One big reason why Christianity has gotten a bad rap in post-world WWII Europe is that increasingly it began to be seen as hypocritical and disingenuous. Partly, as a result, the churches saw massive losses in the 60s and 70s. Statistics show that in my own country the Netherlands, for instance, the decline has still not come to a halt. I realize that a reduction to a single cause of any historical phenomenon is asking for trouble. But I’m not a historian and my purpose in this article is not to give an exhaustive overview of the decline of Christianity in Europe. Rather, I want to address a similar problem in evangelicalism where the accusation of hypocrisy points to a weird tension between evangelical theology and justice.
Bonhoeffer’s theology is multifaceted. It can be approached from many different sides and applied for different purposes. In part, this is because Bonhoeffer developed such a rich theological narrative, in part, because his theology addressed people in their context, in part, it is because his theology stands under the influence of many, often opposing voices. It is no wonder that there are many interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s theology that often conflict with each other. There is even a [book] out that addresses the problem of the many different Bonhoeffer’s that are paraded as the original in support of this or that theological or ethical stance.
Theocracy, that form of government in which God governs a nation directly through divine command, is hot again. Think for instance of Iran, al-Qaeda or ISIS. Closer to home, American evangelicals are busy using the White House to get a firm grip on politics and legislation. For them, Trump is God’s man who will ensure that the US will be governed again according to the moral values once established by God.
Theocratie, de regeringsvorm waarbij God direct regeert, is weer helemaal terug van weggeweest. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan Iran, Al Qaida of IS. En op dit moment zijn Amerikaanse evangelicals bezig om via het Witte Huis stevig grip te krijgen op politiek en wetgeving. Ze zien in Trump een man van God die er voor zal zorgen dat het land weer volgens Gods morele normen bestuurd wordt.
While the United States celebrates the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Israeli army shot and murdered 58 Palestinians. Yesterday Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary while Palestinians commemorated the great tragedy of the Nakba, their violent displacement that to this day has not ended and has resulted in refugee camps outside Israeli territory and two separated enclaves where Palestinians struggle for survival under economic hardship.
Europe has abandoned religion at a very fundamental level and on a widespread scale. Religion no longer provides an interpretive framework for how the world fits together. It no longer informs social, economic, or political ethics. Religion is still present but either as a largely irrelevant entity that has absolutely no impact on lawmaking, politics, or economy (Christianity) or as a menace that needs to be contained before the genie gets out of the bottle (Islam).
This article is the fourth and final installment of my series on evangelicalism. The central question is whether there is faith after evangelicalism and a theology to support it. Obviously, there is; there are post-evangelicals. If understood purely temporally, there are a lot of people who once were evangelical but are now “post,” i.e. “after.” They’re done. It is also obvious that there are plenty of post-evangelical theologians when we understand the “post” in post-evangelical temporally. I happily call myself a post-evangelical theologian in that sense. I once was able to dig the gig and then I couldn’t and then I didn’t. I became “post.”
Not too long ago I had an interesting conversation with a long lost friend who had become an atheist. As we reminisced long-forgotten memories we also had to talk about faith and unfaith. Both of us grew up in a fundamentalist faith community and it was during that time that we had met. We lost touch, but over the years, at different times and in different ways, both of us distanced ourselves from the faith we once belonged to. Unlike my friend, though, I decided not to become an atheist, though the option is always open to me as a genuine possibility.
Why is it so hard to overcome racism? It is strange that in a world where most people tend to agree that racism is a bad thing, there is still is so much left of it. It is incomprehensible that in our civilized societies the specter of fascism is looming again. Most people don’t want to be racist, so why are so many driven by racist motivations of hatred for the racial other? Apparently declaring it a thing of the past is not enough. Education is barely making enough of an impression in order to train us to be good citizens.
I’ve been an evangelical Christian all of my life. Though I’ve drifted away from much of what goes under the flag of evangelicalism certain emphases of the movement will remain dear to me. One of these is the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ. For evangelicals, the personal relationship with Christ matters more than anything. It starts with the question whether one has accepted Jesus Christ as savior and lord in one’s life. The direct unmitigated relationship with Christ is at the center of the evangelical experience. I still resonate with what theologians call a Christocentric emphasis. It’s all about Christ; nothing else matters.