Tim Keller is one of 50 evangelical leaders who are meeting today and tomorrow to discuss the future of the [Evangelical] movement amid recent political events and arguably political idolatry in the church. He says, “As the country has become more polarized, so has the church, and that’s because he church is not different enough from modernity. There’s now a red evangelicalism and a blue evangelicalism.”
WHEATON, Ill. (RNS) — About 50 evangelical Christian leaders gathered early this week to discuss the future of evangelicalism amid concerns their movement has become too closely associated with President Trump’s polarizing politics.
The closed-door meeting Monday and Tuesday (April 16-17) was held at Wheaton College, a private school outside Chicago that is sometimes called the “evangelical Harvard.” Wheaton attracts a theologically diverse mix of evangelical students and scholars with its focus on the liberal arts.
The session took place as Trump’s evangelical advisers, a group often criticized for providing cover for the president’s unsavory behavior and language, are reportedly planning a June meeting between the president and as many as 1,000 evangelical pastors, similar to the meeting held in New York City during the 2016 campaign.
Trump — who more than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for and still largely support — wasn’t the explicit focus of the Wheaton gathering, convened by Doug Birdsall, honorary chair of Lausanne, the international evangelical movement.
But Jenny Yang, senior vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief, told Religion News Service beforehand, “All of us in the room know that’s the context in which we’re operating.”
Others agreed that Trump’s alliance with white evangelicals had prompted the meeting, even as they sought to take the focus off him.