The Bebbington Quadrilateral


2 Min Read

“Historian David Bebbington’s influential four-part description of evangelical essentials (the ‘Bebbington Quadrilateral’) tilts toward the theological – biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, and activism in spreading the first three. But separate from theology, American white evangelical Christianity has a political character that also boils down to four essential elements – Christian nationalism, Christian tribalism, political moralism, and antistatism. Call this the white evangelical political quadrilateral.”

Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, Mark A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, and George M. Marsden

Christians in America and it would seem also in Canada, need to distance themselves from the “either/or” fallacy of either conservatism or liberalism mindset. 

The virulent and counter-productive dogma that has permeated through the western church is that all things “conservative” are Christian-based and all things “liberal” are essentially evil. This manner of thinking is incontemptible with healthy analytical reasoning. The opposite is just as damnable. 

For the unbeliever, he must see us, followers of Christ, as people who transcend borders, policies, governments, and political ideologies to demonstrate the redemptive and regenerative work of Jesus Christ on earth.  

We are to be representatives of God’s Son. People who seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly before their God. People who love God with all of their heart, mind, and soul and love their neighbor as much as they love themselves. 

When Christianity is prey to nationalism, tribalism, political party lines, and other “isms” that diminish the person of Christ only to elevate local, federal, national ideals, it is no longer Christianity. It becomes a pseudo-theocratic institution where politicians perform the assignments of priests, political parties become religious institutions and the president becomes their prophet. And time allowing, by the power, respect, and praise ascribed to that individual leader, he or she then becomes the god and savior of that theo-political-religious identity. 

Lest we forget, it was prophet Jeremiah who attempted, time and again, to turn a wayward people from their destructive ways and their response was: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

They believed God would never destroy their most holy temple and city, no matter how evil they became because they had a sacred institution to fall back on. Thus enter Nebuchadnezzar.

God help us if we fall prey to the same mindset and say, “This is America! This is America! This is America!” 

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