The 71-percent heresy

The 71-percent heresy July 7, 2016

“Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

This survey data from whiz pollster Robert P. Jones is astonishing:


The question involves a matter of obvious, undeniable, objective reality. The execution of Alton Sterling by police in Baton Rouge is not, and cannot be called, an “isolated incident” when the very next day the same God-damned thing happened at the other end of the Mississippi River, with police in Minnesota executing Philando Castile.

So Jones’ survey results are remarkable, first of all, because they demonstrate that huge chunks of the public are misinformed, or ignorant, or willfully blind. Or maybe they’re enthusiastic participants in deception who half-recognize their whole sense of identity involves wallowing in lies but prefer it that way.

The incidents are not isolated, but apparently a third of religiously unaffiliated white respondents are. More than half of white mainline Protestants and more than 7 out of 10 white evangelical Christians are isolated from reality, isolated from the lives of others, isolated from justice, from faith, hope and love, and from the plain truth plainly evident before their unseeing eyes.

Note that Christian religious affiliation is a significant variable here — a significant, influential variable in the wrong direction. White Christianity prevents its adherents from seeing, from understanding. From caring. White Christianity quenches the Spirit.

White Christianity, in other words, is a problem. And white evangelicalism seems to be the most severe form of that problem.

For social scientists like Jones, “white evangelical” is a demographic category classifying religious and ethnic identity. But his findings demonstrate, again and again, that white Christianity is also something else. It is not simply the space on some Venn diagram where adherents of Christianity and people of a particular ethnic group overlap. “White Christian” and “white evangelical” are themselves unique religious categories. White Christianity is a distinct religion — a distinct theology.

Or, to put it more bluntly, white Christianity is a heresy. A sin. An error. It is a form of blasphemy that crucifies Christ anew, every day, and then reassures itself that #JesusofNazareth was an “isolated incident.”


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