After hearing tons of people talk about Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s book Jesus and John Wayne, I now fully appreciate what the hype is all about. She manages to articulate decades of development of the Church in America. Her journalistic abilities are impressive and she’s clearly done her homework.
Essentially, she explores how Donald Trump came to be dominantly supported (and empowered) by Christian voters. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t an anomaly. I would strongly recommend this book to every Christian, especially every Christian guy.
Here are a few quotes to give you a taste:
In 2016, many observers were stunned at evangelicals’ apparent betrayal of their own values. In reality, evangelicals did not cast their vote despite their beliefs, but because of them.
Today, what it means to be a “conservative evangelical” is as much about culture as it is about theology.
Despite evangelicals’ frequent claims that the Bible is the source of their social and political commitments, evangelicalism must be seen as a cultural and political movement rather than as a community defined chiefly by its theology. Evangelical views on any given issue are facets of this larger cultural identity, and no number of Bible verses will dislodge the greater truths at the heart of it.
For many evangelicals, the masculine values men like John Wayne, William Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Jordan Peterson, and Donald Trump embody have come to define evangelicalism itself.
Without Christian nationalism, evangelical militarism makes little sense.
Two observations stood out to me:
- We have to do a better job establishing a Christian concept of manhood. So much of the bad theology in the church today stems from bad ideas about what Christian men should be. As I recently shared on social media, the goal should be Christological manhood rather than Biblical manhood (see: Instagram link).
- Many (if not most) of the superstars of the Christian faith in America look very different after time has passed. Hint: they don’t age well. And I’m not talking about their physical looks. We need to take a step back and consider how history will offer a much different perspective on what many see as normal in the church today.
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