Struggling to Understand…Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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75 Responses

  1. Bob Sweat says:

    Duane,
    I too struggle to understand the drift of evangelicalism. I find it increasingly difficult to stay in bed with many that I once held in high respect. Thank you for your words.

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob

    I think for years, out of genuine affection for what the movement once was, we gave them the “benefit of the doubt”. I think that time is over…

  3. Jean says:

    “This worldview appears to encompass, among other things, American exceptionalism, opposition to environmentalism, support of gun rights, opposition to immigration, support of gender hierarchy in the home and the church, opposition to public assistance for the poor, support of school privatization, and much more. Of course, I believe that all of these issues are worthy of debate.”

    I would offer two observations on this:

    First, I think some churches adopt these positions with the objective to obtaining members. They put God on the side of this worldview, which reinforces this worldview in the minds of those who hold it, which makes the church attractive and of some use to them.

    My second observation is that when a church rejects the concrete nature of the sacraments, it in some sense, even if unconscious, rejects the incarnation itself. Christ took on flesh and imparts His gifts through physical means. He reaches us through elements of creation. When you reject the working of God for us in created things, you begin to see the world has completely in the hands of mankind do do what he wishes, where and when it pleases him.

    At that point, religion becomes merely “spiritual,” a philosophy or moral code. This has been described in various ways by some as deism, gnosticism, moral therapeutic deism, and civil religion. Religion becomes a veneer.

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    That may indeed be part of the issue. I do think, however, that when societal or political agendas morph into tenets of faith something essential has been lost.

  5. Michael says:

    The quote from the letter to Diognetus is interesting…it describes actions and attitudes that would be antithetical to evangelicalism today…but it also shows that it is possible to actually practice Christianity…

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Teaching Church History for years I’ve noticed that everyone talks about “the early Church” with the glow of admiration. When, however, they actually read Ignatius, or Hippolytus, or Diognetus, the glow disappears and is replaced with excuses and justifications for why we can’t be like that…

  7. Corby says:

    Lately I have been pondering my spiritual roots. I think 25 years is a long enough gap to have gone through some changes and see differences not only in myself but in the world around me. I might need to organize those ponderings one of these days.

    My interpretation of what Duane is describing is the logical (or illogical) extreme applications of a Biblical worldview. Every follower of Jesus should have a Biblical worldview which I would define as filtering all of life through God’s word. How am I to live according to God’s word and will? How do I make this decision? How do I treat these people? How do I share God’s message (evangelical)? How do I live God’s message?

    What I think Duane is describing is the end of a chain, a series of choices, on (mis)applying a Biblical worldview, whilst too many people are ignorant of the in-between links. They were just told it and believed it without understanding it so they don’t see a problem. You or I looking at their chain of choices might be like, “Agree. Yes. Agree. OK. Maybe. Open to interpretation. Not so sure. No. Nope. For sure no. I think that might actually be sin.”

    The result is that, because of these logical extremes which are contrary to the foundation, people throw away the whole thing. Like the idea of verse by verse Bible teaching. Well, that smacks of Calvary Chapel, and we hate CC, so that kind of Bible teaching is bad. That process in itself is an illogical extreme.

    My own journey of deconstructing things has focused less on outward facing social questions which are important (immigration, etc) and more in inward facing questions of what the church looks like and how it operates (issues of discipleship, the focus and purpose of gathering together, issues of celebrity, etc.). I suppose that’s because I was a pastor for so long. I have a hard time focusing outside of our House while things inside the House are a mess. That’s like a hoarder being critical of someone else’s mess. That’s me. That’s how I’m wired. We need people like me looking inside and we need others looking outside. That’s what makes us the Body.

    Anyway, for my part, the principle of having a Biblical worldview is still foundational to my way of being. I’m finding that when I think I’ve stripped away every bad choice that has led to ignorant living/thinking on my part, I find another one. It’s to the point now where I don’t feel like I have a tribe. I’m for sure done with mainstream evangelicalism. I was never a part of a politically oriented church anyway, I’m just done with the celebrity pastor mindset and Sunday community theater performances.

