If you need to be challenged in your status quo beliefs about evangelical identity and don’t mind being politely nudged out of your biblical comfort zone, this book will do it for you.
After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity is David Gushee’s analysis of modern-day faith, biblical interpretation, and church life. And where to go next.
Gushee writes about the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful. He addresses numerous topics in our everyday lives and how they intersect with our Christianity, such as:
- Evangelical Biblicism
- Hearing God’s Voice Beyond Scripture
- Theology of Believing and Belonging
- Jesus According to . . .
- Biblical Theology of Church
- Christian Political Ethics
- White Racist Christianity
The book is organized well. Each chapter ends with a “Takeaways” section, with bulleted key points. (Chapter summaries are always a plus to me.)
Gushee also provides a humorous, non-scientific Evangelical Test to see if you qualify as an “American evangelical.” If you check twenty or more boxes, you are, or were, an evangelical. See how you do. (I knew 24 out of 25; I won’t say if that’s a good thing or bad.)
Should you read this book? Be warned that this book isn’t for the faint of faith. Toes will be stepped on. Here’s an example in the chapter on race:
“White American Christianity, flowing from European imperial colonialism and justifying slavery, was born in racist heresy and the sin that it caused. . . . There have been many pivotal moments in US history when opportunities existed for the abandonment of white supremacism, but these have mainly been missed.”
And you might not be comfortable with all the topics he addresses, especially the chapters on sex and politics. You might also disagree with his interpretation of scripture in certain paragraphs. Or his views about scripture in general.
“Inerrantist claims go beyond the Bible’s own claims for itself and often create unnecessary faith crises for believers.”
But if you’re up for some mental stimulation and internal spiritual wrestling, read After Evangelicalism. You should come away thinking a little differently than you came in—hopefully more clearly and more loving, even if you diverge on opinions with the author here and there.
Whichever category you fit in—Still-Vangelicals, Still Christians, or Still People (categories provided in the Appendix written by Isaiah Ritzmann), you’ll find information here to think about.
Here are more quotes from the book:
“Post-evangelicals are abandoning church for reasons peculiar to the American evangelical experience, including disillusionment over harmful teachings, reactionary attitudes toward science and liberal learning, right-wing politics, and having been violated or traumatized.”
“The sense that card-carrying American evangelicalism now requires acquiescence to attitudes and practices that negate core teachings of Jesus is fueling today’s massive exodus.”
“Seven commitments of a post-evangelical politics are proposed: a distinctive Christian identity, action based on hope and not fear, critical distance from earthly powers, grounding the broad Christian social teaching tradition, global perspective, orientation toward serving God’s kingdom and the common good, and efforts to practice what we preach.”
My thanks to Net Galley and Westminster John
Knox Press for the review copy of this book
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