Do Miracles Create Faith?

In his 1986 book, Power Evangelism, John Wimber suggested that when people see miracles, they are more inclined to believe in Jesus and embrace the gospel.

But is that true? Is that actually what we see in the Bible?

There are verses like John 2:11, where it says that Jesus’ disciples, having seen the first of his signs by which he manifested his glory, believed in him. Furthermore, at the end of the Gospel of John, John says that he has told us about these particular signs that Jesus performed, so that we may believe in him.

However, another common theme in the Gospel of John is that many people in Jesus’ time saw him perform miracles, and although they were fascinated with and captivated by seeing miracles, it did not translate into genuine faith and devotion to Jesus.

Regarding the disciples and the verse in John 2:11 that they believed in Him after they saw the sign he performed, it should be remembered that at this point they were already his disciples – which means they already believed in him. What this miracle did was cause them to believe in a deeper way. It solidified their belief, in other words.

Something that always strikes me, is the fact that Jesus fed over 5000 people (on two occasions!), thousands of others saw him perform miracles, yet on the Day of Pentecost, there were only 120 committed followers in the upper room.

The question that must be asked is: WHY did Jesus perform miracles? Was it an evangelistic strategy (as Wimber supposes), or was it because those miracles were signs, pointing to something beyond themselves (as John tells us in his gospel)?

It would seem that if miracles were Jesus’ evangelistic strategy, they weren’t very effective in producing lasting, genuine faith. A good example is found in John 4, where there is a contrast made between the Samaritans, who believed in Jesus because of his word (John 4:41) – even though they never saw a miracle, and the Galileans, whom Jesus chastised because they were only willing to believe if they saw signs and wonders (John 4:48).

The message is that faith, rather than coming from seeing miracles, comes from hearing the Word of God and believing. This same message is repeated at the end of John’s Gospel in John 20:29, where Jesus tells Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In a recent Sermon Extra, Michael and I discussed signs and wonders, whether miracles produce genuine faith:

Sin Makes You Weird

Several years ago, I remember talking with my pastor, Tom Stipe, and discussing something I had observed: Sin makes you weird, but walking with Jesus makes a person increasingly healthy and “normal.”

Who Defines What is “Weird”?

Some people might bristle at the terms “weird” and “normal,” wondering whose definition of “normal” we should use, but in this case I use it in the sense of the healthy standards for behavior and attitudes that are laid out in the Bible, and which have shaped global society in a pervasive way.

For more on that, see Tom Holland’s incredible book, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. Holland is not a “Christian author” per se; he is a historian who has spent most of his life studying history as relates to other topics, but he has admitted that his research for this book profoundly impacted his life and faith personally. I read it last year and would recommend it.

So, when I say “normal” in this sense, I am referring to virtues which are not only biblical, but which are affirmed by the majority of cultures worldwide. Things such as goodness, kindness, charity, graciousness, and the like – in contrast to abuse, usury, envy, pride, and so on.

Brain Scans

My conviction that “sin makes you weird” is not new to me, but it has been verified through the ever-increasing use of brain scans which show how certain behaviors affect brain activity.

One of the chief among these, and most reported on, is the use of illicit drugs, including marijuana, and pornography.

This article published by Inverse is just one of many on this topic which give empirical proof that pornography usage has negative effects on brain function and produces problematic behavior, as it changes the way a person thinks, views others, and relates to the world. THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON PORN: Casual porn watching changes the brain a lot more than you’d think.

Do Other Sins Make You Weird? What’s the Solution?

I would venture to guess that other behaviors have similar affects on behavior, outlook, and the brain, such as lying, jealousy, and other attitudes and actions.

Here is a discussion I had with Pastor Michael, our Worship Pastor at White Fields Church about this topic, in a follow-up to a sermon from John 15:1-11 called Jesus Is: the True Vine.

In it, importantly, we talk about the solution to the problem, which is: abiding in Christ, which Jesus defines as living in abiding relationship with him, by obeying his commandments (John 15:10).

