How to Detox Evangelical Christianity

In my recent series I spent many posts pondering the spiritual anxieties that haunt progressive spaces, with an eye on what evangelism among post-Christian progressives looks like in light of those anxieties. But during that series some readers raised questions about evangelicals and their problems.

It's a fair question in light of the events of January 6. Something dark is afoot among evangelicals, something very ugly came into view in the events that transpired on Capital Hill. Given that, is my time well-spent talking about issues in progressive spaces given the troubles of evangelicalism?

As I shared in some comments to those questions, I noted that I don't have a large evangelical following or readership. And my inclination is to be self-critical and to speak to the people in the room. Which means I write as a progressive for progressives, often in a self-critical way.

And yet, if I were going to say something about what's going on in evangelicalism, here's what I would say and recommend if they were in the room.

Specifically, I think evangelicalism has become a form of paganism, the idolatrous worship of a national god. Phrased differently, evangelicalism is addicted to politics and it needs to detox in order to rediscover its Christlike witness.

If we describe the nationalistic idolatry of evangelicalism, its zeal for a "Christian nation", as an addiction, here would be my three simple steps to get detoxed and sober.

1. Do not vote in an election for the next ten years, or even ever again.

Basically, go cold turkey. An evangelical who stops voting is like an addict flushing pills down the toilet or emptying bottles down the sink. Break the connection between God and country. 

2. Abstain from or delete social media, cable TV and talk radio.

Stop going to the drug dealers. Avoid the street corners where they are pushing their pills. 

3. Invest in an apolitical local ministry that cares for the hurting or marginalized.

Sobriety requires a new lifestyle. So stop haunting the crack houses. Find a service, organization, or ministry in your town that cares for hurting or marginalized people. Invest all the hours you used to spend on social media into looking some hurting person directly in the face. Keep doing that until you know her or his name. And keep going until the names become your friends. 

This isn't a 12 Step program, but it's a three step program guaranteed to sober up an evangelical and save their soul. 

And here's the utterly fascinating thing. These are the exact same steps for all the progressive Christians similarly addicted to politics. 

The path to sobriety and sanity is the same for all of us.

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