It was a pleasure to read in the New York Time something I have written about here often. It is that the group or cause called “evangelism” is about social identity. It has little or nothing to do with theology.
What is generically called the “evangelical” branch of the faith is varied. One way for an outsider to identify it is the group left over after you take out Catholics and main stream Protestants. This group has been doing better than either Catholics and main stream Protestants in maintaining its numbers. I would argue that is not because of it theology but is due to the way individuals in this group identify themselves and bond with each other.
Recently I heard country western performer Marty Stuart interviewed. He is an amateur scholar of the genre. He said fundamentalist religion is a frequent topic of country music songs. Why is it, he was asked, is there also so much “cheatin’, drinkin’ and fightin’ in the stories as well. “Well,” he said, “that’s part of the whole deal too, like religion.”
President Trump’s history of living much differently than a pious Christian put him in the circle of evangelical acceptability. Whatever standards might one have thought were necessary to make him acceptable were set aside so he could be considered part of the evangelical social identity. Theology meant nothing to either him or to the evangelicals who support him.
Being able to change as mores change has kept evangelicalism in the game.