The Year in Review

2022 at American Reformer

American Reformer is now well into its second year of existence. The Lord has blessed our work in this short span of time. We have a growing roster of excellent authors on topics ranging from the Protestant political tradition to wokeness in higher education to how to raise and protect Christian families in a spiritually and morally anarchic world. Work on various campaigns to strengthen and reform Christian institutions proceeds apace.

Over this last year we have been able to hire a full-time development director, and a full-time director of engagement, as well as several part-time editors for the journal. We have much in store for the coming year as we seek to continue and expand our work promoting a vigorous Christian approach to the cultural challenges of our day, rooted in the rich tradition of Protestant social and political thought.

The best way to see what we’ve been up to over the last year is to take a look at American Reformer’s 5 most popular articles from 2022. In these you can get a good sense for the range of topics and issues we address.

1. Stop Finding Your Identity in Christ by Caleb Morell.

The language of identity is omnipresent in our society. It has implications for nearly every realm of modern life. It has even begun to dominate the speech of Christians. Who hasn’t heard a pastor or Christian friend encourage us not to find our identity in our jobs, our families, or our hobbies, but instead to find our identity in Christ? Is the language of identity, however, the language Christians should adopt? Morell explored this question in a provocative thesis that received a good amount of attention (and not a small amount of displeasure!).

2. Jesus and John Wayne Among the Deplorables by Michael Young.

In Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, she claimed to provide “a historic account of ‘[t]he path that ends with John Wayne as an icon of Christianity,” of “rugged, heroic masculinity embodied by cowboys, soldiers, and warriors to point the way forward” for evangelical Christians in contemporary society. It turns out, as Michael Young shows in this trenchant response to Du Mez, that the “postmodern methods, attitude, and reasoning that Du Mez uses will dissolve everything to which they are applied. Nothing can survive the acid bath of postmodern analysis. The difference between these methods and the methods of Christian thought is the difference between illuminating the world and burning it down.”

3. This Article is Not About Tim Keller by James Wood.

2022 was the year of the Winsomeness Wars. James Wood set this battle off with an article at First Things, which he followed up at American Reformer with “This Article is Not About Tim Keller.” Many evangelicals, influenced by Keller (among others) argue that our culture is more likely to be won over to Christ if we present the truths of the Gospel in sophisticated and winsome ways, which will mean eschewing the harsh polemics of the “culture war.” Wood argues that the Winsome Way has many dangers, chief among them the idea that if we are simply nice enough (according to the world’s standard of niceness) we will be effective in conveying the Gospel to the world. The deadly danger in this approach is that it teaches Christians that hostility and opposition to their attempts to tell the world about Christ must be because they aren’t winsome enough. It does not do biblical justice to the stark opposition between faith and unbelief, an opposition that can only be overcome by the working of the Holy Spirit, whatever human arguments the Spirit may use in the process.

4. The Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Report and Its Consequences by Josh Abbotoy.

In this article our own executive director, Josh Abbotoy, analyzes the recent sexual abuse report issued by Guidepost Solutions, on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention. Abbotoy argues that it is nearly impossible to have a reasoned debate about reports such as this because it is usually assumed that any opposition could only come from the desire to hide or excuse the genuine evil these reports have uncovered. As is often the case, however, things are not as neat and tidy as we would like. Unintended consequences often emerge from attempts (however well-intentioned) to deal with real evils. Abbotoy focused in particular on how the report does not do “anything to address the underlying accountability issues” and that it gives SBC agencies far “too much discretionary power” that can easily be used for nefarious purposes.

5. The Ghost of Christian Past by Bradford Littlejohn.

As Littlejohn wrote: “Tom Holland’s 2019 book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World landed like a bombshell on the complacently atheistic world of the British intelligentsia, and continues to send shockwaves through the academy and popular discourse. In it, he courageously contends that ‘To live in a Western country is to live in a society still utterly saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions….The West, increasingly empty though the pews may be, remains firmly moored to its Christian past.’ Indeed, the very fact that this is so hard to see is itself evidence of Christianity’s total transformation of Western history: ‘So profound has been the impact of Christianity on the development of Western civilisation that it has come to be hidden from view. It is the incomplete revolutions which are remembered; the fate of those which triumph is to be taken for granted.’”

What You Can Do

Being opposed to the deterioration of the country we love is not enough. We must take a stand to fight for all we hold dear. What is more important than educating Christians for the fight and diligently working to save our most important Christian institutions? 

Things are not so dissimilar to the the situation Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of in 1835 in Democracy in America as he considered, with a sense of impending gloom, the prospect that an evil and dissolute majority, taking control of the levers of American power, might tyrannically impose its will on the whole nation:

Everyone senses that something is wrong, but no one has the courage or energy necessary to set it right. People feel desire, regret, sorrow, and joy, but nothing visible or lasting comes of it.

A dark cloud hangs over our nation. Christians sense it acutely.  By God’s grace may we not simply feel desire, regret, or sorrow, but rather find the courage and energy necessary to play our part (however small) in setting things right.

Would you thoughtfully and prayerfully consider making a meaningful contribution to American Reformer to continue our mission and to increase our output and impact in the new year?

*Image Credit: Unsplash

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