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After Evangelicalism

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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.

conrade
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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AFTER EVANGELICALISM-David Gushee 

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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Regretfully, I was not able to read more than the introduction to this much anticipated book.  The Digital Editions format was not compatible with my iPad.  I could not enlarge the font, had difficulty navigating the pages, no ability to highlight paragraphs, take notes, etc.  I reached out to WJK, but did not receive a response.  

I found David Gushee's earlier book "Still Christian" enjoyable and reassuring.  Therefore, I'm sure I will like his new book equally well when I am able to get a readable copy.
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I would like to thank NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for the opportunity to read After Evangelism in exchange for an honest review.

As a disillusioned Evangelical, this book gave me hope. In spite of what Evangelicals think, I can still be a Christian and not be one of them. The author, Gushee, shows how. In sometimes academic language, he begins with the history of Evangelicalism and the rise to power in the United States. For the amount of influence and power, Evangelicals have a surprisingly brief history in the realm of religion and especially Christianity. He discusses key ideas and thoughts that Evangelicals hold: inerrancy of the Bible, reading the Bible literally (if selectively!) and the relationship of science and religion. Having heard so often from pulpits: "God said it; I believe it; that settles it: the chapter on interpreting the Bible was insightful. Just reading different translations is one way of interpreting. Each translation of scripture has its own spin. 

The second part of the book deals with God, Jesus, and the Church. For me, it was reassuring to see that I am not the only one who has left a fundamentalist Evangelical church for a mainline denomination. And to discover, that contrary to what I was taught for so many years, they (mainline parishoners) are truly Christians! They are committed to following Jesus, loving God and loving their neighbor as Jesus taught. 

The last part of the book covers the practical aspects - how do Evangelicals live and how can post-evangelicals find ways to deal with sex, politics, and race issues? Gushee is painfully honest, especially in his personal response to Christians and race. Challenging thoughts for those of us who are white, straight people and raised Evangelical. 

Since it was a bit academic at times, the bullet point takeaways at the end of each chapter were helpful in distilling the key thoughts. The book has extensive notes, which will lead to further study. 

This would be a great book for a study group in a church or community. Gushee manages to be critical of the failings of Evangelicalism without condemning them. He left this reader with much to think about, and encouraging me to continue to ask questions rather than feel like we have all the answers.

After reading the egalley, I purchased the book so I can reread it, mark it up, and share it with others who are struggling with being a Christian after leaving their beloved, but no longer right for them, Evangelical church.
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Provided by the publisher, Westminster John Knox Press, in exchange for an honest review.

After Evangelicalism is an interesting blend of academic examinations and casual explorations, all culminating in the argument that, not only is it possible to follow Jesus out of evangelicalism, but it is necessary to do so.

The author sets up his proposal against the backdrop of the current cultural climate we find ourselves in here in Trump's 2020 America. Then, he dives into subjects about the Bible, Jesus, the Church, sexuality, politics, and race. In each of these individual sections, Gushee communicates the historical evangelical stance on the issue, clarifies the problems with that stance, then suggests a way forward. At the end of each chapter, Gushee provides some key takeaways that help to summarize some of the major thoughts in that chapter. 

As I read, I found myself going back and forth, at times being annoyed by what I felt were flagrant attempts to counterattack historical Christian beliefs and practices and at other times wholeheartedly agreeing with the defenses and suggestions posed. At the book's end, I still couldn't help but feel like Gushee had a serious axe to grind. Time and time again he took jabs at how evangelical Christianity in America has been. And believe me, I get it. I have, myself, identified as an evangelical Christian so I have seen firsthand the brokenness of the system. And while I agree with many of Gushee's points, I'm not sure if I will arrive at the same conclusions that he makes in this book.

