To January 1st… and beyond!

If you have been following along with Internet Monk recently, you will know that the blog will be coming to an end on January 1st, and subsequently only available as a historical archive.

That leaves with approximately sixteen posts after this one.

Lets first talk about what I would like to cover over these sixteen posts:

1. Internet Monk guest writer Scott Lencke has just released a new book that looks very interesting. It is entitled Reflections of Immanuel, and I will be doing a full review.

2. I have had the privilege of listening to some rough tracks from an upcoming album of frequent commentor ChrisS. I would love to give it a full review before we are done here.

3. I will be continuing on with the Reconsider Jesus devotional commentary series by Michael Spencer.

4. I am still very interested in Covid-19 – I would very much like to do a post or posts from a data analytical perspective on common myths about the virus. (Is there any particular data that you would like me to address?)

5. I have also been thinking a lot recently about what characteristics define an Evangelical. How am I, and am I not, an Evangelical? (Feel free to comment on this now – it might give me some ideas on my posts.)

6. I would like to devote a post or two as a retrospection of my time at Internet Monk. Are there any posts that I have written that have been especially meaningful to you?

7. I will spend a post talking about future plans for the Reconsider Jesus book.

8. Finally, I will spend a post talking about my own future plans for writing, which are in fact completely up in the air at this moment. Have you got any words of wisdom for me in this matter? Is there anything else you would really want me to address in the next few weeks or in future writing?

As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

119 thoughts on “To January 1st… and beyond!

  1. Including one who sen out a sheaf of poison pen letters to her pastor, her employer, and any connection of hers the poison penner could find.

    I don’t remember if this one happened to Dee or to someone else, but one female whistleblower’s husband got a letter demanding he put his wife back in her place. Biblical Manhood/Woman Submit and all that.

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  2. Jewish practice is argument between Rabbis who each see the Verses from slightly-different perspectives. There is no single “Plain Reading” or “Plain Meaning” in the Evangelical sense; ha-Tanakh is capable of great depth and variety in interpretations.

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  3. You raise a valid point Seneca.

    The thread at 10:54 was off topic and should have been deleted. My apologies.

    That being said while Evangelicals and Trump are tied together at the hip in the U.S.A. in seems, up in Canada their is a decidedly mixed feeling about Trump among Evangelicals.

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  4. I always ask how did they hear or experience and know it was from God.
    It’s either – “I just know”…

    i.e. That Special Shiver in the Liver from the Monster in the Water Tower.

    Always completely subjective;
    a lot of times coming down to “Whatever I feel that You don’t.”

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  5. In other words, “We are not them.”

    “If we sit only because Enemy Christians kneel, that is Protestantism taken to its most sterile extreme.”
    — Thomas Howard, Evangelical is Not Enough

    The problem with this was that I met so many “Lone Ranger” Christians…

    Can you really expect any other kind when the Gospel has been necked down to Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation? Without community, without Tikkun Olam?

    The ultimate theoretical End State of non-denom Protestantism is MILLIONS of One True Churches, each with only ONE member, none of them hanging out together.

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  6. You know, he IS the World’s Richest Televangelist.
    3/4 of a BILLION and counting —
    that’s a whole lot of Social Security (and unemployment) checks signed over as a Tithe.

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  7. There are TWO polarities of Trump Derangement Syndrome, not just one.
    And Evangelicals are full-honk POSITIVE Polarity.

    SCRIPTURE? You mean Q-Anon Q-drops?

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  8. Unless the MAGA hat IS The Mark of The Trump.
    https://www.benjaminlcorey.com/could-american-evangelicals-spot-the-antichrist-heres-the-biblical-predictions/

    (This is kind of tongue-in-cheek, but I remember the same Rapture Ready types who obsessively played Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist now worship Trump as the REAL Second Coming of Christ. And how they’d dismiss all the Beast Worshippers with “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. Tsk. Tsk.”)

