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The Year of Jen Hatmaker

The Texas evangelical leader landed herself in hot water over comments about the LGBTQ community. But the blowback prompted a bigger discussion: What does it mean to be an evangelical today?

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Illustration by Andrea Ucini

Jen Hatmaker seems like someone you might know in real life. She regularly posts on Instagram about her parenting fails, what shows she binge-watches on Netflix, and her new favorite accessory. But mostly, she lets you in on the nitty gritty of her daily life. Last December, she posted a picture of herself in a t-shirt, flannel shirt, leggings, and boots. “I went to Target like this. I am obviously not afraid of competing patterns or yesterday’s makeup,” she wrote in the caption. “Also, please enjoy my unmade bed. Also, I am about to take a nap.”

Hatmaker isn’t just a social media personality. The mother of five—her three oldest are biological and her two youngest are adopted from Ethiopia—is an author of twelve books, a national speaker, and the host of an HGTV show documenting the renovation of her house in Buda. Through her writing and speaking engagements, she has become a leader in the evangelical community. Her husband is the pastor at Austin New Church, a small congregation that the couple founded and still leads together.

But Hatmaker’s humor, candidness, and raw slice-of-life glimpses are far from what we have grown to expect from religious leaders. She is not Instagramming from a pulpit. Her husband, children, and kitchen look just like yours. At least, that’s the story her comment section tells.

“You get it. Love your words. Thanks, Jen.”

“Did you sneak into my house?”

“Jen, you don’t know me, I have no children and probably shouldn’t relate to this but you crack me up, say things I think, and in my head we are friends.”

“Hey, friend-in-my-head, have you caught up to the latest episode of This Is Us yet? Waiting for your thoughts.”

Comment after comment depicts Hatmaker as the best friend you wish you had. This imaginary friendship can turn sour, though, when the fantasy doesn’t match up with reality.

In the evangelical community, Hatmaker has often been criticized for her vague stance on certain social issues and willingness to question traditional messaging from churches. The writer, who typically relies on an overall message of love rather than specific directives, addressed that history in 2013. In a blog post, she explained that a large church, citing her history of questioning church practices, had retracted its invitation to have her speak. What Hatmaker saw as asking hard questions and challenging her faith, others saw as a refusal to adhere to mainstream evangelical Biblical views. “So if anyone wants to venture out to the margins, past familiar boundaries, through sanctioned Christian staples, beyond guilt-by-association fears, outside traditional approval—I’ll be here with my people, with Jesus, making others crazy and getting uninvited from things,” Hatmaker concluded in the post.

Hatmaker made good on the promise to shake things up in an interview with Religion News Service in October of last year. Although the article covered many things, it quickly gained attention for Hatmaker’s stance on gay marriage. While she had long welcomed the LGBTQ community and challenged Christians to adopt a more loving stance toward it, she had never clearly stated her interpretation of the Bible’s take on gay marriage. 

When asked if she thought an LGBTQ relationship can be holy, Hatmaker responded: “I do. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.”

The evangelical community erupted.

LifeWay, a Christian bookstore chain, stopped selling her books. Christian blogs churned out content. National media picked up the story. Her comment section was a heated mix of supporters and haters, a far cry from the usual love of her imaginary friends. It would be a year before Hatmaker, who retreated to the sidelines after intense blowback, would reemerge fully. The woman who had been pushing boundaries for years had, in the eyes of many of her followers, finally gone too far. 

But Hatmaker’s statements—as evidenced by the swift and severe blowback—revealed much more than her personal views on gay marriage. They shed light on the culture of Christianity and provoked a question that is tender for many right now: How do you love and respect someone with whom you passionately disagree? And for the people who agreed with Hatmaker, another question, one that had the potential to change so much for so many, began to surface: What does it mean to be an evangelical Christian when the label is so closely tied to politics?

Defining an Evangelical

Sandra Glahn, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, author, and a member of the Evangelical Press Association can pinpoint another time when she noticed Christian culture facing an identity crisis. In Copy Editor, a publication she read when she worked as an editor, there was a regular column highlighting words that had a changed meaning in popular culture. She remembers seeing the word Christian in the column. The old definition was someone who follows the teachings of Christ. The new definition? A member of a right-wing political party. If that column existed today, surely the word evangelical would be in it.

Evangelicalism is often misrepresented and misunderstood, so much so that even people who claim the label might have a difficult time offering a concise definition. It comes from the Greek word for “good news,” and, at its core, the movement seeks to share the message of the Christian Bible, specifically the gospel—the story of Jesus found in the first four books of the New Testament. The movement can be traced back to Martin Luther’s reformation and beyond, back to Catholics in Medieval Christendom who wanted reform in the church and a strict adherence to the Bible’s teachings. During Luther’s reformation and the beginning of protestantism, an evangelical was a reformer who wanted to break with some of the Catholic Church’s practices, which they felt had corrupted over time.

