facts are logic and facts. slogans are things like “breakdown of the traditional family”.

    Your second paragraph is exactly the point I was making. War, poverty, over population, lack of water, lack of food, disease, environmental breakdown— these are real problems. That you think they can be fixed by returning to traditional Christian sexual norms is a slogan without factual— uh-oh, there’s that word again- basis.

  • I didn’t mean you personally, but you generically. Sorry for the confusion.

    The reason, in my opinion, that these various Christian denominations often don’t get along with each other— though I do think theliberal denominations are not the perpetrators— is because each wants to claim that it and it alone has the Capital-T truth. The catholic-Protestant unpleasantness of 500 years ago was in theory nothing more than that, though of course it was also about power and money.

    Well, mostly about power and money. But those two things don’t usually make people gleefully watch their enemies dies horrible death by being burned alive for asserting that god wants Hymn #666 sung is French or Latin. That takes religion.

  • So, approximately what date do you think Moses began leading the Jewish exodus?

    I know considerably more about Jewish history than you might imagine.

  • I didn’t mean you personally, but you generically. Sorry for the confusion.

    The reason, in my opinion, that these various Christian denominations often don’t get along with each other— though I do think theliberal denominations are not the perpetrators— is because each wants to claim that it and it alone has the Capital-T truth. The catholic-Protestant unpleasantness of 500 years ago was in theory nothing more than that, though of course it was also about power and money.

    Well, mostly about power and money. But those two things don’t usually make people gleefully watch their enemies dies horrible death by being burned alive for asserting that god wants Hymn #666 sung is French or Latin. That takes religion.

  • Overpopulation is non existent in developed western society. In fact our birth rates are critically low with many first-world nations experiencing population declines.

    War is not an inherent evil. Should we have made peace with Hitler? With Imperial Japan? We must demand more of peace than simply an absense of armed conflict.

    Poverty, hunger, etc. in our society are further fueled by the breakdown of the traditional family. And no, that isnt simply a slogan. I can provide you with numbers to show that we marry less, marry later, divorce more often, have more children out of wedlock, have fewer children, etc.

  • Your concern for the Uber wealthy is touching. I wonder who it was that said something about rich men, desert quadrupeds, narrow gates, and the kingdom of heaven?

    No one important.

    As for “alternative lifestyles that are detrimental”: it’s a life and not a lifestyle, it’s not alternative, and detrimental means merely that it offends YOU.

    But your desire to regulate whether people must have children by decrying the fake evil of contraception is duly noted.

  • The problem with sexual immorality is that you refuse to think about anything else, including facts, logic, and experience.

  • That was exactly my point. moralizing busybodies who think that other people’s sex lives are either of interest or importance just cannot seem to stop thinking about it, to the exclusion of just about anything else. Thus they are willing to ignore real problems in favor of having the law take an interest in what other people do with their dangly bits.

    Thank you for agreeing with me.

  • This thread is almost dropped off; sorry for the delay. Hope you will ask me the same questions in the new Ken Ham thread.

    Ken Ham and Bill Nye **both** proved in their Great Debate (3 million-plus online viewers) that you do NOT need a biology degree to discuss and debate the many failures of evolution. The religion of evolution has messed up. AND you ducked my question too.

    But to answer your question, (and you did ask!), my college transcript showss semester courses in evolution, geology, anthropology, chemistry, psychology and astronomy (one course each, electives). Minored in religious studies (lotsa Bible and different religions). My major is media writing. Which taught me that evolution is way too fake to ever scientifically explain your human writing abilities.

  • It should not. I don’t object to religious people attempting to explain and extend their religious beliefs. I object to Evangelicals because many of them are trying, and succeeding, in taking political power and using that to impose their values on others. I consider it a disease for which we need a vaccine.

  • Your fundamentalist BS is entertaining, but without any merit. A local Unitarian Universalist congregation does more actual good for our community than any so-called “Christian” church.

  • Hey that reminds me. For some never-explained reason, you absolutely never mention Paul’s exception when it comes to divorce. Not once.

  • Well, since Mr. Kay won’t answer my previous inquiry, perhaps you could salvage evolution by doing so on his behalf.

  • Yes, easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, we know. Now, why do you suppose that would be the case? There’s no indication that the rich man in question gained his wealth illegitimately. No indication that he stole, or lied, or deceived, or even that he was uncharitable. What, then, would stand in the way of his salvation? It isn’t that he was wealthy, its that he picked his wealth over a life devoted to Christ. In our modern age, it could just as easily have been fame or pleasure.

    As for children….I see. You’re deeply concerned about the future generation. Except whether the future generation is actually ever conceived. Except whether it survives the womb. Except whether it is born into a stable household. Except whether it is provided with the benefit of having both a mother and a father.

  • Well, the Bible sure explains the origin, bioengineering brilliance, psychological and linguistic abilities, and the nature and behavior of humans, a gazillion times better than the fake evolution scam does.

    Care to disprove?

  • Not interrupting your overall discussion, but it’s really not clear exactly WHAT this Pope Francis believes in several critical areas.

    The statement you referred to, is extremely weird on his part, as if the guy has NO knowledge of the New Testament or something. He probably should have been put on unpaid leave right at that point.

    How is it rational for a Christian Pope to say “Catholics should not try to convert Jews” but then leave all the OTHER world religions subject to evangelization by Catholics? So Pope Francis wasn’t even making the bar on rationality, let alone on the NT.

  • You sound just like “Rev.” Frank Shallard in Sinclair Lewis’s “Elmer Gantry.”