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  9. Mike Bell asked for some input about Evangelical beliefs/theology. I offered some thoughts; written by others but with which I generally agree. Then, per I-monk custom, it becomes a discussion about Trump.[Some of you need to attend A.A. for T.D.S. or take significant amounts of Zoloft.] And of course rolling on to the “coming Evangelical collapse.”

    The bottom line, for conservative Evangelicals it’s all about the primacy of Scripture. And there is always a new generation of men and women who hold fast to the primacy of Scripture. There is always a remnant, there has always been a remnant. There will ever be a remnant until Heaven.

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  10. It’s pretty clear that Donald Trump does not have the best interests of anybody not named Trump–and not all of those–at heart.

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  11. Reviving Eclectic Christian is an option. And it may be where I continue to post the Reconsider Jesus material. I guess that I will enjoy the freedom of not writing as much as the freedom of writing. Stay tuned.

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  12. Yep. Reprehensible for a Prez to do that. Clearly does not have the best interests of the people at heart.

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  13. I thought the MAGA hat would cover the Mark of Trump and make it non-displayable. Ergo, it has to be on the right hand.

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  14. The POTUS’ defense and endorsement of it is scarier than the attack (yes, it was an attack.) itself, and that was plenty scary. He could help curb this kind of thing with his Tweets; instead, he uses his Tweets to throw fuel on the fire.

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  15. Thanks, Mike. I will miss everyone’s writings and I’m grateful to folk who have continued this blog’s history, specifically how Chaplain Mike and Jeff Dunn carried it forward in many ways over the past decade.

    I remember this blog out there at some point called Eclectic Christian. You should check it out. 😉

    Blogging has been, on some level, a theologically and spiritually formative practice for me. I only wish I could blog more. But I also journal, which is so helpful as well. Blogging has also helped me build a repository of material to help formulate books (including the most recent release).

    Whatever writing you do continue, don’t put too high expectations out there. 🙂 But let us know where you land.

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  16. Jesus plays second fiddle to Trump these days in the Graham household. Which is what I basically told my dad when he asked me why I didn’t like Franklin.

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  17. I told a Trump friend today that THAT kind of thing should scare the crap out of him, regardless of who he supports.

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  18. I still do not get the obsession with Evangelicals on the board but it is what the site is for I guess.

    This board started as a way for Michael Spencer to write about his Evangelical experiences. And how he had evolved during his journey though life. Along with other things.

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  19. Way back in time I remember Michael Spencer saying that people at his school wanted him fired due to IM. He alluded to having some people high up who were basically protecting him.

    Dee, over at TheWartburgWatch has had people write her various churches or related groups at times wanting her to stop the blog or be thrown out of her church.

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  20. Same rictus of facial expression that even YouTube atheist channels like Telltale describe as “Demonic”?

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  21. I think I’ve been walking away from Omelas after Omelas since 1976.
    There are a lot of Omelas (Omeli?) out there.

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  22. Not with the army of attorneys already filing suits and the latest Supreme Court Justice.
    THE FIX IS IN, and the Christians will Rejoice.

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  23. The Pew forum last produced a survey in 2014 (which my graph was based on).

    There is however this report produced in 2017 which I might be able to use.

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  24. > It is also a lot of work to produce those!!!

    I know! One reason I admire them so much.

    I frequently look at a topic and think….. meh, I’d rather have a beer.

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  25. Hmmm, the Evangelical Collapse / Religious Switching was one that I wanted to do. Thanks for the reminder. (It is also a lot of work to produce those!!!)

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  26. Inerrancy and literalism are similar… but different.

    An evangelical can understand metaphor… if it suits him.

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  27. My Hebrew prof had the same response at a banquet. It came down to: Do I want to enjoy my meal, or not.

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  28. YES, a Venn diagram

    good thinking, MIKE BELL

    there are MANY evangelical people who do not adhere to ‘Christian Nationalism’ as it was once seen in another land in the 1940’s and is now surfacing (with encouragement from the Oval Office) once more. The evangelicals who oppose the trumpian philosophy of inhumanity to innocents, they ARE THERE, and they ARE speaking out. But I fear that the ones who belong to ‘nationalism’ and ‘Christian dominionism’ will mark the ‘evangelical’ brand in this country and in the world for some time to come.

