Justin Taylor wants to parse the numbers of Trump voters to remove the EIGHTY-ONE PERCENT mantra (which is a tired and cliched understanding of the 2016 vote and allows Never Trumpers to have a target). Here‘s how to save evangelicalism from Trump:
Third, we know almost nothing about the 80 percent beyond a religious label they affirm or an experience they claim.
Do they go to church? Are they Protestant? Unless we are willing to say that “an evangelical is anyone who says he or she is an evangelical or says he or she has been ‘born again,’” then we have to admit that we are talking more about a label of self-designation than an actual movement or network, much less a reflection of theological belief or religious practice.
For example, an array of theological traditions outside of the traditional evangelical movement have adherents who say they are “evangelical” or have been “born again,” including:
mainline Protestants (27 percent)
Roman Catholics (22 percent)
Orthodox (18 percent)
Mormons (23 percent)
Jehovah’s Witness (24 percent)
spiritualist Christians (24 percent)
So, evangelical is a plastic word. It doesn’t identify much. Then why does TGC identify as evangelical if the term is so bad, which everyone has known for a while? The problem is that the term is the best for gaining as many followers as you can. If you use Baptist or Presbyterian, you cut down on potential followers, readers, and donors. So you go with the broad term and then qualify TGC further as “broadly” Reformed.
Only now when such breadth looks pretty bad out there in the mainstream media to you object how easy it is to be evangelical. Well, are TGC’s memberships requirements all that demanding?
2 thoughts on “When Will the Gospel Coalition Police Evangelicalism’s Mean Streets?”
As far as I can tell, TGC has no sort of filtering system for who’s listed in their directory of churches. A church I used to attend, which I would describe as “Charismatic lite,” is listed in the directory. I can assure you that there is nothing Reformed about the church, broadly or otherwise.
As a postscript, the church didn’t have formal membership. Once you proved that you were committed to the community, you were invited to be “on the team.”