While I don't think After Evangelicalism should be taken as Bible (sorry for the pun), I do think it is a worthy read that is generally well-researched and written, and will hopefully help spark many necessary conversations amongst pre-, current, and post-evangelicals in the shifting landscape of American Christianity.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

	“After Evangelicalism” was a powerful and moving book. It shined a light on many of the contradictions and errors of evangelicalism and white Christianity. As someone who grew up in an Anglican, white, conservative church much of this book reflected beliefs that I had been taught growing up: women are less than men, the Bible is flawless, LGBTQ+ individuals are sinners and dirty. These mindsets were inundated so thoroughly into me that I had no doubt that they were the truth, I never heard anything contrary. 
	It took a lot of bravery to start to inch myself outside of the box that was built around me. I started little by little as I grew older, as I began to feel unsatisfied with the version of Christianity I was being sold. It didn’t feel right. I was being taught to hate people because they didn’t look like me, or dress like me, or talk like me, or love like me. I am now the opposite of who I ever thought I would become and most parts of that don’t align with the version of Christianity I was brought up with.
	It has been a long time since I have felt comfortable with my faith, since I have felt settled. I am thankful to this book for helping me navigate this confusion, for allowing me solid ground. I have always wanted Jesus to be my foundation and this book allowed me to realize that the prejudices I was told to adopt are what is keeping me from Jesus being that foundation.
	As for the book itself, it is extremely relevant to right now especially because we are in the middle of an election. It speaks knowledgeably on sexism, racism and homophobia and where churches and Christians fail in those regards. It teaches us how to do better, and how to heal. There were certain parts of this book I found inaccessible, where I felt lost and confused. In addition, there were parts I wish had been expanded, had been more thorough not so much with historical information but new ways to see the old things we were taught. But these aspects don’t take away from the overall importance and relevance of this text.
	I thoroughly encourage you to read this book if you are any sort of believer. It will no doubt change your perspective. In these polarizing times it is important that we find a compass, a space of solid ground on which we can root ourselves and our beliefs. This book will point you in the right direction and guide you back to that solid spot.
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3.5⭐️
*Release date August 25, 2020
*234 pages 
*Westminster John Knox Press

This is my first book by this author and I had no idea what he was going to talk about.  I will give him credit for feeling convicted enough to share his passion about these issues. They do need to be thought through. But I don’t think we should relabel ourselves because of it. 
I live in SC, but grew up in Los Angeles. I’ve often been labeled a liberal Christian. And I get it. Things could of been handled better. I haven’t done all the biblical research that he suggested, but after finishing this I don’t agree with most of what he said. 
I would like for us to really see people and their struggles. We spend to much time trying to fix people when we need to let God do that through his word. 
I’ve personally been shamed, molested, abused physically, mentally and wasn’t a Christian most of my life. I’ve also done a lot of drugs and have hurt many people with all my damage.  I don’t have Christian parents and didn’t even think about God as a child. So, the last thing I need is a lecture. God meets us with these issues right where we are. Biblical truth guides us. I have great comfort in that. 

Thank you NETGALLEY and the publisher for this ARC, in exchange for my honest review. ♥️
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This deep dive into the roots of evangelicalism and the ways in which the movement is found wanting in the twenty-first century is a must read for anyone who is struggling with the ways evangelicalism has moved away from the truths that Jesus spoke and lived out. It's also a must read for those who seek to understand why young people are abandoning the movement in droves. David Gushee explains what is happening and why it is happening--and gives well-thought-out proposals for how Christians can move forward in a biblical way. Highly recommended read.
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A deep, thoughtful look into what church looks like after the evangelical movement deconstructs   So many young people and an increasing amount of older evangelicals are leaving their church affiliations behind and becoming spiritually homeless while searching for true spiritual ways to follow Christ In real life. If the reader has been immersed in the evangelical culture for most of their life they will definitely identify.
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If you need to be challenged in your status quo beliefs about evangelical identity and don’t mind being politely nudged out of your biblical comfort zone, this book will do it for you.

David Gushee analyzes modern-day faith, biblical interpretation, and church life. And where to go next. He writes about the good and the bad, the helpful and the harmful. He addresses numerous topics in our everyday lives and how they intersect with our Christianity, such as:

* Evangelical Biblicism
* Hearing God’s Voice Beyond Scripture
* Theology of Believing and Belonging
* Jesus According to . . .
* Biblical Theology of Church
* Christian Political Ethics
* White Racist Christianity

The book is organized well. Each chapter ends with a “Takeaways” section, with bulleted key points. (Chapter summaries are always a plus to me.)

