Christianity has died at the hands of American Evangelicals if the faith ever existed in the United States at all, one liberal professor has declared. During an interview with the “Friends Talking Faith” podcast, Dr. Miguel De La Torre, Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at the United Methodist-affiliated Iliff School of Theology, questioned U.S. Evangelicals’ faithfulness and attempted to examine the unhealthy roots of American Christianity.
The podcast discussion focused around De La Torre’s 2017 Baptist News op-ed in which he wrote, “The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency.”
When pressed by the podcast hosts about this controversial statement, De La Torre reconsidered his premise. Why? Because it assumed Christianity was once a vibrant part of American history. “When in reality I probably should have said Christianity came to these shores stillborn and never really took root in this country.”
He explained, “If we look at our history, based on the genocide of indigenous people, the slavery of Africans, the stealing of land from Latin American countries, I’m beginning to wonder if we ever really had Christianity in this country.”
When asked if he was speaking broadly about the death of all Christianity, De La Torre said no and clarified he is specifically talking about “white nationalist Christianity.” As it is, De La Torre argues this variety of the faith is representative of America’s dominate Christianity. “That is the Christianity that does not question structures of oppression and the Christianity that instead supports and abets white supremacy, which is the foundational Christianity upon which the country was built…” At this point, De La Torre attempted to examine the white nationalist motives of the Pilgrims.
Though change is not imminent, there is hope for a revival, according to De La Torre. “It only really will occur when white people crucify their white privilege and when people of color crucify their colonized minds and begin to understand this faith through their own symbols.”
There do exist true American Christians “standing in solidarity with the oppressed,” De La Torre acknowledged. But also “Jewish groups, and Muslim groups, Hindu groups, and even in Humanist groups and Atheist groups who are more faithful, than I would say the 81 percent who voted for someone who represents the very opposite of everything that Jesus taught.”
When asked if De La Torre—an ordained Southern Baptist clergyman—still identified with the term Evangelical, he said “I think I have already given up the term. I really cannot be part of a terminology that really is used to oppress other people.” Also, he claimed “the word Evangelical has become so polluted that it is beyond reformation” and “Generation Z and the Millennials, they want nothing to do with such terms.”
Most disturbing, De La Torre wondered “if even the term Christianity—especially with its history— is a term that I can hold onto as well.”
“Now don’t get me wrong, my faith will not change. But the terminology has done so much damage globally, it’s kind of hard to justify the word,” he stated.
Christians have faults and shortcomings, sure. But while there are Christians who have acted in contrast to Christ’s teaching, we must remember that we are all—liberal or conservative—
fallen and in need of redemption. But this should not dismiss the ultimate meaning of the word “Christian.” Christianity means people who follow Jesus Christ and who strive to uphold His teachings.
I pray that De La Torre will recognize his own politicization of Christ’s teachings. May the Holy Spirit stir De La Torre to place his trust in the Lord, not on his own understanding.
You can listen to the complete interview on the “Friends Talking Faith” podcast web page: https://twgradio.podbean.com/e/faith-religion-who-killed-christianity-in-america-s11e16/