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Evangelicals vs. Liberal Christians

There’s an interesting academic study on evangelical and liberal churches in the Pacific Northwest: Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest by Jason Wellman. The book was published in 2008 by Oxford Univ Press and was recently reviewed for Books and Culture. The whole review is worth a read, although much of what is said will not be news to anyone familiar with the trajectories. The following candid reflection is interesting, however:

Liberals are not happy about being the losers in the clash of Christian civilizations. In fact, according to Wellman, they are preoccupied with evangelicals: “Liberals tended to comment more frequently about evangelicals than evangelicals about liberals.” Liberal churches “felt directly tested by the numerical success of evangelical congregations, and frequently bemoaned this competition.”

In many ways, liberals viewed evangelicals, who they insist on calling “fundamentalists,” as the enemy: “For liberals, the disparagement of ‘fundamentalists’ became a cliché throughout the study.”

In contrast, evangelicals’ main enemy is secular society and liberal culture, not mainline churches. In fact, when asked about their co-religionists, evangelicals usually expressed pity about the challenges facing the nation’s mainline denominations (which probably irritates the liberals even more).