Incomprehensible Evangelicals and the Death of John Allen Chaup

By Thomas Kidd @ The Gospel Coalition

I surveyed a few articles about the death of John Allen Chau before settling on this one from a decidedly conservative evangelical source written by Thomas Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History at the similarly conservative evangelical Baylor University.

The article cites media reaction to Chau’s fate as evidence of American culture’s increasing inability to understand the “core convictions of evangelicals, including the need for salvation through Christ and the mandate to share one’s faith.” An article from The New York Times and particularly The Wall Street Journal are proffered as proof of “post-Christian” America’s dense comprehension of the heartfelt opinions of evangelicals.

As a sidebar, while I subscribe to the NYT I am regrettably too poor to subscribe to the WSJ.

I cannot speak for America, but speaking for myself, I’d say that Thomas Kidd has confused “incomprehension” for “unsympathetic.” I assert that I understand the “core convictions,” or the heartfelt opinions, of evangelicals; I merely do not agree with them.

Thomas Kidd laudably affirms that he “would not advocate breaking the law in order to advance evangelistic aims,” yet he implicitly condones the activity by failing to explicitly condemn it in this instance–beyond noting the plan was “ill-considered”–and then by justifying it as a command from God and scripture.

The “comprehending observer” might “realize” that I may, theoretically speaking, passionately love a pretty blonde married secretary who works in my office with all of my heart, but the “comprehending observer” would sagely advise me to “leave [her] alone.” The “comprehending observer” would not extol the nobility of my incarceration for stalking the beautiful married secretary because of the sincere infatuation that burned within my heart. The comprehending as well as obtuse observer would be alarmed if I announced that I would be willing to die for the theoretical lovely married secretary who worked in my office.

Thomas Kidd finally assigns disagreement with his line of reasoning as the “contempt” of “those who are perishing,” and buttresses his weak argument with the invisible crutch of nothing less than “the power of God.”

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