One of the most important questions in American politics and culture is this: Is white Evangelical politics primarily a product of consistent theological conviction or primarily a product of culture, tradition, and history?
I single out white Evangelicals because they are both the most important constituency in Republican politics and increasingly outliers in their political views. If they’re outliers because of consistent theological conviction, then so be it. Their (increasingly) lonely stands become a collective version of Martin Luther’s famous declaration, “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.”
But what if the reality is otherwise? What if white Evangelicals are disproportionately flocking to outlier political positions because of a combination of factors that have little to do with theology at all? Instead, what if they’re shaped by far more mundane (though still quite powerful) cultural forces that ultimately have little to do with faith and then misinterpreting the cultural as theological?
Then both the nation and the church have a problem. The church’s problem is quite obvious—it misrepresents the nature and meaning of the Christian faith to the American people (and the world). It misrepresents the nature and meaning of the Christian faith to itself.