Cover Image: After Evangelicalism

After Evangelicalism

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Member Reviews

Yes! This book shows us how far we have gone from what Jesus intended for the church and Christianity to be. I thought it was eye opening and interesting.
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Certainly not a light read but here is what I gleaned from it that will help me better understand the Bible and how I should approach it. I have learned to let the Bible be a book of its time and place m

Let me share my three biggest takeaways. 

‘The Old Testament is not a treatise on Israel’s history for the sake of history but a document of self-definition and spiritual encouragement: “Do not forget where we have been. Do not forget who we are—the people of God.” What were the writers of the Old Testament trying to convey? This sentence highlights it for me. Thanks for this succinct summary. 

“The defining moment for the New Testament writers remains the defining moment for Christians today. The Old Testament—including Genesis—is the church’s theological self-defining document recast in light of the appearance of God’s Son.” Now that Jesus has entered the scene the question shifts to who are we and who is God in light of the birth, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus? 

The only way to understand Paul is to keep these three factors in mind: Paul viewed human origins according to a man of his time, Paul’s creative hermeneutic is attributed to first century Judaism and Paul passed his theology through the crucified and risen Christ. 

Thank you Pete for writing such a detailed and comprehensive book that has helped me better understand this amazing Bible!
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The title is misleading because there is nothing "Christian" about the things in this book. The author completely made up his own "Jesus."
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This is a must-read for anyone who considers themself to be post-evangelical or ex-vangelical (and anyone who loves someone in that category or wants to better understand people in that category.)

Gushee's goal is to offer ideas for ways forward as people who want to follow Christ as post-evangelicals. And He does a good job of this.
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While I won't say the extent to which I agree with all of Gushee's opinions, his analysis of evangelicalism and what might replace it is well thought-out.
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Gushee does a great job identifying the myriad ways American interpretations of Christianity have been compromised. The tragedy of Trump's presidency was made possible by unfortunate misunderstandings and confluence of church and state for which many Christians led the charge--a point acknowledged by this author. I hope that non-Christians might find truth and that those who claim Christ might see the error of their ways by reading this book. There are sections in this book for which I'd assert a different opinion or argument but this conversation [on Christian Nationalism especially] has to begin somewhere.
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I want every friend and family member to read this book.  This is a historically based theological book that looks at how we’ve gotten to this place in American Evangelism.  The younger generations are rejecting “the faith of their fathers” and not unlike times in the past “to set themselves free”. They are rejecting the “Un-Christlike” behavior and hypocrisy of racism, anti-LGBTQ stances and the mistreatment of immigrants and “others”-religions, races, sexualities. Too many see this as the antithesis of Christ’s teachings.  So many people are deconstructing and rebuilding their faith.  This is an excellent book to help anyone on this painful journey.  This book shows us where we went wrong and suggests ways to grow a vibrant faith that doesn’t reject Jesus’ teachings.  Break the cycle of Dissent, Lose and Leave. The intellectual dissonance and circular reasoning that justified electing morally bankrupt politicians seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  
I loved references of both “Jesus According to Jesus” and “The Lynched Christ” by Professor Cone of Union Theological Seminary.  I felt for the whiplash the author experienced coming from Southern Baptist Seminary to Union Theological-that had to hurt!  