It wasn’t until the Second Great Awakening—a spiritual revival that swept through the United States in the nineteenth century—that the term began to take on a new identity. During that period, evangelicalism came to symbolize a commitment to missionary work and social reform. As the country marched toward westward expansion, evangelicals went with it to claim the wild frontier for Christ. But Christianizing the Wild West was not for the faint of heart, and many prominent theologically educated leaders chose to stay put with their congregations, leaving the missionary work to passionate, but not always theologically-educated, men. As the movement settled, the effect of these missionaries was evident; the Christian community did not necessarily look that different from the world around it.

As materialism and outside influences crept into the church, a new movement stepped in: fundamentalism. Initially, fundamentalists, as the name suggests, sought to return to the fundamentals of Christianity. Over time, however, the movement became synonymous with legalism, racism, naiveté, and anti-intellectualism in popular culture. That sparked a new wave of evangelicalism, which took the country by storm in the mid-twentieth century. Evangelicals like Billy Graham led Christians back to the core of the movement to seek social justice and missions work.

But after the 2016 presidential election, evangelicalism is once again facing a crisis of faith. Similar to the fundamentalist movement, evangelicalism has taken on a political tone, sometimes being used in the same sentence as “alt-right.” But are people who identify as evangelicals truly guilty of being what mainstream culture deems as racist, sexist, homophobic—or has the term been hijacked?

“The word evangelical can be stolen and taken unfair advantage of,” said Ray C. Ortlund Jr. in a speech on the history of the movement at a conference hosted by The Gospel Coalition. Partly, the label is easy to misconstrue because of the relative freedom of the word. Descriptively, its definition can point to its history, its stereotypes, its perception in this culture. The prescriptive piece is what is often missed. Because to be evangelical is not to be white, or a Republican, or conservative, or to even wear the label of Christian. The label cuts to the very core of a person’s beliefs, the heart of their personal theology.

The National Association of Evangelicals proposes four tenets to fit the descriptor. To claim it, a person must hold the Bible as the highest authority for their beliefs; put a special emphasis on encouraging people to accept Jesus Christ as their savior; trust that Jesus’s crucifixion is the only way to be free of sin; and believe that the only way to eternal salvation is through Jesus. Based on these qualifications, evangelicalism is not a denomination, but rather a commitment to valuing and prioritizing core Biblical truths over rituals and works. That’s why Vice President Mike Pence can describe himself as an evangelical Catholic, even though the term evangelical is often associated with protestantism.

The conversations about what evangelicals believe have seeped outside of religion and into politics. According to Pew Research, 81 percent of “white, born-again/evangelical Christians” voted for Trump last November. Evangelicals typically vote Republican—Ronald Reagan’s “moral majority” culturally married the party with evangelicalism in the 1980s—but this election season left many undecided. Many evangelical leaders remained silent, choosing not to comment on either party’s candidate. Others only added to the confusion by making divisive statements or pushing their own agendas rather than relying on Biblical counsel.

The split plays out in very public ways. In February, even after President Donald Trump had assumed office, one hundred prominent evangelicals—pastors, authors, professors—took out an ad in the Washington Post to denounce his ban on refugee’s from seven majority Muslim countries. World Relief, the evangelical ministry behind the ad, reported that more than 500 additional evangelical leaders later added their signatures. According to Pew Research, though, 78 percent of white evangelical Protestants supported the temporary ban. And if you search “evangelicals” and “Betsy DeVos,” a slew of articles pop up explaining why evangelicals are speaking out against Trump’s secretary of education. Yet, DeVos has been a member of Mars Hill Church, a nondenominational church that is well-known in the evangelical community.

It is within this confusing mess of beliefs, doctrines, and interpretations that confusion on what it means to be an evangelical is forming. The evangelical landscape of the country is coming to a crossroads: either the identity of the movement will have to be altered, or the name will be cast aside altogether.

The Role of Texas Women

Women have always been a part of evangelicalism, but their efforts and presence within the movement are only now becoming visible, thanks to social media and blogging. And on these new platforms, Texas women in particular seem to be using their voices.

Beth Moore, the founder of Living Proof Ministries in Houston and the author of over twenty books and Bible studies, is more likely to tweet about her grandchildren or share encouragement than offer political opinions. But last October, she posted a series of tweets calling out Christians for what she saw as the acceptance of the objectification and abuse of women. While never mentioning names, it was clear her comments were directed toward Trump. Four days later, she followed up on her original statements, tweeting she did not endorse either candidate but felt the need to speak up for “sexually abused women who feel voiceless.” “To expect me not to speak up in their behalf,” she added, “is like expecting a dog not to bark.”

Vicki Courtney, an Austin-based author and speaker, also commented on Trump, a move she called out of character. In a blog post, she encouraged parents to have conversations with their children about the sexualization and objectification of women. Courtney said she did not vote for either candidate and never publicly supported one, nor did she encourage her followers to vote a certain way. In past elections, she claimed, she would not have necessarily expected or encouraged Christian leaders to comment. But during the 2016 election, she couldn’t remain silent. “I’ve come to the conclusion that my higher goal was to encourage Christians to be critical thinkers who could filter their personal positions, political positions, through God’s standards set forth in the Bible rather than blindly following the default Republican formula we’ve grown accustomed to over the years,” she said.

