The Myth of the Everyday Evangelical
The theological and moral state of "grassroots" churches is not what some say.
One idea I am seeing a lot lately is the idea that within American evangelicalism, the ordinary, working-class, grassroots Joe Churchgoer is a theologically conservative worshiper who is frequently being held hostage to an incipient liberalism from “elite” Christian institutions. In many cases, the elite Christian institutions are seminaries or parachurch organizations that allegedly conspire to push false or woke doctrine on thousands of unsuspecting Christians via the education they administer to pastors or the web articles that are written by and for Christian “influencers.” There is a strong whiff of class resentment in, for example, Aaron Renn’s “Negative World” writing. Here he is again stating the argument:
This is an extremely compelling narrative for some. Entire organizations, magazines, and networks have started in the last few years predicated entirely on taking conservative evangelical churches and culture away from these elite liberalizers and giving them back to the ordinary, orthodox people. These are passionate folks who are not without their receipts; they can show you a paper trail of “Big Eva” hypocrisy, and can send you links and screenshots from urban evangelical organizations that seem terribly at odds with the values of most of (for example) the Southern Baptist Convention. They’re not entirely wrong, either. There really is a tension between seminaries and parachurch orgs and the rural churches they feed into. Some of it is political, some of it is economic, some of it is simply the weird way that education and infrastructure in this country are disproportionately concentrated among big cities. Yes, it is real, and it’s worth talking about.
But here’s where a lot of politically oriented commenters on evangelicalism frequently show their ignorance: the super-orthodox, Bible-defending, culture-resisting Joe Churchgoer is not a thing. He does not really exist.