Evangelicalism is a sort of thing that isn’t supposed to have a center, a hierarchy or an authority structure but yet we are supposed to act like it does. It’s the large projection of classic pastoral availability. You can have it your way on baptism, bishops, and the Bible as long as you say it’s “biblical”.
It has all the vacuousness of the supposed “community” attached to any identity label. Please show me a “black community leader”? The less you are in touch with actual black people the easier it is to name one.
“Community” implies some sort of identifiable hierarchy where there is enforcement, reward, accountability, cohesion. Evangelicalism is about there not being one so that we can mold it like silly putty to use as we will. “Bible believing” is terrific especially if there is no creed that hopes to get specific on a limited number of options.
This makes for terrific political fodder because we can play fun games with identifying with it or revolting against it without necessarily having to say or do anything.
Sometimes “evangelical” is a market, sometimes it’s a brand, sometimes it’s a scapegoat. It’s less structured than “Golden State Warriors Fan” with none of the downsides of “Sacramento King’s Fan”.
It’s a tar baby stuck in the glue trap and many folks took the bait. Tim Keller tried to rise above but it looks like his third way powers weren’t quite up to the task. Labberton tried to mollify but anti-racism speech has gotten so one dimensional that the only sound allowed is a one note drum and everyone demands that you beat it louder and faster.
Well, not quite everybody. Heretics are important. Does Kanye have a nose for getting attention just like his more powerful buddy with dragon power?
“Leadership is considered to be teaching black voices to fetishize their victimhood…A leader is someone who is talented at identifying locuses of racism. That’s considered the smartest thing to do. That’s considered the important thing to do…The leader is not someone who makes people less poor. The leader is someone who enlightens America that racism exists with that being the standing task in itself.”
So you can’t have a meeting without it devolving into “this meeting is about Trump” or “this meeting is about race” or “this meeting is about LGBTQ” or “this meeting is about (name your favorite issue that leads to ideological possession).”
Evangelicalism being a coreless, structureless sort of thing becomes a free-for-all.
Pastors learn quickly that to be vague is to be available but when the environment gets polarized none are sufficiently conservative or woke. pvk