NOW is the Moment, UMC: Will You Stop the Evangelical Takeover?

NOW is the Moment, UMC: Will You Stop the Evangelical Takeover? March 13, 2018

Yes, there is something profoundly wrong at the heart of The United Methodist Church. And it is called the Evangelical Takeover. I admit it: I’m fascinated by the fact that with the death knell of Evangelicalism now being easily heard, the UMC is about to become downright Evangelical. I also just don’t get it.

The Evangelical Takeover of the UMC

The Issue Behind the Issue

Anyone who has been following the drama in the UMC about the potential split of the denomination over the issue of what is and is not considered “biblical” sexuality should know there is an issue behind the issue.  What we are facing is a classic Evangelical Takeover. We are the Southern Baptist Church, 30 years later.

Those adhering to this far more fundamentalist-type theology have infiltrated themselves into the life and the leadership of the UMC. Those funding and plotting this takeover are representatives of or leaders in strongly Evangelical movements and groups like Good News, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, and The Institute for Religion and Democracy.

It is very likely that they will “win” and the UMC (or whatever it will be called at that point) will then work to divest itself of any who call themselves Progressive or Moderate or even Centrist Christians.

Those behind the Evangelical takeover are well funded, well-organized, and have no interest in taking prisoners. They merely want to expel those who don’t adhere to the same tight lines as they do. It’s called “heresy hunting,” one of their favorite sports. First target, of course: anyone who supports same-sex marriage. There will be further targets to follow, but this one is foremost. It’s all about sex right now.

It will be a sad day for the Gospel when those behind the takeover complete their work.

Mainstream News Chronicles the Demise of Evangelicalism

In the last week, the mainstream news has come out with article after article about the devastation that Evangelicalism has brought upon itself. Three things characterize the coming demise: its unholy marriage with politics, the racism and sexism that underlie their theological stances, and their astoundingly uncritical embrace of Donald Trump as the best possible person to represent them on national and worldwide stages.

A few snippets along with links to those articles are at the end of this post. Read them. Read them carefully.

Then ask:

  • Is this the direction we want Methodism to move?
  • Do we want to alienate most of our minority, non-white members, most women, most intellectuals?
  • Do we want a mindless fundamentalist reading of Holy Scripture to be the centerpiece of the Methodist movement?
  • Do we want to leave behind the understanding of our responsibility to stand against oppression to embrace an individualistic view of salvation that is heedless of the pain and suffering in this world?
  • Do we want to become less and less relevant to the coming generations who see through our hypocrisy with far clearer eyes and have already jumped ship like so many lemmings going over the cliff of “You’ll never see me in a racist/sexist church.”
  • Do we want to embrace an immoral spokesperson as the centerpiece of who we are?

It May Be Too Late

It may be too late, but if not, now is the time to reclaim the broad tent of our historical stances of standing firmly for good, equally firmly against evil and remaining in love with God.

Now is time to move away from the growing movement within our ranks toward bibliolatry and away from affirming that there is a wideness in God’s mercy.

If it is too late–and the 2019 called General Conference will confirm that one way or another–then now is the time to prepare to leave, to begin the creation of new movements where the Spirit of God may once more infuse us with hopeful grace which we may pass onto to others.

I admit it: I’m fascinated by the fact that with the death knell of Evangelicalism now being easily heard, the UMC is about to become downright Evangelical. I also just don’t get it.

Relevant Articles

But again, read the articles below. The snippet I’ve copied seems to be the gist of each item, but in each case, the entire piece is worth the read. They are well-written, eye-opening and ultimately sad.

From The Atlantic, “The Last Temptation”:

Fundamentalism embraced traditional religious views, but it did not propose a return to an older evangelicalism. Instead it responded to modernity in ways that cut it off from its own past. In reacting against higher criticism, it became simplistic and overliteral in its reading of scripture. In reacting against evolution, it became anti-scientific in its general orientation. In reacting against the Social Gospel, it came to regard the whole concept of social justice as a dangerous liberal idea. This last point constituted what some scholars have called the “Great Reversal,” which took place from about 1900 to 1930. “All progressive social concern,” Marsden writes, “whether political or private, became suspect among revivalist evangelicals and was relegated to a very minor role.”

Originally posted in Forbes but moved here, “Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel.”

Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state. Principled critics were exiled or murdered, leaving voices of dissent few and scattered. Southern Christianity evolved in strange directions under ever-increasing isolation. Preachers learned to tailor their message to protect themselves. If all you knew about Christianity came from a close reading of the New Testament, you’d expect that Christians would be hostile to wealth, emphatic in protection of justice, sympathetic to the point of personal pain toward the sick, persecuted and the migrant, and almost socialist in their economic practices. None of these consistent Christian themes served the interests of slave owners, so pastors could either abandon them, obscure them, or flee.

What developed in the South was a theology carefully tailored to meet the needs of a slave state. Biblical emphasis on social justice was rendered miraculously invisible. A book constructed around the central metaphor of slaves finding their freedom was reinterpreted. Messages which might have questioned the inherent superiority of the white race, constrained the authority of property owners, or inspired some interest in the poor or less fortunate could not be taught from a pulpit. Any Christian suggestion of social justice was carefully and safely relegated to “the sweet by and by” where all would be made right at no cost to white worshippers. In the forge of slavery and Jim Crow, a Christian message of courage, love, compassion, and service to others was burned away.

Stripped of its compassion and integrity, little remained of the Christian message. What survived was a perverse emphasis on sexual purity as the sole expression of righteousness, along with a creepy obsession with the unquestionable sexual authority of white men. In a culture where race defined one’s claim to basic humanity, women took on a special religious interest. Christianity’s historic emphasis on sexual purity as a form of ascetic self-denial was transformed into an obsession with women and sex. For Southerners, righteousness had little meaning beyond sex, and sexual mores had far less importance for men than for women. Guarding women’s sexual purity meant guarding the purity of the white race. There was no higher moral demand.

From The Harvard Gazette, “Worry In White Christian America”:

Moreover, conservative churches are now seeing declines that were once limited to progressive Protestant denominations. Jones noted that 23 percent of Americans identified as white evangelicals in 2006. In 2016, that number was only 16 percent.

The numbers “explain why it feels like a fight to the death for some in the white, Christian world,” Jones said. They also account for a startling turnaround in the attitudes of so-called “values voters.” In 2011, the institute asked Americans “whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life.” At that time, Jones wrote, “only 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement.” When the institute asked the question again in 2016, 72 percent of white evangelicals said that they believed “a candidate can build a kind of moral wall between his private and public life.”

From the New York Times, “White Evangelical Women, Core Trump Supporters, Begin Slipping Away”:

While the men in the pulpits of evangelical churches remain among Mr. Trump’s most stalwart supporters, some of the women in the pews may be having second thoughts. As the White House fights to silence a pornographic actress claiming an affair with Mr. Trump, and a jailed Belarusian escort claims evidence against the American president, Mr. Trump’s hold on white evangelical women may be slipping.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, support among white evangelical women in recent surveys has dropped about 13 percentage points, to 60 percent, compared with about a year ago. That is even greater than the eight-point drop among all women.

Also from the New York Times, “A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshippers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches”:

Black congregants — as recounted by people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Fort Worth and elsewhere — had already grown uneasy in recent years as they watched their white pastors fail to address police shootings of African-Americans. They heard prayers for Paris, for Brussels, for law enforcement; they heard that one should keep one’s eyes on the kingdom, that the church was colorblind, and that talk of racial injustice was divisive, not a matter of the gospel. There was still some hope that this stemmed from an obliviousness rather than some deeper disconnect.

Then white evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump by a larger margin than they had voted for any presidential candidate. They cheered the outcome, reassuring uneasy fellow worshipers with talk of abortion and religious liberty, about how politics is the art of compromise rather than the ideal. Christians of color, even those who shared these policy preferences, looked at Mr. Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, his open hostility to N.F.L. players protesting police brutality and his earlier “birther” crusade against President Obama, claiming falsely he was not a United States citizen. In this political deal, many concluded, they were the compromised.

“It said, to me, that something is profoundly wrong at the heart of the white church,” said Chanequa Walker-Barnes, a professor of practical theology at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta.

