Andrew T. Walker

Unnatural Behavior Does Not Exist?

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Friday, September 8, 2023
Yuval Harari offers his readers a rare insight into the worldview of a postmodern materialist. According to Harari, morality is a façade that we attach to naturally occurring realities. Because all we are is just our biology, whatever occurs within us is, by definition, natural, and presumably, in Harari’s understanding, good. If it is natural, it cannot be immoral because whatever occurs, occurs in accordance with nature. So, it must be okay.

Occasionally, statements get made by important figures that, for individuals like me, a Christian ethics professor, do a great service. They just accidentally say what they truly mean with little possibility of confusion or misinterpretation. They reveal their underlying worldview. They do not disguise their beliefs. In an act of intellectual transparency, some say the unvarnished truth out loud, even if by accident. This is an act of public service.
One such example comes from the Twitter/X account of the world famous intellectual, Yuval Harari. Harari is an Israeli professor well known for forecasting the future of scientific and human advancement.
In a tweet posted last week, Harari showed the reality of a worldview that neglects God as the foundation of morality. In Harari’s own words, he stated: “From a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”
Now, be patient as I try to explain Harari’s philosophical gobbledygook.
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Fidelity to God: Our Highest Good

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Friday, June 16, 2023
For practicing Christians, fidelity to God may mean recommitting ourselves to the practices that habituate us into deeper relationship. Even when we do not feel like it, we must read our Bibles and pray as a ritual reminder that the first thing about each of us is our ultimate end, not our temporal end. Contemplating God’s works in His Word is good for you. We must go to church, catechize ourselves and our families, and love each other.

One of the most important sentences in the entire Western canon comes from Augustine. It is a statement written in the indicative voice that many are doubtless familiar with, given its ubiquity. From The Confessions, Augustine states, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” Though this sentence is an indicative statement of truth, it also assumes an imperative: we are meant to be in communion with God. For homo religiosus, knowing God is to be human at its fullest. We are to commune with God not because we seek our own supremacy, but because communing with God is what brings peaceful rectitude to the soul. Knowing God quenches our deepest desires to know the glorious and be known by the glorious.
The First Pillar
In the planning and execution for Fidelity Month, it became clear that dedication to God needed to be the first pillar of fidelity. This first pillar reminds us of an architectonic truth: whatever the goods of family, community, and nation represent, their intelligibility must be ordered and understood by what created them and, in turn, best illuminates them: God. The “ordo amoris,” or “order of loves” spoken of in the Christian tradition, insists on the inherent goods of family, community, and nation as ends to be pursued for their own sake. The love they are given, however, is proportionate to the love they are owed. But we owe God our highest affections because it is He who has made us. As we come to know God and conform ourselves to His divine plan, fullness of being comes into view. Scripture deems the knowledge of God as a resplendent good that colors every other experience of our humanity. As Psalm 36:9 states, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Communion with God is what lights our path (Psalm 119:105). If we shall not walk in darkness, we must turn ourselves to the light (Isaiah 9:2; John 8:12).
Never more than now is the time ripe to rededicate ourselves to God. It’s what our culture needs most. With religion on the decline, it should come as no surprise that mental health appears more statistically volatile than ever before. Excise or trivialize the most important foundation of a person’s existence—their relationship to God—and it is to be expected that humanity’s sense of balance and purpose would be torn asunder.
Furthermore, in an age of cascading “identities” on endless offer, knowledge of God bequeaths a right and definitive knowledge of the self. Christian theology has a rich tradition of delineating the relationship between epistemology and anthropology, insisting on their essential unity. The two subjects ask: how do we know who we are? Theologians believe that philosophy on its own cannot adequately answer this question. In John Calvin’s Institutes, his famous opening lines sought to demarcate how knowledge of God spills over into an accurate knowledge of the self. For Calvin, they are inextricably bound in a helix-like structure. As Calvin says:
Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while they are joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves” (Acts 17:28). For quite clearly, the mighty gifts with which we are endowed are hardly from ourselves; indeed, our very being shares in God’s own being. Then, by these benefits shed like dew from heaven upon us, we are led as by rivulets to the spring itself.
Here Calvin restates that architectonic truth: God is the font of all meaningful knowledge. Apart from him, we fumble around in the darkness. We cannot explain the obligations that beset us without God as the source of those obligations.
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The Anthropological Lie of “Same-Sex Marriage”

