Responding to two essays on the state of evangelical Christianity in the U.S., John Wilson—an evangelical himself—describes how detached both are from his own experiences. One of the essays asserts that until about 1994, American society was, in general, favorably disposed to Christianity, and only since about 2014 has it become hostile:
Recently I wrote about how when I started college (in the fall of 1966), God used my professors’ utter contempt for “organized religion,” their certainty that no educated person could continue to hold such primitive convictions, to help draw me back to the faith in which I had been raised. In the 1980s, I worked for a reference publisher. One day over lunch, one of my fellow editors asked me (making clear he intended no offense) how someone like me (he meant, in part, someone who read a lot) could be very much a small-o orthodox Christian of the evangelical variety. His question was genuine. We had a good conversation.
As for the suggestion in the other essay, by David Brooks, that “modernity” has “left us with bitterness and division,” Wilson writes:
I have read the equivalent of those sentences (with their invocation of “modernity”) thousands of times, and yet I can’t understand how people (let alone people I myself have learned so much from) find them persuasive. This claim always seems to me to be radically ahistorical, for there has been bitterness and division among humans since the fall—it is hardly an invention of modernity.
And what of the coming post-religious future?
[W]e continue to worship each Sunday at Faith Covenant Church in Wheaton, Illinois. We share the astonishing convictions and hopes that have sustained the faithful for 2,000 years, extravagant as they sometimes seem, all too often distorted by misguided believers . . .