Here’s the video of that discussion:

Palm Sunday Points Us to the Heart of the Gospel

Originally posted on CalvaryChapel.com

On our wedding day, as my wife was walking down the aisle, she looked at me intently, and the big question in her mind was, “Is he going to do it?” Her friend’s husband had done it at their wedding, and she wondered if I would too. But much to her dismay, I did not cry when she walked down the aisle. She asked me later on why I had not cried. “Why would I?”, I asked. “That was a moment to celebrate, not to cry!”

And yet, the Gospel of Luke tells us, that on Palm Sunday, when everyone else was celebrating and rejoicing, Jesus was crying. Why? The answer draws us into the heart of the gospel.

GOD’S PROMISE OF A TRUE KING

Israel had many kings throughout their history, but, as we see in the books of 1-2 Kings, each one was a disappointment. Some were better than others, but none of them fulfilled their potential, and all left the people hoping for more. 

God had promised that one day, He would send them a true king, who would rule in righteousness. He would be a liberator, who would set the people free from all oppression and establish a kingdom of peace and justice, which would have no end. And yet, no governing administration ever produced what they hoped it would. 

JESUS, THE TRUE KING & PROMISED MESSIAH

Rumors had been swirling for years that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the true king, but Jesus had refused to allow people to revere him as such, until Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, with the city of Jerusalem full of people who had come to celebrate Passover, Jesus affirmed publicly that he was indeed the Messiah, and he rode into the city on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9.

The people waved palm branches (John 12:13), laying them on the ground, along with their cloaks, before Jesus to create a “red carpet” for the rightful king. The significance of this act is found in 2 Kings 9:13, when Jehu became king of Israel, overthrowing the wicked dynasty of the Ahab and Jezebel. At that time, the people laid their cloaks on the ground before him. Additionally, some 200 years before Jesus was born, in the Maccabean Revolt, Israel had successfully cast off their Syrian overlords and gained their independence — at which time, the people celebrated with a parade, in which they waved palm branches. The palm branch, stamped on Jewish coins, was a symbol of deliverance from oppression.

JESUS GOES TO THE TEMPLE, FAILING TO MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS

And yet, upon entering Jerusalem, instead of going to the Antonia Fortress to put the Romans on notice, Jesus went to the Temple, where he drove out the money changers and healed the sick (Matthew 21:12-14). Clearly, many of the people were disappointed that Jesus did not give them a political solution that day. Perhaps some of the same people who shouted, “Hosanna,” on Palm Sunday were even amongst the crowd shouting, “Crucify Him,” on Good Friday, having been disillusioned that Jesus hadn’t done what they expected him to do.

Perhaps they should have read Zechariah’s prophecy again. “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he” (Zechariah 9:9). Jesus, the true king, came to meet our greatest need. The unrighteous, the Bible says, will not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Jesus, the only truly righteous person who has ever lived, came to meet our greatest need: so that through his life, death, and resurrection, we might be justified by his grace, and thereby be saved from judgment!

GOD’S PLAN: BETTER THAN WHAT THEY HOPED FOR

The people in Jerusalem had an expectation of what Jesus was going to do for them, but when Jesus didn’t do what they expected He would, some of them turned away — and yet, what Jesus was doing for them was better than what they had hoped for, and was what they truly needed! 

May that be a lesson for us this Palm Sunday, so that we would walk with God by faith, trusting in His character, His love, and His plans. Rather than a genie in a bottle, who always gives us what we want, we have a Father in Heaven, who loves us and gives us what we need — and that is infinitely better!

Jesus Wept With Us So That One Day We Might Rejoice With Him Forever

In Luke 19:41, we read that as Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as the crowds were cheering, Jesus was crying. 

Shouldn’t He have been reveling in receiving the recognition that He rightly deserved? The reason Jesus cried is because, as He looked over Jerusalem, He knew that the current enthusiasm would not last, and He would soon be crucified as a criminal by the people He had come to save.

Yet, with tears streaming down His face, Jesus continued into Jerusalem. Why? Because, Hebrews 12:2 tells us of the joy that was set before him. 