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Friday, June 2, 2023
We cannot let routineness overwhelm or supplant how Scripture and the Christian tradition have reflected on the uniqueness of conjugal marriage. Same-sex “marriage” is not marriage. Truth is truth no matter the untruth, and the created order defies societal manipulation. A marriage where husband and wife are rightly geared towards procreation is a blessing to society, and it is truly irreplaceable.

Since 2015’s Obergefell ruling, same-sex “marriage” now seems as quintessentially “American” as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. New “normals” that gain mainstream acceptance mean nothing, though, when the “normals” in question defy Scripture, natural law, and creation order—as same-sex “marriage” unquestionably does.
The Truth of What Marriage Is
To address the challenge of same-sex “marriage,” we must first ask: What is marriage? How one answers will reveal a number of insights about other important aspects constitutive to human flourishing. Scripture assumes a grand a priori pertaining to sexual ethics: The normative expression for sexual activity is the conjugal union of man and woman who become husband and wife through the union of their wills, affections, and preeminently, their bodies (Gen. 1:28; 2:18-25). The Bible’s standard for sexuality from the first chapter of Genesis assumes that the complementary relationship between husband and wife is the exclusive expression of God’s will for sexuality in creation. Any deviation from that explicit pattern is thus unbiblical and unreasonable due to the undermining of marriage as the moral good of Scripture.
I define marriage as the conjugal union of one man and one woman united to one another within a permanent and monogamous bond that is, absent any medical problems, ordered to procreation. It is an institution that provides an outlet for safeguarding procreative potency, sexual fulfillment, and relational companionship. The consummation of a marriage is fortified by the unitive and procreative goods securing husband and wife, jointly, in a bond of mutual self-giving.
We must also understand the logic of marriage that makes it singularly unique with an intelligible purpose that other types of relationships lack and also thwart. To say there is a “purpose” to a particular thing, X, is to say that there is an ideal fulfillment for what X ought to be. For example, if one plays basketball with a football, basketball’s telos as a sport is disrupted. It is impossible to bounce a football even if one could hypothetically “shoot” with a football. Everything about the game itself would be disrupted by awkwardness. Playing basketball requires the coordination of a team with the necessary parts (which includes, obviously, the right type of ball). Basketball and football are thus different sports because of the different constitutive elements that comprise the games. The coordination of organized parts that completes (or brings about) a particular end gives explanation to an entity’s essence or nature.
How does this relate to marriage? The coordination of male and female toward the integrated end of reproduction is what gives intelligibility to the marriage union, since coordination toward an end is what gives intelligibility to a thing in question. This feature is what separates other types of human relationships in that the depth of union experienced is unparalleled in what other human relationships can achieve. Marriage is thus intelligible by kind—not simply “degree”—ultimately by its reproductive end. To be “one flesh” as Genesis speaks of is not only a metaphor. It vividly depicts the fully organic integration of embodied persons joined together in coordinated activity. As a solitary person’s circulatory system is self-enclosed and sufficient all on its own, so marriage is enclosed and sufficient only with two persons whose total persons unite at all levels of their being in gamete donation that each body is fit to contribute.
Looking beyond the good of just the individual husband and wife, marriage as a creation order institution and public good is the building block of human society. Marriage is civilization in microcosmic form. It is civilization’s chief organizing principle, since society is nothing less and nothing more than the aggregate number of families that comprise it. Though not all marriages will produce children due to involuntary circumstances outside the control of spouses (i.e., infertility), what gives marriage its structure is the complementarity of male and female that makes procreation possible. The nature of marriage is tied to the complementarity of male and female reproductive ability. If you remove the unique role of procreation intrinsic to male-female union, marriage would cease to be intelligible as a union distinct from other types of unions. Moreover, if the procreative primacy and uniqueness of marriage as an inherently and exclusively complementary union is denied or lessened, marriage is open to endless redefinitions. Marriage has an ontological structure such that the removal of complementarity negates the ability for any relationship that strives to be marital to actually be marital. The reason that marriage and its orientation to family life is upheld as the moral good of Scripture and the natural law tradition is that it safeguards the design for sexuality with the outcome of sexuality: Children. Marriage, in other words, prevents the severing of procreation, sexual drive, and society’s need for stability. It unites them all together under one beautiful canopy.
Marriage is thus inherently oriented to the common good by providing the guardrails and sanctuary for the proper rearing of children. This bringing forth of new human beings to the civic community is essential to the common good’s relationship to marriage, for, apart from marriage, society is robbed of the seedbed for civilization’s flowering and renewal. An earthly society with no children is a dying society. Conversely, where marriages break down or fail to even form, incalculable damage is done to the social fabric of the civic community. A society that fails to champion the primacy of marriage will cease to offer any normative vision for society’s future apart from the fleeting needs of the present. Atomizing and de-populating societies, such as our own, represent the inversion of creational norms and the slow suffocation of civilization.
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Chapter 3: The Destruction of Faith and Freedom