    We need to celebrate the evangelicals who are ‘The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas’. We need to be proud of them. They understand what is at stake with the loss of the American soul if we turn towards a ‘Christian Nation’ model that tolerates inhumanity to living persons in exchange for political power and control.

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  29. There’s no other way to have a real relationship with God than Person to Person.

    I think the “personal relationship with God” descriptor arose in the mid-20th century, as Evangelicals wanted to indicate that they did not depend on an institution to mediate God to people – aka the Catholic Church (or even Mainlines) with Creed and Sacraments. In other words, “We are not them.” Also, in interpreting Scripture Evangelicals have tended to ignore the Jewish background of God working to save a People, not simply individuals. For most, study into the literature, cultural climate of the NT and other background sorts of issues was eschewed because of the general anti-intellectual stance of popular Evangelicalism. Even preachers weren’t supposed to be too educated.

    The problem with this was that I met so many “Lone Ranger” Christians and others in certain types of churches whose ideas about God were only tangentially (if that much) connected with what Christians have believed “by all at all times and in all places”. These people were not of a disposition to be corrected by anyone, fearing that their faith was being attacked.

    What we think about God actually is important. But people aren’t interested in theology, feeling like theology will somehow thwart their experiences of God. I am guilty of an often-too-intellectual approach to God, but a sentimental version of faith is very flimsy ground on which to stand.

    Dana

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  30. This. One of the things we discovered during this administration is how much of our government relied on “gentlemen’s agreements, customs, and traditions. We need to examine which of those are most important, and codify them into law, so there are penalties for ignoring them. I hope we are able to figure out how we got here, so we never do it again.

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  31. “I’LL DIE FOR YOU! I’LL BE PROUD TO DIE FOR YOU!!!”
    — Trumpist cheering as Trump rode past in the COVID hospital drive-by photo op

    “MY LIFE FOR YOU!!! MY LIFE FOR YOU!!!”
    — Trashcan Man upon beholding The Walkiin’ Dude, The Stand

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  32. On the other hand, if I am confronted with the question do I consider scripture to be inerrant, and if I am not in the mood to get into a sparring match, I smile serenely and assure my questioner that yes, I do. I don’t get into the details of how I define the word in this context.

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  33. “Christian nationalism’ a la the new ‘Patriot Churches’ filling up with conservative fundamentalist evangelicals has been a fixture in my mind since the torment of the little ones pulled from their parents who sought asylum. When I learned of this inhumane policy, I thought surely the fundamentalist evangelical supporters of Trump would rise in unity and condemn forcefully, as unChristian, this brutality, this inhumanity, to the most innocent and vulnerable of beings in our country’s care. For the depth of my disappointment, I have no words, just that we had undergone a ‘sea-change’ in our American ethos if we could do something so vile to the hearts and souls of these little ones. The cruelty was the beginning of me realizing that for many ‘good people’ who would NEVER hurt a child themselves, they had unthinkingly nodded assent to a ‘proxy’ bully to do what they thought might keep our country ‘safe’ from ‘the invasion of the brown people’;
    but in truth, I’m afraid a door was opened for something FAR WORSE to enter into our American soul, and the evidence of this grew, has grown, and a ‘new voice’ is heard in our land that people don’t realize has come from the past, a voice that warns of the message that it’s ‘okay’ to ignore a deadly disease that affects the old and the infirm and those with compromised systems, this:

    “in honor of all Christian people who speak out for the persecuted, I can share this quote from history, written circa early 1940’s by Martin Niemoller who famously said ‘God is my feuhrer’:
    “”… the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians— ‘should I be my brother’s keeper?’
    Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? ONLY THEN DID THE CHURCH AS SUCH TAKE NOTE. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. ” ”
    (Martin Niemoller, circa early 1940’s)

    The signs are there: Charlottesville’s resurrected torch parades, the burning KKK cross, the inhumanity, the ancient evil and the image of a man who currently inhabits the Oval Office having protesters gassed so he can stand before a Christian Church and hold a bible . . . UPSIDE DOWN. Strange days with iconic images.
    Surely, ‘anyone who sees with open eyes’ will recognize these symptoms unless they are not cognizant of the past.

