The truth often hurts, and there is a good bit of truth in Peter Feuerherd’s analysis of American evangelicalism. Feuerherd is a Catholic journalist writing something of field manual to evangelicalism for his fellow Catholics. His book, Holyland USA: A Catholic Ride Through America’s Evangelical Landscape, is always interesting (even when I think he is off-base).
Feuerherd tells his fellow Catholics that they should be interested in “what happens in those giant boxes of worship built on recovered farmland all over the country.”
Interestingly, Feuerherd does not see evangelicalism as much of a threat when it comes to theology or politics. In effect, he suggests that those who argue that evangelicals are primarily driven by deep theological commitments or a political agenda miss the point — evangelicals are too preoccupied with therapeutic concerns to have time for anything else.
In his words:
Evangelicals may have a fire-and-brimstone reputation, but the reality is more Oprah. Instead of raining down God’s wrath, evangelical preachers are more likely to embrace American therapeutic culture. Family relationships and dysfunctions take a central role. How to heal marriages is more often talked about than God’s wrath. Megachurches are built around common communities. Often those groups focus on healing personal issues, much like Oprah Winfrey does on her daily television show, providing homespun advice for problems usually associated with marriage and family life.
It’s been said before (ahem), but what we really need is a new Reformation.