Yesterday I taught the third of four 90-minute classes on Christian politics at West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Read my summary of week one here and week two here and week three here.
In week two, I introduced the political playbook of the Christian Right. In week three, I suggested a different playbook–one that privileged hope over fear, humility over power, and history over nostalgia. In week four, I introduced the class to yet another playbook: James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.
I summarized Hunter in several points:
- Cultures rarely change from the bottom-up
- Evangelicals have been largely absent from the arenas in which the greatest influence in the culture is exerted
- Electoral politics will not change the culture
- Evangelicals should stop trying to change the world
- Evangelicals need to place-centered
- Evangelicals must pursue others (community)
- Evangelicals must learn to think vocationally
- Evangelicals should work for pluralism, but be prepared for exile.
In the end, I thought this class went much better than I thought it would. So often scholars and pundits talk about “evangelicals” in monolithic and detached terms from their perches outside of the evangelical community. After spending about 90 minutes a week with over 125 evangelicals of all ages, I am more encouraged than ever about the witness of the church in the age of Trump. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful.