The white evangelical elite are saying the quiet part out loud

Cultural idolatry and power are more important than Jesus.

Mark Hackett

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Empty pews are the future. Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash.

If you gave a passing glance at the upper echelons of American evangelicalism this week, you probably noticed that the white evangelical elite are up in arms about women having a voice…again.

There’s a good chance you rolled your eyes and moved on with your life. I mean, why not? This regularly happens and follows a near-identical pattern each time:

  1. A church ordains a female pastor or allows a woman to speak on a stage.
  2. Well-known white evangelical men descend on the situation like vultures, eager to destroy unity and prove themselves in what they believe is a cataclysmic battle for truth.
  3. They yell at everyone that their interpretation of the Bible is inerrant. Then, they deny the opportunity for good-faith questions to be asked.
  4. They demand repentance in gossipy and abusive ways.
  5. Repeat cycle.

In a level of tragic irony befitting white evangelicalism, the latest chapter of this story broke out on Mother’s Day. Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), recently ordained three women as pastors and had a female-led message on May 9. While Saddleback noted that the moment was “historic” for their church, they did not rub these actions in anyone’s face and seemed prepared to move forward with business as usual. They even announced new male leaders.

The predictable cycle began almost immediately. SBC and other white evangelical leaders ascended their pedestals. In a callous display of power, they claimed that their way is the only way, warning their followers that even the slightest deviation from their cultural interpretation of the Bible is considered an apocalyptic event that will be met with brute force.

Pharisaical? Absolutely. Christlike? Of course not.

But something does feel different this time.

What makes this moment distinct

White evangelicalism is in the early stages of some kind of a grassroots-level reckoning, even though it’s hard to nail down…

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Mark Hackett

Writings about faith and culture from Memphis, TN. “That relentless, tall guy.”