Normally, I wouldn't barrage you guys with something like this, but, I keep recycling these thoughts over and over. And it's reached a point where I just need to let it go and move on. Sorry, in advance. But as a reward for your tenacity, enjoy some DankChristianMemes while you read!
In 2007 a book came out called, "unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters." Of course, it made the rounds in my church circles, telling us what we already knew, but the impact the book has made has radiated outward through time, retaining it's relevance (especially now).
Clarification needs to be made between "evangelizing" and "evangelicalism" before proceeding.
The basis of evangelizing comes from the words of Jesus before he ascended into heaven. In the synoptic gospels, these passages occur typically at the conclusion of the books. Specifically in Matthew 28:16-20, the Apostle Matthew writes:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Evangelizing, specifically, is the act of going out and telling people the gospel (ie. the "Good News"), which can be understood in a variety of ways, but can be ultimately summarized as communicating the truth that Jesus made amends to God on our behalf out of love for us and now we can live a life with Him and for Him. It however does not mean establishing distant trading empires to extract resources, enslaving and homogenizing ethnic minorities, or nationalizing refugees. Purely, it is an act of communication and service. It is impossible to coerce someone to believe in God (ie. trust Jesus at his word), but it is possible to demonstrate his love selflessly by being forgiving, capable of love, and willing to serve those Jesus came to serve. This is not the same as participating in corporate worship (ie. going to church), being a member of a social/political organization, or engaging in spirited debates on social media. It, by definition, requires intimate proximity to the party being "evangelized."
This labored definition, which could be so much longer, is meant to make unambiguous the process and means through which "evangelizing" is undertaken. Evangelizing is, from a distance, unimpressive and without pomp. It's capacity is to be miraculous and is considered to be one of Paul's described spiritual gifts that Christians receive when accepting the truth of the gospel.
Evangelicalism is a confederacy of smaller institutions and organizations that combine to form a massive movement in the United States. (Use of the word "confederacy" is unrelated to Evangelicalism's initial justifications for Slavery in the United States.) The institution, in my personal experience, has iconic membership aspects; that is, much like a bank's functions (interest, return on investment, and lending) coalescence to become a piece of the American Banking institution. For example, the church I attended in Escondido, California growing up allied with popular cultural movements and affiliations associated with American church organizations including, but not limited to: "conservative" politics, Pro-Life, Anti-Gay, Nationalism, American Exceptionalism, support of the Israel nation state, Dispensational Eschatology, and Anti-Immigration. Evangelicalism is supported by multimedia platforms, like radio, television, and printed materials, which serve to spread information pertaining to theology, social movements, denominational conferences, theology, political endorsements, and charity initiatives. Churches, depending on size, commonly operate with an executive board of elders that report to a "senior pastor," who's primary role can be as singular as Sunday teaching, to a myriad of responsibilities that cover the vision/direction of the church, counseling services, fund raising, branding, marketing, and ministry oversight (childcare, youth group, senior outreach, etc). The only reason why I bring this up is because these functions are just as apart of the American Church's identity as Evangelicalism is associated with the previously stated points.
Again, this labored definition is meant to distinguish Evangelicalism from other institutions that involve an "organized" expression of Christianity, such as the Emerging Church (moderate) and the Emergent Church (liberal/syncretic with concurrent, cultural movements).
The problem with Evangelicalism is that it fundamentally escapes the purview of the Gospel and it's core teachings, instead substituting extra-biblical interpretations of scripture as orthodoxy, as well as syncretize with conservative ideology, which itself has become a state religion that mythologizes and deifies particular government institutions/principles. (Fascist and Authoritarian governments attempt the same thing, much to the dismay of contemporary, civilized nations.)
One of the lamentable failures of Evangelicalism is the substitution of commentary/interpretation in place of sola scriptura (the idea posed by Martin Luther during the Reformation, that scripture alone was the authority of the church, as opposed to Rome). Instead of seeking answers in the teachings of Jesus and His gospel, the interpretation of others takes precedence, and the believer ceases to consult scripture for truth, but blindly accepts current culture's "truth." For instance, on the issue of immigration and the seeking of asylum, Matthew 2:7-15 describes Mary and Joseph fleeing for their lives as Herod maneuvers to seek out his potential opposition and eliminate it:
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
The irony that Joseph would seek refuge in the country of his ancestor's persecutors notwithstanding, Jesus in his infancy (guided by God's provenance) takes on the role of immigrant and refugee. Later on in the same gospel (Matthew 18:4-6), Jesus asks his disciples to undertake their walks with him with the humility of young children. He concludes this thought with the following:
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
But, despite the very words of Jesus himself, the instruments of Evangelicalism prioritize the needs of the state over the needs of his children. Even worse, the network of affiliated organizations that align under the unified banner of Evangelicalism user their platforms to convince their congregations that nothing is wrong with turning away those that seek aid and refuge.
Aside from the antithetical stances that Evangelicalism takes on immigration as a whole (including refugees and asylum seekers), Racism is prevalent in the culture of Evangelicalism (or, at least, implicitly) because of its silence on the topic of equality among those created in the image and likeness of God. Liberty University (a "bastion of the Christian Right") and Bob Jones University both encouraged (and in the latter's case, enforced) the separation of couples based on race. Historical institutions of Evangelicalism defended the practice of slavery with scripture. Bishops William Meade and Stephen Elliot noted that the institution of slavery was a part of God's plan for the world, assuming a prototypical argument for the "White Man's Burden." However Frederick Douglas rightly denounced the words of of those like Meade and Elliot stating,
Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason but the most deceitful one for calling the religion of this land Christianity...
The amplification of these evils extend from the nationalization and mythologizing of Christianity's impact on key moments in the formation of the United States government. The ongoing argument I often hear is that the United States of America was founded as a "Christian" nation. This is strange considering that the resounding majority of the founding fathers were Deists or nominal Christians, heavily influenced by Enlightenment Deism. Why this is important is that Evangelicalism, rather than joining the rest of Christendom in curbing the excesses of capitalism and the policies that conflict with the Gospel, the incorporated cogs in the machinery of Evangelicalism equate the combined successes of America's institutions with God's favor and approval. The reality is that Jesus's Kingdom of God transcends national/political institutions (as well as the divisions of sex, ethnicity, and wealth.) Jesus, multiple times in the gospels, rejects the mob's wishes to nominate Him a leader against the provisional Roman government in Palestine. In fact, he goes so far to say that it is right to pay taxes to Cesar. The theocratic tendencies of Evangelicalism conflict with Jesus's mission to unite the entire world under one Kingdom of God, in that it advances a false narrative that the USA is anointed by God (due to a nationalist interpretation of the Book of Revelation).
For the sake of brevity, that this alone could go on and on, I will stop here. Evanglicalism as it stands wields an influence that is implicit and far-reaching in our culture and our traditions. It feeds a narrative that denies the sovereignty of God and his providence (in that if non-christian voices exist in a national conversation, God/Jesus/Holy Spirit will somehow lose His ability to work and minister to those who answer to Him). It attempts to support, without the aid of scripture, the demonizing of immigrants out of unjustified fear. It entertains the worst aspects of the pharisees that Jesus denounced by "praying loudly" in public spaces (saturating the media with feigned piety), being "whitewashes tombs" (the artifice of piety despite endemic moral failure), and removing themselves from those "defiled" (supporting and executing policies that harm the most vulnerable of individuals, foreign and domestic).
It is my hope that Evangelicalism will be tested and broken under the weight of it's own egregious deeds, so that we can all move on and pursue Christ, unimpeded by cancerous and unfounded theology that distorts the Gospel.
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."