Who's calling who a "traditional evangelical"?

OK, I tried hard on my latest Pat Robertson post to keep things short, so I had better jump in here online (I am still in Chicago during some lectures) and address one or two concerns of readers who could see some of the holes created by my brevity. How about Thomas Oden, Luke Timothy Johnson, Al Mohler, Mark D. Roberts, John Piper, Mark Noll, John Stott, R.C. Sproul, Paul Zahl, Alister Begg, John MacArthur, just for starters? Posted by VaAnglican at 7:33 am on September 18, 2005pats

Fine list, with lots of good names. I was not trying, with my collection over at Poynter, to create any kind of definitive resource list. Instead, I was trying to suggest a range of options in terms of groups, gender, culture, skills, etc.

When reporters and broadcast producers research stories, one of the goals is supposed to be to find people who bring specific skills or fresh insights to the topic at hand. You see this a lot in niche-cable-news land on the left. You get serious or funny activists, you get young brilliant academics, you get behind-the-scenes powers who are not yet public names and so forth and so on. On the right you often get -- Pat Robertson or another elderly white alpha male. I was trying to suggest that journalists could, with some digging, discover a range of traditional Christians of various pews who are experts on many different kinds of topics. Some are even pithy.

I also wonder if the other reason the Evangelical elite is afraid of criticizing Robertson is that it was Robertson who mobilized the first wave of religious conservatives to become involved in elective politics. The Robertson presidential campaign was a watershed among religiuos conservatives, and the elites owe his a debt. Posted by Michael at 9:59 am on September 18, 2005

Yes, Robertson's Don Quixote campaign was a major event for some evangelicals.

But even then, there was major opposition to Robertson among evangelicals, and some of the most telling criticism (even news coverage) of his campaign came from other evangelicals. I am thinking, in particular, of the trailblazing work by columnist Michael McManus digging into Robertson's fundraising techniques. For a flashback on that issue, click here.

Why do VaAnglican and Terry's lists of "representative Evangelicals" include non-Protestants, protestants who do and do not think "Fundamentalist" is a bad word, protestant mainliners, and reformed protestants who do not really regard themselves as evangelicals? . . . Posted by +G.J. at 12:32 pm on September 18, 2005

I never said anything about "traditional evangelicals," did I? Where did I use that phrase?

This is the essence of my complaint in the original piece. Robertson does represent a certain shrinking niche of the wider charismatic Protestant world. He has his niche. But year after year, he is held up as a major voice in the wider world of cultural conservatism and for Christians in general. He is propped up as a spokesman for many, many people who have never claimed him.

Thus, I said that my Poynter list offered a collection of interesting people who might serve as quotable sources for journalists looking for feedback from "traditional Christians" -- not "evangelicals" or any narrower term. I also said that journalists needed fresh lists for the Christian left, Judaism and many other groups. It's a tough and complex news beat, folks.

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