    The lines grow longer outside the early voting centers. There is hope still.

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  34. “The winner is never asked whether he has won fairly, only that he has Won.”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

    And this time the Christians will cheer it on.

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  35. I think inerrancy has to be taken off the list unless evangelicals believe that the bread and wine of communion is the literal body and blood of Jesus which of course they generally do not. That belief of course would tend to make them more Catholic than Evangelical.

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  36. The phrase ‘I heard from GOD that I/you/we should do’ should be approached with the same caution and forethought as the phriase ‘Please Castrate Me’.”

    Now in a church where Marian Visions (“Mary Channelling”) are the characteristic way to flake out, I am very skeptical of Private Revelation. Especially Private Revelation used as Holier-Than-Thou One-Upmanship.

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  37. > How many definitions are there of innerancy?

    +1,000,000

    It a junk concept that needs to be heaved overboard.

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  38. Yes. I was thinking of Lutheranism specifically.

    Most Protestantisms have a regional and/or ethnic tap root.

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  39. > “the key defining question is what do you think of Billy Graham”

    I’ve heard that one.

    I dunno about it. It seems to me to point to a far more superficial meaning than the author of that statement considers: An Evangelical is a “nice” Fundamentalist. At the end of the day Fundamentalists and Evangelicals seem to line up together, one feels bad about leaving the orphan and the widow behind, but they both board the same bus.

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  40. If there is violence on or after election day, most of it could have been prevented if Trump had not tried to rile up the cult followers and or tweet out to his followers their marching orders.. I am truly afraid some of his rabid followers would consider it an honor to injure or kill for him. How did we ever get to this point.?

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  41. I am very grateful to Chaplain Mike for the freedom to write what I wanted. You will notice large gaps in my time frame. He was also very gracious to let me step away and come back whenever I needed.

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  42. It is easier to brave when you don’t have a church statement of faith hanging over your head like a sword of Damacles. I felt very constrained in my early years on Internet Monk as to what I could or could not write.

    Michael Spencer talked about having to always look over his shoulder.

    I have heard the same from others.

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  43. That might explain why various Lutheran sections wound up where they did in the LCWS-LCMS-ELCA spectrum…

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  44. “the key defining question is what do you think of Billy Graham”.

    Taking that as accurate, it is interesting to see the swing back towards fundamentalism in general after Graham Sr’s passing.

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  45. Trump & Co. will certainly try to make it so, but I’m still hoping for, if not a Blue Tsunami, at least enough of a Democratic across-the-board win to make all the Republican lawyering pointless. There might, of course, still be politically-inspired violence, for which stores and other buildings across the country are preparing–but I hope we haven’t lost one of the bases of democracy that we used to try to export–the peaceful transfer of power.

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  46. > To me, the core of evangelicalism will always be the focus on a personal relationship with God

    I believe the core of evangelicalism was a conformity to a purity culture.
    Most else is trappings pretending to be primary. 😦

    It really was principally a reaction to the “sexual revolution” and desegregation. A movement that, like most waves, swept up a bunch of other stuff as it advanced.

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  47. I wonder if in future historical analysis if they will simply conclude that the divisions withing Protestantism were always defined by politics, political originally ‘hidden’ behind regionalism. As the established regionalisms either faded or became more intense the curtains tumbled away.

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  48. Those we some of the clearest and bravest writing on the subject I’ve seen from an Evan-ish perspective.

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  49. Your last paragraph is another place where we agree, Mule, particularly the part about ” more and more it seems that the divisions in Protestantism are more politically defined than theologically.”

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  50. I’ve always enjoyed your writing – I went back and flipped through the articles you’ve written – and the scope is amazing. I’ve always enjoyed IM as it draws a wide circle around its center; unlike so many other BLOGs the posts are rarely predictable, the perspectives diverse, and frequently – the rarest of all things – practical.

