The world according to John Wilson?
For myself, only very intermittently does the world Marsh describes correspond to the world I know. Neither at the church where Wendy and I worship—Faith Evangelical Covenant in Wheaton, where partisan politics is strictly off limits—nor in the evangelical circles I'm familiar with across the country do I see anything resembling the pervasive “political captivity” of the gospel that Marsh indicts. I do see evidence of the distortions he identifies in the pronouncements of some prominent evangelical figures, but—in my experience—the influence of such attitudes is far less dramatic than he suggests.I suspect Wilson is just blind to the ways the evangelical world he inhabits is thoroughly bound to partisan politics. But for now I will accept that his world is miraculously free of such problems. His partisan-free existence aside, Wilson cannot then conclude that Marsh’s argument is simply wrong or misguided. At the very least, charity demands that he evaluate Marsh’s arguments on their own terms first before dismissing them as irrelevant to the world we actually live in. For that matter, Wilson apparently has never visited the town of Portland, Oregon where I grew up, and where partisan evangelicalism runs rampant—though curbed recently due to a new generation fed up with their parents’ attitudes toward politics. If Wilson wants more evidence for a different kind of world than the one he (apparently) knows, then he can just read yesterday’s New York Times, in which there is a fascinating story about evangelicals evaluating the current field of G.O.P. candidates. In the story, we read:
There is a lot about this article worth pondering, but at the very least it gives a glimpse into the deep partisanship of conservative evangelicalism. Like many Christians I know from my home town, it is more important to keep a Democrat out of office than to elect the best candidate. For such people, preventing the death of unborn children is infinitely more important than the deaths of born men, women, and children around the world—often at the hands of American soldiers. Personally, I would not just call this partisanship; I would call it idolatry.
Mr. Giuliani’s candidacy was similarly a nonstarter with him, he said, because of the former New York City mayor’s support for abortion rights.
“Abortion is still number one with me and every social conservative I know,” Mr. Pawlewski said.
But Michael Canady, a board member for the Iowa Christian Alliance, said he was at least open to voting for Mr. Giuliani, arguing his strong stance on terrorism could trump other concerns.
“He’s definitely more liberal on the social issues than most evangelicals like,” he said, but he added that he considered Mr. Giuliani “a leader and somebody who could be strong on defense.”
With many Christian conservatives intent on preventing a Democrat from being elected, perhaps the biggest quandary for many is whether electability should be paramount, or whether to stick to a candidate who most shares their faith and worldview. ...
Most of the 40 evangelicals interviewed for this article, however, said they were not interested in throwing away their vote, saying Mr. Giuliani would be preferable to any Democrat.