Hatmaker joined Moore and Courtney in their criticisms of the then-presidential candidate. Amid the news of leaked audio in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting a woman, Hatmaker tweeted, “This is disgusting. We will not forget. Nor will we forget the Christian leaders that betrayed their sisters in Christ for power.”

Glahn—who has watched the evolution of evangelicalism—said she has noticed an increase in female students at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she teaches. Currently, 36.8 percent of the student body is female, whereas Glahn can remember when it was closer to 15 percent. She credits this growth to millennials being global thinkers who have encountered a lot of different theology at a young age. The average age for marriage has also gone up, offering many women more choice in their career paths and education. But most importantly, women today are growing up with role models. Glahn said she didn’t remember having anyone to emulate growing up, but now girls see women like Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer, Jen Wilkin, Moore—all Texan women who are leaders, authors, speakers, and household names throughout the nation.

Jamie Ivey, the host of a popular podcast “The Happy Hour,” has similarly noticed an increase of female leadership, who are exercising “voices that are valid,” in her church, Austin Stone. Although those voices might have always been there, she agrees with Glahn that in many churches, they are just now being given the weight they deserve.

A gap remains, though, in how women are perceived in the church at large. Many have called out evangelical men for knowing the names of prominent male authors and preachers, but not knowing the equivalent female leaders. Everyone is expected to know Tim Keller, but men might not know who Jen Hatmaker is. So when a controversy like hers arises, there is a lack of understanding of the vast impact it can have on half of a congregation. And the blowback did have its effects on evangelical women, who often seemed to be held accountable for their peer in ministry’s actions. 

Jennie Allen, founder of the popular IF:Gathering movement in Austin, wrote a blog post addressing Hatmaker’s statements on behalf of her ministry. She wrote that each time she had attempted to craft a response, she cried herself to sleep, “physically exhausted trying to put down words that might be used to drive a relational wedge between me and someone I love.” In a similar fashion, Ivey, a personal friend of Hatmaker, began a blog post by saying she and her husband had “written, deleted, edited, abandoned” many drafts attempting to comment on the situation. Her husband leads worship at the Austin Stone, and as church leaders, she wrote, they couldn’t assume an “agree-to-disagree posture,” ultimately concluding that accepting a same-sex marriage as holy took a “degree of bending and distorting the original languages and contexts of the Old and New Testament.”

Hatmaker also had friends who stood up for her. Nichole Nordeman, a Christian singer from Dallas, not only tweeted out support but responded to a video criticizing Hatmaker with a lengthy comment defending her friend.

Regardless of belief, these women who responded did so out of a place of grief—grief for their friend who was hurting, grief over the potential loss of friendship, grief for a community of women at war over differing beliefs.

Courtney first started her ministry for women in 1997, and though she hasn’t spoken to Hatmaker in several years, she is familiar with her ministry and has worked with her in the past. While Courtney doesn’t agree theologically with Hatmaker’s statements, she has been affected in a deeply personal way by her message of love for the LGBTQ community. Courtney expresses appreciation for the attention Hatmaker has called to the stereotype—one that often rings true—that Christians have not loved the gay community well. Courtney does not usually address cultural topics in her books and talks, but was challenged by Hatmaker’s example because, as she put it, Courtney has “skin in this game.” Her father is gay.

After her father first came out to her, he sent her an email. “He desperately hoped we could continue to have a relationship,” Courtney said. “And that was heartbreaking to me that my father would ever have to say that. And I saw then…there is a very real stereotype that as Christians we have been unloving to the gay community so much so that my own father wondered if I would continue to have a relationship.” Not only do Courtney and her father still have a positive relationship to this day, but her husband and three adult children have also actively affirmed his continued place in their family. What Courtney has found natural—to love her father despite disagreement on theology—many have found anything but.

Like many groups in the country right now, evangelicals can be easily divided over issues like gay marriage and abortion. Both sides cannot fathom how the other could support a candidate or policy so seemingly contrary to their shared Biblical values. One side questions how anyone could support abortion or support a candidate favoring abortion only to be countered with accusations of not being pro-life past birth. Glahn’s advice with this gap in understanding is simple: “Have dinner with a diverse group of people and shut up and listen.”

It is amidst this push and pull of opinions and disagreements that an evolution is taking place. Evangelicals are taking sides. Some are following Glahn’s advice and Courtney’s example, listening and trying to understand, while clinging to their original convictions and beliefs. But others are barreling forward, testing the limits of this label.

“We’re marching in to a post-Christian era.” said writer, speaker, and Bible teacher Jen Wilkin. “I think sooner or later even the great nation of Texas will succumb.”

Photo by Amy Melsa Photography

Spring Awakening

On April 14, Hatmaker broke her blogging silence. Almost nine months to the day after her last post, she offered her first in-depth response to six months of backlash from the Christian community.

Back in November, she and her husband both initially responded on Facebook to the outpouring of love and hate following her interview. Hatmaker continued to post just as regularly on all platforms of social media—employing her usual mix of funny, sweet, and serious. There was a slight edge to some of her posts; she was a bit bolder and a bit more defensive, unafraid to share her opinions. Then again, she never has been.