From The Washington Post, “Trump Evangelicals Have Sold Their Souls”:

The Trump evangelicals are best understood as conservative political operatives, seeking benefits for their interest group from politicians who are most likely to provide them. So how good is the quality of their political advice?

Not particularly good. Identifying evangelicalism with Trump’s ethno-populism may have some short-term benefits. But public influence eventually depends on the persuasiveness of public arguments. And close ties to Trump will eventually be disastrous to causes that evangelicals care about. Pro-life arguments are discredited by an association with misogyny. Arguments for religious liberty are discredited by association with anti-Muslim bias. Arguments for family values are discredited by nativist disdain for migrant families.

The damage radiates further. Trump evangelicals are blessing the destruction of public norms on civility, decency and the importance of public character.

And the ultimate harm is to the reputation of faith itself. The identification of evangelical Christianity with ethno-nationalism and white grievance is a grave matter.

Yes, there is something profoundly wrong at the heart of The United Methodist Church. And it is called the Evangelical Takeover.

Photo credit: ID 110255581 © Shawn Hempel |

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  • RustbeltRick

    They’ve already taken over my UMC congregation.

    • petej

      Tough luck, lefty. Go join the Episcopagans, they just love abortion and deviance.

      • Iain Lovejoy

        I see two possibilities here. First, you are a cheerleader for the evangelical takeover of Methodism outlined in the article, in which case you have in fact demonstrated exactly how far from any concept of what was once Christianity fundangelicals have fallen, thus proving the author’s point, or, second, you are not in fact a Methodist at all, in which case it is slightly odd that you are telling someone to leave one denomination that you are not a member of to join another you are not a member of either.

      • I am praying for you, Petej. May the light of Christ shine upon you, embrace you, and transform you, and us all.

    • I am so sorry. It’s so tough when that happens.

  • Brett

    Who is the “immoral spokesperson” referenced in the sixth question? I don’t see any reference to any leader of the IRD, Good News or WCA groups mentioned in the paragraphs before it.

    • That would be our President, Donald Trump, the putative head now of Evangelicalism.

      • Brett

        I voted for Gary Johnson but I know other evangelically minded people who considered their vote for Donald Trump the least awful option to them. Suggesting “poison we’ve got a slightly better chance of surviving” equals “putative head now of Evangelicalism” is an extremely long leap, including for the three UMC organizations named above. Mark Tooley of the IRD, no voice of moderation in the culture wars, in fact wrote in March 2016 that he would refuse to vote for Trump should he become the Republican nominee. That persons from other organizations or traditions, such as Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell, Jr., applaud and lift the president up as that kind of example or figure worthy of allegiance does not mean that traditionalist groups within the UMC, under whatever label, have done so.

        • McJakome

          Hillary seems to be stronger in her faith than Trump is in his, she taught Sunday school, can you even imagine Trump being left alone with young children much less teaching Sunday school? People who wouldn’t want trump alone with their wife or daughter, and who can’t imagine him teaching Sunday school had just better realize that “mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa” will not suffice for what they have brought upon us all.

          • rrhersh

            This. Clinton is a lifelong Methodist whose faith has informed her policy positions. The problem is that these are the “help the poor” parts of the Bible that Methodists traditionally are very strong on, but Evangelicals prefer to pretend don’t exist.

          • McJakome

            Then, as they deliberately turn their back on Jesus’ social gospel, why call them Christians, and why allow them to call themselves “Christian” unchallenged. The Gospel of John mentions those who willingly take upon themselves the “mark of the beast,” and haven’t Evangelicals, Southern Baptists and others, by their embrace of everything rotten and un-Christian in Trump done exactly that?

  • Preacher

    We must NOT allow the UMC to go the way of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. Evangelical Christianity’s problem is primarily rooted in unsound hermeneutics.

  • Jim Knowles-Tuell

    I’m not sure it is quite as bad as you claim, but I understand that I might be wrong (maybe it’s because I hang around with progressive Methodists). No matter, it is bad enough that we need to make every possible effort to prevent the takeover.
    On an editorial point, the word is “knell,” not “knoll.”

    • Thanks for catching the typo!!! I’ve fixed it. And I hope you are right–but I am afraid you so might not be.

