When I first started reading Before You Lose Your Faith, that hard-right evangelical exhortation to doubting sheep, I didn’t quite realize it was going to run the full gauntlet of failed arguments. But here we are at Chapter 9, which now tries to strawman Bad Christians™ and get doubters to look only at TRUE CHRISTIANS™ when evaluating their religion’s validity as a moral framework. And, as an added bonus, we get some strawman anti-social-justice arguments too! Seriously, this book has it all, folks. And we’ll be covering the first half of its glorious errors today.

Let’s dive in! As the Iron Chefs’ Chairman Kaga used to say on the goofiest cooking show in history, Allez cuisine!

(This post originally appeared on Patreon on 12/6/2022. If you’d like early access to posts, please consider becoming a patron! <3)

Everyone, meet Thaddeus Williams, the author of this chapter of Before You Lose Your Faith

According to his bio blurb in Before You Lose Your Faith, Thaddeus Williams works as an associate professor of systematic theology at Biola University. He’s also written a bunch of books attacking social justice as a concept, as well as one about becoming your best self by “mirroring the greatest person in history.” Three guesses about who that is!

Yes, of course it’s Jesus. An evangelical isn’t allowed to put anyone else in that position! But I bet he won’t include his exhortations to abandon one’s family and ignore the poor to worship his feet. Or tricking his followers in their period of greatest grief and trauma after his death. If any of that stuff shows up, it’ll be reframed to make it sound super-duper wonderful instead of worryingly fanatical, mean-spirited, and culty.

I’m not a fan at all of Biola’s brand of apologetics, either. In 2020, I audited one of their apologetics lectures. To say the least, it failed utterly on every single level. In fact, it backfired. It consisted only of debunked talking points, logical fallacies, and emotional manipulation. To me, it came off more as a Sunday night sermon at any semi-rowdy evangelical church. And this lecture made Biola’s leaders so happy that they made it a sample lecture class for prospective Biola students to review!

Biola also employs the worse-than-useless apologist Sean McDowell. Clearly, intellectual and academic rigor is not one of their big goals in crafting their staff rosters. Skills in deploying evangelicals’ sleight-of-hand is.

And we will see those skills aplenty in this chapter. Yes, Williams has absorbed Biola’s ethos very well.

Before You Lose Your Faith starts with a bunch of strawman arguments

Thaddeus Williams begins Chapter 9 of Before You Lose Your Faith by attacking doubters who leave evangelicalism due to evangelicals’ abysmal record on social justice (p. 77):

Have you ever felt like many Christian churches today [*cough*EVANGELICAL*cough*] don’t care about justice the way they should, like they’re on the “wrong side of history”? Maybe you’ve even felt like that has become a deal-breaker for you, that your passion for a more just world could be more deeply gratified if you simply cut ties with the church, with all of its baggage and blind spots. If you’ve been burned by hypocrisy in the church or love someone who has, then perhaps that impulse to bail has grown irresistible.

This entire paragraph functions as a strawman argument.

In strawman arguments, someone creates a false version of their opponent that doesn’t reflect that opponent’s actual feelings or opinions. This “strawman” of their opponent is much easier to defeat, after all. Then, the arguer attacks and defeats the strawman, declaring victory over their actual opponent. But they never engaged with the opponent’s real opinions and feelings.

Strawman arguments work on people who don’t actually know what the opponent is like. If the targets of this argument already know that’s not a true representation, it backfires hard.

Here, Williams conflates evangelical churches with all other churches. Mainline and progressive Christian churches not only “care about justice,” but they actually work hard to address systemic injustice. Often, Black Protestant churches function as hubs of community activism for their congregations. But he paints this lack of caring as a universal constant.

Next, he depicts this longing for social justice as some late-stage-capitalist craving. Like it’s just some ridiculous appetite that “many Christian churches” fail to “gratify.” I love how he describes the anguish over deconstruction as “that impulse to bail,” like it’s someone deciding to dump a Tinder match before even meeting them. He further strawmans the role that hypocrites play in sparking doubt in deconstructors.