This might also be one of the best resources for LGBTQ and those that love them—better than most of the books I’ve read that solely address the issue.  I was thrilled to see both Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber voices lifted up.  I highly recommend this book whether you are evaluating for yourself, a family member or friend whether there is peace After Evangelism.   #NetGalley
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Great read, a little heady but he gives quite a bit of history. Offers insight for those who perhaps feeling out of place with what Christianity has come to mean, how the history of Christianity has largely been ignored. Gives ways for those looking for a post evangelical way forward in their faith.
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I've read a lot of books in this genre. This is the most comprehensive and thorough for sure. I loved the takeaways in each chapter, the level of research that went into this book, and the post-evangelical section in the back. A great read for ex=evangelicals and I think for evangelicals who are wondering why people are leaving evangelicalism.
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If I were someone who could dive into the details and history of evangelicalism; loving all the history and discussion ... this book would be ideal. The author’s voice is one that I can pay attention to and really get behind, but the topic was a bit “over my head” if I’m being honest. The outline is great and the amount you can learn is amazing. It’s just not for me at the moment.
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I found this work to be very timely for me, as a find myself trying to live a post-evangelical life.  I did not expect the book to be quite so academic, although I did appreciate it.  The author is unashamed about his personal experience with evangelicalism and subsequent rejection of same, so readers should not expect an unbiased examination.  From this vantage point came his criticism and his ideas for moving forward to what can follow.   
I found his writing easy to read and engaging--it was an approachable academic perspective.
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David Gushee has done a good job of deconstructing all the things that have become problematic for so many of us in the evangelical church. 

While I might not agree with him 100%, he spells out with considerable detail and research the areas that he finds where "Evangelicals" do not meet up to the standards of what Jesus taught.

Broken into chapters dealing with the history of the evangelical movement(s), more modern interpretations of what evangelicalism means, how it has merged with right-wing politics, how it tends to only pick and choose the science it wants to agree with, how it has dealt with (or not really dealt with) its history of racism and sexism, and what "church" can look like for those who love Jesus but don't really know where they fit in, I found it a refreshing book that would enlighten some and confirm in others what they have experienced in many churches over the past decades.

His mentions of the LGBTQ+ community, which he advocates for to include in a post-evangelical church, mainly refer you to one of his previous books (which I have not read).

I would like to see something added about what to do for those of us who are not tied to a place geographically due to lifestyle, as well as what to do considering the social distancing due to the pandemic, if he writes a future book.

I received a free copy of this book as a reviewer for NetGalley. I typically only review books that I am truly interested in. This book was very good, and while it did not "blow me away", it was solid, and I would read another written by him.
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Ever since the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States, the terms "evangelical" or "evangelicalism" has been treated with disdain. Sometimes, it has also become a derogatory term. Such negativity could be traced even further back a few decades. The moment evangelicals dabbled themselves with politics, it marks the beginning of the end of the marks of evangelicalism. In this book, author David Gushee writes for those who "used to be evangelicals," including himself. Quoting a 2014 Religious Landscape Study by PEW Research Center, about 8% of Americans who used to be associated with evangelicalism had switched to another faith persuasion. Young people are among the largest groups leaving evangelicalism. The reasons are varied. It ranges from something as wide as accusations of bigotry to factors as narrow as personal offenses. Gushee even gives out a sample test of 25 references to do an evangelical test. He then begins with his personal story why he left evangelicalism. More details can be found in his book "Still Christian." Calling himself starting as a "center-left," he rebelled against various traditional practices of the Southern Baptist conservative colleges, the biggest being his stand regarding LGBTQ. In fact, he sees a growing number who reflected his stance as a post-evangelical. What comes after this cultural definition of modern white American evangelicalism? Gushee gives us a vision of a "New Christianity." He covers three broad topics: 1) Authorities; 2) Theology; 3) Ethics; and tries to answer questions like:

- What is God's way forward for us (post-evangelicals)?
- What authorities do we listen to?
- What theological truths apply to our contexts today?
- How should we behave in the areas of sex, politics, and race?