If you’re up for some mental stimulation and internal spiritual wrestling, read After Evangelicalism. You should come away thinking a little differently than you came in—hopefully more clearly and more loving, even if you diverge on opinions with the author here and there.

My thanks to Net Galley and Westminster John Knox Press for the review copy of this book.
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Review of After Evangelicalism by David P. Gushee
Before I review what I believe to be a useful and insightful book, I must make it clear that I have never been an Evangelical Christian. I was raised Broad- to High- Church Episcopalean, and have been a Celtic Catholic (with emphasis on the “Catholic”) for forty years. I am not Gushee’s target audience, and I have spent my life looking at Evangelicals from outside, not always liking what I saw of their theology and politics. So I write this as a fellow Christian but definitely an outsider. 
The author, on the other hand, is most definitely writing as an insider, to people like himself. He is not writing, “Please don’t go!”, but rather “Welcome to the big world outside the Evangelical tent! Where can you do now that you are out here?”
Rather than just jumping into the here-and-now, Gushee provides the outsider (and, I suppose, most lifelong Evangelicals) with a necessary tour of the history of the movement, starting way back before it was a department of the Republican party (!), back when it was not unusual for Evangelicals to be what would now be called progressive on social issues. In line with his general attitude toward Tradition and history—it matters a lot, but the future matters even more—he does not stop there, but he spends the rest of the book offering practical ways forward by helping the reader think differently about what authentic Christianity can be and can look like. 
He offers Christian Humanism as a framework upon which to build a vibrant post-Evangelical Christianity in which the Christian can feel at home by maintaining core moral values. It is these moral values, which are often at odds with the limited morality taught by Evangelicalism, which Gushee sees as the impelling force driving intelligent, loving people out of their former church hones. Values like belief in Truth as represented by science (i.e., the real world), compassion for LGBTQ+ people, hatred of systemic racism, and others. 
Gushee elevates compassion and real-world concerns over rigid traditions of biblical interpretation. As the keystone of this, he suggest that no theological statement should be made which could not be made in the presence of a child being burned to death at Auschwitz. I would add: or a black man being lynched by a white mob, or a gay teen dying on the street after his Christian parents disowned him.
Gushee spends the third and final part of his book dealing with specific theological issues relating to sex, politics, and race. These discussions are, it seems to me, perhaps an addendum to the book. Having talked about his own experience and that of others, and having offered the outlines of a way forward with new ways of thinking about the meaning of the Bible and the Christian Faith, he has actually ended his thesis. “But wait! There’s more!” 
As a gift to the reader he offers the detailed discussions of sex, politics, and race. To the poor ex-Evangelical who has an inkling of right from wrong but no idea of how to process that idea within a Christian context—to this sad person who has fled what he or she now sees as a repressive and unrealistic, even immoral, system of thought—he says: “Look! It is possible to think about and act on these issues from a genuinely Christian perspective without rigidity, moralism, superiority, or fear of the real world.” I think his handling of these touchy matters works well. I think he would convince me, were I the one to whom he writes. I hope it is as convincing for those who need this book. 
If you are an ex-Evangelical, I highly recommend After Evangelicalism, especially if you are willing to read through a bit of academic writing (the author is a professor of Christian ethics, and, sadly, it shows.) Not having been in your shoes I can not vouch for the helpfulness of his arguments, but I hope they will prove useful. 

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https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3502728373
Soon I will post a video review similar to the written review at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNQTfOsypLY_2QH8n6bu1Q
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Thank you for my copy of After Evangelicalism. David Gushee is a knowledgeable author about the subject. Unfortunately is was clearly not written for the average reader/average Christian (meaning people who are not in Bible College) He switches from heavy/wordy theology to talking like a youth group leader- it would be nice to find the middle ground. However, I am very interested in the subject and plan on buying a physical copy so I can make notes.
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I loved how the author brought in other denominations. It covered almost every topic that is considered to be controversial. I loved every second of it. I loved how the author brought in science, even though this is about evangelicalism. Amazing.
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What a sad book! The author is not a Christian and he does not speak about Christianity. He's a wolf!
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