In the next paragraph, he will point out that the American Nazi Party claims to be all about social justice. I’m not kidding.

Really, we couldn’t ask for a better representation of evangelicals’ strawman tactics than this opening paragraph.

Why strawman tactics backfire hard as persuasive devices

It’s worth noting that I first encountered what I knew were strawman tactics in college. Until I went to college, I didn’t know any atheists. Everyone I knew was some kind of Christian! So I never heard any evangelical strawman descriptions of atheists. By the time I did, I already knew enough atheists to be shocked at how evangelicals described them.

What evangelicals presented me with was their false version of atheism. In their version, atheists were silly, dumb, thoughtless people who wanted to have off-limits sex more than they wanted to escape Hell. They 100% believed in Hell and all the rest of it, but denied believing it so they could avoid being accountable to Jesus. Of course, they also completely lacked any moral framework at all because they rejected Christianity. They were incapable of the emotions we felt all the time, like love and humankindness. Instead, they lived poor little lives of wretched meaninglessness that utterly lacked any kind of purpose. They were pitiful and pitiable, in evangelicals’ descriptions.

I knew none of that was true. Not one word of it rang true of the atheists I had already gotten to know on campus. In fact, this version of atheism was the dead opposite of the truth in every way.

It troubled me deeply to hear these false descriptions. If evangelicals had gotten atheists this wrong, what else had they also gotten wrong? What else did I believe about non-Christians that was likewise not reflective of them in reality?

So these strawmen went into the stack of false claims that I needed to deal with eventually—my Deal With It Later pile, so to speak. Later, when I encountered a Crisis Pregnancy Center clinic volunteer manual, that pile fell on top of my head!

Thaddeus Williams is playing with fire by insulting his enemies this way. He’s also minimizing the very real reasons that evangelicals’ lack of desire to work for social justice become a sticking point for doubters.

Contrasting a strawman of social justice with TRUE CHRISTIAN™ justice in Before You Lose Your Faith

Williams needs to paint this strawman of social justice so he can contrast it with what he views as the kind of justice justice that TRUE CHRISTIANS™ want. He calls the latter “Justice A” and the strawman “Justice B.” Justice A becomes “the kind of justice that is deeply compatible with a biblical worldview,” while Justice B “is not.” Doubting evangelicals need to look toward Justice A and eschew Justice B as the fakey-fake imitation that he insists that it is.

A biblical worldview is hard-right evangelical Christianese. When these Christians use the adjective “biblical,” they mean that its modified noun supports and encourages their culture wars against abortion, feminism, LGBT rights/inclusion, critical race theory (CRT), anti-Israel sentiments, and all the rest. Thus, “biblical marriage” means opposite-sex marriage only, as well as strict 1950s-sitcom-style gender roles for participants.

(Similarly, orthodox is hard-right evangelical Christianese, which we see in the National Association of Evangelicals’ description of “biblical marriage.” It describes their flavor of the religion and its literalist/inerrantist, sexist, racist, authoritarian, bigoted doctrines and culture. Such Christians desperately ache for their flavor to be considered the standard by which all competing flavors must be judged.)

So in this chapter, Williams will be putting forth evangelicals’ concept of culture-war-allowing pseudo-justice against actual social justice. In fact, he calls real social justice “highly explosive” as a concept.

It is, I suppose. Just not like he wants it to be.

And now, some false claims from Before You Lose Your Faith

Having established that TRUE CHRISTIAN™ justice is totally unlike social justice, Thaddeus Williams now launches into his next section. Here, he asks four questions of doubters who care about social justice. In all four, he will make false claims that can be easily addressed.

Question 1: As I seek social justice, have I distinguished a breakup from a breakthrough?