    • McJakome

      Death knoll works, but with a slightly different meaning, either the knoll upon which the murderer stands, or the high ground upon which one will take ones final stand.

  • rileycase

    Why do so many articles written by progressives involving evangelicals end up with Donald Trump? Several points. Are evangelicals dying out and losing credibility, or are they suddenly so well funded and powerful that they could take over United Methdodism? It can’t be both ways. It is hard to make any argument about evangelicals taking over the UM Church when 90% of our seminaries are progressive, and some are quite hostile to evangelicals. The same can be said about boards and agencies. The same can be said about the Council of Bishops. Why would evangelicals want to take over a denomination deeply divided and imploding? A lot of evangelical churches at the moment would be happy simply to leave the denomination and become independent if it weren’t for the trust clause. Furthermore, evangelical United Methodists are quite different from, say, evangelical Southern Baptists, or Pentecostals (where the Trump supporters can really be found). Can you name any evangelical renewal group or any of the leaders of evangelical groups that outwardly support Trump? Even IRD, the most conservative (at least politically) of the groups, opposed Trump before the election. As did Christianity Today. As did World Magazine. As did First Things magazine. These are the most responsible voices in the evangelical world. There is a theological system that can fairly be labeled fundamentalism, but it is far to the right of where evangelical United Methodists rightly are. The evangelical world is very diverse and it would be helpful if that diversity were recognized.

    If there has been purging going on for the past 75 years, it is the evangelicals who have been purged. Evangelicals were most critical of Albert Outler’s “pluralism” in the 1972 doctrinal statement. Outler’s response to some evangelicals was that there was no other way that evangelicals could have any legitimacy in the seminaries, in Sunday school literature, or anyplace where doctrine was a point of contention.

    Evangelical renewal groups are not highly funded by wealthy right-wing foundations, at least today. If so, it should be easy to do the research. As one who is part of several of the groups I should know. At the present moment the big outside (the UM Church) funding is supporting LGBT causes.

    If things are as bad as the article suggests it ought to be obvious that the Way Forward is by separation. If evangelicals are as awful as suggested why would progressives want to be in any kind of fellowship with them? Separation would not be the end of the world. For myself I have many progressive friends and I would not like to be cut off from them or their perspectives. I would like for more doctrinal inclusion in some of the higher levels of the church. The UM Church as a whole is much more conservative politically, socially and doctrinally than progressives would like for us to believe. Indeed, it is the only mainline church that is more Republican than Democrat (60%-40% in just about any survey). The issue at hand is not an evangelical take-over (that’s not going to happen, and probably shouldn’t even if it could). The issue is whether the UM Church will identify with the historic Protestant witness as passed down from Luther and Calvin and Wesley to our present day. Or whether we “contextualize” the faith and say we must identify with modern culture (Hurray for Hollywood and NBC and CBS and People magazine) and lose our soul, and most likely most of our global connections.

  • Sciurus_Carolinensis

    Thanks for this piece, Pastor Thomas. What I have heard from non-journalist sources is that there is a conservative cabal at the heart of the Conference that is preventing movement on changing the Book of Discipline, even as other denominations move toward acceptance and congregations are dwindling away. I’m just stunned that we’re dealing with this in 2018. If our church has a schism at this point, I suspect the liberal faction will have to merge with UCC, MCC, or other denominations to survive.

    • Linnea912

      I think you’re right re: if there’s a schism. Just from a purely practical point of view, (if my memory serves me correctly), UM congregations do not own their church buildings- the buildings are owned by the Annual Conference. So that’s going to be a real point of contention in the event of a split.

      I was raised in the UMC- it’s the denomination to which my Swedish ancestors belonged. Up until the summer of 2017, I was heavily involved in a very liberal UM congregation. I finally left for the Episcopal Church- not just over this issue, but it was a big factor. I am now a content liberal Episcopalian.

  • Franklin Robinson

    This is well written and I generally agree. This article gets the historical, social, and political aspects of what is happening in the UMC, especially amoung it’s southern churches. I have long thought that the UMC was too diverse to be taken over by conservatives. However, it seems the train is already rolling down that track it will not stop. I believe we are heading for a split sometime after 2019.

