The End of Evangelicalism?

I well remember how many predicted the end of Evangelicalism after the Moral Majority years. Now the same people are predicting the end of Evangelicalism after helping elect Trump. They will once again be proven wrong. Evangelicalism is essentially conservative Protestantism, and conservative Protestantism isn’t going anywhere, polls or no polls. Center/Left self-professed Evangelicals are behind most of these predictions, hoping that somehow their version of Evangelicalism will rule the day. It does not, and it cannot. They are in the caboose of the Evangelical train and actually owe their careers to Evangelicalism. They can’t leave, because they have no place to go except to mainline liberal Protestantism, who would not accept them. And they cannot leave mainstream Evangelicalism because it is the cocoon which protects their place and status. They’re not going anywhere.

Evangelicalism is not an institution that can be led or hand-fed. It is a people movement. It will do what it wants to do, with no debts to pay or leaders to coddle. Those who attack it have nothing to strike. It’s like punching a cloud. It can be influenced, but only for a time. It bounces back and shape shifts as it works out of a historical/traditional Christian paradigm for doctrine and life. It has shown itself highly adjustable to time and place but never moving far from its compass points. It is capable of shucking institutions and coalitions and moving on.

Evangelicalism can be a three-ring circus at times, but it is all under the big tent. It has its crazy sideshows. But it has some sense of how big the loss would be if it spends too much energy policing boundaries as long as the center is clear.

Besides, Evangelicalism has no place to go to. To go anywhere is to no longer be itself. And that is not an option.

So, having been in the thick of it my whole life and driven mad by the craziness of it, I have never thought that better options were anywhere else. I will die an Evangelical.

 

John Piper’s 11 Reasons That Abortion is Wrong

1. In Minnesota the Fetal Homicide Law makes a person guilty of manslaughter or worse if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb – unless the mother agrees with the killing. Who is willing to live with the moral implications of making a person’s “being wanted” the criterion of its right to life?

2. There is an inconsistency between doing fetal surgery on a baby in the womb to save life, and at a similar stage of development, killing a baby down the hall.

3. A baby can live on its own at 23 or 24 weeks. Yet pro-choice people say it can be killed even at and beyond this age if the mother will be distressed by its live birth more than its abortion. What morally significant factor will prevent them from saying that two babies at 23 weeks – one born and one unborn – may both be killed because of a mother’s distress?

4. A baby’s living without an umbilical cord (that is, outside the womb) is not the criterion of human personhood and the condition of the right to life. We all know this because our own living on a respirator or dialysis machine would not jeopardize our own personhood. The source of food and oxygen does not determine personhood.

5. The size of a human is irrelevant to human personhood. We know this because we do not make a one-month-old baby outside the womb vulnerable to killing even though it is so much smaller than a five-year-old. Littleness is irrelevant to personhood.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood. We know this because a one-month-old baby outside the womb does not have these powers either, yet its life is not in jeopardy because of that.

7. Scientifically we are human beings by virtue of our genetic makeup. The human code in the chromosomes is there from the start. We are utterly different from monkeys or rats or elephants as soon as the chromosomes of egg and sperm meet.

8. At eight weeks, all the organs are present – brain functioning, heart pumping, liver making blood cells, kidney cleaning the fluids, fingerprints formed, etc. Yet almost all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking a thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. We can see the amazing pictures in Life Magazine or various books or Web pages.

10. There is a principle of justice that, when two legitimate rights conflict – say the woman’s right not to be pregnant, and the baby’s right not to be killed – the right that should be limited is the one that would do the most harm.

11. The Word of God says, “Thou shalt not kill.” But many abortionists admit they are killing baby humans. Bill Long, who used to do abortions at Midwest Health Center for Women told me over lunch some years ago that he knew he was “killing babies.” Those were the abortionist’s words. But he said it was a lesser evil; women must have “reproductive freedom.”

These points are @ https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/christ-culture-and-abortion

Has ‘Liberal Proceduralism’ Evaporated and What Difference Does It Make?

