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19 January 2012

Thoughts on Post-Evangelicalism

I saw a reference today in the blogosphere to "post-Evangelicalism." Are we really using this term, now? Is this a thing? I'm not so sure we're there, yet. In general, I think that we abuse the post-* trope. What kind of music does a "post-rock" band play? I'm not sure, but it sounds hip (post-cool?). I'm guessing that people are using post-x to mean "derived from x but no longer a part of x." By that logic, maybe we should replace the term "Protestant" with "post-Catholic." Maybe "Christianity" should be "post-Jewish." My point is that this is all silly. If there is a distinction between what we used to call Evangelical and something new, let's give it its own label. However, I'm really skeptical about that being a real distinction. Young Evangelicals might want to distance themselves from traditional Evangelicalism--and there are some legitimately "new" ideas floating around in those circles--but my sense is that this isn't an actual schism.

On the other hand, this could be about institutional nostalgia. Perhaps the folks who are embracing the term post-Evangelical are doing so because they are uncomfortable thinking of themselves as not-Evangelical. As many of us who have left the religion of our childhood can attest, apostasy/conversion can be a very anxiety-inducing process. Perhaps this newly coined label brings comfort to those who are coming to terms (or who are unable to come to terms) with the fact that they have outgrown the tradition of their upbringing.

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