    We’ve been dabbling in Anglicanism for almost a year now and I love the hearts of the people and the priest. I love the points and purposes of the elements of the liturgy, but **for me** after the first two months it became like hearing the same worship song every week. The main things keeping use there are the fact that it espouses a Biblical worldview, focuses more on transformation of the person and the church in Christ than on the Sunday experience and branding of the church, and the people are far less “culturally Christian” than those in evangelical circles (meaning people who live and die by The Fish or K-Love radio).

    I’ll say this, I do miss deep-dive challenging Bible teaching. but again, that’s me. That’s how I’m wired to experience a connection with God; more academically. If I could connect into one church what *I* think were the best parts of CC (based on my experience, not yours), and the best parts of Anglicanism that I have learned and experienced, I’d be a happy camper. Because this is all about me! 🙂

  8. Michael says:

    Corby,

    Interesting points.
    I have always believed the “biblical worldview” as espoused in this culture was a hot, steaming , crock.
    If we are being transformed in the church through word and sacrament, the inside and the outside experience are becoming one.
    I can’t get past my revelation this morning that Christianity has been actually practiced to such a degree that pagans recognized it as something utterly unique…and I wonder why we haven’t taken note of this before…

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Corby

    I think the problem for all of us when writing about evangelicalism is a nostalgia for the good that was once there and, by and large, is no longer there…

  10. MM says:

    Duane

    I believe it’s a matter of personal history and background. You have your adult life as an educated, trained, ordained, leader, teacher and probably more of a particular denomination and tradition. My point being there is no way you can walk in the shoes of these people you don’t understand.

    I personally have gone a full circle in my understanding of doctrines, political systems and beliefs. I don’t believe religious faith can be separated from the popular political and cultural views of the time. I also believe real faith is far more simple than our denominations make it to be.

    While I highly disagree with the armed display, I do understand their motivation and frustration with the rapidly changing culture around us. I think we could compare notes about what has changed during the decades of our lives. Today what was considered immoral, disgusting, and socially unacceptable are not just accepted but have rapidly become the preferred norms in our religious gatherings.

    I can’t help you to understand anything about this, but I can say I believe it represents more of our culture than you may be willing to accept. Sure reminds me of Paul’s thesis in the first chapter of Romans.

  11. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    “I don’t believe religious faith can be separated from the popular political and cultural views of the time.”

    I think that is precisely the problem…

  12. Michael says:

    MM,

    You obviously don’t know much about Duane…you might want to save your generalizations until you do.
    Asking questions first is is valuable…

  13. Michael says:

    “I don’t believe religious faith can be separated from the popular political and cultural views of the time.”

    And that’s why the church is mostly impotent and irrelevant to many.

  14. MM says:

    Michael

    I google him when he first showed up and there are many things posted about him, education, books, positions, struggles and more. No I don’t know him personally, but the internet does povide a resume of his church history. I respect his experience.

    So please go easy, it was not a personal attack. I also believe Duane is more than up to the task and capable if he was.

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I think a case could be made that it is the counter-cultural figures and movements that God uses to shape and move the Church…

  16. MM says:

    Michael

    Here’s a question, would it be fair to state Dr. Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD is a religion profession?

    Yes we are all much more than our titles, however, and whether you agree or not, we are defined by the paths we take in life.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    “Here’s a question, would it be fair to state Dr. Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD is a religion profession?”

    Not quite sure what you are asking…

  18. Jean says:

    I think the topic of the article is sufficiently interesting to dispense with an analysis of the author. it’s unfair, unhelpful and a distraction.

  19. Michael says:

    MM,

    I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.
    Duane was an evangelical church planter at one time, as well as a successful small businessman, along with all the other achievements he’s had in scholarly and church circles.
    So…I would say he has a rather broad amount of life experience to draw off of.

  20. MM says:

    Michael

    Why do you have to be so crass?