But this blog post was different. Gone were any walls, any snark or sass, any sappy emotion. Entitled “My Saddest Good Friday in Memory: When Treasured Things are Dead,” this post was raw, straight from a cracked, bleeding heart. This year, I deeply experienced being on the wrong side of religion, and it was soul-crushing,” she wrote. “I suffered the rejection, the fury, the distancing, the punishment, and sometimes worst of all, the silence. I experienced betrayal from people I thought loved us. I felt the cold winds of disapproval and the devastating sting of gossip. I received mocking group texts about me, accidentally sent to me; “Oh, we were just laughing WITH you!” they said upon discovery, an empty, fake, cowardly response. It was a tsunami of terror. One hundred things died. Some of them are still dead. Some are struggling for life but I don’t know if they will make it.”

The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. The comment section proved Hatmaker was not alone—many commented that they, too, were tired of bending to the “Christian Machine” that Hatmaker said rejected her. Glennon Doyle, a self-described “Christian mommy blogger” who shocked the world when she married soccer phenom Abby Wambach in May, posted a note on Instagram. “You can imagine that I know some of what Jen’s felt this year,” she wrote. “It is one thing for people to tell you that they hate you, it is far another for people to tell you that God hates you.”

The following day, Beth Moore tweeted a screenshot of a text conversation with Hatmaker. “As we platformers consider some things that need crucifying with Christ I vote personal branding,” Moore tweeted. “It’s gross. Text convo w/a friend this AM.”

That tweet sparked a lengthy conversation, mainly between female evangelical leaders, that spanned the Easter weekend. The original tweet had 66 replies, with multiple spinoff conversations on branding and the Christian community. But ending the conversation was a comment from the woman who started it all: “That thing when you come back from Family Night and find 3837284 tweets in your feed. OH MY STARS, YOU GUYS,” Hatmaker tweeted.

She was back. She approached her followers and friends with her broken heart, and they offered it back to her whole. After reading her outpouring of support, she posted on Facebook that while she had felt unsure of her next step, she knew then what to do. She had found her fellow wounded warriors and she was ready to jump back in the game.

And it seemed that there was plenty to do, as evangelicalism continued to pop up in headlines.

In June, The Southern Baptist Convention gathered for its annual meeting and voted to condemn the “alt-right,” provoking fiery debates on Twitter.  

In celebration of July 4, a Baptist church in Dallas debuted the song, “Make America Great Again.” It, too, made the internet rounds. The Gospel Coalition, an online evangelical resource, published an article condemning the role of American patriotism within the church.

But Hatmaker has not been as vocal lately on political issues. She has been busy with a dream vacation to Europe, college tours with her daughter, and the launch of her new book, Of Mess and Moxie, which was released on August 8. She has also been podcasting, already several episodes in on her new venture, “For The Love.” She’s once again doing interviews, dropping in on podcasts, and promoting her new book. The old Hatmaker seems to be back, but her tenderness from this past year still surfaces here and there.

In her appearance on New York Times best-selling author Shauna Niequist’s podcast, Hatmaker said the spiritual practice she is most turning toward in this season is rest. Her social media presence reflects this. In an Instagram post on June 28, she wrote, “Because sometimes you’ve done all you can do and obviously more work is still there (it always is), but at some point you have to lay it down for the day and transition into the fresh air with the humans you live with.” The picture is her lying in a hammock, a book on her lap.

This summer, she appeared as a guest on the podcast Holy Heretics, where she talked about her evolution of faith that has led her to right now. This podcast is Hatmaker at her best: fiery, passionate, convicted, kind, questioning. While the conversation took many turns (“What does it mean to question your faith?” “Is God a he, a she, or maybe something else altogether?”), it focused on Hatmaker’s turning point in her faith. For the first half of her life, she described everything around her as the same. She grew up Southern Baptist, attended a small Christian university, then her husband became a pastor of an affluent, predominantly white church in Austin. Everyone looked the same, believed the same thing, had a similar life. But then something changed. For the first time in her life, Hatmaker began to ask hard questions, wrestle with hard things. With her husband, she harshly examined her life and found it wanting. So they left their comfortable church to start a new one; they left the comfort of homogeneity and sought out people with different beliefs and different lifestyles. She continued to push and dared to question. And this past year, she paid the price.

Her new book begins in the middle of this mess. In the first chapter, Hatmaker takes us on a journey through her books, each representing a different stage in her life and faith. From humble beginnings to extreme undertakings (Her book 7 documents her family’s commitment to live a simpler life in which they only wore the same seven articles of clothing for a month and only ate seven foods), she walks through her life with the ease of a confident woman. It all leads up to this sentence: “You don’t have to be who you first were.”

This declaration not only sets up the entire book, but defines Hatmaker’s life. She has changed and evolved and questioned and pushed—and it has been messy. She seems to be writing not just to her readers, but to herself, as she continues, “You are far more than your worst day, your worst experience, your worst season, dear one. You are more than the sorriest decision you ever made. You are more than the darkest sorrow you’ve endured….Not only are you capable, you have full permission to move forward in strength and health.”