Others in this book have pointed out that many people deconstruct not from actual Christianity but from some short-sighted counterfeit. [. . .] You’re not breaking up with Christianity but with neo-Gnosticism—what Francis Schaeffer called “super-spirituality” disguised as Christianity.

Wow, that sounds super-complicated! But it isn’t.

Williams wants us to see social justice Christianity as a “short-sighted counterfeit.” It’s not the real thing at all. That’s why he name-drops Francis Schaeffer, a big name in evangelicalism, who sneers at it.

That’s an argument from authority, incidentally, and a common manipulation tactic used in evangelicalism. Williams then strawmans social justice-oriented doubters as deceived by this fake Christianity by characterizing it as “head-in-the-clouds Christianity in which the work of Christ has no implications for injustice in the here and now.” I’d argue the exact opposite, personally, from what I’ve seen of deconstructing evangelicals. They carry a version of Jesus in their heads that rarely includes his problematic teachings, but pushes heavily on the bits that talk about charity and compassion for the downtrodden.

What’s ironic is that later on, Williams himself will reach for those same bits to make his point.

Neo-Gnosticism 101

Gnosticism is an ancient heresy in Christianity. It might even be the very earliest one. Its proponents created a version of Christianity that focused on subjective personal experiences and knowledge gained from private religious contemplation and study. Gnostics also perceived the real world as seriously flawed, so they sought instead the spiritual world, which they considered divinely perfect. (A few years ago, we discussed How the Great Pan Died. It took a Gnostic interpretation of Jesus’ life as recounted in the Gospels.)

Gnosticism persists even to this very day, with adherents and sympathizers all over the world.

But we’re not talking about actual Gnosticism here—only an informal, bastardized notion of it.

You can find accusations of neo-Gnosticism not only in the flavor of Christianity practiced by Thaddeus Williams and his pals, but also in the higher-flown halls of Catholic leadership. In 2018, Catholic News Agency described it like this:

The Pope has spoken of neo-Gnosticism as “a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings” (Evangelii Gaudium, 94). Pope Francis sees neo-Gnosticsim “in elite groups offering a higher spirituality, generally disembodied, which ends up in a preoccupation with certain pastoral “quaestiones disputatae” . . .

Ligonier, a Calvinist group, also took a shot at describing neo-Gnosticism in 2008. To them, it was “a wholly subjective encounter with Jesus, which is the basis for many people’s professed Christianity.”

And if this claim were true, then almost all evangelical churches are guilty of “neo-Gnosticism.” Almost all evangelicals talk about “wholly subjective encounters with Jesus” and the supernatural, which they fully expect to sound persuasive to non-Christians.

It’s really too bad that King Thaddeus isn’t allowed to kick out all these fake, counterfeit evangelical churches!

The breakthrough Thaddeus Williams means in Before You Lose Your Faith

Having established neo-Gnosticism as an invalid reason for doubting, Thaddeus Williams moves on. Rather than “breaking up” with TRUE CHRISTIANITY™, he now asks doubters to have a “breakthrough” about his redefinition of real justice. And he says that breakthrough comes with reframing TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ as totally focused on justice. In fact, he admits he’s reframing (p. 79):

Consider one possibility for reframing your experience. What if what feels like a breaking up is, in reality, a breaking through? What if your concerns for justice are precisely the kind of breakthrough [poet Evangeline] Patterson describes?

He thoughtfully shows us the “breakthrough” that Patterson describes. In her words:

“I was brought up in a Christian environment where, because God had to be given preeminence, nothing else was allowed to be important. I have broken through to the position that because God exists, everything has significance.”

Significance isn’t the same thing as importance, of course. I’d fully expect that a poet is fully cognizant of her word choices.

And her conclusions are utter nonsense.

Social justice does not flow from religious beliefs for a reason

In Reality-Land, social justice flows from the belief that all human beings have inalienable rights and are entitled to dignity. That belief does not flow from any belief in any gods. In fact, it exists independently of any such beliefs. (And that’s a very good thing. All too often, religious beliefs suppress and trample social justice.) This lack of religious underpinnings is how people of every faith and no faith can band together to demand changes to how laws and society operate.