    I enjoy the Canadians Perspective as the United States, and especially the Midwest, can easily be a silo. It is a world which seems very large despite being so small a slice of humanity. TEN years later american-patriotic-christianity still seems spot on.

    As a data guy the charts-and-graphs analysis has naturally been my jam and my peanut butter. Like increasing-marriage-age-and-its-implications (2010), why-ending-the-slave-trade-and-apartheid-worked-and-prohibition-didnt-implications-for-the-culture-wars (2013), another-look-at-church-collapse-statistics (2014), religious-switching-2-0-analysis (2015).

    Given that a thru-line of IM has been the “Evangelical Collapse” every since he wrote that article I’d love to see a final update to the religious-switching graph. That seems like it should come towards the end.

    I remember where-there-is-no-vision (2014), could so empathize with that one.

    Wow… 2014 seems like a long time ago.

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  51. My favorite: “I heard from God that I/you/we should do ….”

    I always ask how did they hear or experience and know it was from God.
    It’s either – “I just know” or they leave and go talk with someone else.
    Well – one guy would always get very pragmatic – i.e. you like to do this, you are good at it, I know you have time, this is a higher priority than whatever else you might be doing…. Never anything about how he heard from God.

    And I try to ask sincerely because I really want to know how to hear from / experience God more.

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  52. Mike Bell, I still check this site out biweekly or so just to catch an article by you and Mike the Geologist. I hope you do continue your Reconsider Jesus book. I do not post or read most of the comments here anymore but I am sad in a way that the I Monk is coming to an end. I think that Chaplin Mike writings on matters of faith and how to handle grief are very worthwhile. I always enjoyed you and Mike the Geologist bringing a different mix into the discussion. I still do not get the obsession with Evangelicals on the board but it is what the site is for I guess. I just really wanted to say thank you for the fine articles, thoughts and honest sharing of your life experience here when I followed the site daily and I greatly appreciate it. I wish you the best and hope you continue to share your thoughts to the world . God Bless and take care.

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  53. The early 20th century Fundamentalists were a subset of Evangelicals. Graham’s background was pure Fundamentalist. Where he differed from classic Fundamentalism was that lacked its bunker mentality. He was a big tent guy. This is how the Pentecostals got included. With the non-Fundamentalist Evangelicals abandoning the name (which is, incidentally, the more interesting phenomenon, in my opinion) the Graham crowd held it by default. This freed up “Fundamentalist” to be redefined as “those crazies over there, not nice people like us,” which is pretty much how it is used today. But that is the modern usage. To deny that Graham was Fundamentalist is at best an anachronism.

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  54. Admittedly, I”m not Christian, although I grew up in a thoroughly Christian-influenced world–the USA in the 1950’s–but how is it even possible for humans to grow up anywhere and not be influenced both culturally and politically? A fish may not recognize water, but s/he is still swimming in it.

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  55. Yep thank Trump and his crowd for this. They will have to cheat to win and they will give it their best shot. I was always taught cheating was a sin, but I guess this has been taken out of some folks “Bibles.”

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  56. That’s an easy answer. Innerancy is total and complete given specific, unwavering interpretation of scripture. That’s why hypocrisy so easily manifests itself in innerant theology (aka the arm-waving-off or ignoring of scripture that runs counter to innerant belief).

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  57. I view seneca’s list as spoken by a true, hard-nosed evangelical, so the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible and the “separation from the world”— well, while many of us here bristle at those kinds of things, I think they line up pretty well with a lot of evangelical theology.

    The question is… is it a valid list in terms of God/Jesus/Spirit and what they would WANT from our theology?

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  58. Most Evangelicals I know would reject that Reclassification. Rather they would say that the mid 20th Century reclassification was also to distinguish Evangelicals from Fundamentalists. One quipped (and I paraphrase): “the key defining question is what do you think of Billy Graham”.