Jesus wept with us for a moment, so that one day, we might rejoice with Him forever.

In the Book of Revelation, we are given this preview of Heaven: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with “palm branches” in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

PALM BRANCHES – THE SYMBOL OF DELIVERANCE, AGAIN

In Heaven, we see palm branches, the symbol of deliverance from oppression, because Jesus, the true king, has liberated us from that which is at the root of all oppression! Whereas on Palm Sunday, people shouted “Hosanna!” (“Save Now”), the great multitude in Heaven declares that Jesus has saved them.

Palm Sunday points us to the heart of the gospel: The true King came to meet our greatest need, and He wept with us so that one day we might rejoice with Him forever.

How Does Understanding Biblical Genres Affect How We Interpret & Teach Passages in the Bible?

On this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Kristie Anyabwile, who recently wrote a book called, Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study

We discuss the difference between interpreting the Bible “literally” and interpreting it “literarily,” i.e. according to the genre of a given passage. Kristie describes the 8 major literary genres found in the Bible, and their unique aspects. We give a few examples of how not taking genre into account can lead to misinterpretation and misapplication of particular texts.

Kristie is married to Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile and they serve at Anacostia River Church in Washington D.C. For more about Kristie, visit her website: kristieanyabwile.com.

Kristie also shares with us in this episode the meaning of her last name!

Also mentioned in this episode are two groups Kristie is involved with:

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

How Does Understanding Biblical Genres Affect How We Interpret and Teach Passages in the Bible? Theology for the People

In this episode, I speak with Kristie Anyabwile, who recently wrote a book called, Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study.  We discuss the difference between interpreting the Bible "literally" and interpreting it "literarily," i.e. according to the genre of a given passage. Kristie describes the 8 major literary genres found in the Bible, and their unique aspects. We give a few examples of how not taking genre into account can lead to misinterpretation and misapplication of particular texts. Kristie is married to Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile and they serve at Anacostia River Church in Washington D.C. For more about Kristie, visit her website: kristieanyabwile.com. Also mentioned this episode are: Charles Simeon Trust The Pelican Project If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

My Worst Easter Sermon + Preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

I recently had the opportunity to talk with some friends and record a podcast for pastors in our movement.

My friend and colleague Mike Neglia (we serve together in the Expositors Collective) and I were interviewed by Aaron Salvato of CalvaryChapel.com and the GoodLion Podcast Network about different aspects of preparing for Good Friday and Easter.

As part of the discussion, Aaron asked Mike and I about our worst Easter sermon ever. As I was telling about my worst Easter sermon, I remembered something that happened on our first Easter (also our first Sunday) planting a church in Eger, Hungary. It wasn’t something I did (or even saw), but it was something which probably made it the worst Easter service ever for those who attended 😂. Here’s the video of that part of our discussion:

Aaron broke up our discussion into sections and created a helpful article, with Mike and I discussing about Good Friday, how to support staff and volunteers amongst the busyness of Easter weekend, and how to keep Easter fresh.

That article can be found here: Advice for Pastors and Preachers on Easter Sermons and More!

In Section 2, Mike and I discuss our differences of opinion on the practice of Lent! Check it out, and see what you think.

Does Christianity Create Hateful People? – with Aaron Salvato

On this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, Aaron Salvato interviews me about hypocrisy can be a barrier to people embracing Christianity, and what the solution is to this problem. 

In my recent book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity, one of the chapters addresses the question of how Christianity can really be true if many of its adherents are hypocritical or hateful people. Can this problem be blamed on Christianity itself? Or is there another explanation? Either way, it certainly hurts Christian witness, so what, if anything, should or can be done about it? 

Originally aired on the GoodLion Podcast, this episode is a collaboration with our friends over there, who also run the GoodLion Podcast Network, under the umbrella of Calvary Global Network.