    Duane internet resume defines his adult life as one whose personal and financial existence is part of religious denomination and sect. He has a PhD, wrote books makes music, fills the role of a priest, and more. It defines his public circle in a religious manner, it’s that simple. It would be safe to state he is not an Evangelical nor ever has been according to his very public presence.

    I don’t know why you have your pants ruffled, but it is what it is.

    Secular people would call it a profession.

    The original point is you insulted/questioned me unfairly and yet my knowledge of Duane and his background is limited to what he writes here and across multiple public forums and media outlets. He has a very big presence out there.

    And this thread is title about Duane’s understanding or lack of it for these people. Duane, like all of us, are products of our communities.

    Sorry your bent a bit.

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    I was also a church planter and Calvary Chapel pastor in Ohio for a number of years, after having been baptized at CCCM and a member of Shiloh…

  22. MM says:

    Jean

    One cannot fairly understand or discuss something with out an understanding of the coloring underlying the premise. It is not a personal attack so don’t imply such a thing.

    You always write from your Synod reference and I understand that.

    If you would prefer to have discussions which only support or confirm your feelings then so be it.

  23. MM says:

    Duane

    Thanks I have no issues with your background. Maybe you get my overall point, ya need to walk in their shoes to understand.

    While I may not agree nor understand I do have full sympathy for their positions. In my opinion that is a part of God’s love.

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    ” It would be safe to state he is not an Evangelical nor ever has been according to his very public presence.”

    Well, shall I recount conversations with Chuck Smith? Walter Martin? Larry Norman? John Warwick Montgomery? Harold Lindsell? My friends of 40+ years like Glenn Kaiser (JPUSA) or DavidM who occasionally writes here? Shall I go on…?

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    I have both walked in those shoes and I continue to have dear friends who are still a part of that world. I think that I might know a bit more than you imagine…

  26. MM says:

    Then you should get it.

    Or are you making a rhetorical statement, not asking for discussion but rather trying to make a teaching moment.

    We readers only know what we read and hear from it. And you have no idea of our world and experience and how that influences our ideas. I think your further revelations of experience would strength the idea of your being from primarily a religious life circle and that does color things.

    Again not meant to insult but clarify.

  27. MM says:

    If you would like to expend things I might ask if you have ever carried an AR, been a member of the NRA, or other such things? Things get complicated and simple answers are available.

    But mercy and sympathy is.

    I would guess that is not the point of understanding?

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    … And would that include starting and running a small business and meeting a payroll for twenty years?

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    I was a life member of the NRA (a gift from my father) until I turned it in almost 20 years ago. My experience with guns runs the gamut of flintlocks to percussion to modern semi-automatics…

  30. pstrmike says:

    Good article here Duane.
    I think the “culture war” perspective is in recognition that Judeo-Christian values, informed, at least on the surface, the popular views of culture. Those views have been rejected, and replaced with secularism.
    The cultural war for Judeo-Christian values is miscomprehended by evangelicals, but it is also true that most cultural wars eventually find themselves in the political struggle. That’s how democracies address these things.

    Corby,
    “We’ve been dabbling in Anglicanism for almost a year now and I love the hearts of the people and the priest. I love the points and purposes of the elements of the liturgy, but **for me** after the first two months it became like hearing the same worship song every week.”

    Interesting observation and one that I have also given thought to in my own interest in Anglicanism. I’m not a big fan of what I believe to be an antiquated form of worship (sorry Duane), even though I understand, at least the basics of the symbolism that their liturgies portray. I will say that my brief exposure to Eastern Orthodoxy contributed to my perspective. Even saying this, I still see my future of sitting on the back row of a conservative (theologically) Anglican church (or even a Free Methodist) one day. At the present time there are no Anglican communions where I live that I would want to be a part of. The alternative is an Evangelical expression that to me, feels a mile wide and an inch deep.