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Friday, October 21, 2022
We live in an age whose moral barbarisms eclipse what Schaeffer saw in his own day. Were he alive today, Schaeffer would not be shocked in the least. Instead, watching the wreckage of the world, he might say with tears, “You should have listened to me” (cf. Acts 27:21). Contemporary society is living proof of Schaeffer’s correctness, and we should not fail to listen to him now. It should not go unsaid that Schaeffer’s chapter ends with chastising those who should have seen what was happening in their respective disciplines and did nothing. So, too, shall we ask ourselves the question Schaeffer would ask of them: Do we see the rot before us? 

The famous political philosopher Leo Strauss once answered the question regarding what is a just political order “par excellence” as “how to reconcile order which is not oppression with freedom which is not license.”[1] All nations are still trying to determine the correct formula. Strauss was not a Christian, but his statement captures the same tension and dilemma described in chapter three of Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto on “The Destruction of Faith and Freedom.”
Schaeffer’s chapter captures what political philosophers and public theologians alike refer to as the “theo-political question”: How does a society secure its future in perpetuity when varying degrees of religious, ideological, and moral diversity confront it? In other words, how much moral diversity can a society withstand before it collapses beneath the weight of relativism and moral subjectivism? What ultimate standard can serve as such a guide?
Some degree of moral consensus is necessary for a social order to persist, even if it is modest in scope. The question is how “thick” or “thin” such a consensus must be before the outer boundaries of social cohesion are stretched beyond their limits. Scripture teaches the same principle as well (Prov. 29:18). Society needs a shared moral horizon to offset the corresponding temptations of totalitarian rule by the state and autonomous rule by the subjective self. A just political order comprises neither too much liberty (license) nor too little liberty (oppression). Some Being, authority, force, order, or object must be present to shape that moral vision and measure the extremes of license and oppression. Schaeffer sees Scripture’s God as the only sustainable option given the reality of divine revelation. When God is denied, ignored, or treated as inconsequential, rival systems offering rival moralities contend for the space left vacant by God’s “absence.” The result is confusion—and one or many systems that are inimical to a rightfully-ordered society.
To make his argument, Schaeffer draws attention to three main areas where he sees the creep of secular humanism making inroads. All three areas converge at the point of making morality a product of human design, which subverts the long-term viability of moral cohesion, social order, and the principled basis of liberty.
Three Areas of Rising Secularism
First, Schaeffer identifies the legal landscape, which impacts the nature of power. Schaeffer sees law as having been emptied of anything resembling theistic natural law and having taken a turn toward “sociological law,” which rejects “higher law” (Divine Law). Whether knowingly or not, a culture that rejects the “higher law” will inexorably substitute something in its place, with the intended impact being that man-made authorities or ideologies, over time, are bent toward self-aggrandizement, thus reshuffling where the presumption of liberty resides. In a Christian worldview, the state is inherently limited. In a secular worldview, nothing inherently limits the state other than its own discretion.
Second, Schaeffer draws attention to the area of science, which impacts the existence of any sort of binding morality. An intelligent Creator has been exchanged for the blind forces of evolution and materialism. Again, because morality is collapsed into the material, nothing outside the observed world can impose any form of morality.
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The Transgender Fantasy

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
There are glimmers of optimism that the secular foundation upon which the transgender worldview is built is beginning to crack. There are a growing number of people, some of them quite prominent, who are not Christians, who are raising concerns about the unsustainability of the transgender worldview. 

