Once again, America’s elites are baffled by evangelical Christians. In the aftermath of election 2004, newspapers and news magazines have been filled with analysis, and the overwhelming turnout at the polls of evangelical Christians has evoked everything from confusion to outright disgust. Why do evangelical Christians face such hostility in the news media? There are exceptions, of course, but the major national news media present a picture of evangelical faith that is distorted at best and often dishonest as well.
The shape of the evangelical challenge in postmodern America comes down to this–we must be continually on the alert to defend the faith, for the Christian faith now faces unprecedented attacks. The rise of a postmodern culture has produced an intellectual context in which the very concept of truth is held under suspicion, and claims to revealed truth are simply ruled out of order.
The secular character of the media elite is never more obvious than when leading media periodically “rediscover” evangelical Christians and the impact of conservative Christianity in America. On April 29, the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS] featured “The Jesus Factor” as a part of its respected “Frontline” documentary series. As advertised, the program examined “George W. Bush’s personal religious journey, its impact on his political career and presidency, and the growing influence of America’s evangelical Christians.”
Will America’s evangelicals turn left in the coming presidential election? That’s the fervent hope of the liberal press, and The American Prospect is counting on “freestyle evangelicals” to swing conservative Christians toward the Democratic Party and its agenda. But don’t hold your breath on this one. The magazine’s analysis turns out to be full of holes and wishful thinking.
The late Earl of Shaftesbury once quipped, “I know what constitutes an Evangelical in former times . . . I have no clear notion what constitutes one now.” Lord Shaftesbury is hardly alone in his confusion.
Brace yourselves–for here come the “post-evangelicals.” A movement that began among left-leaning evangelicals in Great Britain, post-evangelicalism is now coming to the United States.
“Everyone has a theology,” wrote Carl F. H. Henry. “It may be a very shoddy one, and if it is shoddy, it will rise to haunt one in a crisis of life. It’s my conviction that only a theology which has the living God at its center and that is rooted in Christ, the crucified and risen Redeemer, has the intellectual struts to engage the modern secular views effectively.”
Why do evangelical Christians face such hostility in the news media? There are exceptions, of course, but the major national news media present a picture of evangelical faith that is distorted at best and often dishonest as well.
Nicholas Kristof must be a very smart man — but a very slow learner. A columnist for The New York Times, Kristof is a Harvard graduate and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. But when it comes to something as significant as the nature of Christianity, Kristof and his columns are dumb and dumber.
“One of the more surprising phenomena of American religion in the late twentieth century is the resurgence of an evangelical presence in the large, mainline denominations that were once thought lost to evangelicalism.” With these words Ronald H. Nash expressed both an observation and a hope for the liberal churches. But this analysis was made over a decade ago. Have the evangelicals been successful in pushing back the liberal tide? Sadly, the answer is no.
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As Solomon warned, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc 12:12). There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read. I say that in order to confront the notion that anyone, anywhere, can master all that could be read with profit. I read a great deal, and a large portion of my waking hours are devoted to reading.