She also seems to be asking for space, asking for grace as she does move forward. In a chapter entitled, “Fangirl,” she begs her readers to stop fangirling over her. Freak out over Jesus, she writes, cheer on your friends, but stop putting Jen Hatmaker on a pedestal. She tells her readers what they have already found true this year: people disappoint, people change, people are confusing. “If you look to me as your spiritual plumb line, you will be gravely disappointed,” she wrote. “Sometimes my mess outpaces my moxie…”

“It is both a sober and absurd responsibility to lead people spiritually, and I take it very seriously,” she said in an email interview. “…but I will fail you because I will fail. I can’t spin enough plates. I’m not precious. I like wine and a few curse words. Sometimes I run my mouth. Fortunately, I was never meant to be anyone’s spiritual plumb line.”

Of Mess and Moxie encourages women to adopt this attitude. Giving yourself the permission to be who you are and to sometimes fail is the heart of the book. This is not some theologically heavy book laden with Biblical references. In fact, there are few. Instead, it is a collection of essays that let the reader step inside Hatmaker’s brain this year. Some of her chapters are heavy. She writes that, in the past year, her world has come undone. From veiled references to hard situations with her kids to the health of her parents to health scares of her own, she talks of deep pain. In the very next chapter, though, she will lament the struggle that is going to the grocery store, accompanied by quick, foolproof recipes when you’d rather binge Friday Night Lights than cook for your children. It is this mix of heavy and light, idealistic and realistic, that has drawn in her fangirls for years.

While she never explicitly addresses much of the pain of this past year, it is there. This is not the idealistic, comfortable Hatmaker of her first few books, nor is it the extreme justice warrior of her middle books. This is a woman, who much like her Texan peers, is stepping outside the boundaries to forge her own path, who is asking questions of others and of herself, and who is wading through the process of shedding an old identity.  In an email, Hatmaker said she doesn’t see herself neatly fitting into any category but she will continue to stand up for what she believes to be right and true. She said the worst advice she’s received this year is to not be political or controversial because “that’s not what Christian leaders do.”

To this she is quick to retort, “There is a human being on the other end of every policy and issue, so if I am not prepared to speak up in this arena, I have no right being a leader.”

Over the summer, Hatmaker finally started to leave behind this year. In some ways, quite literally as she turned 43 on August 7. She has been in the trenches, her head barely above the mess, but now she has arrived to part two, the moxie.

“I am out of that dark season, and I have God, friends, my little South Austin faith community (Austin New Church), and my beautiful tribe to thank for that,” she said via email.  “A mentor recently told me, ‘Jen, shake the dust from your feet and lead who you have.’ Well, that’s that. I will love the readers and listeners and friends I have. The glass is back to half full and I have work to do.”

On the last page, she leaves readers with these parting words, “So let’s go forth, moxie ladies, we have a world to love and a sisterhood to expand and we are just the girls for the job.”

Not only does this message reverberate with life and hope for Hatmaker, but feels like a charge for the women of Texas who dare to rock the boat, who dare to cast off the stereotypes and labels that were comfortable for so long. Texas women have tested their voices this year and found them strong and powerful. As evangelicalism continues to simmer and bubble, they will be the ones to rise up, ready to speak.

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  • mike nonemacher

    Fact-check: Jen’s husband is one of 4 (?) pastors at Austin New Church. One of them goes by ‘Jen’. 🙂

  • anonyfool

    For every evangelical Jen Hatmaker there are ten Phyllis Schlaflys. And the modern day Schlaflys will have more influence because they’re willing to be mouthpieces like Sarah Sanders or worker bees like Betsy DeVos.

    • Annie Lou

      I don’t even know who Phillis is – never heard her name. I do know that Sarah Sanders going in front of an audience and lying every few days or spinning things to make a terrible, narcissistic man look good is definitely not bringing glory to God! And Betsy DeVos with zero experience, buyinv her way into the job and advocating her guns in schools. SMH. Please.

      • anonyfool

        Phyllis Schlafly fought against women having the right to have an abortion and various conservative issues over the years including being against any arms control treaties with those dang soviets and in favor of segregation and calling rape in the context of marriage an impossibility. She would have fit right in with that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore today.

  • Little Rose

    Jesus taught love plus law. Mercy is not a license to sin. In fact, Our Lord forgave sinners but told them, “go and sin no more”. Christian leaders like Jen Hatmaker are playing into Satan’s hands and leading souls to hell. I pray for her and all of the people she’s leading astray…

    • Pumpkin Spicy Linda

      Well, aren’t you just judge and jury all in one?

      • Walt Longmire

        She isn’t; the Scriptures and Christ are. Nolia and you are dead wrong, and I do mean dead. Read this and weep for yourselves:

        Paul, having just spent more column space than seems necessary to describe the awfulness of homosexuality – and a host of other godless acts – says in conclusion of all such persons;

        “…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things ARE WORTHY OF DEATH, not only do the same but also approve of those who do them.”

        Why, given that clear and unequivocal judgment from God, would you approve of homosexual anything? In so doing, you prove you are neither Christian nor evangelical.

        • tob

          You, kind sir, are dead in your traditions of men. May the spirit of Christ have mercy on you and teach you how to love.

