My goal was to follow the data, not so much to disprove anyone. [Thereʼs a lot of good news out there concerning the state of Christianity. But] If youʼre wondering what I was hoping would be good news but wasnʼt, itʼs race. I thought we [Christians] were doing better. But white evangelicals have more racially prejudiced attitudes toward African Americans than do white non-evangelical Christians and (especially) white non-Christians.
I was also dismayed about our attitudes toward gays. Iʼm not talking about whether gay sex is appropriate, but the standard “social distance” questions in sociology, like whether someone should be allowed to give a talk in public or have their book in a library or, “How do you feel about this kind of person?”
Also, evangelicals have much more negative attitudes toward atheists and non-Christians than non-Christians have about us.
[Dr. Wright also noted that in the Evangelical community, talk of “failure” sells]
What we [Christians] hear is, “Christianityʼs going to fail. Youʼre all a bunch of failures. But if you buy my book, listen to my sermon, or go to my conference, Iʼll solve everything.” These fear messages demoralize people… and hide real problems.
Wrightʼs analysis, above, agrees in places with that of church historian (and fellow Christian) Mark Noll, who wrote:
We [Evangelicals] remain inordinately susceptible to enervating apocalyptic speculation, and we produce and consume oceans of bathetic End Times literature while sponsoring only a trickle of serious geopolitical analysis.
We are consistently drawn to so-called “American Christianities” — occasionally of the left, more often of the right—that subordinate principled reasoning rooted in the gospel to partisanship in which opponents are demonized and deficiencies in our friends are excused…
Capitulation to disembodied ideals of spirituality incapacitates our struggling band of novelists and poets.
And far too many of us still make the intellectually suicidal mistake of thinking that promoting “creation science” is the best way to resist naturalistic philosophies of science.
Evangelical higher education in North America remains a fragmented enterprise, both nourished and impeded by the sectarian character of American religion…
This picture is, of course, a generalization…
Mark Noll (Christian and professor of Christian history at Wheaton College — Billy Grahamʼs alma mater — though he now teaches at the University of Notre Dame), “The Evangelical Mind Today,” First Things, No. 146, Oct. 2004
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