It is tiresome.
Forthrightly pursuing a vaguely leftist social ethic whilst maintaining broadly middle-class piety. In attempting to belong to both camps, Evangelicals distance themselves from both. They might march for an end to poverty, yet their marching partners will disown them when it comes to talks about the role of faith communities in civil discourse.
Their idealised talk of the beauty of marriage becomes stale when they cease to be young, hip and attractive and become just as jaded and conflicted as every other married couple. Oh and you better believe that marriage is the ideal. They might read the Apostle Paul about gender roles, but what he said about singleness is easily glossed over.
A middle-class appearance of holiness, conceived as a home free from dissent and neatly ordered with a revolutionary, psuedo-socialist, guardian-reading twist is what teenagers go away to summer camps and
sing choruses until they cry become Born Again for.
And, blessed be God! We can all replicate this experience Sunday after Sunday until the world stops spinning.
The assimilation of vaguely leftist social ethics, boastful middle-class piety and the rabid consumption of emotionally ‘deep’ art forms creates a niche culture which gets to believe it is self-sufficient, all the while being a resource for the rescue of those less fortunate.
A cut-and-paste statement from Ghandi. A retweet of a mis-quote of Einstein. Snippets of philosophy. Three-minute sermon clips.
I’m so pleased that the world can see how different, unique and holy we Evangelicals are.
Only, we’re not. We’re consumers. Just like everyone else. We allow others to dictate their agendas and products to us. We pick and choose which social projects to support. We get upset when that musician makes a soul-searching song which rejects God. We pretend that our heroes didn’t tell the Jews to grin and bear it.
In all of this, it has become increasingly clear that Evangelicals have lost their voice. They have nothing to say any more. It’s just miss-quote after miss-quote.
Paired with upscale and impactful liturgical events, the illusion of a genuine experience of God is easily maintained.
Yet as I think on what I see of this world of Evangelicalism, I cannot escape the observation that it has forgotten the cross. Yes, it is sung about and burdens are left at it. However it no longer shapes the ethics of the church. The emotional appeals of preachers and poets now shapes the ethics of the people of God.
(I mean, how else do you explain the impact of Steve Chalke’s latest
PR campaign theological development?)
So now I need to find a new way to construct Christian ethics.
I hope you will stay with me as I begin to leap beyond evangelicalism.
And at the end of it all, I’ll probably carry on saying yes to this: