(210) 558.5917 jharris@gracepoint.org

The Problem with White Evangelicals


The problem with white evangelicals is that evangelicalism is not white. In fact, if you took the average evangelical, “she” would be brown and living in South America. In fact, evangelicalism is growing in China and in Africa, and by 2050 the average evangelical will be a black West African.  Evangelicalism emerged out of Protestantism in Europe, but Europe has lost its evangelical soul. It’s been 500 years since Luther posted his theses on the Wittenberg Door and a reformation was born.

Yet, in America, when journalist and writers refer to white evangelicals “electing” a president or voting this way or that, they largely mislead; because, in fact, evangelicals in America are misled. Terms like “born again” are no longer helpful and even “spirit-filled” has been turned into a negative stereotype. Knowing that religious people, who are generally conservative in their worldview, voted for Trump and identify themselves as “believing the Bible is true, Jesus is God’s Son, and faith in Jesus is what saves you” is largely unhelpful. There are many liberals who “believe the Bible is true, Jesus is God’s Son, and faith in Jesus is what saves you.”  The problem is our labels no longer fit and our umbrella is too large!

White conservatives who voted for Trump and identify themselves as evangelicals may or may not represent Jesus. Liberals may or may not represent Jesus. The true followers of Jesus are mixed in with the misled of this world who masquerade as followers, so the blanket statistics don’t work.

We know—in our churches and in our families—that there are those who are religious, who look and behave like us and have our values, but they don’t breathe spiritual air. They are only familiar with earthly habitat.

“New creation” life is actually a new kind of creature with the capacity to live in a new “habitat” or realm. It is as though we were given “fish gills” (a metaphor for spiritual life awakened and enabled by the Holy Spirit). Many people go to fish school, learn fish rules, go to fish pep rallies each weekend, talk fish talk, and hang out with other fish; but, the water is foreign habitat to them…they can’t breathe, so they grab a regulator and fake it.

“New creation” people have the Spirit (gills) and they can see the invisible habitat (Kingdom) and they can breathe (spiritual insight, direction, walk by and led by the Spirit) in this new habitat. By the Spirit is how they orient and live. You can’t poll this! You know it when you see it. Sometimes it’s only after doing life with someone that you can tell if they are “new creation” swimming or swimming with a regulator, acting as hard and earnestly as they can.

I am not a white evangelical. I am of a new race the world is still not comfortable with and does not understand. I am not comfortable in my own skin—I hear voices, I see dead people, and I walk with my eyes closed. It’s not about how I voted or even if I voted. It’s not solely what I believe, but rather the Source of life that guides my beliefs into living.