By contrast, evangelicals’ culture wars flow from two pools of toxic sludge. In increasing order of importance, their criteria are simply:

  1. Does our take on Christianity allow this or forbid it?
  2. Will this thing threaten our power and ambitions, or aid us in achieving them?

Nowhere in these pools do we find any mention of or care for inalienable rights or dignity, despite evangelicals’ frequent attempts to relabel their culture wars like that. In truth, evangelicals despise both and seek to destroy them with every new skirmish they start in their culture wars.

I can see why, too. People who insist on their rights and dignity do not give evangelical recruiters the time of day. And evangelicals who awaken to the vast importance of these ideas tend not to hang around evangelical groups for longer than it takes to realize that their peers and leaders don’t want any part of that awakening.

As the night the day, once a-fookin-gain, in Before You Lose Your Faith

Once again, we spot another evangelical in Before You Lose Your Faith that thinks that correct behavior follows correct beliefs, “as the night the day” (to borrow from Shakespeare).

To contrast his flavor of Christianity with this fake counterfeit that most evangelical churches teach, Williams takes an unspoken counter position that I’ve often seen in the writings of evangelicals like him. If neo-Gnosticism stresses subjective encounters and feelings, then his flavor of TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ stresses Jesus as a real live god who really truly lived and died and was resurrected, as depicted in a holy book that is 100% entirely literally true and inerrant in every way. That makes evangelicals’ encounters with the supernatural real encounters. Their stories relate objective facts rather than subjective feelings.

Without that understanding of the real live for realsies reality of Jesus as a human being who really lived on Earth and had a bad half-weekend for some of his followers’ sins, these evangelicals insist, nothing else makes sense.

To be sure, their control-grabs and culture wars certainly don’t. If their claims sit on the same basic shelf as the claims of all other religions’ believers, then consumers in the religious marketplace can take them or leave them as they please. These claims can be tested and found wanting by anybody who understands human rights and dignity (and can apply critical thinking skills to religious claims).

But if their own claims are 100% objectively true, then Williams’ tribe enjoys an advantage that cannot possibly be beat. Their threats become not just attempts to terrorize with existential fears of mortality and oblivion, but real actual things that will for sure happen to those who reject their demands. And their control-grabs become not just the desperate grasping of a swiftly-declining bunch of rabid authoritarians, but the express desires of a living god.

Too bad not one of their claims is, actually, even 10% objectively true.

Before You Lose Your Faith now demands we ignore Bad Christians™

In his second question, Thaddeus Williams asks another eye-roller of a strawman:

Question 2: As I seek social justice, am I breaking from a one-sided stereotype of Christianity?

If I were raised deep in the Amazonian jungles, and then suddenly dropped in the middle of Los Angeles and handed a smartphone and a Twitter account, I’d draw some clear conclusions about Christianity—namely, Christians are bigots, phobics, and haters. Christians have declared war on women, they’re fond of white supremacy, they don’t care for the poor, they hate Muslims and gay people, are the greatest oppressors on earth, and have been for centuries.

But all of this, he tells us, is totally just “a common caricature of Christianity in many Social Justice B circles.” And he wants to “set some facts straight to see through social-media stereotypes and partisan propaganda.”

Harrumph, he says! HARRUMPH! Good sir, HARRUMPH!

Why this view is nothing but a strawman

Once again, though, Thaddeus Williams conflates Christianity itself with his particular tribe of hardline culture warriors. I’d be hard-pressed to find people who think Christians outside of that group are anything described by his strawman description. Most people don’t even realize that hardine Catholics are like this too. They just think it’s evangelicals.

And social media isn’t what made people aware of evangelicals in this way. This opinion existed even in the 1980s and 1990s when I was Pentecostal. Social media did not even exist. Hell, the consumer internet barely did!

