A house divided.
Along with the rest of the country, American Christianity is in the middle of a cold war. As this war heats up, it will mean church splits, takeovers, fights over denominational resources, and other power struggles as the Donald Trump era has increasingly brought clarity and pushed people to choose sides on existential questions.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the United States’ largest Protestant denomination, is one key example of this dynamic affecting American Christianity as a whole. On Oct. 1 in The American Conservative, Jackson Waters and Emma Posey reported on new developments in that denomination’s growing identity crisis. They contrast the Russell Moore, Beth Moore, and David French wing with the Voddie Baucham, Douglas Wilson, and I’d add Thomas Ascol wing.
“The direction Moore, French, and Moore are walking is not simply traditional evangelicalism, but a form of cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion,” Waters and Posey write, after describing how the three have theologically shifted in recent years and months. “The result is a religious respectability that promotes national unity, liberalism, and wokeism under the rhetorical guise of love for neighbor. While Moore and his guest [Beth Moore] try to straddle the fence, there is little doubt that their biggest support is now coming from those significantly to their left politically.”
The Polarization Isn’t Superficial or Random
Many religious leaders have mistaken American polarization as merely political, thus scapegoating Trump for pulling the rug off many cockroach nests that predate his presidency. Yet this polarization in fact sprouts from irreconcilable theological and philosophical differences, which accounts for its fierceness and existential nature.