From his mouth to God’s ears

A “post-evangelical” sees the imminent collapse of the evangelical movement as we now know it.

Michael Spencer describes himself as a “post-evangelical.” From his writing he seems to be a serious, intelligent Gospel Christian, with a distaste for mega-church worship-as-entertainment, for the Prosperity Gospel, and for an excessively public piety without a firm basis in private prayer and self-examination. You don’t have to agree with his theology – and I certainly don’t – to feel his pain about having the institutions of his faith taken over by hucksters.

Spencer predicts a collapse of evangelical Christianity as we know it, with the remnant drifting into Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or the pentecostal/charismatic traditions. His diagnosis: the movement as it stands is stronger on identity than on theology; the folks who groove to “Christian music” simply don’t know very much about actual Christian doctrine. Some of his prescriptions seem off-base to me: somehow I doubt that the U.S., and especially the Bible Belt, is going to be very open to missionaries from Africa and Latin America. And I have no way of knowing how likely his predictions are to come true.

But for the health of the Republic – even for the health of the Republican Party, which needs to function better than it now does if we are to have healthy political competition – I’m hoping that Spencer is right that one of the pillars of Karl Rove’s God-and-Mammon coalition may be about to topple.

Maybe I should pray for it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com