Moreover, evangelicals themselves gave normies this impression. Evangelicals themselves talk like this in person and in their out-loud voices. They write blog posts, books, and letters-to-the-editor extolling these exact sentiments. When we apprehend yet another domestic terrorist or encounter yet another bigot or racist melting down in public, these culprits almost always turn out to be—you guessed it—hardline evangelical Christians.

What’s more, many of us actually were evangelical of some flavor, as I was. We met and hung out with evangelicals all the time. The stereotype rings true to us because we personally know so many people who fit it.

But our experiences don’t matter in Before You Lose Your Faith

Reading his airy dismissal of hypocrisy makes me want to ask him:

How many TRUE CHRISTIANS™ are we allowed to meet who fit that stereotype exactly before King Thaddeus graciously allows us to form our own opinion of them? Ten? Twenty? A hundred, even a thousand? A solid large percentage of all the evangelicals we’ve ever met?

The answer is that we will not ever be allowed to form an off-limits opinion, ever.

He will never grant his royal permission to consider evangelicals, as a group, to stand solidly against real justice for the downtrodden. We will never be allowed to draw our own conclusions from the people we encounter ourselves.

If he were ever to allow such opinions to exist, you see, that would completely wreck his sales pitch in Before You Lose Your Faith. And his rebuttal to accusations of hypocrisy in evangelicalism is simple:

Just look at alla dem long-dead, long-past Christians who TOTES cared about helping those who needed it! Your opinion is, therefore, invalid!

We will never be allowed to consider modern American evangelicals a bunch of rights-hating, justice-despising hypocrites as long as even a few actually-decent human beings have ever practiced Christianity.

And now, the cherry-picking part of the show begins in Before You Lose Your Faith

Cherry picking is another logical fallacy, the fallacy of incomplete evidence. To cherry pick, the arguer selects only data that supports their argument, while ignoring all the other data that contradict it.

We’re long familiar with Creationists doing this with real science, but apologists definitely do it too—as we’re about to see right now.

Here are some of the “mere snippet[s] of relevant facts” presented by Williams (p. 79-80, with my rebuttals:

Christians rescued the unwanted babies who had been tossed away like garbage at the human dumps of the Roman Empire. . .

Yes, and this matters in the context of modern American evangelicalism how? Because these are the Christians who abuse and throw their kids out of the house for coming out as gay or confessing their atheism. They “rehome” adopted kids who turn out to be too much to handle, at least when they don’t turn them into house slaves or murder them with abuse. We also can’t forget the evangelical sex abuse scandal that has produced thousands of victims now seeking justice.

No, I don’t think Williams really wants us thinking overmuch on evangelicals’ record on child abuse.

Now let’s examine charity and hospitals!

Christians built more hospitals and orphanages to serve the suffering than any other movement in history, while offering a robust framework for human rights and human sexuality that has brought freedom and dignity to millions.

MEGA [citation needed] there. While also describing Christians centuries ago and not modern American evangelicals at all, Williams also forgets that for centuries, Christian leaders controlled huge swathes of the world. They were, literally, the only game in town for charity at all. Nobody else had the framework they did for getting resources to the needy, and I’m sure that’s not an accident of design. Nowadays, we’re starting to cotton to the human rights abuses being committed by Christian-owned hospitals and charities, so this isn’t really a great point to offer readers either.

More to the point, we only have to look for the social safety net measures that evangelicals routinely oppose to understand just how much they care about the suffering of the sick and orphaned.

And this “robust framework” has never included any deep regard for human rights, for the reasons already described. His tribe’s view of human sexuality brings emotional bondage and serious limitations to those who buy into it, as I once did and as many people have discovered. It’s little more than a vehicle for victim grooming and authoritarian control-grabs. For many of us, that indoctrination takes years to unpack and reprogram and recover from.

And now, literacy rates and education!

