American evangelicalism is at a crisis point.
The naked grasping at political power at the expense of moral credibility has revealed a movement in disarray. Evangelicals are now faced with a quandary: will they double-down and continue along this perilous path, or will they stop, reflect, and change course? And while support of Donald Trump has produced the tipping point of the evangelical crisis, it is not by any means its only problem.
Evangelicals claim the Bible as the supreme authority in matters of faith. But in reality, it is particular readings of the Bible that govern evangelical faith. Some evangelical readings of the Bible can be highly selective. They distort the Bible’s teaching in crucial ways and often lead evangelicals to misguided attempts to relate to the world around them. Many Christians who once self-professed as “evangelicals” can no longer use the term of themselves because of what it has come to represent—power-mongering, divisiveness, judgementalism, hypocrisy, pride, greed. Some leave not just evangelicalism but Christianity for good.
Jesus v. Evangelicals is an insider’s critique of the evangelical movement according to its own rules. Since evangelicals regard themselves governed by the Bible, biblical scholar Constantine Campbell engages the Bible to critique evangelicals and to call out the problems within the contemporary evangelical movement. By revealing evangelical distortions of the Bible, this book seeks to restore the dignity of the Christian faith and to renew public interest in Jesus, while calling evangelicals back to his teaching. Constantine Campbell appeals to evangelicals to break free from the grid that has distorted their understanding of the Bible and to restore public respect for Christianity in spite of its misrepresentations by the evangelical church.
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Campbell holds up a light as much as a mirror in this breathtakingly important book, asking fellow Christians to take responsibility for their commitments to themselves and others by offering close readings of Scripture in conversation with contemporary evangelical life. Taking account of institutions and attitudes that create division and confusion, Campbell offers intellectual clarity and spiritual charity in equal measure as he walks the reader through his own relationship with the biblical text and the Christian worlds he inhabits, observing rifts between evangelicals and their larger communities. But just as important, he shares thoughts on how those rifts can be mended in an enduring, meaningful, and honest way. This book matters not only to evangelicals but also to those outside of the evangelical community who care about what happens to their neighbors who live within it and want to better understand the struggles they face.
Con Campbell knows the American evangelical scene from the inside, yet he offers an outsider's perspective of a movement that he believes has gone astray. Using a mixture of cultural commentary and biblical insights, Campbell puts his finger on the lies and lunacies that get trotted out in the name of Christ in American circles. This is not an elitist critique of popular American religion, it is calling America back to the religion of Jesus and the apostles.
—Dr. Michael F. Bird
Sometimes it takes someone from a foreign country to perceive the impact of the USA on its version of evangelicalism. Add to that a person's excruciating experiences among evangelicals. Both can provoke serious questions about the integrity and faithfulness of the movement. Con Campbell has watched American evangelicalism from afar and up close, and he has experienced one of life's biggest tragedies. This book is a testimony of his experience within evangelicalism as one of its leaders, in the USA and abroad, and it becomes through his pain a heartfelt plea that evangelicalism turn back to Jesus to rediscover all over again the way of Jesus. Jesus v. Evangelicals is a painful healing many of us need.
—Scot Mc Knight
Constantine R. Campbell (PhD, Macquarie University) is the author of several books on the New Testament and Ancient Greek, including Paul and Union with Christ—the 2014 Christianity Today Book of the Year in Biblical Studies. He is Professor and Associate Research Director at the Sydney College of Divinity, and was previously Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Illinois) and senior lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College (Sydney). Dr Campbell lives in Canberra, Australia. His website is found here.