Getting through these questions is like going through a "Hampton Court maze," referring to those post-evangelicals trying to make their way through the complicated environment of Christianity and culture. Gushee's vision is "Christian Humanism," a term he uses as a version of "orienting" our thoughts; to re-present Jesus in a way that is "compassionately realistic" about the human condition; in order to enable human flourishing, the way Jesus did for people. The first chapter describes the history of the evangelical movement as well as his own journey through it. He points out the challenges of nuancing the interpretation of the Bible. He even proposes to differentiate Martin Luther and Erasmus by saying the former was more interested in "the religious" while the latter "the human." In theology, Gushee lists six evangelical strands which shape his thinking. He seems to be particularly awed by "evangelical dissenters" who dare to question the normative interpretations of the faith. He takes time to differentiate the biblical Jesus from the White-Evangelical version. On Church, he notes the rising number of disillusioned people leaving the Church. The section on Ethics is most interesting, partly due to the author himself is an ethicist himself. He makes a curious statement about how evangelicalism has erred on the understanding of sex. Instead of sexual purity or sexual liberty, we need to avoid the error of discussion avoidance, a form of "one side to avoid erring on the other." He proposes a middle way called "covenant realism." In politics, he proposes a movement based on hope rather than fear; politics that are not earthly but grounded in the tradition of "Christian social teaching"; and of course, away from the Christian Right unflinching alliance with Trumpism. On race, he calls for the end of "white supremacism." 

My Thoughts
Reading this book makes me wonder: Is the evangelicalism label still valid today? How useful is it? Should we continue to use this? I am not sure if it is wise to jettison this label just because of abuses and negative connotations. If we do so, every time a scandal arises that associates itself with a particular word, should we give that word up altogether? I remember reading Dr J.I. Packer's work in "True Humanism" where Packer argues for a recovery of the word to its true roots. Using the same principle, one of the best descriptions of those who call themselves "Reformed" is this: "We are reformed but always reforming." I think evangelicalism needs to be reformed, one that would be more diverse, more progressive, and less culturally influenced. While Gushee no longer associates himself with the Americanized evangelicalism of today, he also avoids cutting ties totally with evangelicalism. Thus, he attaches the prefix "after" as a nice go-between, prior to his search for a "New Christianity." Let me offer three critical thoughts.

First, I sense Gushee might have overplayed his dissent. Not everyone in the supposedly "Christian Right" is supportive of everything they do. By lumping groups according to the different labels described, he has unwittingly pushed away those who happen to share his own views. The only problem is that they might not have the ability or position to express it in the way Gushee is able to. It is more accurate to say the "leaders" of so and so movements or groups. May laypeople are simply looking for a place to worship in a form they are familiar with. They do not particularly demonstrate against movements on their own. The leaders are the ones who pull the punches. 

Second, I believe that hurt people often tend to hurt back. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, hurt people need healing. Having read the author's personal struggles, there is a sense of injustice done to him, something that we might not have the benefit of context from the other parties. By claiming to write for those who want a new form of evangelicalism different from the ones we see now in America, I wonder how much "baby in the bathtub" have we thrown away. We are prone to reaction and over-reaction. This book will split readers in terms of how much they agree with the author's assessment. I myself am split. On the one hand, I empathize with Gushee's desire to carve a new way forward, devoid of the negative baggage of the past. On the other hand, I thought about the way he has described the First Baptist Community who had blessed him with a firm comradeship, and a refusal to let him leave them. Could he have done the same with his previous colleagues and friends? Rather than paving a new way, could he have reformed from within?

Finally, I want to add a more positive note. Gushee has pointed out major flaws in the modern evangelical movement. Sometimes, it takes a bold dissident to do exactly that. He is earnest about keeping the faith credible and to bring reformation to a movement tainted by politics, racism, sexual arrogance, and all manner of earthly ills. Whether one agrees with the author's conclusion or not, we should treat this book as an invitation to an open conversation. This book opens up the door for anyone who cares about the Church to come to the table and chat. Perhaps, this is the biggest reason to read this book. 