It just doesn’t end with this guy. Now, he offers Christians’ efforts regarding education. You’ll probably spot exactly what cherry-picking he does before I even describe it.

Christians inspired skyrocketing literacy rates around the world, even introducing written languages into cultures that had none and spearheading linguistic breakthroughs in modern English, French, and German. [. . .] Christians directly inspired universities into existence.

This is just sad. Again, we’re not talking about modern American evangelicals for the most part.

For many centuries, Catholic leaders (who were, again, the only game in town) didn’t care at all about literacy in the masses who were forced to attend their churches. They allowed Bibles to be printed only in Latin (mostly). Catholic leaders ferociously resisted putting the Bible into the languages that Christians understood. Similarly, those universities were there to train future Catholic leaders and courtiers, not promulgate learning to the peasants. And for education, too, Christians were the only game in town.

Then, Protestants came onto the scene and decided to devote lots of time to missionary work. They thought that it was very important that their marks be able to read the Bible in their own language. That’s not surprising, since that was such a big part of early Protestants’ goals for themselves.

But it’s also why Christian missionaries have always pushed hard for literacy. Literacy is a big part of their sales strategy. They’re not doing it because it’s a good thing for people to be literate. They’re doing it to make converts. It’s not like they’re establishing free universities en masse in these countries. They just need marks to be able to read “In the beginning” for themselves.

There’s always room for more talk of Nazis in Before You Lose Your Faith

The last two “mere snippets” on offer both relate to resisting evil. They backfire the hardest (p. 80).

Christians organized resistance movements against the Nazis. [. . .] Christians led the movement to abolish slavery not only in America and the United Kingdom, but also in India, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

Yes, some Christians did try hard to fight back against Nazis in those dark years preceding and during World War II. Without a doubt, this is true. And yes, it’s also completely true that some Christians did campaign hard for an end to slavery in the countries named.

But neither effort was universally Christian. He is making the same mistake of conflating Christians as a whole with what just a few Christians did long ago. Plenty of other Christians saw the Nazi Party as entirely conducive to Christian ideals and goals. Dietrich Bonhoeffer often criticized church leaders at the time for this exact attitude they had.

Similarly, plenty of other Christians campaigned hard to maintain slavery as a system of labor. In fact, some of that latter group formed the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in 1845 as a reaction to abolitionist sentiment among the Baptists up north.

I’d also argue that neither group of Nazi- and slavery-fighting Christians look much at all like modern American evangelical culture warriors. What those Christians did was laudable, yes, but they have no relation whatsoever to what these Christians are doing today.

And now, our author reacts to accusations of cherry picking!

Toward the end of this section, Thaddeus Williams offers a mealy-mouthed explanation for his cherry picking (p. 81):

“Sure,” comes the welcome skeptic’s reply, “but didn’t Christians also instigate crusades, inquisitions, witch burnings, and other atrocities?” Sadly, yes. But which self-proclaimed believers do you think merit the name “Christian”—the ones dignifying or the ones dehumanizing their neighbors?

My cheeks hurt from laughing over this chapter. At least it’s amusing, I suppose.

Yes, I’m sure Williams absolutely “welcomes” skeptics’ replies. I wonder what he’d do if a skeptic shot back with a question about how exactly King Thaddeus decides who is and isn’t Christian at all, because that’s certainly what I’d say in that situation.

We apparently don’t have permission to think for ourselves

It’s not Williams’ call to decide who’s “self-proclaimed” and who isn’t. There is no universal definition of TRUE CHRISTIAN™, much as he’d like there to be. To a great many Christians, he and Christians like him are the happily-self-deceived, “self-proclaimed” fakey-fake fake Christians who have dehumanized their neighbors so brutally.

He wants to disallow us from looking upon evangelicals who are bad examples, and only allow us to look at evangelicals that he himself consider good ones. That’s not how it works. We’re completely allowed to notice that evangelicalism produces bad apples way more often than it produces sterling examples of charity and compassion, and that evangelicals’ hopelessly-broken roadmap leads, all too often, directly to Point Disgusting Hypocrisy than to their claims of Point Decent Human Being.

