Sasse, a vocal opponent of Donald Trump as his party’s presidential nominee during the 2016 election, speaks refreshingly and intentionally non-partisan about the distorted role politics plays in the American psyche. Sasse’s thoughts are well worth the 36 minutes this video runs.
It is interesting. It is even more troubling. CNN Religion Editor Daniel Burke has posted an article to CNN Politics titled 7 Types of Evangelicals: And How They’ll Effect the Presidential Race. The post is interesting in that it describes differences among those who label themselves “Evangelical”, and creates categories for each. It is troubling, at least to me, because little to nothing in the post conveys what an actual Evangelical essentially is.
Burke begins with the tired old refrain:
It’s an axiom in American politics, duly repeated every four years: Evangelicals are the country’s biggest and most powerful religious voting bloc, especially during the GOP primaries.
But then he offers something that offers a hint of something fresh:
Like many political axioms, though, it papers over a complex reality.
It is true, Evangelicals are not monolithic. Evangelicals are individuals who have different ideas about different candidates for office – from both parties. Many of us are able to see positive characteristics even in candidates with whom we disagree. Few of us are likely to find any candidate that represents everything we would prefer. At least not those of us who think for ourselves – as God gifted us (and all humanity) to do. So I appreciate Burke’s explanation to those who do not understand Evangelicalism that we Evangelicals reflect a complex reality. Our complexity should not be confusing, just diverse.
Evangelicals are diverse in may ways. Some among us believe more water should be used in a baptism than others of us do; and some believe a lower age for that baptism is appropriate (maybe even preferable) than others of us. Some among us like a little wine or a few beers, others prefer to stick with Iced Tea. Some among us like the excitement and activity of a large church, others among us prefer the intimacy of a small family-like church; most among us are somewhere in between. Some of us prefer newer songs, others the hymns from ages past; some prefer cheerful music, others tunes that set a more reflective tone; most enjoy a mix of all of the above. Some of us appreciate the connectivity of a denominational affiliation; others, aware that no denomination has the corner on the market of God’s favor, choose to remain organizationally independent. There are all sorts of ways in which Evangelicals are diverse, different, complex. But none of these differences has anything to do with what makes us Evangelicals in the first place. Nor does Burke in his attempt to analyze and categorize an Evangelical political landscape.
Burke’s categories are interesting, even somewhat amusing. They are as follows:
- Old Guard
- Institutional Evangelicals
- Entrepreneurial Evangelicals
- Arm’s Length Evangelicals
- Millennial Evangelicals
- Liberal Evangelicals
- Cultural Evangelicals