The history of Christianity in the Western world has always been powerfully intertwined with social and political realities of each age and culture. This is as true today, in the U.S., as it is of any point in history. On one level, it may be argued that there is a national resurgence or revival of interest in the Christian Church, which must promote the core ideals of Christ’s teachings. On another, however, society is currently gripped by intense divisions, as evangelical Christianity, frequently associated with extreme conservatism, is mistaken for authentic revival of the faith. Disturbingly, the two are so confused, the essence of the Christian Church and what it means become lost. As the following explores, ideas of a modern revival of the Christian Church are misguided. The reality, in fact, is that a true revival is more required today than ever, and because political ideologies have become too attached to how the Church is perceived, and the survival of the Christian Church relies on Christians adhering to, and insisting upon, the values that define the faith.

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To understand the nature of the current revival of the Christian Church in modern society, it is first necessary to recognize how this resurgence deviates from the truth of the Church itself, which leads to the urgency for an authentic revival. There is no doubt that, in recent years, public interest in the Church has dramatically increased, and in terms of both followers and the society’s awareness of the impacts. Much of this, however, is so tied to social and political feeling, it becomes virtually impossible to isolate the Christian Church as central to the revivalist spirit. Example are many; in 2016, New Hope Baptist Church in Burlington, North Carolina, extended its week-long revival session to eleven weeks, simply because the demand of attendees wishing to convert was so immense. The same circumstance occurred in West Virginia, in the same year (Sammons, 2018). Ministers and pastor have then also used social media to encourage the activity and give thanks for the new outpourings of commitment to the Church. At the same time, it is impossible to separate these revivalist events from the tides of social and political feeling gripping the nation. Arguably, in fact, the interest in revivalism is proportionate to the populations adamantly conservative, and focusing on traditionally social ideas of Christianity in living as opposed to the teachings of Christ. Put another way, the Christian Church is enjoying a revival, but it is one antithetical to Christianity and far more based upon extremist views.

The above is then part of a trajectory indicating how badly Church leaders need to create a new revivalist spirit, and one centered on the essence of Christianity itself. The modern scenario of enthusiasm has been developing for some years. What has also occurred, in fact, is a revival of authentic Christian ideology as a backlash to extremist evangelical movements generate by social and political intents. Evangelical victories in blocking gay marriage and other rights in the 1980s and 1990s, for example, encouraged such extremists to believe there was a new and intense revival overtaking the country, and one intent on upholding all traditional aspects of the society. Instead, there came a Christian response defying the discrimination (Jones, 2016, p. 120). Around the nation, Christian leaders are opposing any association of the faith with the current political climate.

Interestingly, moreover, the public is largely unaware of the division in Christian life created by the Trump campaign. While opponents of Trump, then and now, perceive him as having had consistent Christian evangelical support, the reality is different; many conservative Christian leaders and organizations decried the Trump victory as undermining the true quality of the faith (FitzGerald, 2017, p. 630). As the administration remains in place and increasingly refers to itself as Christian, then, adherents of true Christianity are distancing themselves from it, and instead promoting interest in the faith based only on the precepts of love as taught by Christ.

In plain terms, there is no discounting how modern Christianity has become controversial in American society. More exactly, and possibly to an unprecedented degree, emphasis on Christian spirituality is today completed equated with evangelicalism, which in turn is widely associated with extreme conservatism and far-right political ideologies (FitzGerald, 2017, p. 535). None of this is appropriate, just as all of it demands an active return to the core presence of the Christian Church as serving the needs of the people. There is an innate beauty in the Church’s universality of acceptance, and this has become mired and abused in various social and political agendas. The culture is, in fact, in danger of losing the inestimable benefits of the Church, and benefits very much of value in a multicultural society marked by varying religions.

When the reality of the modern evangelical movements is understood, what becomes clear is that this is no revival of the Christian Church in any meaningful sense. Rather, it is a distortion of the Church and a refutation of Christ. The Christian, adherent or aspiring, ultimately accepts that the faith centers on obedience to God and Christ’s injunctions to humanity. Evangelicalism, conversely, unjustly discriminates and relies on ideas of race and background as defining the Christian. This is unacceptable and dangerous to the faith. An authentic revival is then more required today than ever before, and because socio-political ideologies are too attached to how the Church is perceived, and the existence of the Christian Church depends on Christians adhering to, and insisting upon, the core values that define the faith.

  • FitzGerald, F. (2017). The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Jones, R. P. (2016). The End of White Christian America. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.