    Seneca’s definition of separatism is much more of a Fundamentalist characteristic than an Evangelical one.

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  59. Guesses…

    Anderson Cooper, CNN talking head
    Ian Anderson, lead singer and flute player of Jethro Tull
    John Anderson, who ran for president as an independent way back when
    Jon Anderson (no H), lead singer of Yes
    Richard Dean Anderson, original MacGuyver
    Melissa Sue Anderson, Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie
    Pamela Anderson, Baywatch babe

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  60. They’re talking about Guatemala. I was there for four weeks. It was enough to scar me for life.
    I met Kenneth Copeland in brownface. Same accent and hairstyle. Bottle-blond wife.

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  61. Oh, and I woke up to radio news of election day preparations. Storefronts being boarded up, local cops on high alert, and GOP lawyers ready to file Vote Fraud lawsuits all over the country —
    THE FIX IS IN.

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  62. Given the Great Reclassification of the mid 20th century, in which non-Fundamentalist Evangelicals were reclassified as mainline, and Fundamentalists and Pentecostals were jointly assigned the heading of Evangelical, a theological approach is problematic. It assumes theological coherency within the overall category.

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  63. Evangelicos uphold the American 50s rules; no smoking, no drinking, no dancing. They read the Bible, and usually have one on them.

    There’s an old old posting on Wartburg Watch where former Evangelical Missionaries (now Catholic) described Evangelico churches in their target country as “Dukes of Hazzard dubbed into Spanish.”
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/01/04/serious-questions-for-evangelicals-why-two-missionaries-became-catholic/
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/01/06/serious-questions-for-evangelicals-why-two-missionaries-became-catholic-2/

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  64. infallibility/inerrancy: If you take the idea seriously, infallibility and/or inerrancy rapidly falls into incoherence, or at least uselessness. We can start with the question of what version of scripture? I don’t mean which translation, but which “original” was the translation based on? Say what you will about the 1611 KJV crowd, they at least have arrived at an answer: not a good answer, but an answer nonetheless. The superficially more sophisticated version of this substitutes the Textus Receptus. In practice, the usual version of infallibility/inerrancy is to very carefully not think about it too much.

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  65. “In the Reagan years, they started to get weird. The old rules went by the wayside, and good riddance to them is everyone’s opinion.”

    Well I retain a certain amount of nostalgia for the pre-partisan political church, the case when I was growing up in the 60s. Not that they weren’t conservative of course but ole Preacher Sisson regarded political action as a step down from the most important goal of saving souls for Jesus and shilling for political candidates (even ones he agreed with) he would have regarded as an abomination.

    “…more and more it seems that the divisions in Protestantism are more politically defined than theologically.”

    Astute. The political church was a tacit concession that they had lost the cultural/theological argument.

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  66. To me, the core of evangelicalism will always be the focus on a personal relationship with God…
    How does this differ from standard Born-Again Buzzword Duckspeak?
    “PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP” (instead of – SNEER – “Religion”)
    “PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR”
    “HAVE YOU ACCEPTED…”
    All Christianese for the Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation, all Individual, NO Community. At heart a Very SELFISH Gospel.

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  67. To me, that is one of the key irritants about evangelicalism. What EXACTLY does “experiencing God’s presence” mean?

    All too often, it’s “Whatever I’ve Got THAT YOU DON’T!”

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  68. And while Theologians parse their Theology letter-by-letter, pastors’ widows are still eating out of dumpsters.

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  69. “Separation from the world” as in NEVER EVER having anything to do with those Heathens lest they jeopardize your Personal Salvation. Like Kirk Cameron hiding out in his trailer when he heard there were HEATHENS on the set. In my church, this is called “Excessive Scrupulosity” and is a form of OCD.

    There used to be churches called “Holiness Churches” where such utter total separation was the Litmus Test of Salvation. “Holiness” defined as “Thou Shalt Nots”. Slacktivist theorized that Cameron was catechized in such a definition of Holiness after “being Saved” as an adult with a lot of baggage from his Secular Hollywood past. Guilt OCD.

