I appreciate the review. A few thoughts following the book club discussion:
First, I think much of American Anglo-Adventism is at least culturally evangelical, even if we are aware of theological differences. That would explain why Adventists are so aware of Veggie Tales and James Dobson. Of course, our theology is influenced through this cultural exchange.
Second, I think Gushee’s analysis of evangelicalism can be really poor. He calls evangelicalism an “invented religious identity,” as if Christian humanism (or Adventism for that matter) isn’t? What identity isn’t invented?
Third, I think Gushee’s historical take on evangelicalism is generally atrocious. He treats evangelicals as a “rebranding move” undertaken by certain fundamentalists. While the Neo-evangelicals didn’t completely abandon fundamentalist ideas, Gushee ignores the differences. Carl F.H. Henry, a founding neo-evangelical, indicted fundamentalism on a number of accounts, including an indifference to the welfare of society. Evangelicals were more than re-branded fundamentalists and to claim otherwise is too cynical for me.
Fourth, on politics and social issues, I think Gushee ignores the beginning AND the end of this Neo-evangelical movement. In the Civil Rights Era, Carl F.H. Henry wrote that the Christian “should be concerned about relations between nations and minority rights. There is no reason at all why evangelical Christians should not engage energetically in projecting social structures that promote the interests of justice in every public realm; in fact, they have every legitimate sanction for social involvement.” Toward the end of this movement (that is, today), I think he ignores both the growing racial and political diversity of evangelicalism. The SBC has never had so many congregations of color which – while a comparative drop in the bucket vis-a-vis white ones – is not nothing. Russell Moore, while remaining conservative politically and theologically, nevertheless called out his tribe when it came to Trump.
Maybe these differences won’t impact the central thesis, but it’s hard to have absolute confidence in the cure if the physician does a sloppy job explaining the disease.