Another note on the dust-up between Sohrab Ahmari and David French. It has to do with what is called ‘liberal proceduralism.’ Alan Jacobs describes it this way: “Proceduralism depends on the belief that my fellow citizens, while often wrong, indeed in some cases profoundly wrong, can be negotiated with. It depends on the belief that, while a world made precisely in my image may not be in the cards, if I and my fellow citizens agree to be bound by a common set of norms, then we can probably negotiate a tolerable social order. It depends on the belief that people whose politics differ from my own are not ipso facto evil, nor do they need to be pushed to the margins of society or forced out of it altogether.” Such proceduralism holds in common such principles as: everyone agrees to resolve their disagreements through democratic processes; free speech, (which also included speech that is not compelled); there is no religious test for who is allowed to the table; losers in elections will concede;, etc. Political outcomes are legitimate if they trace to such a process.

Ahmari believes that the left (though not all the left) no longer plays by those rules. It is “crush at any cost, by any means.” Today’s secular left, he is convinced, has no intention of playing fair, and if conservatives insist on playing by the discarded rules, they’re just setting themselves to be played for suckers.

David French still has faith that liberal proceduralism sets the table for political discussion and decision. After all, he asserts, Judge Kavanaugh did receive the votes needed to the on the Supreme Court. But even if the left has largely abandoned these principles, French asserts that a Christian is bound by those rules because they express Christian principles.

Rod Dreher chimes in, “It isn’t easy to critique the persona of someone as nice as French. Then again, it is in part that earnest and insistently polite quality of his that I find unsuitable to the depth of the present crisis facing religious conservatives. Which is why I recently quipped on Twitter that there is no ‘polite, David French-ian way around the culture war.”

The gist of Ahmari’s argument is that French is a classic liberal, who argues in terms suited to classical liberalism. But class liberalism is a dead end for Christians, and is nothing more than a way of negotiating our complete surrender to those who hate us and what we stand for. To keep ceding ground to those who have no intentional at all of tolerating us is a fool’s errand.

I think this difference in view concerning liberal proceduralism is now the fork in the road. Depending on how you see it, you will rely on the old tools or add to your toolbox those approaches which are ‘gloves off.’ What actually ‘gloves off’ means is yet to be determined, though Ahmari and some of the commentators at First Things see an example in Trump, who is willing to use the power of the government to push back the pirates of the left.

Sohrab Ahmari and David French Face Off – A Needed Debate

If you are a social conservative and wonder what’s with the anemic pushback from the GOP, this is a thread for you. In fact, if you are a socially conservative Roman Catholic or Evangelical and think something is strangely amiss in the political order that is failing to check the social/moral/cultural chaos that is sweeping away the barriers to the barbarism that is now within the gates, this, too, is for you.

At the root of it is an article by Sohrab Ahmari, the op-ed editor of the New York Post and a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald, who sees in David French of National Review much that is wrong with the model of the conservative engagement with the aggressive left. He basically asserts that French and those of his ilk have failed to see that the rules of engagement have changed. The left has now switched to the “win at any cost” MO – the old rules of ‘liberal proceduralism’ have been cast off. Ahmari calls conservatives (and the church) to realize civilized dialogue and debate are no longer the order of the day. As long as those like the National Review think we are in a debate guided by the rules of a cotillion society, the contest is over.

On Ahmari’s side, at least as far as cultural analysis is concerned, are Patrick Deneen and Rod Dreher. French thinks that to abandon liberal proceduralism is being unfaithful to Christ, even if the other side is smoking the conservatives.

This is a gloves off, face-off, and a necessary debate. I have put the debate links in an order so that you can follow the thread of thought with the least possible trouble. I have added the thought or Dr. Robert George, who is mostly sympathetic to French, and Rod Dreher. I tend to side with Ahmari, but like Dreher I tend to be 75% for Ahmari and 25% with French.

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/03/against-the-dead-consensus

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/05/against-david-french-ism

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/david-french-response-sohrab-ahmari/

http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2019/06/03/the-atlantic-what-a-clash-between-conservatives-reveals/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/opinion/conservatives-david-french-trump.html

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/sohrab-ahmari-vs-david-french/

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/07/what-would-a-reform-agenda-look-like