During my travels promoting Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I have met dozens of folks who have left evangelical churches because of political polarization and the way evangelicals have supported Donald Trump. I have also met a lot of people–especially young people–who have left Christianity altogether for this reason. I have chosen to remain an “evangelical” largely because I believe in the “good news” of the Gospel. In my own life, I continue to find David Bebbington’s “Quadrilateral” to define my faith. I believe in the redemptive power of Jesus’s death on the cross. I believe in the authority of the inspired Bible in my life. I believe that Christians must embrace the Gospel through a conversion experience. And I believe that my faith requires some degree of activism–whether it be evangelism or works of social justice and service in the world.
After evensong last month, a priest from a different wing of the Church asked me why I considered myself evangelical and I found myself talking about my childhood. After my mother died when I was 12, it was people in an evangelical church that rallied round and, significantly, helped me to reconcile what had happened with my faith.
They never attempted to explain away this horrifying event, but they offered practical help to my family and, drawing on scripture, affirmed my belief in resurrection and heaven. Certainty can constrict, but it can also feel like blessed assurance, like standing on very solid earth. As a teenager, the God I learnt about was both infinitely powerful and as close as a friend you could call on in the middle of the night when you were terrified by the thought that everyone else you loved would die. My small heart heard God say, “Come and talk with me”, as the psalm puts it.
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