    • Sciurus_Carolinensis

      In my observation, the problem is that more liberal Christians in the UMC are just drifting away out of religion altogether as our society becomes more secular, and that’s leaving more conservatives to rule the roost. I don’t know whether this is a trend we can fight. I do think that we will see a return to the church, but that may not happen for decades.

      • Austin

        I agree with you completely, especially when looking at the next generation of the church. My kids and students want real, spiritual connection with others, yet not in the confines of what they see as an oppressive system that stifles questioning of accepted orthodoxy. I also believe we will see a return to the church, yet one that little resembles the one we have today but strives to model the early church.

      • Franklin Robinson

        Good observation. I live in a red part of a red state and its hard for me to know what’s happening in other(blue) parts of the country in regards to the UMC.

  • jekylldoc

    Good questions.

  • Cheryl Simon

    My brother was ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church – until the bishop railed about his being half-Jewish. I left the church because our beloved youth minister was kicked out for speaking up about the rich folk in the church. So, I have no use for them.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Sounds like an echo-chamber of evil.

  • krehlaw7204

    Who is trying to “take over ” the UMC? It is old, white North American Progressives who defy established church law on human sexuality and historic Wesleyan tradition. More importantly, the sides differ on broader theological issues. Anyone knowledgeable about the Wesleyan Covenant Association knows its theology and style differs sharply from protestant fundamentalism and is in the mainstream of historic Wesleyan faith and theology. I do agree that UMC theology has morphed into proclaiming no definable message except “unity” without substance.

    • Robert Schleicher

      The problem I have with WCA is that if they do split apart to become a new church, which is totally possible, it will be a church founded on hostility to LGBT, whether that’s the intention or not. The current Book of Discipline has not been revised. It still hold that homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching. It seems the WCA formed because the language also extends dignity and respect to LGBT persons. I guess that was too much for WCA joiners to bear.

  • Austin

    As a southern insider, I strongly sense the train has left the tracks. Many are now left to prayerfully decide how to move forward, whether that be together or divided. For me, I feel I have little options, and I am preparing for my departure.

  • JM Smith

    Evangelicals aren’t the ones who have been trying relentlessly for over 40 years to rewrite the historic Wesleyan understanding of holiness in the realm of sexual ethics. The “takeover” is simply remaining faithful to Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience of the universal Christian sexual ethic for all time up until 50 years ago among European Liberal Protestantism.

    When will sexual revisionist advocates follow what they believe the spirit is doing, shake the Methodist dust from their sandals, and step out bravely in faith (and away from lucrative denominational offices), allowing God to vindicate your cause in the eyes of the world?

    • Chuck Johnson

      Progressive Christianity is failing because it is too bland. It is morphing into secularism.
      Evangelical Christianity will ultimately fail because it is too ignorant, bigoted, anti-social and blindly obedient to authority.
      In this way, all styles of Christianity will decline.
      This is the trend.

      • Sciurus_Carolinensis

        At one level I hear that, but at another, Jesus’ message of love and redemption, his admonitions to love one another, care for the poor and the sick and imprisoned, the things that are the focus of liberal Christianity, is that really bland? When I look at the secularists who are the majority in this area (or seem to be from my perspective), I do see a lot of people urging tolerance, love, and care for the vulnerable in our society. But I also see a lot of “it’s all about me and what I want,” too.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I am a scientist and my thinking is analytical.

          The supernatural assertions (all of them) are false.
          Love, care for the poor, etc. need no supernatural authentication.
          Such teachings are quite authentic without having to refer to the supernatural.

          From my scientific perspective, I see that as we go through life getting what we want and need, we should do this in ways that help others to get what they want and need, too.

          This helps our civilization to become much more than just a zero-sum game.

          • Sciurus_Carolinensis

            Sooooo . . . are you a Methodist who is a scientist sharing your perspective, or did you just drop in as an atheist to comment? No one said that love, care for the poor, etc., need supernatural authentication. However, science also suggests that humans are evolutionarily programmed to seek socially patterned interaction with culturally postulated super-human beings. I’m always perplexed when atheists drop in on discussions about religion to say, “Well, ya KNOW, you don’t HAVE to be religious to be a compassionate and giving person!” when no one has asserted that this is the case.