    ” The main things keeping use there are the fact that it espouses a Biblical worldview, focuses more on transformation of the person and the church in Christ than on the Sunday experience and branding of the church. . . ”

    What keeps me going in pastoring my current church is my emphasis of spiritual formation in our congregation’s life. A good portion of Evangelicalism has lost its focus of transformation and you’re right, it’s about the brand and growth. More people, more money, more influence. More influence increases power, which is a draw for more attendance. It’s a hamster on a wheel putting out a great deal l of effort, but not really going far.

  31. Michael says:

    MM,

    I’ve pastored evangelicals for almost 30 years.
    This web site has maintained an inexplicably high rating for almost two decades, mainly speaking to evangelicals.
    I think Duane is right on.
    Explain to me what I don’t get…and what shoes I haven’t walked in…

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    pstrmike

    “…The cultural war for Judeo-Christian values is miscomprehended by evangelicals…”

    Exactly.

  33. MM says:

    Duane

    Cool then you do understand and this really is a rhetorical exercise.

    Clarification is good.

    Michael you really are too sensitive under all that crassness.

  34. Michael says:

    MM,
    I’m asking clarifying questions.
    You can answer them or not.

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    Yes, I do understand. What I’ve written, however, is not a rhetorical exercise. It is an observation as to what American evangelicalism has become over the course of the last 40-50 years… and it is not good. Much of the theology is paper thin. Religious and cultural syncretism has destroyed the soul of much of what passes for evangelicalism these days. It is an occasion for sorrow rather than light banter…

  36. Kevin H says:

    But Hillary …..

    Sorry, I just wrote and posted something else on Facebook and couldn’t help myself. 🙂

  37. MM says:

    Michael

    I did.

    Duane.

    Could something similar have been said about the Reformation?

    However, what set me off, and I have repeated written in multiple threads, is what I perceive to be a lack of sensitivity, grace and mercy for those who are in great need during this crisis.

    I also believe there is an implied general bashing of others understanding and faith. It may make you sad but not everyone has your views about how things should look.

    I like Michael because of his quest and calling to defend those abused. But at what point does one become the abuser or the proverbial stereotypical Christian definition of a Pharisee?

    Being more like Jesus isn’t about being more like the church.

    To quote Michael, “I’m done.”

    Have a blessed and healthy day.

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    Kevin H

    Appropriate…

  39. Michael says:

    MM,

    “However, what set me off, and I have repeated written in multiple threads, is what I perceive to be a lack of sensitivity, grace and mercy for those who are in great need during this crisis.”

    As I’ve written already, this crisis has affected me personally and pastorally on levels you really have no idea about.
    I have lots of grace and mercy for everyone involved, because I’m in great need of it myself.

    In my opinion the adoption of secular models of power and influence are at the heart of the abuse issue…

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    1) “Could something similar have been said about the Reformation?” No, not really.
    2) “…what I perceive to be a lack of sensitivity, grace and mercy for those who are in great need during this crisis…” Your perception is entirely your own and not based on any real knowledge.
    3) “Being more like Jesus isn’t about being more like the church.” Really? Whatever happened to the Body of Christ?

  41. bob1 says:

    there is no way you can walk in the shoes of these people you don’t understand.

    This is pure, unadultered BS.

    Then I guess we might as well nail shut all our institutions of higher learning, to give
    just one example. I guess sending missionaries to a different culture won’t every
    work, either. To say you can’t understand unless you’re an ‘insider’ is a crock.

    The tribalism of that statement is revealing…

  42. bob1 says:

    Speaking of evangelicalism and folk religion —

    I have a book in my library called “Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism.” I think sentimentality is the door that links
    pop evangelicalism with folk culture. It’s a good book that makes you think…

    https://www.amazon.com/Homespun-Gospel-Sentimentality-Contemporary-Evangelicalism-dp-0199988986/dp/0199988986/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1588016951

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    bob1

    Many thanks, the book looks interesting…

  44. MM says:

    bob1

    “there is no way you can walk in the shoes of these people you don’t understand.

    This is pure, unadultered BS.”

    This statement is actually the BS.