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  70. There is also an aspect of what percentage of Evangelicals hold to a certain viewpoint. So although you may be Evangelical and not hold to a particular view point, the more of these non-majority viewpoints you hold the more uncomfortable you will be theologically in an Evangelical church.

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  71. For me, perhaps the most meaningful thing you’ve done on IM was to dare to wade into the question of what it means to be a Christian and queer. Or put the other way, whether Christ (and the church, a different question) have anything to say to queer people.

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  72. Also, the COVID-19 outbreak has me gobsmacked. If I lived in a less information-saturated world, I wouldn’t find it hard to disbelieve in it entirely. There have been no cases of COVID among my family, friends, neighbors, churchmates, co-workers, nothing. Nada, zip, zilch, except for a couple of my daughter’s acquaintances, who recovered quickly and without incidence.

    “Sing callou, callay! The Wuggly Ump is far away!”

    I can easily see why it is considered a hoax, or a threat only to candy-assed Trigglypuff whiners. And it does seem to have lowered in virulence recently, although it has become more contagious. That is according to the public health outlets I trust, and if they’re wrong, then I have worse problems than the virus.

    Sing Glogalimp! Sing Glugalump! From deep inside the Wuggly Ump!”

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  73. “Separation from the world?” Seneca, how does that square with “Personal responsibility to share the gospel with sinners?” Or how does that square with one’s Christian life in general, to love one’s neighbor?

    The other points are pretty standard, although infallibility/inerrancy are often debated.

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  74. I also think that we need to treat this like a Venn diagram. There may be some items which identify Evangelicals AND other groups, but if you don’t hold those things you are definitely NOT Evangelical.

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  75. Evangelicalism is kind of a moving target.

    In my wife’s country, it means a not-Catholic, and there are a lot of Pentecostals, which is kind of the default non-Catholic. Evangelicos uphold the American 50s rules; no smoking, no drinking, no dancing. They read the Bible, and usually have one on them.

    In this country, that was my experience of Evangelicals in the 60s and 70s. In the Reagan years, they started to get weird. The old rules went by the wayside, and good riddance to them is everyone’s opinion. Now, non-Pentecostal white Evangelicals are almost non-existent in my experience. The church I attend with my wife once in a while is racially mixed, social outreach/justice oriented, but they do altar calls.

    There is a difference between Evangelicals and mainline Protestants, but it’s getting harder to discern each year, especially now., since the rats are bailing on all the leaking ships (Orthodox and Catholic included). Thirty or so years ago I would have said it was because they had different parts underlined in their Bibles and used sophistries to explain the parts they didn’t underline, but more and more it seems that the divisions in Protestantism are more politically defined than theologically.

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  76. Let’s put it another way. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described those who have a relationship with God as…

    poor in spirit
    mourning
    humble
    hungering and thirsting for righteousness (justice?)
    merciful
    pure in heart
    peacemaking
    persecuted

    Very little in that list speaks to anything close to “experiencing God’s presence” in the manners that most Christian churches present it as.

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  77. “experiencing God’s presence and hearing God’s voice and being transformed by God’s Spirit.”

    To me, that is one of the key irritants about evangelicalism. What EXACTLY does “experiencing God’s presence” mean? How does God speak, and how do we know we’re not just listening to the echoes of our own subconscious? And if the criteria is being transformed by the Spirit, we’re all hosed.

    Leaving aside all the political and cultural cattle manure – if that’s evangelicalism, I’m not one, because (as an introspective depressive) that does not and probably never will describe my experiences with Christianity.

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  78. Actually, I was thinking theologically, so Seneca is on the right track. But then again, so are you in your questioning of his theological points.

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  79. To me, the core of evangelicalism will always be the focus on a personal relationship with God – the idea that faith is not just a matter of going to church or believing certain things, but about experiencing God’s presence and hearing God’s voice and being transformed by God’s Spirit.