    Remember that the only clergyman in that novel whom Lewis showed a grudging respect for was the Catholic priest, Father Matthew Smeedsby.

  • I am unconvinced by your claim. The onus of proof would be on you to demonstrate your claim. I have no interest in disproving it..given it lacks evidence. Evolution is backed by tons of evidence. Most theists accept evo. 99.999% of all biologists (you know…people who actually STUDIED this in depth) accept it as the best theory.

    If you think evo is a scam…please offer an alternative model/explanation.

  • I’ve taken a few introductory college-level courses in biology, chemistry, and quite a few in the behavioral sciences. I’ve read a lot of cognitive science, which is especially useful in understanding the thinking of the anti-evolution crowd.

    But more important is the reading I’ve done. I’ve read stuff written by Ken Ham and others, and material out of a well-known organization that believes that creationism is correct and evolution is “only a theory”. (At this moment I forget the name of the organization, but I’d recognize it if I saw it. My recollection is that it’s on the west coast.)

    And I’ve read quite a bit by Kenneth Miller.

    Scientists are notoriously contentious, but most agree on the basic ideas of evolution. This is something thast evangelicals (et al) don’t get, since to call yourself an evangelical you must agree on 95% or 99% of a certain set of dogma.

    My key take-away is this:

    1. there is absolutely no empirical evidence for creationism. If there were, it would have been published somewhere.

    Of course, that’s understandable, since there’s no evidence for the existence of god, and the bible is full of inaccuracies and contradictions.

    2. The individuals and organizations promoting creationism routinely misunderstand evolution and science, and routinely lie about both.

    That’s understandable, since science is a subversive activity that threatens dogma.

    3. If in fact organizations promoting creationism believed that evolution was wrong, a religion, etc., they would have links to pro-evolution authors and sites, so that readers could see for themselves what nonsense evolution is.

    4. An overwhelming majority of biologists accept that evolution is a useful and accurate idea. There are, of course, differences among scientists on individual ideas.

    5. Over the years, I’ve noticed that biology departments at several evangelical “colleges” teach evolution as FACT. (I think, for expl, Biola may be one, and there are several in the midwest.) And of course, there are several scientists who are evangelicals who believe that evolution is a correct, useful theory.

    6. Evangelicals (et al) totally misunderstand the meaning of the word “theory”.

    7. It is undisputed FACT that the Catholic church accepts that evolution is an accurate, useful idea that explains a lot in biology.

    (Of course, evangelicals mostly hate the RCC and regard it as heresy, etc., so……)

    8. One reason some organizations insist that creationism is useful or accurate, is probably to raise money.

    9. The anti-evolution crowd appears to me to be very uncomfortable with the idea of randomness, and appears to emotionally need the idea of “someone in charge”.

  • He’s also a person who’s quite skilled at extracting money from ignorant, emotionally- and intellectually-needy folks.

  • Actually, I used to mentionit regularly. But often in the context of Paul feeling quite free to contradict whatever Jesus had to say.

    But then, Paul had a product to sell. So you want to have a bacon sandwich? No problem. What to keep your weenie intact? no problem. Messiah to the Jews, who weren’t interested? no problem. That wife of yours is inconvenient, but you want to have a religiously justified reason to get her out of the way.

    No problem.

  • Jesus didn’t qualify his statement about rich people. You have.

    I’m very concerned about future generations, far more than your usual fundelibangelist is, and certainly far more than the heterosexual majority.

  • And of course the fact that you know about as much about Paul as you do about constitutional law – zip.

  • Actually, I was thinking about the date Abaraham heard God tell him to get up an go to a new land. which is much earlier.

  • Hateful human beings that hold themselves up as “Christian” are detrimental to all generations. Such blatant hypocrisy makes me ill.

  • I agree with you 100%. I was very disheartened when I realized some of the christian community voted and supported Donald Trump.

    The Bible talks about christians being deceived and falling away from the teachings of Jesus Christ, It warns us not to put our hope in the world and not to desire those things of the world. The prophesies in the Bible are beginning to happen. Those who support Donald Trump are not reading and studying their Bible. Those Church leaders who support Donald Trump are responsible for those that fall away from Christ and one day will answer to God.

    I aim unable to find a Church that preaches the Bible, Church is no longer twice on Sunday and every Wednesday night as well as having revivals. I am now very mistrusting of Pastors and rely on my Prayer, Bible reading and study. I miss the days of the 70’s and 80’s when Church was a real place of worship. I live in California and there are Churches that pipe their Pastors Sunday message in by video. They don’t have people kneel at the alter they have them stand. I feel this is sad and not what God wanted His people to do. It seems many Churches are no longer interested in the souls of people, which if we choose to show “love,” we should be talking to everyone about the condition their souls.

    Church and Government should be separate. Our Church should be a place for people to go to join others that believe in God, to be taught the Word of God, pray, worship, etc., it was not meant to be a place to talk about politics. God loves us, how are we showing Him our undying love?

    To condone all the things Donald Trump does that contradicts the Bible is shameful and he should not be supported. This is causing people to turn away from Christianity and they feel Christians are hypocrites. It is difficult to explain to them, this is not how all Christians feel, that is is only a portion of the Church. God forgive and help us be worthy of Your love.

  • Thank you.

    Although I am an atheist, I’m neither against religion or against god, despite what some people seem to need to claim. I am against religion being used as a self congratulating club, in all senses of the word.

    You are someone whom faith has made into a better person. They see people like you as weak, just as they despise people like me.

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