          • Chuck Johnson

            “However, science also suggests that humans are evolutionarily
            programmed to seek socially patterned interaction with culturally
            postulated super-human beings.”

            You seem to be babbling here.

          • Chuck Johnson

            “”Well, ya KNOW, you don’t HAVE to be religious to be a compassionate and
            giving person!” when no one has asserted that this is the case.”

            Yes, that gets asserted all the time.
            It seems to be an obsession with religionists.

  • Cliff

    The UMC is particularly strong in the SE U.S., the bastion o f slavery and Jim Crow…so what do you expect? The SE has never been much for social justice as you point out…. It is ironic that the UMC is growing fast in Africa where we will soon appoint 5 new bishops; African UMC’s are theologically conservative and will vote with the SE. Strange, isn’t it?

  • bill wald

    In this century, seems to me that “White,” “Black,” and “Asian” will refer to a community social contract and not a skin color. At least in the Pacific Northwest, “Black” is a self-identification and “Asian” is pragmatically no longer a minority designation. In the US, no group that has a higher median than white people can be an official “minority.” Isn’t that why we never hear of a Jewish protected minority?

    The new social/political classes will be economic, not racial or cultural. Median income is falling in adjusted dollars and the bell curve is shifting to the left, pun intended.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The Evangelicals are aggressive opportunists but they don’t feel guilty about it.
    They are God’s chosen spokespeople.
    It’s similar to having a narcissistic personality.

  • Dustin Adams

    I’m not part of the UMC, but I must rejoice and even laugh. Years of being berated with sermons about “tolerance”, orthodox Christians are finding they aren’t tolerated. Years of a liberal drift and essentially a takeover, the UMC liberals/progressives fear what they did will be done to them, that the liberals get a pass because hey, they’re right, after all. My church lost its property as did every church in the diocese? Why? The Episcopal church couldn’t bear to watch churches and diocese actually hold out orthodox, Biblical doctrines. The liberals are the ones who left when they left the faith! Rather than part amicably, accepting that liberalism is not welcome in every congregation, the ECUSA has been on a crusade for property. They won against the Diocese of San Joaquin. My congregation now rents a place. Our old building? It’s for sale. There aren’t enough Episcopalians around to necessitate a building. Liberals are the latecomers to Christianity. Denying every basic Christian doctrine should give one pause to think, “Hmm…maybe I’m not actually a Christian.” There are other names to choose. Just be honest and don’t call yourself a Christian if you don’t believe in Christianity. And be nice to the people in your church who actually believe in the doctrines. The Wesleys believed in Christianity, so who are the ones who instituted a “takeover?” It wasn’t evangelicals. The so-called “evangelicals” just want to believe what the Wesleys believed. How are they the gad guys???

    • Bill B

      Thank you Dustin… I was reading this article and thinking, which Methodist church is being spoken of? The one started by the Wesleys, which began with the Holy Club at Oxford? The one in which holiness was the main impetus??? The members who believe in the traditional tenets of Christianity aren’t the ones who are trying to take over- it’s the folks who are bowing to the changes in culture where basically anything goes who are trying to take over. I hear the term “evangelical” thrown around, mostly derisively, but the definition of evangelical is basically a description of the belief in the basic tenets of Christian faith:
      Evangelicalism (/ˌiːvænˈdʒɛlɪkəlˌɪzəm, ˌɛvən-/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[a] is a worldwide, cross-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.[1][2] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.
      I wonder which part of this description the author is in disagreement with? Isn’t this basic Christianity? Methodism was evangelical from the very beginning!

  • Bill B

    I think you misunderstand the term “evangelical”. By this definition, the Methodist Church has always been evangelical:

    Evangelicalism (/ˌiːvænˈdʒɛlɪkəlˌɪzəm, ˌɛvən-/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[a] is a worldwide, crossdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.[1][2] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

    • Sciurus_Carolinensis

      I agree. The term “evangelical” has gotten conflated with “conservative” in the media. Liberal Christianity can be evangelical, but it is less conspicuously so, because it tends to focus on Jesus’ exhortations to love our neighbors and care for the needy in our society, which it views as a more effective tool for evangelism than preaching, and it is less concerned with scriptural authority or canonical orthodoxy.