    I *know* that that’s not the current definition of evangelicalism. In fact, many “evangelicals” today do not experience God in any real sense, and have given themselves over to various compelling and captivating idolatries in order to shield themselves from having to recognize the fact that they are no longer able to hear God’s voice. The more hollow their faith becomes and the emptier the place of God within them grows, the more ardently they pour themselves into the worship of idols and call it Christianity. That’s why many “evangelicals” don’t even talk about relationship with God anymore – they’ve needed to convince themselves that what they’ve lost was never real in the first place.

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  80. In my experience, most pew sitters can give you a clearer answer for why they attend a specific church than why they belong to a particular denomination or category of Christian. And those reasons are often more personal than theological; I like the preacher, I like the music, I grew up here, the people are friendly, it is where my friends or family go. This is not to say they don’t have a certain set of beliefs, but many people really don’t know the difference between denominations. Many times I’ve had people tell me, at least among the Protestant branches, “There’s really no difference between Baptists or Methodists or Presbyterians.”

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  81. All of which is to say, when this Anderson person says Evangelicals should only be defined theologically and not culturally or politically, he’s blowing smoke up our rear ends.

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  82. Okay, I guess? But I would say this list is insufficient for three reasons.

    First, many of the things that you list – depravity/original sin; the deity, virgin birth of, atoning death, resurrection, and Second Coming of Christ, and salvation through Christ alone – are also believed by almost all mainline Protestants, as well as the Catholics and Orthodox. Which leaves “inerrancy of Scripture”, “separation from the world”, and “personal responsibility to overtly evangelize”. Which I actually would agree with, and leads me to my second point.

    Secondly, unfortunately (my old self would say; fortunately, I would say now) we are not just theological beings. We are social, cultural, and political animals as well. And your definition doesn’t touch anywhere near enough on this. Take “separation from the world” for example. What that means and how it is implemented is a very sociological question. And the Evangelical answer to that question is often not very consistent. It often doesn’t preclude their churches blatantly copying worldly organization methods and pop culture motifs that on second glance do not accurately model Christ’s teachings. All too often, it simply comes down to blessing (and enforcing) cultural conservative views of gender and sexuality.

    Third (which I guess is related to the second), if you were to ambush any given Evangelical pewsitter on a Sunday after church and ask them what an evangelical is and why they are one, odds are they won’t give the best theological checklist you gave us. They will list things that are much more generic, and probably much more cultural, than your definition. Which, I suspect, is where Mike B is headed with all this…

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  83. Narrower definition
    The inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of the Bible
    The sinfulness, depravity of man
    The deity of Christ
    The virgin birth of Christ
    The blood atonement of Christ for man’s sin (usually subscribing to the substitutionary atonement theory)
    The resurrection of Christ from the dead
    The second coming of Christ
    Separation from the world
    Salvation from sin is by and through Christ alone
    Personal responsibility to share the gospel with sinners
    Heaven and hell are literal places

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  84. A broad definition

    The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
    It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
    Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
    Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
    “Evangelicals are people of faith and should be defined by their beliefs, not by their politics or race,” Anderson argued.

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  85. “5. I have also been thinking a lot recently about what characteristics define an Evangelical. How am I, and am I not, an Evangelical? (Feel free to comment on this now – it might give me some ideas on my posts.)”

    not evangelical myself (as a label), but am fearful that this beautiful term may now for the foreseeable future be associated with some heavy-duty politics in a way that has become confusing and not in tune with being Christ-centered. . . . . in fact the ‘message’ of some pastors seems to be jarring and confusing with many asking ‘Why?’ and ‘How can this be?’

    If any good comes from the last four years, I hope that it helps the affected people become more integrated in how they live out their Christian faith,
    because right now, the dis-connect between their ‘message’ and their ‘political standing’ has brought many people to question not just the fundamentalist-evangelicals’s loyalties, but also the integrity of the whole Church.
    Time will be needed to sort things out and to heal from damage done by conflicting interests among some who call themselves ‘evangelical’. This for their sake, AND for the ‘evangelicals’ who never confused playing politics with the message of the gospel. And YES, this is an issue that needs attention, compassionate attention.

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