Something remarkable is going on in evangelical Christianity today. Some evangelical voices are saying we might be witnessing the birth pangs of a new Protestant Reformation. Interestingly, we are less than a year away from the 500th anniversary of the last one. A young Martin Luther posted his 95 arguments with the Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany on Oct. 31, 1517. An Augustinian Catholic monk, he wasn't trying to force open a door to a new age. He was just mightily angry with what was going on in his church.
Well, a lot of anger has begun to rise from evangelical Christians who did not vote for Donald Trump, and are upset with those among their ranks who did. This split among Christians tends to be age related.
Sojourners Magazine recently posted a compelling video on it's website: "A Letter To My Trump Voting Family." A young man's voice takes his parents to task for ignoring the darker parts of our president-elect's history and political platform. He says, "You raised me to embrace love and compassion. [But] when you tolerate his misogyny you dishonored the Jesus in my sister. And when you tolerate his racism, you dishonored the Jesus in my neighbor. You were the ones who taught me to read my Bible, so when did the line, 'When what you do to the least of these you do to me,' not apply to our leaders? Your silence is deafening. The church's silence is deafening. When Jesus said, 'What comes from the mouth comes from the heart,' I took him at his word."
Similarly, some young church leaders are taking issue with a number of elder churchman who, they believe, threw Jesus under the evangelical bus on their way to supporting Trump. The chief targets of their ire are men like James Dobson, founder of Focus On The Family, and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University. In fact, thousands of Liberty students signed a petition stating, "Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him."
More startling, last week the landmark evangelical institution, Fuller Theological Seminary, issued a statement that has caused many a Christian jaw to drop. "To whatever degree and in whatever ways Fuller Theological Seminary has contributed or currently contributes to the shame and abuse now associated with the word evangelical, we call ourselves, our board of trustees, our faculty, our staff, our students, our alumni, and our friends to repentance and transformation." The statement was signed by president Mark Labberton and president emeritus Richard Mouw.
To be fair, Trump is more a symptom of what has been going on in evangelical America than a disease. But the fact that 80 percent of evangelicals voted for him was the last straw for some of these disaffected in conservative Christian ranks who have begun calling themselves, Ex-vangelicals.
They have not lost their faith. They simply cannot agree with those who share their theological bent but ignore much of what they believe is at the core of their savior's teaching. Like those they differ with, they find abortion abhorrent, but their Christian faith calls them to concern for the warming of our planet, as well. Unlike many in their ranks, they have no antipathy for science. They accept the theory of evolution. Many of them have no argument with same-sex relations, either.
It's much too early to tell if this current dust-up will turn into a religious revolution, but it is clear that since the election, the dialogue about it is only ratcheting upward.
The Rev. Scott Dalgarno is pastor of Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City.