Worse for Williams’ case, it’s evangelicals in his precise tribe, the “orthodox” and “biblical” Christians, who most reliably display that hypocrisy and dehumanization. We aren’t allowed to consider them at all in doubting his claims. He’ll reach all the way back to the third century to offer us alternatives, even if those alternatives have nothing at all to do with his tribe as it now stands.

The other big problem with hypocrites and good Christians

Thaddeus Williams, like all the other evangelicals who try to use this kind of cherry picking, misses another very obvious dealbreaker for his arguments.

With such a large percentage of practitioners and adherents who are hypocrites, it is painfully clear that Christianity itself is not responsible for the kindness and charity that some Christians actually practice.

Worse, the large number of charitable, kindhearted people in other religions makes clear that every religion, and for that matter atheism, also contains good people who follow their own rules and try to help others where they can. And atheists help people even without heavenly divine approval as an inducement. Likewise, they refrain from the worst behavior not because they fear Hell, but because they care about others too much to do anything like that.

So ultimately, people’s religious beliefs do not translate into them being kinder or more charitable.

And this is a HUGE problem, for evangelicals at least

This was a really hard lesson for me to learn when I was Pentecostal.

In college, I encountered a lot of atheists and pagans who were considerably better at living out Jesus’ instructions to his followers than evangelicals were. Not only that, but evangelicals tended, as a group, to be really awful people: vengeful, cruel, dishonest, greedy, bigoted, backbiting, and deeply hypocritical when it came to following our own rules. There wasn’t a single thing that they told others not to do that they didn’t do themselves. That especially applied to the off-limits sex.

If my tribe’s claims were true, this situation should not have existed. It should have been reversed, and reversed to such an extent that the whole world marveled at what gracious, compassionate, charitable, obedient people evangelicals were. Instead, even back then my tribe was known for showing the opposite traits in every case. Yeah, this realization was a major problem for me back then.

It wasn’t the evil media giving outsiders this opinion, nor social media, nor Hollywood. It was evangelicals themselves showing everyone else exactly who they really were.

Before You Lose Your Faith: Its worst offense

This post is getting really long, so we will tackle the other disingenuous Just Asking Questions questions next time. For now, I’ll rest here:

The kind of justice that Thaddeus Williams pushes in Chapter 9 of Before You Lose Your Faith is not real justice. It does not flow forth from any regard for human rights, but rather exists as a vehicle for putting people into further emotional bondage to his tribe’s leaders.

Should any evangelical reading this chapter come away convinced by this shit-tier arguments, deciding on the spot that from now on they’ll pursue Justice A, which means that Jesus himself approves of CRT as a means of studying systemic racism, or that evangelicals need to start campaigning and voting for more social safety net measures for children, or even that they just need to do more to materially support immigrants, the reaction from the tribe will end up trending on Twitter and headlines for days to come.

His tribe’s members themselves are the worst counterargument that Williams could ever face to his ideas. Like we’ve already seen in the rest of this book, their existence in such great numbers puts the lie to every single gauzy claim about TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ that we’ve seen so far. We can’t, and we shouldn’t, pare them out of our evaluation of his tribe and his claims.

And we won’t.

(I mean really: What’s he gonna do about it? He’s just a failed salesman, after all. Not a lord who can command us, as much as he clearly wishes he was, and not even an ambassador for anyone real. His demands are exactly as binding as those of any desperate used-car salesman.)

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Captain Cassidy

Captain Cassidy is a Gen-X ex-Christian and writer. She writes about how people engage with science, religion, art, and each other. She lives in Idaho with her husband, Mr. Captain, and their squawky orange tabby cat, Princess Bother Pretty Toes. And at any given time, she is running out of bookcase space.


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