    Are you black, white, a woman, man, gay, lesbian, raised in abuse, been to jail, a drug addict, had your parents die at a young age, lived in a city where they bombed everything, have cancer and recovered, had COVID and recovered, you name it, can you understand how any of these people think or see things? I can’t.

    We cannot any any way know or fully understand what another is thinking, sensing feeling, seeing or even how they perceive color for that matter.

    What we can do is provide comfort, mercy, justice, and love where it is needed and that is what our institutions help us to learn in the various fields.

    In fact my perception of your comments and more “tribalisms” than I have ever implied.

    But, it is a fact I have never been in your shoes, experienced your life or have lived through your eyes.

    Duane:

    Thank you for the 1 2 3 answers but I will admit those really were more rhetorical and not really questions seeking an answer (we could argue the Reformation ad nauseam). However, I will comment on the one which I knew you would answer in the way you did.

    The Church is Jesus, however the church (as in denominations are not). As a song goes, “we are the body…” Why don’t we act like it? (Rhetorical, no response needed.)

    Michael:

    “In my opinion the adoption of secular models of power and influence are at the heart of the abuse issue…”

    Personally I think that sounds good, but history and I believe the biblical account would indicated it is who we are, although possibly at different levels. You have heard, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    So when does in our defense of those abused do we become the abuser?

    Doesn’t matter if it comes from a religion or a church it’s all the same.

    Great rabbit trail though.

  45. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    You seem to enjoy asking questions, without wanting to hear answers…

  46. Michael says:

    MM,

    Are you suggesting that I am abusive?
    Come out and say so if that’s your view.

  47. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I’m afraid this is about: questions not wanting answers; assertions without evidence; accusations without facts and personal “perceptions” being substituted for all…

  48. Michael says:

    Duane,

    That is another trait that made me flee from former tribes…always an assertion, never a discussion about actual issues.
    I utterly despair over the future of both church and state…

  49. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    For the lurkers… How long and how often have we discussed the topic of this article, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing? That’s the point of thesis, antithesis and finally, synthesis… something that has worked in education for centuries…

  50. Michael says:

    So… a little background for our lurking friends.
    Duane and I try to keep a schedule where we speak on the phone for a couple hours a week.
    We discuss various theological issues and things I need to know as an Anglican.
    We’ve been doing this for quite some time.
    We’ve gone back and forth on the issue of American evangelicalism and the church for hours.
    These conversations rarely start with conformity…they are exchanges of ideas and thoughts to reach understanding…agreement isn’t required.
    Duane is the latest in a line of great teachers I’ve been blessed to know…and not one has ever demanded agreement on doctrine and practice as a ground for discussion.
    Iron sharpens iron…and the blessing in my life is that I’m a dullard who has been sharpened by some of the best.

  51. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Not a dullard… a fine theologian in the Anglican way…

  52. Michael says:

    “a fine theologian in the Anglican way…”
    I want that on my tombstone… 🙂

  53. MM says:

    Michael

    “Are you suggesting that I am abusive?
    Come out and say so if that’s your view.”

    What I am referring to is the danger we all face and must remember and self police. I admit that I have the possibility to become so and I believe anyone who denies such is just kidding themselves.

    I have to assume you do ask yourself the question when posting an article or message from others if this is fair and am I doing justice or something else?

    I am not judging you nor accusing you of such. Just pointing out we must see-police ourselves and not become the abusers.

    Also I hope you aren’t being overly sensitive about such. Because if you were abusive I would clearly state such and never return to this site again.

    Duane

    Is your idea of “giving answers” all about making me conform to something you believe to be truth or are you up to a discussion?

    I have made it clear, I feel your article is more accusatory and directive about people who are in need and suffering a major change in their personal lives. They are expressing it in the only way available to them. They don’t write books, yet some will sing songs about it, and many have a very limited education in doctrines. They are crying for help! So many find neither hope or comfort in the Christian church traditions.

    Maybe your (and mine BTW) understanding of the way church should be is getting turned on its end, and just maybe this is what it is all about.