    • T Hudd

      Where does Jesus teach love plus law? He did say the law is summed up in two commandments… Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

    • Nolia1

      Seriously, shame on you. Your comment is both ugly and ridiculous, and is a perfect example of the sanctimonious religious judgment that is depicted so sadly in this article. People like you must have sad, small lives, and are why I will never practice any organized faith.

      • Walt Longmire

        Ah, that is a familiar refrain that I hear from unbelievers all the time as I engage in comment forums all over the Internet. By so saying, Nolia, you identify as an unbeliever, quickly going to invective and insults [“sad, small lives”, etc] instead of laying out your belief of the issue from Scripture. So it is YOU that we should not attend to.

        Indeed, Little Rose was wrong about Jesus teaching love plus law. That is a classic Covenant Theology belief. But equally wrong is that Jesus’ teaching allowed anything less than holy life, indeed, it was the PURPOSE of Christ’s ministry. Licentious living [homosexuality] is NOT living for Christ, neither indeed can be. It is immoral, worthy of death [Romans 1:32], vile affection, unnatural, perverse and just about any other word you might choose to express abomination.

        True love to those who are lost is NOT to accept their sin. Indeed, we are commanded to “rebuke, reprove, and expose” them, preaching repentance from sin and faith towards Jesus Christ. Anything less is not love at all, but mollycoddling sin and corruption — not to speak of opposing God.

        • Nolia1

          Sorry, Walt — I appreciate your viewpoint, but nothing in my response implies I am a non-believer. And I choose not to practice a faith within any organization that attempts to dictate what I believe. I certainly don’t adhere to one that tells me I’m not worthy of love or acceptance. You’re doing exactly what Little Rose and other Christians seem to be fixated on: sit in judgment. Feel free, but whatever faith you’re practicing that you think empowers you to do that has no relevance to me.

          • Walt Longmire

            I know it is of no relevance to you. You are an unbeliever, and what I say is Christian, not secular and silly. You are what we used to call “stuck on yourself,” or today is called narcissistic. It is all about you.

            Christ and the Bible tell us what to believe, and provides written evidence and documentation to test its truthfulness. You are just not willing to obey God in any way. You do know what that makes you, don’t you?

          • Libby

            Walt, you’re right, except that Covenant Theology makes no room for allowing sin in our lives. Read some of the works of John Owen, Calvin or any of the other Covenant Theologians on sin.

          • Walt Longmire

            No, but Covenant theology points to the Law for sanctification, not the Savior. In that is a fatal flaw. No one can keep that Law, but it can be fulfilled by the law of Christ, the New Covenant law, in which loving one’s neighbor as onself is the fulfillment of the law as set forth by God.

            I suspect, Libby, that my decades of reading John Owen, Calvin and a host of other Covenant Theologians far exceeds the knowledge you may have of them! I cut my teeth first on Dispensational theology – which in fact is no theology at all! Then I went to Covenant Theology [I have a 1,000 book library of Covenant Theology books, and another 1,000 books of various views. Then I got my Kindle and now have nearly doubled my entire theological liibrary due to a flaw in literature sales on Kindle. Because Kindle does not understand the treasure of classic theological literature, you can now buy Calvins complete works almost for a song. In my day it was well over a $1,000 for the set of books, but with Kindle, I can have it for 5% of that! And wonderful treasure of Reformed divines can now be had for, get this; $.99! But please don’t tell them that they could quadruple their price and I would still buy them.

            I am a Baptist of the Calvinistic sort. I am not a follower of Cavlin, but the “sort” that I am is of the persuasion of Calvin as to the five point of TULIP:

            T- Total Depravity of man;
            U- Unconditional election of the saints;
            L- Limited atonement
            I – Irresistible grace
            P- Perseverance of the saints

            and the absolute sovereignty of God in all things. I woudl also subscribe to and affirm the Five Solas of the Reformation.

            My Baptist library holdings are not quite as large as my Reformed volumes, but that is because there are simply more Reformed writers than there are/were Baptist writers.

            Now I am a Baptist of the NCT [New Covenant Theology] sort. It is a relatively recent view, at least the explication of it is. But we find remnants of it in early midieval writings, too.

            Don’t worry. I now have over 50 years of study of theology to my credit, with advanced degrees.

          • Left-Brained Thinker

            I guess St. Peter will immediately admit you to Heaven through the Pearly Gates for sure, with all those advanced degrees and books about theology! “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”… and all that.

          • Libby

            And humility to boot!

    • tob

      Only laws I read of in NT are law of faith, and law of love. Isn’t it Jesus + nothing? If we trust in God (faith) and seek each other’s best interest (love), then won’t all the other OT law be accomplished?

  • Pam Gentry

    So I’m not the only one who abstained from voting for PREZ during this past election. For the record, I voted local only. My way of registering my voice in the sad national dialog. …I wonder how many of us there are.? Are the bean counters are paying attention.? The numbers may suggest an interesting story.

    • anonyfool

      The no vote for President is the voice of no power whatsoever, and of no consequence to anyone except polling pundits.

