There’s been a recent flurry of articles and podcasts discussing the failure of evangelical elites, whether they have in fact failed, wondering who these so-called elites are, disclaiming that people are elites, etc.
This week I look at the question of who the evangelical elite are, and whether or not they are doing a good job. I start by reprising the elite theory of E. Digby Baltzell, and also the views of others elite theorists like James Burnham, Robert Michels, C. Wright Mills, and Robert Dahl.
From this I create a definition of what an elite is and how elite power functions and apply it to America as a whole. Then I apply it to evangelicalism to show how the elites of various evangelical subdomains can be identified.
Looking specifically at the group often labeled Big Eva, I name names in terms of who is doing poorly, who is doing well, and who is struggling to adapt to the times.
I also examine and apply a different definition of the elite adapted from Kevin DeYoung, and discuss institutional constraints elites operate under, as well as virtues and perils of being inside vs. outside of institutions.
American Reformer: The Evangelical Embarrassment Reflex
The American Conservative: Church, State, and the Future of American Evangelicalism
Mark Galli on Evangelical Elites
Carl Trueman: The Failure of Evangelical Elites
Life Books and Everything Podcast on Evangelical Elites (segments starts at 29:00)
Mere Fidelity on Evangelical Elites
American Affairs: E. Digby Baltzell’s Sociology of Elites