    No I’m not asking for answers from you at all.

    BTW Duane, none of this is not to be disrespectful of you or your life experiences and authority within your circles.

    Thank you Michael for allowing a discussion to go on. In spite of the difficulty of this medium to exchange ideas and our personal biases at list it has remained civil.

  54. MM says:

    Duane

    I’m sorry, I did not mean a double negative.

    This should read:
    “BTW Duane, none of this is meant to be disrespectful of you or your life experiences and authority within your circles.”

    Again sorry I truly mean the above, I highly respect your life resume, you have done and seen things within your circles I will never do or experience.

  55. Jean says:

    “They are crying for help! So many find neither hope or comfort in the Christian church traditions.”

    MM, Do you think it is the job of a church tradition to provide hope or comfort, or is that the office of the Holy Spirit. And specifically, do you think the Holy Spirit is up to the task?

    A church tradition should proclaim Christ in accordance with the Word of God. Plain and simple. I guarantee you there are traditions committed to that office.

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    MM

    Sorry, I think you are more interested in hearing your own voice than discussing the topic at hand. Discussion calls for give and take, not posturing… (said with kindness).

  57. Eric says:

    Political conservatism is far wider than evangelicals. If all God’s people got raptured, there would still be plenty of Americans holding some or all of those political positions (they might not win elections though). So I think the question isn’t how did much of the Church accept these various political views, but how did we come to buy into the whole package of political conservatism, and why did so many Christians fail to reject elements of it that seem to be at odds with biblical teaching.

    I grew up in and identify with what I call the intellectual evangelical tradition (of which Anglicans are the exemplars), which is a significant part of Australian Christianity. Two things that are part of this tradition:
    We keep going back to the bible says, and if what I have been saying disagrees with the bible, it is I who needs to change and not the bible.
    God has been gracious and saved us eternally, and this is more important than what goes on in the present world. Not that the here & now is unimportant, but pushing to get our way here should not be such a focus.

    Political conservatism isn’t so extreme here, and what there is, much of the Church takes on but more critically. Christian spokespeople will advocate for family values and also proper treatment of asylum seekers.

    What we have here is also there in the US, but the folk evangelicalism you describe is not such a big thing here, because we’ve lost the simple folk. While we might complain that we’re losing our young people at uni to secularism, the great tragedy is that so many working class Australians left Christ generations ago. So we’re left with a small well-educated church that knows how to read the bible, and who are rich enough not to envy immigrants who seem to be getting ahead of us.

  58. Steve says:

    Duane, as you struggle to understand “American Evangelicalism”, I struggle to understand non Protestant traditions of the faith whether American or not. I am both an American and an Evangelical and a conservative and a Protestant and don’t forget white and Anglo-Saxon. But these labels mean absolutely nothing so don’t worry about trying to pin us down.

  59. bob1 says:

    I’ve always believed that churches that are ‘international’ have a strong advantage over churches that are only in one country. Cases in points
    are Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. You’ll find their social positions and their ability to ID nationalism, for example, are light years ahead of one-country-only churches.

  60. Michael says:

    Eric,

    “While we might complain that we’re losing our young people at uni to secularism, the great tragedy is that so many working class Australians left Christ generations ago.”

    Why?

  61. Michael says:

    “I feel your article is more accusatory and directive about people who are in need and suffering a major change in their personal lives. ”

    Who exactly are you talking about?
    I don’t hear evangelicals crying for help…what help are they crying for?

  62. Eric says:

    Why? That’s one of the big missiological questions here. Some of my ideas (some of which related to older times, some more recent)

    Historically some of the Church (esp Anglicans) were associated with the ruling class, and we’ve always been a bit anti-elite in that way. The 2nd minister to come here, Samuel Marsden was known as “the flogging parson” for his harsh treatment of convicts (but amazingly went on to take the gospel to the Maori in New Zealand).