      • Walt Longmire

        Exactly. Christians have a duty and privilege to participate in our democracy. None of the candidates were Christian, but we are not voting for a pastor, but for political office. As a Christian person, I do not bear the sin of the person who is president, but must still use my reason and rational mind to make some decision. My decision was to go with the crude and ignorant East Coast/New York goon simply because the other opiton was far, far — did I say FAR? — worse.

    • anonyfool

      Also protest votes are kind of like Rush’s Free Will, making the choice of no choice is still a choice and you are giving more power to those that take a side.

      It’s looking likely that a sizeable percentage of people were making a protest vote for Brexit and were not actually in favor of Brexit (because the polls predicted an easy NO on Brexit victory) and have condemned the UK down this stupid path.


      • Annie Lou

        Last year a non vote was the only ethical/moral vote for me. If I’d been in a swing state, like PA, I would have voted, but since I’m in Texas I had the luxury of not voting.

  • Amy!

    “They will know we are Christians by our Love”

    So incredibly proud of Jen. Such a well written article. I have long been a fan of her. Go check out her podcast! You will love it!

    • Walt Longmire

      But that is NOT the teaching of the Bible. That is to absolutize the word love and to empty it of any meaning. It is true that one of the characteristics of Christian fellowship and brotherhood is love among the saints and for our neighbors, that love does NOT allow for licentiousness and immorality. We are not to fellowship with such, but “come out from them, and be separate.” True love will NEVER allow the object of that love to rebel against God without stearn warning and censure. The one who supposedly loves the sinner must “reprove, rebuke and exhort” the sinner and point them to Christ who died on the cross. Anything less is NOT Christian love.

      Enough of this love, love, love nonsense, when it is mere license. That is not Christianity.

  • Becky

    I really enjoyed this piece. One edit tho – VP Mike Pence was raised catholic and identified as an Irish catholic Democrat until his 20s. Then, he became a born again Christian via a nondenominational church during college. He hasn’t called himself a Catholic since Aprox 1994. He attends an evangelical mega church and not a Catholic parish. Just wanted to clarify the theology that’s motivating/inspiring the VP – I personally don’t find it in alignment with Catholic doctrine at all. Neither does the Pope.

  • Walt Longmire

    Why are we talking about this person at all? She seems to have rejected evangelicalism entirely, and abandoned the Word of God as her ultimate authority. At this point, I not only disagree with her, but question her Christianity at all. How in the world could anyone with a lick of good sense read Romans 1 and come away saying that homosexual marriage could be holy? She sure has a strange definition of “holy.” As a result of that blatant rejection and repudiation of the Bible in her thinking, I would immediately abandon her and begin to preach repentance and faith as being necessary for salvation. I highly doubt that this woman is born anew by the Spirit.

  • leta

    So is Jen saying that homosexuality is not a sin? The bible says it is.

    • Amy

      The Bible also says seafood, veal parm, polyester blends, gold jewelry, and braided hair are sins. The Bible also says that insects have four legs.

      I’m not saying don’t read the Bible. Just admit that everyone– everyone– picks and chooses what they’re getting out of it.

      • Walt Longmire

        No it doesn’t. Your understanding of the Bible is appallingly sophomoric. If you knew anything at all about the Bible, you would understand what those prohibitions [certain seafoods, veal, braided hair meant to those who were governed by it and when they were so governed by such prohibitions, so that in the final analysis, they would lead us to Christ.

        Our 6th grade Sunday School classes are far, far ahead of you on this point. And, by the way, you probably think Eve’s sin was eating an apple, given your lack of knowledge about the Bible — and all literature, as far as that goes.

        • Amy

          Yes, it does. And many Orthodox Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists take those prohibitions seriously. It’s really only the fundamentalists (particularly the IFB subset) that pick and choose and engage in all sorts of theological gymnastics to try and explain why some parts of the OT “count” and some don’t. (You can also spare me the whole, “If Paul repeated it in the NT, it counts” nonsense, because Paul and Peter BOTH inveighed against braided hair and gold jewelry on women, and yet you want to try and claim that those prohibitions no longer apply.)

          Nice projection about Eve, by the way. Or my knowledge of any literature. That’s pretty typical for conservatives, I’ve noticed, when they can’t win an argument: change the parameters, deflect, and hope nobody notices.

          As far as your sixth-graders are concerned, if they’re attending your church at that age, your Calvinistic, IFB teachings are all they’ve been exposed to. Of course they’ll parrot what you’ve taught them. Have they ever even been allowed to question or think critically, or have their Sundays (and Wednesday nights) consisted of scaring them about Hell followed by altar calls?

          • Walt Longmire

            Whew, a bunch of stuff here that is way, way off base. I will do as much as I can, but the lack of understanding of biblical hermeneutics is profound here, and I am almost certain you will not respond to correction in any positive way. But, nonetheless, let’s give it a goe.

            You saidm about OT prohibitions, denying the didactic and prophetic purposes of such prohibitions:
            “Yes, it does. And many Orthodox Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists take those prohibitions seriously.”

