The Evangelical Addiction to Changing the World

Darryl Hart:

At the most basic level, how could restoring a traditional social order even within the most powerful nation on God’s green earth compare to taking the entire globe captive for Christ? A conservative outlook is not only too narrow or particular for evangelicals; it may also be simply too small. Still, what evangelicals miss is that to resist change, to try to preserve what is good, involves more than simply yelling “stop” in front of the steamroller of progressive dynamism. A conservative’s work is never done. But the never-ending task of questioning and resisting change does not appeal to evangelicals who are addicted to changing the world.

The problem, then, isn’t vigor, but perception. Born-again Protestantism thrives on change and breeds discontent with existing arrangements, whether personal or social. This impatience is not inherently radical or utopian, but it produces a similar effect, one that is constantly seeking to pattern existing conditions after a higher ideal. Born-again Protestants stress the imperfections of existing conditions and believe that with the right amount of faith and activity the inequalities and injustices can be fixed. In contrast, the conservative outlook seeks to preserve what is good in existing social arrangements because of an assumption that order is better than chaos, that change invariably produces instability, and that programs of perfection have been some of the most destructive in human history (204).

ā€“ From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism


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