Pastors have no shortage of issues that they are called up to address in their ministries. The pressure to be an expert on every new issue can be daunting when thinking about everything else on the pastor’s plate. Most pastors need fewer burdens, not more. But when issues of what it means to be human surface — and this is at the center of the debate over transgenderism — it’s important that pastors seek to bring the full counsel of God’s word to bear on the issue at hand.
Having written a book on transgenderism, my purpose here is to simplify for pastors what I think are the absolute essentials for them to consider when addressing their congregations and counselees on the challenge of transgenderism.
Necessity of Nature
What is a man? What is a woman? Until just a few years ago, these questions would have hardly been controversial. But now one cannot answer them without fear of offending someone who identifies as transgender. But this is where ground zero of the debate really is: whether the category of maleness and femaleness means anything concrete at all. In theological terms, we call this ontology, which is the study of being.
When a male claims to be a female, that is not only a psychological claim, but also a philosophical and biological claim about one’s being. From Genesis 1 onward, Scripture teaches that males and females are biological and embodied beings with immutable natures. We cannot change who we are. To speak of nature is to say that there exists an ideal form and function of what something ought to be. The nature of a family, for example, is to care for and raise offspring. To say that something has a nature is to insist upon the existence of concrete purposes to that thing’s being, which supplies our understanding of what the thing in question truly is.
This is where the true debate resides. Christianity views reality through the lens of Scripture, which speaks of male and female as beings defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization (Genesis 1:26–28). Hormones or surgery cannot override the underlying realities of our genetic structure. If culture tries to define male and female apart from anatomy and reproductive organization, male and female become fluid, absurd categories. Hence where we are as a culture.
The transgender worldview is an active thwarting of one’s nature. It is akin to defying limits or swimming upstream against a current: you might try, but eventually limitations and the strength of the current are going to sweep you up against your will.
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The Transgender Fantasy: What I Wish Every Pastor Knew

Pastors have no shortage of issues that they are called up to address in their ministries. The pressure to be an expert on every new issue can be daunting when thinking about everything else on the pastor’s plate. Most pastors need fewer burdens, not more. But when issues of what it means to be human surface — and this is at the center of the debate over transgenderism — it’s important that pastors seek to bring the full counsel of God’s word to bear on the issue at hand.

Having written a book on transgenderism, my purpose here is to simplify for pastors what I think are the absolute essentials for them to consider when addressing their congregations and counselees on the challenge of transgenderism.

Necessity of Nature

What is a man? What is a woman? Until just a few years ago, these questions would have hardly been controversial. But now one cannot answer them without fear of offending someone who identifies as transgender. But this is where ground zero of the debate really is: whether the category of maleness and femaleness means anything concrete at all. In theological terms, we call this ontology, which is the study of being.

When a male claims to be a female, that is not only a psychological claim, but also a philosophical and biological claim about one’s being. From Genesis 1 onward, Scripture teaches that males and females are biological and embodied beings with immutable natures. We cannot change who we are. To speak of nature is to say that there exists an ideal form and function of what something ought to be. The nature of a family, for example, is to care for and raise offspring. To say that something has a nature is to insist upon the existence of concrete purposes to that thing’s being, which supplies our understanding of what the thing in question truly is.

This is where the true debate resides. Christianity views reality through the lens of Scripture, which speaks of male and female as beings defined by their anatomical and reproductive organization (Genesis 1:26–28). Hormones or surgery cannot override the underlying realities of our genetic structure. If culture tries to define male and female apart from anatomy and reproductive organization, male and female become fluid, absurd categories. Hence where we are as a culture.