    Many people over the years grew up in unfriendly churches or church schools and wanted no more of it. We only found out the extent of sexual abuse in churches in the last generation, but harsh corporal punishment at schools, uncaring clergy and general hypocrisy are never a secret.

    When Christianity deals in abstract ideas, reading, singing, the less educated are less drawn to it. Our clergy are necessarily educated so understand their educated members better.

    For some, the ‘real’ world of food, sex, football, TV etc felt more real and it was harder to believe in God. If experiences of God aren’t ‘concrete’, maybe it’s harder to stick with faith. Now both the pentecostals and the sacramental traditions have their concrete elements, but I remember visiting a Greek Orthodox mass and shofar-blowing, falling down in the Spirit pentecostal church, both in a poor area around the same time, and still noting that those present were mostly educated.

    It’s hard to sustain ministry with poor people, with less money coming in and more help required, so if the denomination is “user pays”, churches may not survive in poor areas.

    Then there’s the “uplift” explanation – Christians didn’t drink, smoke, gamble etc and became rich… or perhaps those with those problems felt unwelcome in the church.

  63. Michael says:

    Eric,

    Thank you…fascinating…

  64. Duane Arnold says:

    All

    Fascinating comments and observations. I had to take a break tonight to speak on the phone with my mother (93). She learned today that a younger friend (74) had died of complications from Covid-19. My mother had known her for over 30 years. They had talked on the phone every day. Of your charity, please remember my mother, Louise, in your prayers along with Anita who has passed to a larger life…

  65. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Praying…

  66. Em says:

    I will happily go into Eternity as an Evangelical protestant… that said, i suspect that WW2 had a lot to do with the mixing of patriotism, politics and expressions (real or imagined) of faith. The contrast of the rising oppressive Nazism and Communism, perhaps confused Christian nations regarding “good guys and bad guys.”

  67. Em says:

    Read the prayer request for your Mother, Dr. Duane – praying for Louise to be comforted and strengthened.. Sorrowful

  68. pstrmike says:

    praying

  69. JoelG says:

    “It is about obtaining power to enact an agenda and it has little, or nothing to do with historic Christianity and that is, in fact, syncretistic in nature. It is, I am coming to believe, a particular form of folk religion rooted in power and politics.”

    Would it be fair to say that the “folk religion” dynamic exists across the political spectrum? Aren’t there social justice issues that motivate more liberal Christians to work in the political arena as much as conservative Christians?

    I’m not sure how fair it is to only call out conservatives on this one.

  70. Duane Arnold says:

    JoelG

    I am equally as critical of the embrace of an uncritical liberal secular agenda. I think the problem is any external secular (political) agenda being “baptized” and made a tenet of faith. It really is syncretism in both cases. Currently, and for the last few decades, however, American evangelicalism has become increasingly and blatantly political.

  71. JoelG says:

    Okay. I know this issue has been discussed many times here. I have conservative Evangelical roots so they have my sympathy. Those I know aren’t out protesting with their AR-15’s but they do care about morality issues. I’m going to guess that their are conservative believers from all faith traditions that hope their government reflects their values.

    I’m not arguing with you. Just saying theirs some nuances and degrees. American Evangelicals are a large group. I know you know this. I’m sure one can make blanket statements about all of them.

    Thanks for the article and I hope your mom is okay and comforted by our Lord.

  72. JoelG says:

    Oops I’m not sure one can make blanket statements about all of them, I mean.

  73. Duane Arnold says:

    JoelG

    Nuance and degrees, absolutely. The recent politicization and the extreme to which some have gone is, in my opinion, both new and alarming…

  74. directambiguity says:

    I realize I’m late to this conversation but it would be helpful to know what an evangelical is. I thought I used to know.

  75. Duane Arnold says:

    directambiguity

    And that is part of the problem…

    Recently, I’ve had a thought. I know a really good number of “former evangelicals” who are now Anglicans, Lutherans, Orthodox, etc. A number of them are very good people and able pastors and priests. I wonder, however, if they left a generational leadership vacuum in current evangelicalism. Again, just a thought.

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