            For sure they do! They are heretics of the first sort, with the Jews denying the Hoiy Scriptures of the NT and denying Christ altogether. And they had better keep the Law, for if they refuse the Christ, they are still under that Law. But the message of Christ is that we are no longer under that Law at all, neither is the Jewish believer in Christ. The Law has served its purpose of leading us to Christ and it is now obsolete, as the author of Hebrews puts in crystal clear fashion:

            “But now He [Christ, that is] has obtained a more excellent ministry [than that of the Mosaic Law, that is], inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises, for if that first covenant [the Mosaic Law] had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second…”

            “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first OBSOLETE. Now what is BECOMING OBSOLETE and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

            That was said and written in the first century.

            You said: “It’s really only the fundamentalists (particularly the IFB subset)…”

            I don’t actually know what the initials IFB stand for, actually. I could look them up, but no need, since I am not affiliated with any ecclesiatical organization or association.

            You said: “… that pick and choose and engage in all sorts of theological gymnastics to try and explain why some parts of the OT “count” and some don’t.”

            It is a task that is required not only of biblical interpretation, but actually of any literature from antiquity. Careful, you are revealing your ignorance of literary interpretation. We do not “pick and choose” anything; we apply biblical hermeneutics, a discipline that has several thousand year’s of history.

            You said: “(You can also spare me the whole, “If Paul repeated it in the NT, it counts” nonsense, because Paul and Peter BOTH inveighed against braided hair and gold jewelry on women, and yet you want to try and claim that those prohibitions no longer apply.)

            Once again, you are missing the point of Paul’s instructions. It was not a prohibition, but rather a warning not to do as the worldlings were doing, using mere grooming and lavish dressing of their hair that was common among the reprobate women of that age. There is no illusion to the Law: indeed, Paul is the primary preacher AGAINST reliance on the Mosaic code.

            You said: “As far as your sixth-graders are concerned, if they’re attending your church at that age, your Calvinistic, IFB teachings are all they’ve been exposed to. Of course they’ll parrot what you’ve taught them. Have they ever even been allowed to question or think critically…”

            Not only allowed but encouraged and taught how to do so! If one’s theology cannot handle inquiry of any sort, it is not worth much. You would be surprised at the independence of our kids. They are some pretty smart cookies. Once again, I don’t know anything about any IFB. We are unaffiliated.

            You said: “…or have their Sundays (and Wednesday nights) consisted of scaring them about Hell followed by altar calls?”

            We certainly teach them about hell, as it is taught by our Savior far more than heaven! But we also do that age-appropriately. I and several of my teachers are professional educators.

            We abhor the practice of altar calls. Surely you have not heard me preach, for if you had you would know that I am a strong critic of that practice, as it produces false conversions, in which people come to believe that the choice is theirs, not God’s. It is God who works repentance and grants both faith and repentance to enable the elect person to believe the Gospel. We are saved by grace, not by the measly decisionism of man.

            I hope I have clarified some of these points.

  • Walt Longmire

    We shall see…

    • Anita Perez

      Thank you Walt for defending Christianity. Non-believers will never understand understand as they are the lost. Jen Hatmaker can do what she wants, but she cann

  • Martinez

    I stopped following JH a long time ago. She started getting fishy long before this… I feel like she was always trying to sell a book or jewelry or something. I guess that’s what’s funding this Europeon vacation she’s taking. Disturbing to see Beth Moore supporting her. But she’s right about being zombie fangirls of people like them… gotta respect that comment. Our goal should be to follow Jesus. BTW… Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law… he came to set the bar higher. Also, I’m neither a democrat or republican.

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  • Rachel Douglass Baker

    Priscilla Shirer’s name is misspelled. Good read otherwise.

  • John from Texas

    Good for her…..time to shake up the folks that think like those of 2,000 years ago.

  • I would disagree with the notion that “social justice” had much of a role in evangelicalism’s modern incarnation. Billy Graham was much more comfortable talking about personal salvation than social justice, and evangelicals of the 1950s and following were much more anti-communist than they were anti-poverty. Evangelicalism as conceived and led by Graham and the leaders of Fuller Theological Seminary was essentially the basic beliefs of fundamentalism but with a gentler tone.

  • phil8

    Jen Hatmaker is clearly not an evangelical. She writes books to make money. End of discussion. Prefer Chip and Joanna Gaines who still teach the biblical mandate that homosexuality is not God’s design.

  • “But Christianizing the Wild West was not for the faint of heart, and many prominent theologically educated leaders chose to stay put with their congregations, leaving the missionary work to passionate, but not always theologically-educated, men. As the movement settled, the effect of these missionaries was evident; the Christian community did not necessarily look that different from the world around it.”

    Wrong on a couple of points just in that extract:
    1.) Mainstream denominational “leaders” do not win souls or converts—the “uneducated” do, because man’s priorities are not God’s priorities;
    2.) the Christian community looked VERY different as any reading of the accounts of the Cane Ridge, KY camp meetings would relate. America got to be overwhelmingly Christian, dominated by the then evangelical Baptists and Methodists and later the Pentecostal movement, which is the fastest growing part of Christianity today. As the “professional” clergy ascended to prominence, the fires of revival died down and the dying, cold embers are reflected in such rapidly declining mainstream denominations as the United Methodists, the Presbyterian Church USA and the American Baptists.