The transgender worldview is an active thwarting of one’s nature. It is akin to defying limits or swimming upstream against a current: you might try, but eventually limitations and the strength of the current are going to sweep you up against your will.

“Scripture does not allow for a dualism between the body and the ‘self.’”

This reality of nature leads to one of the most important truths: actual transgenderism does not exist. Sure, there are people who may have genuine confusion over their “gender identity” (a concept itself riddled with problems), but the idea that there are persons truly “trapped” in the wrong body is false. Scripture does not allow for such a dualism between the body and the “self.”

Reality of Flourishing

Flowing downstream from the reality of our nature as male and female is the idea that males and females should flourish in accordance with their being. Flourish is a term that describes the fullness of a thing’s being. A flourishing family is a family with no disruptions or privations undermining its operations. A thing experiences its fullness of being or excellence when it lives according to what it is and what it is designed to do.

The issue of flourishing connects to transgenderism because, from a scriptural worldview, we understand that a person can never thrive or flourish apart from living in harmony with God’s design in creation. A person might claim to flourish according to how he or she defines flourishing, but flourishing is not a term left to the eye of the beholder.

Drug addicts might see their intoxication as a form of flourishing, but this we understand as a cheapened form of flourishing that will, over time, result not in the fullness of their being but, rather, in their undoing. Defined biblically, flourishing understands and welcomes the idea of limitations and boundaries (Psalm 119:45). We are not purely autonomous beings who can create and re-create our nature and our paradigms for flourishing. Flourishing is a pathway we are called to live in line with, not against.

“True flourishing cannot come at the expense of rejecting our nature and our embodiment.”

To love our transgender-identifying neighbors is to seek their good. We cannot teach or imply that any form of transition will actually achieve what they desire: the joy of flourishing. When one reads in-depth about the scourge of depression, anxiety, and suicidality even among persons who have undergone some degree of transition, we realize something essential to this discussion: true flourishing cannot come at the expense of rejecting our nature and our embodiment. It simply cannot happen.

As time goes on, I expect to see an explosion in the number of people who experimented with transgender identities, or who even transitioned to some degree, who are living testaments to the falseness of transgender ideology. Indeed, we see these testimonies online already. Called “de-transitioners” and silenced by mainstream sources, a growing chorus of voices is warning others of the contagion-like consequences of embracing a transgender worldview.

Central to our ethics as Christians is the command to love our neighbor. This means seeking their flourishing (Matthew 7:12). Undoubtedly, activists will disagree with our motives of love. In fact, they will see our definition of love as opposite their own. To that, we must simply accept the cost of biblical conviction and do whatever we can to convey that we’re not interested in anything less than their relationship with God and their flourishing as human beings.

On one final note, I want to caution readers from thinking that every transgender-identifying person is an angry activist. That is not the case. There are activists whose identities are wrapped up in ideological warring, but there are also many people, I’m convinced, who are vulnerable and volatile persons, with deeply unresolved personal and psychological issues, who need counseling and love, not scorn or mockery.

Call for Courage

To be a Christian in our day requires courage. Whether in the form of licensure denial, a lost job, suppressed speech, or the threat of coercion, Christians are going to find themselves on the wrong side of elite culture. But take heart. Jesus has overcome the world, and to be persecuted for his sake is to be blessed (Matthew 5:10–12; John 16:33).

As of this writing, however, there are glimmers of optimism that the secular foundation upon which the transgender worldview is built is beginning to crack. There are a growing number of people, some of them quite prominent, who are not Christians, who are raising concerns about the unsustainability of the transgender worldview. From privacy issues, safety issues, and equality and fairness issues, the world may be slowly coming to grips with the truth that its commitment to transgender ideology has outpaced its commitment to reality, sound thinking, and true human flourishing.

Defining “Evangelicalism” Down

Written by Andrew T. Walker |
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
The confusion over the word “evangelicalism” and the ensuing plasticity of the label is truly tragic and leads to unhelpful categorization, theological malpractice, and no small amount of internal strife within evangelical Christianity.
 