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Does Christianity Create Hateful People? – with Aaron Salvato Theology for the People

In this episode Aaron Salvato interviews Nick Cady about how hypocrisy can be a barrier to people embracing Christianity, and what the solution is to this problem.  In Nick's recent book, The God I Won't Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity, one of the chapters addresses the question of how Christianity can be true if many of its adherents are hypocritical or hateful. Can this be blamed on Christianity itself? Or is there another explanation? Either way, it certainly hurts our witness, so we, if anything, should or can be done about it?  Originally aired on the GoodLion Podcast, this episode is a collaboration with our friends over there, who also run the GoodLion Podcast Network, which is part of Calvary Global Network. If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org 

Why Does Jesus’ Ascension Matter for the Gospel and for Us? – with Michael Payne

On this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Michael Payne, worship pastor at White Fields Community Church, about Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.

Is the ascension simply something that happened, which we acknowledge, or did it actually accomplish something which could not have happened otherwise? How did the early Christians and the Church Fathers understand the ascension? What difference should the ascension make for our lives today?

In 2021, I asked Mike to teach on the Ascension, as part of our Eastertide series, “The Risen Life,” in which we looked at the appearances of Jesus in the Gospels after His resurrection. As Mike studied and prepared for that teaching, he found that the ascension really deserves more attention than it generally gets in most churches today.

In this episode, I speak with Michael about his discoveries, and he explains what the church has lost by not focusing enough on Jesus ascension, and he explains why Jesus’ ascension matters for the gospel and for us.

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Does the Ascension Deserve More Attention? – Why Does Jesus' Ascension Matter for the Gospel and for Us? Theology for the People

In this episode, Nick Cady and Michael Payne discuss Jesus' ascension into Heaven and why it matters for the gospel and for us.  Is the ascension simply something that happened, which we acknowledge, or did it actually accomplish something which could not have happened otherwise? How did the early Christians and the Church Fathers understand the ascension? What difference should the ascension make for our lives today? If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content. Make sure to visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

My Book Is Now Available for Purchase + Book Signing This Sunday

My first book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity, is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle formats. 

We have paperback copies of the book for sale in our church’s bookstore, and it will be available in other churches and through book distributors soon.

If you would like to get copies for your church or group at bulk discount, contact us here.

Click here for more information and to purchase online.

Here’s a List of the Chapters

Each chapter begins with the phrase: “I Could Never Believe in a God Who…”

  1. A God Who Hasn’t Proven His Existence
  2. A God Who Gave Us a Faulty Bible
  3. A God Who Condoned Genocide in the Old Testament
  4. A God Who Creates Hateful, Hypocritical Followers
  5. A God Who Suppresses Women and Minorities
  6. A God Who Sends People to Hell 
  7. A God Who Says Some Love is Wrong
  8. A God Who Lets Bad Things Happen to Good People
  9. A God Who Doesn’t Answer My Prayers

Book Signing This Sunday

For those who are within driving distance of Longmont, Colorado, this Sunday I will be signing copies of the book after each of our 3 services at White Fields Church. We will have copies for sale on site. If you can make it out, I’d love to see you there!

What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Eternity?

There is a page on this site where readers can submit questions or suggest topics

Recently someone submitted this question:

Both God the Father and the Son have distinct and obvious eternal roles that we see played out in the Bible, with Jesus being more obvious, but as I was thinking through the role of the Holy Spirit in eternity, I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.
Could you give a brief overview of the roles of the triune persons of God as it pertains to eternity? I’m mostly interested in the Holy Spirit, but would love a pastor’s perspective on the other two also.

The “Ontological Trinity” and the “Economic Trinity”

There are two fields of discussion when it comes to the Trinity. The “ontological” and the “economic.” “Ontological” refers to who God is, i.e. that which pertains to being, whereas “economic” refers to what God does.

Specifically applied to the Trinity, study of the “ontological Trinity” is focused on those parts of the Bible which communicate that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet these three, while distinct persons, are one God. Study of the “economic Trinity” is focused on the passages in the Bible which tell us what each of these three persons does as their role in “the Godhead.”

So, ontologically, it is important to point out that eternality is part of God’s nature. God is eternal, and each person of the godhead is eternal. So, the role of God in eternity is merely a continuation of who God has been until now, and who God will forever be.

