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Not All Evangelicals, But I’m Probably Speaking to You

whining evangelical

I have been writing about Evangelical Christianity for thirteen years. The most common criticism I receive from God’s chosen ones is that I paint with too broad a brush, that Evangelicalism is not a monolithic group, that there are all sorts of beliefs and practices within the Evangelical tent. When I am critical of Evangelicalism, some Evangelicals self-righteously tell me that what I wrote doesn’t comport with their flavor of Evangelical Christianity. My beliefs are different! My church is different! My pastor is different! And on and on it goes.

Mention that all Evangelicals are inherently Fundamentalists, why, the defenders of the one-truth-faith will scream in outrage, saying that they are NOT Fundamentalists. However, a careful examination of their beliefs and practices shows that they are indeed Fundamentalists. In 2020, I wrote a post titled, Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists? In this post, I conclusively showed that all Evangelicals are theological Fundamentalists, and most of them are also social Fundamentalists. If a person/church/pastor/sect walks and talks like a Fundamentalist, it is one. If Evangelicals don’t like the Fundamentalist label, I suggest they either leave Evangelicalism or change their beliefs and practices.

Yes, Evangelicalism is a broad tent, and anyone can claim the Evangelical moniker regardless of beliefs. However, central to Evangelicalism are certain fundamental/cardinal beliefs. To be an Evangelical, you must believe these things. That some people don’t believe these things shows that Evangelicalism has no vehicle to police its ranks. The same can be said for social practices. It was not that long ago that all Evangelicals believed homosexuality was a sin. Today, LGBTQ people are welcome in some Evangelical churches — a good thing, by the way. However, at what point does a person/church/pastor/sect stop being Evangelical?

One of the problems is that many people claiming the Evangelical label are Evangelical in name only. Their reasons for wearing the label are many: lifelong identity, family, an affinity for Evangelical worship practices, comfortableness, to name a few. Further, Evangelicals look outside of their tent and see nothing in mainline/progressive Christianity that appeals to them. I still “fondly” remember attending the local Episcopal church and enduring unsingable music and incoherent sermons. Give me Victory in Jesus and three points and poem every time.

Since Evangelicalism is the subject of virtually every post on this site (almost 4,000), I don’t have the time to modify the word “Evangelical” every time I use it. To those who whine and complain about my broad-brush painting, if the shoe fits, wear it. You may think your designer label brand of Evangelicalism is different, but I suspect when the fancy label is removed, we will learn that your brand was made in China, just like Walmart’s brand. You just aren’t that special. I know that hurts, but after analyzing the beliefs and practices of hundreds of “special” Evangelicals, I have concluded, if you’ve seen one Evangelical, you have seen them all (almost).

If what I write about Evangelicalism really doesn’t accurately describe you, fine. Move on and nurse your hurt feelings somewhere else. However, I suspect that what is really going on here is that I am getting too close to nailing who and what you really are. The Fundamentalist label may hurt your feelings, but maybe you should take a hard look at your beliefs and practices. Maybe, it is time for you to swear off Evangelicalism. Surely the January 6, 2021 insurrection was enough to tell you that Evangelicalism is terminally diseased. You didn’t vote for Donald Trump, did you? Really? I mean, really?

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    That American Christianity backed the blatantly overt, slimy Donald Trump, is more than ample proof for me to admit the complete and utter bankruptcy of Christianity USA. The bully believers picked scum because he could parrot some of their shallow patriarchal views and promise them bully POWER. They were sucked in by Christian faith and sucked in by Trump.
    Jesus of Nazareth had no idea his Sermon on the Mount could become Donald Trump but that is just what America chose, Christian America, that is… Skeptics, agnostics, people who respect themselves enough to honour basic scientific method, those people did not for the most part vote for that anus in orange makeup.
    Just as Gerencser says, cry out American Christian, cry out that you are different and that you and your bunch are misunderstood and hated for Christ’s sake. Denial reigns supreme in evangelical faith.

  2. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    Christianity is stuck with supporting vermin since it so “helpfully” claims that any leader is put into place by this silly god. And Christianity does have “shallow patriarchal views”. It is only by ignoring what the bible says that some Christians get away from that.

    JC had no idea about the sermon on the mount because he didn’t exist or say them. Those ideas weren’t new.

  3. Avatar
    Neil

    It amazes me that Christians of all stripes use the argument that their interpretation of the faith is the only true one. Appealing to the fact there are numerous Christianities is not a defense, it’s an admission of failure and the shooting of one’s self in the foot.

  4. Avatar
    BJW

    I have found the insular thinking of fundamentalism in other Christian denominations. And it’s funny since those other groups are hated by and also hate evangelicals/fundamentalists. And you will find a fundamentalist/liberal split in several denominations, with each group deeply opposed to the other.

  5. Avatar
    Emersonian

    I’m still learning about the topic, but I’ve gathered from your blog and a few others that there are certain definers like “IFB” and “Calvinist” that isolate some evangelical groups; is this what the evangelicals you’re referring to are pushing back on, being stirred into the same pot as those congregations? Do you feel those are meaningful distinctions to be made within the evangelical sphere, or do the similarities matter more than those differences? Sorry if that’s essentially the question you’re already answering here, but I’m still somewhat unclear on where the lines are between IFB churches and the churches my evangelical (yet not completely insane) friends belong to….

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Evangelicalism is a big tent with lots of sects, churches, and pastors within its walls. While you find a lot of diversity within the tent, there are core beliefs that bind the disparate parts together. Thus Fred Phelps and Al Mohler are very different personalities , but belief-wise not so much.

      I typically use official doctrinal statements to determine whether a sect/church/pastor is Evangelical.

      There is an increasing number of people who are Evangelical in name only. This complicates matters when trying to figure out who belongs in the Evangelical tent. I wish those of the left end of the Evangelical spectrum would start their own denomination. It sure would make identification easier. 😂😂

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Bruce Gerencser