With increasing frequency throughout many sectors of American culture, use of “evangelical” in social discourse is now an epithet. It is no longer just a foreign term to some, but a derisive label to many. Not only is its invocation used by those who wish to reject evangelical belief outright, but by those who claim the label of evangelical yet insist upon evangelicalism’s failure to embody Jesus’s teaching. For one group, evangelicalism is a smokescreen for hateful fundamentalism; for the other, a veneer for political aggrandizement.
Rarely, however, is the term defined with any theological precision. The way the conversation proceeds online assumes a common working definition of evangelical but rarely is it tendered or dwelt upon with any degree of nuance or caution. Broad denunciation is the order of the day. Sure, overtures to David Bebbington’s famous “Bebbington Quadrilateral” often abound in more evangelical outlets, but that has more or less receded into the background, especially as one zeroes out of immediately evangelical contexts. Instead, “evangelical” or “white evangelical” is used as an ethnographic political label. In other words, it is a tribal shibboleth where theology may matter on the margins of the term, but no longer at its center.
The confusion over the word “evangelicalism” and the ensuing plasticity of the label is truly tragic and leads to unhelpful categorization, theological malpractice, and no small amount of internal strife within evangelical Christianity.
Enter a recent column by political science Professor Ryan Burge in The New York Times. Burge’s column is fascinating on the one hand, maddening on the other, but ultimately serves to reinforce the problematic ways that social science has led to the diminishment of evangelicalism as a theological project. To be clear, my criticism is not aimed at Burge per se insofar as he’s speaking to statistical realities on their own terms, but the broader ecosystem that allows conversation around evangelicalism to persist as it does without greater introspection.
Drawing on recent findings from Pew, Burge’s column argues that rather than waning, evangelicalism’s numbers grew under the Trump presidency because of the ability for disparate factions to more broadly coalesce around evangelicalism as a politically integrated worldview. The growth, according to Burge, is because “evangelicalism” has become synonymous with Republican politics. Burge states in his own words, “What is drawing more people to embrace the evangelical label on surveys is more likely that evangelicalism has been bound to the Republican Party. Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ, millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P.”
He admits that “evangelical” is by no means synonymous with church attendance, so one can claim to be evangelical without membership in an actual church. That’s an important tell, one I will come back to later.
Burge goes on: “The second factor bolstering evangelicalism on surveys is that more people are embracing the label who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity. For example, the share of Catholics who also identified as evangelicals (or born again) rose to 15 percent in 2018 from 9 percent in 2008. That same pattern appears with Muslims. In fact, there’s evidence that the share of Orthodox Christians, Hindus and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who identify as evangelical is larger today than it was just a decade ago.”
If that sentence does not stand out, it should. According to polling data, not only are Mormons evangelical, but so are…Muslims and Hindus?
Burge then goes on to state: “Yet these non-Protestants are embracing the evangelical label for slightly different reasons. Protestants and non-Protestants have a strong affinity for the Republican Party and the policies of Donald Trump, but non-Protestant evangelicals are much more religiously devout. For instance, half of Muslims who attend services at a mosque more than once a week and align with the G.O.P. self-identify as evangelical. (Just 20 percent of Republican Muslims attend mosque once a year.) In essence, many Americans are coming to the understanding that to be very religiously engaged and very politically conservative means that they are evangelical, even if they don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.”
Again, pay attention: Burge tells us that one can reject the divinity of Jesus Christ and be evangelical. This, coupled with the admission that Muslims and Hindus can be evangelical as well, ought to raise suspicion about both the term itself and the contents that go into defining the term. In fact, let me state this in the plainest of terms: Any demographic research that allows the use of “evangelical” to be applied to those who consider themselves Muslim, Hindu, or reject the divinity of Jesus Christ exhibits profound theological malpractice. If “evangelical” is, at root, a mere constellation of political affinity groups wherein Jesus Christ’s kingship is dispensed, we should ask the question: How did this come about? Is it because evangelical became a catch-call term to mean people who consider themselves Christians and who are broadly conservative in their outlook, or because the ubiquity of its usage throughout American culture necessarily led to its redefinition?
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