However, the question above is about the economics of the Triune God after this present age is over, and we have transitioned into what the Bible calls “the new heavens and new Earth.” What will the functions of the three persons of the Triune God be in “the age to come”?

The Role of the Son in the Age to Come

The Son, we are told, is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, and for eternity he will reign and rule as king over all of redeemed creation. (See Revelation 22:3)

Currently, Jesus is making intercession for believers, advocating for us, and is seated on a throne, but for eternity, all we really know is that he will be an eternal sovereign, ruling over a kingdom of righteousness and peace which will never end.

The Role of the Father in the Age to Come

Along with ruling over the redeemed creation from a heavenly throne, revelation tells us that God (not necessarily just the Father) will be a source of light, which will preclude the need for the sun to illuminate, since God himself will be our light.

The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Age to Come

The one thing that sticks out about the Holy Spirit’s role in eternity, is that, whereas the Father and the Son have a throne in the New Heavens and New Earth, the Holy Spirit does not (Revelation 22:3).

Beyond this, I can’t think of any verses which speak specifically about a role of the Holy Spirit in the age to come – but that is not surprising, and here’s why:

What we read regarding the economic Trinity mostly has to do with the work of God to redeem human beings. Remember, the Bible is a book about Jesus: who he is, and how he saves us.

Since the Bible is focused on the story of the salvation and redemption of humankind, it does not tell us very much about what God did before creating the world, nor does it tell us much about what God will do after the redemption of the world is complete.

“The Great Story Which No One on Earth has Read”

This reminds me of the final paragraph of C.S. Lewis’ The Final Battle, which is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, which is full of allegories about biblical passages and teachings.

C.S. Lewis poetically describes “the age to come” in this way:

“…but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what the three persons of the Trinity will do in eternity, because that is not the story which the Bible exists to tell.

God Will Do What God Did Before

Prior to the creation of the world, it is important to remember that God existed from eternity past. Without human beings to rescue, sanctify, and redeem, what did God do?

What we can be sure of, is that God was neither bored nor lonely.

From eternity past, the one God, who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed as a mutually edifying and glorifying community unto himself. Creation, was God inviting us to join in the “perichoresis,” the eternal relationship which exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as “the dance of God.”

In other words, in eternity, we can expect that God will do what God did before: delighting in himself, with each person fueling this mutually edifying and glorifying relationship.

Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic

If you have a question or would like to suggest a topic for me to address here on the blog, click here: Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic

Book Review: Jesus and John Wayne

Several months ago I read Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.

I found the book to be an interesting history of some parts of American evangelicalism. I emphasize that the book is about some parts of American evangelicalism, because the author focuses her writing specifically on a particular corner of the evangelical Christian world: a particular subculture within American evangelicalism associated with Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority, and militant masculinity. This part of evangelicalism has less to do with the core evangelical beliefs and convictions, and more to do with a culture propagated by certain people.

For this reason, while I found Kobes Du Mez to be an excellent writer, and found her book to be an entertaining read, I also found it incredibly frustrating because it feels that she paints evangelicalism with too broad of a brush, and in some cases she seems to misrepresent certain groups and events in an attempt to bolster her main thesis that Christianity in America has been coopted and altered by men, who have changed it into something it was never meant to be, namely: militaristic, and a tool for white male hegemony.

Not My Evangelicalism

Here’s the thing: Kobes Du Mez isn’t completely wrong in this thesis. However, it must be noted that her scope is very limited.

The fact is: evangelicalism is not monolithic. Evangelicalism is a movement which began in Germany in the 16th century, and is about restoring the place of the Bible to its rightful place of primacy in our theological method, and about “religion of the heart,” AKA: a personal relationship with God.

The word “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion (gospel). An evangelical Christian is a “gospel Christian.”

This definition from Wikipedia is cobbled together from different sources, but accurately summarizes what evangelicalism is, and what its core values entail:

Evangelical Christianity is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus’ atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the “born again” experience in receiving salvation (see Jesus’ words in John 3:3), in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

It is important to note that Kobes Du Mez is a Christian, and admits that she herself would be categorized as an evangelical. What Kobes Du Mez takes issue with in this book is a particular subculture which developed within American evangelicalism. She rightly points out that many of the behaviors of those in this subculture differ from the teachings and heart of Jesus.

