The Court Evangelicals Feel Betrayed By *Christianity Today*

Court

Last night I re-read the court evangelical letter to Tim Dalrymple, the CEO of Christianity Today.  Read the letter here.  I offered some commentary here.

I was struck by this passage (italics mine):

Of course, it’s up to your publication to decide whether or not your magazine intends to be a voice of evangelicals like those represented by the signatories below, and it is up to us and those Evangelicals like us to decide if we should subscribe to, advertise in and read your publication online and in print, but historically, we have been your readers

Many of these court evangelicals are older white men.  They probably read Christianity Today in the 1960s and 1970s when it was (arguably) the voice of American evangelical Christianity.  They now feel betrayed by this flagship magazine.  I sense this feeling of betrayal in the letter.

Many of the signers of this letter have said, in other venues, that Christianity Today is no longer relevant.  It no longer speaks for most evangelicals. Mark Galli’s editorial does not represent a crack in evangelical support for Donald Trump.  We should not take it seriously.

In some respects, the court evangelicals are correct.  Christianity Today no longer speaks for the evangelical movement in the way that it once did.  An evangelical consensus on social and political issues is hard to find these days.  American evangelicalism has experienced the age of fracture just like everyone else in the United States.  This fracturing is enhanced by social media and the Internet.

So why are the court evangelicals so concerned about Galli’s editorial and the magazine’s “planting of the flag?”  While there are certainly (and primarily) political reasons for their dissent, Christianity Today’s history and legacy also has something to do with it.  The evangelical world is changing. Even Christianity Today has gone south.  Galli’s editorial feeds this declension narrative and makes the phrase “Make America Great Again” all the more appealing.