15 Comments
Jul 25, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

I was fascinated by "Jesus and John Wayne". I am a lifelong mainline Christian: Congregational/United Church of Christ, then Methodist and for the last 20 years Presbyterian Church (USA). I was unfamiliar with evangelicalism until my wife and I moved to Southern California in 1976. As I read your book, I felt like I was learning about an entirely different culture rather than doctrinal variations, e.g., Calvinism or Arminiasm, among mainline denominations.

Up until fairly recently my church, which is a few miles from the Reagan Library, had people with a mix of theological views ranging from fundamentalist to progressive as well as a broad mix of political views. Starting with Trump and accelerated during the pandemic, local churches have become more sorted along ideological lines. My church has lost cultural conservatives, but gained millennial and Gen Z people, as well as older exvangelicals including men and women with divinity degrees. The culture has moved steadily in the progressive direction. At the same time, other local churches, based on their public pronouncements. appear to have an increasingly militant culture like what you described in J&JW.

Some of us alternate between lamenting the increasing polarization and thinking we should identify as a different religion entirely.

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Jul 25, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

While the scholarship is impeccable, the thing that makes your work so valuable is your willingness to explain how your own faith causes you to see the issues. Those of us trying to speak to both the Trumpy boomers in the pews and their ex-vangelical kids need all the help we can get!

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author

Thanks. I don't really know how *not* to do this. This comes from almost 20 years of classroom practice, where I'm always explicit about what I do and how and why I do it. It seems pretty straightforward to me!

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Jul 25, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

Which is one of many characteristics/gifts that resulted in your selection or appoint as the Spoelhof scholar. Congratulations.

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Another excellent article in uncovering and addressing the complexity and nuance of so-called orthodox narratives, and in this context may your probing and critical ‘voice’ continue … stay strong 💪!

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Jul 25, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

Thank you.

An exceptionally helpful & enlightening explanation.

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Having participated a fair amount in local politics, I often hear the "Christian America" narrative. I was helped a few decades ago by James Skillen's description of the founding of America as a "mixed bag"--with Christian influence, but also of considerable Deistic and Enlightenment influence. Thus the claims of Christian Nationalism are simply not the whole story. I wonder if you find Skillen's crisp description to be useful and accurate?

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author

I would agree with Skillen on this. I also was involved for a bit with the Center for Public Justice, back when I was in college. (Just attending a few events.) What has been striking to me is how many Reformed (CRC) people loved what Skillen was saying back in the early 90s but now want nothing to do with this sort of Reformed analysis. My sense is that conservative evangelicalism has swamped these pockets and now defines "orthodoxy" and politics.

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Jul 25, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

I had the privilege of serving on the Board of CPJ back in the 80's with some of the pillars of the movement (Steve Monsma, Cal DeWit, Case Hoogendorn--come to mind, all Calvin grads) , and still follow to this day. I think they are doing much good work, and the Christian community is missing out on a resource that would help inform their politics in a wholesome, Christian way.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/14/opinion/god-culture-war-politics.html

Tish Harrison Warren has quite an interesting article in her weekly NYT post

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Jul 29, 2022·edited Jul 29, 2022

Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your response to the CNN article.

It seems to me that an important first step for Christians is admitting that there is no simple biblical message or gospel, especially when it comes to how to live out our faith in this world. You allude to this point in these sentences:

"Yes, you can prooftext a Bible verse to make the case for a religion of conquest or liberation. But how do we interpret these passages? Is Jesus a conquering warrior who calls us to fight his battles? Is he a suffering servant who offers himself as a sacrifice and bids us do the same? "

The Bible is not a simple guidebook for living. In particular, I become frustrated when children and young adults are taught--"Here are THE Christian positions"--on poverty, war, women's healthcare, the environment, you name it. We must nuance conversations about "Biblical perspective" and also value what academic disciplines show us to be true about the world. --Kim

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Agree, but this is not the fundamentalist way! I've been reading a new book on the history of evangelicalism that makes the point that while moderate or progressive evangelicals were comfortable with uniting with conservatives, conservatives usually worked to exclude them from their churches or from Christianity itself. So it's very intentional on the part of some to draw boundaries and allow for only one right answer. I've definitely run into this myself, where I routinely get mocked by conservatives for saying things like "it's complicated." But in my experience of the Reformed tradition, that's always the right answer, and then you go on (and on) to try to figure out the most faithful response given all the complexity and brokenness.

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Jul 29, 2022Liked by Kristin Du Mez

Clearly, we were raised in the same water. :)

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I think "imposter" was an unfortunate word choice -- maybe put in by an editor? Maybe the headline itself..... misleading.

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author

Well, Perry used that wording in a piece written two years ago, with considerable context. Also worth noting that the CNN reporter, John Blake, is coming out of a Black Christian tradition. This context makes sense of the "how could 'real' Christians say and do these things?" framing. Because it's so foreign to Black Chr tradition.

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