British evangelicalism, the setting in which I did my theological studies, embraces the core values listed above, without the cultural trappings of this particular corner of American evangelical subculture which Kobes Du Mez criticizes.

Furthermore, the particular churches I have been a part of in the United States have not aligned themselves with characters like Jerry Falwell, or many of the things which Kobes Du Mez talks about in her book. Part of the reason why I found the book interesting was because much of the what Kobes Du Mez talks about, which she portrays as normative for evangelical Christianity in the United States, was foreign to me and my experience.

I would challenge Kobes Du Mez to keep in mind the fact that evangelicalism is not an American phenomenon – neither in origin, nor in majority. Most evangelicals in the world are not American. Where anyone has created an aberrant form of Christianity, it should be called out. This applies to evangelicals, and it also applies to all other movements and groups. This is, actually, the heart of the Reformation, the adherents of which were the first to call themselves “evangelicals”!

Stretching It…

One of my biggest qualms with the book is the number of ways in which the author attempts to strengthen her point by using examples which may sound convincing to the untrained eye, but which are actually a bit misleading.

For example: Kobes Du Mez critiques evangelicals for using sports and military analogies to describe and explain Christianity. The problem with this critique is that the Bible itself uses military and sports analogies to describe the Christian faith! (See: Philippians 2:25, Philemon 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 1 Corinthians 9:7, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 2:5, and others)

Kobes Du Mez dedicates an entire chapter to the Promise Keepers movement of the 1990’s. She seems to only reluctantly admit that this evangelical movement contradicted her entire thesis about American evangelicalism, in that it emphasized servanthood, love, and kindness over militarism and dominance, and focused on racial reconciliation. At one point, in what seems like a desperate attempt to find something wrong with the Promise Keepers, Kobes Du Mez states that at the height of the Promise Keepers in the 1990’s, only about 10% of their members were African American. What she doesn’t point out is that, at the time, African Americans made up 12% of the US population. In other words, Promise Keepers’ membership closely resembled the ethnic makeup of the country at the time.

Additionally, Kobes Du Mez criticizes American evangelicalism for seeking to reach men with their messaging, by trying to show that following Jesus isn’t contrary to being masculine. Having spent over a decade in Europe, where many churches are small and made up mostly of elderly women and girls, I have to say that I don’t see anything wrong with seeking to reach men by showing them that following Jesus isn’t contrary to being masculine. I remember hearing from many men in Hungary that “religion is for women and the weak.” I don’t believe this is true at all, and countering this narrative is simply a form of apologetics and evangelism.

The author also claims that the focus on Jesus as a warrior is a uniquely American evangelical aberration of Christianity, and that it would be better to focus on other aspects of Jesus instead. Once again, the problem with this is that the Latin term and concept of Cristus Victor has a long history, predating the United States of America, and even the Protestant Reformation. Misguided militarism in the name of Christianity has cropped up at various times in history, such as the obvious example of the Crusades, and is not an American evangelical invention. Furthermore, the Bible itself, in both the Old and New Testaments, foretells the time of “the great and terrible Day of the Lord,” when God will come to wage war against those who do evil and oppress. This is not an American concept, it’s a biblical concept, and highlighting it is not an American novelty, but has much historic precedent.

A Question for the Author

My question for the author would be how much of her thesis is shaped by biblical concerns, and how much is shaped by current popular discourse in American culture?

Conclusion

In conclusion, I will say once again that I found the book to be an enjoyable read, in that it introduced me to a part of American evangelical subculture that I had only heard about from a distance, but with which I was not very familiar. I agree with many of the author’s critiques, and think they are necessary.

However, I would not encourage others to read this book, because I feel that too much of what Kobes Du Mez writes is potentially misleading in its tone, and what it seeks to imply. It’s not so much what she says, it’s what she leaves out, which I think makes the book unhelpful.