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The End of Evangelicalism? A Year Later: Thanks To Many

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Whoah. It’s almost a year since The End of Evangelicalism? was released (February 2011 to be exact). I just want to say “thanks!” to the many people who reviewed it. There were so many reviews, helped along by Todd Littleton, and the good folks at The Ooze, and Homebrewed ChristianityScot McKnight and others, that I lost count and couldn’t keep up with them on the book’s page on this website.
Just today, I got a question via e-mail asking why I am so obsessed with Marxist social thought.  To which I replied, I am not obsessed with Marx at all. I am however impressed with the study of ideology. There are multitudinous things to be learned in the study of ideology about the way we live our lives together (political formation, the church), why we say we believe one thing and do another (“the performative contradiction”), how we form into groups together in ways which work against the kind of politics that makes for life together in Christ. The study of ideology, like few other studies, I argue, can uncover motives and desires at work in the contradictions we insist on living from day to day.For the church today, a study like this is timely. Marx is the founder (in some ways) of the critique of ideology for sure, but I am by and large dis-invested in his economic theories.

One of my favorite lines from the book is: “Evangelicalism has become an ‘empty politic’ driven by what we are against instead of what we are for.” (xvi) I spend alot of time uncovering how we (I include myself as an evangelical) have got caught up in this kind of internal defining of ourselves over against someone or something we are against. I try to show how this is empty and self-imploding. I try to show how the ONLY way out of ideologizing is to source our life together in the Triune life grounded in the incarnate work of Christ (or how Anabaptist ecclesiology solves the problem of ideology).

All this to say, I know I crossed some boundaries in The End of Evangelicalism? The book can be easily mis-understood. It’s an academic read (sorry about that). Which is all the more reason for me to thank people who put the book in their Top Books 2011 like Dwight FriesenScott Boren, Scott Emery , Mike Friesen, and of course Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed Books of the Year. Several tweeters twitted it as a favorite for the year. To all these people, I am grateful!

The book can still be purchased at a discount by going directly to Casade Books website and putting in the code as directed right here. You can get a free intro chapter on this page as well. You can buy the kindle version on Amazon’s site right here.

I apologize if I didn’t get your review up on my page yet. I’m working on it. And thanks for making what could have been an obscure academic book a wider read book. Hopefully for the furtherance of His Kingdom.

 

 

 

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8 responses to “The End of Evangelicalism? A Year Later: Thanks To Many

  1. I really appreciated the Great Giveaway and I look forward to reading this one on the Kindle. I’ve long believed that the accurate formation of God’s people comes from not only an informed understanding of scripture, but also ideologies that shape our assumptions and actions. Doing so can provide clarity and greater freedom from the conflict between our expressed values and how we live.What you helpfully call the performative contradiction.
    One notion of this that I am curious about is the freedom from fundamentalism. I don’t mean the type that we can all poke fun at, but the notion of having a movement or people that feel the need to define themselves against the backdrop of some kind of enemy. Fundamentalism is notorious for this. I see strands of fundamentalism even in the missional movement defining themselves against the “traditional church” or “church growth” movement. But it seems we fall into the trap of fundamentalism ourselves too easily with our efforts.

    There is also the “techno-market-capital” framework that deeply shapes us. It seems even in our best attempts, we deploy market tactics/measures and technology/techniques to attain successes. And we tend to refer to the notion and language of resources (people) to meet goals largely informed by how economic markets view success. It is dehumanizing and lacks the sustenance for longevity and fulfillment in being part of a people serving God.

    I have been increasingly fascinated with the practice of peeling back the layers to see things for what they are…the study of ideology has helped. your books are great for this.

  2. Fitch, I really loved this book. The critique on idealogy and an empty politic gave me a strong vocabulary to interact with some of the abstract thoughts and notions apparent in the church.
    Also, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your suggestions for future language using other theologians’ works. It gave me a great list of books to read after The End of Evangelicalism?

  3. Hi David. Read it (and read it again) when I was on holiday in Italy during the summer. Found it fascinating and challenging and people around our church are become quite familiar with the term “master-signifier”! Thank you for a great book and blog. Greetings from the UK!

  4. Haven’t read it yet either, David, but I have been following conversations about it in the theoblogosphere and am really looking forward to your visit to Eastern Mennonite University, so perhaps you’ll get me properly motivated to read it!

  5. Hi David,
    Looks like an interesting book. One of the reasons I left evangelicalism is, as you say above, it was difficult to find a positive mission/vision for our political situation.

    I’d be curious to hear a summary explanation of why you reject Marx’s economics. Personally I find the theme of worker alienation to have continuing relevance not only to economic theory but to those of us concerned with creating a more compassionate and personally enriching society.

  6. […] David Fitch, author of the insightful book The End of Evangelicalism?, similarly critiques the way certain concepts have come to serve similar ideological roles within the Evangelical tradition. Using the work of social philosopher Slavoj Žižek, Fitch demonstrates how elements of a tradition- in his case ideas such as “The Inerrant Bible” and “The Christian Nation”- function as master signifiers. A master signifier is a term that represents a whole collection of other ideas, practices and perspectives  in such a way as to enable people to “believe without believing.” The master signifier stands in place of all these other things, nearly eclipsing any of the particulars. A master signifier without these pieces, however, is an empty term. It only has power is so far as it rhetorically closes off the possibility of questions, the searching out of the specifics. […]

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