  • YellowBird

    sadly it just happened at a UMC i almost… ALMOST… trusted enough to visit. it was the Inclusivity banner and poignantly thoughtful messages on their signboard that attracted my attention each time i drove past. my spirit felt a hopeful tug each time i went by, as little by little my poor scorched emotional soul began to heal old wounds in Light of the Gentle, Compassionate, GENUINE visual messages which became friends to my eyes… i never quite gained enough Courage to attend but always looked forward to seeing their simple, thoughtful, messages of Encouragement and Welcome for ALL HUMANITY… although i never stepped through their doors, in a way, for a few months this did become my church, and i eagerly looked forward to reading each new Love Note carefully arranged on their marquis…

    then one day, it all stopped. No more messages meant for ALL the World to share, only times, dates & church events. The tattered and lovely Inclusivity Banner was removed. i hoped it was only temporary, maybe… but after a few weeks i knew it would never be returned. it felt like a Light went out in my heart, Friends i’d never meet in person dispersed… i know, after too many agonizing “transfers of church leadership” over the years, i know. its not just congregations getting pulled apart, its FAMILY being separated and the Ones Who Dont Fit into the new leaders’ new rules who are invariably shut out, divorced, sent on their lonely hurting way to search for Home again.

    appreciate your very well written & carefully researched article, the fact you specifically spoke about these things in context of UMC was what got my immediate attention. i will say from several decades experience, its not new to other F-EV branches, its been the unmentioned norm for as long as i can remember. they dangle the carrots of welcome and hope and community but the reality is that members better fit the Good Christian mold, or the loving cup & the welcome mat are put away again. so because most of us crave Family more than anything else, we put on our Sunday Best, and join all the classes and the clubs, and learn the xianspeak lingo (oh yes we do) and we sing the songs with all our might… and pretend that we are Good Christians all the way through, because it is absolutely NOT acceptable to Just Be Human Among Humans and Tolerance is a Very Bad Thing.

  • RonT

    Speaking as a lifelong Methodist/United Methodist that left the Church some three years ago. Not because of any new evangelical influence, but because of the shift, over the past 10 or more years, from fundamental Christianity to an anything you decide in your own mind is acceptable.There are administrators, pastors, and bishops …etc who now openly ignore and disrespect the Discipline (book of standard beliefs). The UMC is not failing because of an invasion of Evangelicals but a long history of straying from orthodox Christianity and accepting the mindset that if you read the bible and don’t like what it says ignore it and say, ” this doesn’t apply because I love everybody”. It is becoming more and more like the church of Laodicea and if you have read Revelation, you know where that gets you. The get out of jail love card is a weak defense.

  • Dan Slagle

    This article represents the precise reason I have no hope for the denomination I have been a part of my whole life. Neither side of the divide fully understands the other and neither side wants to understand. Since you are the Thoughtful Pastor, I thought surely you would avoid the same stereotyping and hasty generalizations that evangelicals have been guilty of plenty of times. Alas, no. Your brush strokes are so broad as to be embarrassing. Do evangelicals have their issues? Absolutely. Having read this article, I’m now convinced the other side is just as narrow minded and uninformed as any Bible-thumper ever tried to be.

  • Wise Crackuh

    Let me get this straight (no pun intended): The “way forward” committee is meeting this week to finalize their suggestions on how to ignore or change the Book of Discipline per demands of liberals and gays, yet keep the UMC united, but, according to this article, the threat to the UMC is an “Evangelical (conservative) Takeover”? Reminds me of a saying I heard in college, “I hate it when somebody has drugs and they don’t share!”

  • Robert Schleicher

    What’s wrong with evangelism? The Great Commission. That’s what we’re supposed to do, no matter who you’re attracted to.

  • Randy Burbank

    So, we know more now than what God intended before the Fall? I, too, find bibliolatry an abomination. But because there are some who take certain passages out of context, both “evangelicals” and progressives, we should throw out the Bible when it comes to personal holiness? If the Bible is wrong anywhere, then lets just throw it out completely. Then each person can determine what is right based on how they feel.

  • Chris Downey

    So glad to hear that the snake is more afraid of us than we are of it.