Dr. David P. Gushee (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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I cannot recommend this book enough! So many great insights for those interested in a Christian ethic that honours the humanity of everyone. My favourite chapter was the one on race, and I particularly appreciate the author's reckoning with his own engagement (or lack thereof) with issues relating to race. The book draws on issues related to American Christian traditions, but no matter, it is a great starting point for all (ex-)evangelicals wherever they may be.
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I am thankful for this author's take on this difficult subject. It was interesting to read about the history of Evangelicalism and where he sees it going from here. This powerful book means a lot to be personally as it helped me to take a look at my own history and relationship with evangelicalism. After Evangelicalism is a must read for everyone curious about Christianity and post-evangelicalism. While I don't agree with every premise that Gushee makes in this book, I appreciate where he is coming from and the perspective he gives on this difficult topic.
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I received this from Net Galley.  I attempted to read and evaluate this book without prejudice.  However, I believe Mr. Gushee has an axe to grind on the chopping block of evangelical movement.  While I fully understand that some folks have used the word "evangelical" to be their reason to be prejudiced, unkind and absolutely terrible behavior, I felt Mr. Gushee was himself a bit critical and prejudiced.

I am not saying the evangelical movement is perfect.  But neither is anyone of us on the earth. I did not like his position on the Bible and after reading that portion of the book.  I have stopped reading. If the Bible is not the inerrant word of God, then don't read it but don't make excuses for allowing God's word to not touch your life.  

I would not give this to anyone I know.
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Gushee's text will be a foundational text for many, if not all, post-Evangelicals for years to come. Banking on his previous history as a progressive Evangelical ethicist, Gushee urges a disbanding from such a Christian brand, yet not an abandoning of Christian faith altogether. The writing was on the wall for Gushee for years as to moving further and further from Evangelicalism, but this text, in its well-explained rationale, will be a game-changer for many others slipping in the same direction, but, according to Gushee, hopefully without abandoning the Christian project altogether.

I still do consider myself an Evangelical, though Gushee has given me further reason to question such a title. Nonetheless, my adoption of Evangelical comes from a completely different racial demographic background and my last 15 years internationally has removed me further from many of the latent racism components that seemed to fuel Gushee's leaving. The biggest turning point, he points out, is his acceptance of different positions of marriage, sex, and gender. While there were many reasons for questioning the development of Evangelicalism, it seemed like Gushee, ultimately, posits a litmus test of agreeing with his position in sexuality.

I am not an ethicist, nor do I have the academic credentials to refute somebody of Gushee's stature, but in the end, while challenging, much of his rationale was not ultimately convincing. This book will be what gives a basis for readers who are already crossing the line out of Evangelicalism, but I came in from the other side, the more liberal, mainline side, and I can attest that the grass is not really greener on that side.

Again, this will be an important and generationally shaping book. But, it still reads reactionary and polarizing. While I want to take some of the claims seriously, his blatant litmus test standards and romanticism of returning mainline or Roman Catholic did diminish the credibility of the work. But, again, I am not a distinguished scholar. What I do know is that many of my friends will leverage Gushee's work as their excuse for exiting Evangelicalism, and I would not be shocked - as I have seen it in the mainline churches, that they exit Christianity altogether. But maybe that is not that bad. Sad, but maybe it demonstrates the fervency of their faith. For sure it means that Evangelicals have gone too far in marginalizing their own and it is likely to increase.
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This is a deep dive into what evangelicalism is, how it started, and where we are to go next. It is quite dry and scholarly, and not what I was hoping for. A part of me just doesn’t care, and I think a lot of post evangelicals might feel this way. It’s also hard to read a book about post evangelicalism written by a white man. I think this is a book for someone, just not for me
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If you want to feel less alone after leaving the church, this is for you. This was full of thoughts I could never fully explain, or want to acknowledge. Sometimes it stung, hit a bit too close to home,
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If I didn't identify as a post-evangelical before, I do now. As the son of a Southern Baptist pastor, and a former part-time minister myself, I feel that I can fit into several of the categories of post-evangelical outlined in this book for various reasons. The disillusionment is real, and while I feel I have been a flailing Christian for a couple of years (without a sure spiritual home), this read has encouraged me. I am not alone. Even if I cannot get to the same place as Dr. Gushee, it is now abundantly clear that the radical, fundamental, conservative, Republican version of Christianity is not the only type of Christianity out there. And, it sure isn't the type of Christianity that Jesus would have practiced. I am grateful for the honest and careful work undertaken here. Thank you to David Gushee for the thoughtful conversation starter.
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