I would not deny that I am an “elite” myself. I trade in ideas. I teach at a college. I write books. My hands are soft through lack of doing what anything that my grandfather might have referred to as “real work.” And the challenge this poses for me is: Who are truly my brother and my sister? When the line is finally drawn, on which side will I stand? With the people who belong to my class or the people who belong to my church?
There are a number of ways to look at the current divisions that are emerging in traditional Protestant and evangelical circles in the USA. The old fault line between those who affirm and those who deny the reality of the supernatural—the line that marked the old liberal-fundamentalist divide of the early 20th century—is not particularly helpful, given that the most significant debates do not focus on that particular kind of issue. Rather, other buzzwords—Donald Trump, abortion, gender, sexuality, Christian nationalism, social justice, critical race theory—reflect the points of contention.
Protestants thought they owned the USA. They no longer do, and they are struggling to adapt to this new reality where they still think their voices count but how to make them count is not clear. Thus, one way to understand our divisions is as a set of conflicting responses to our new social order.
Another way, however, is to see what is happening as the exposure of a class division, long latent but now increasingly clear. It has been interesting to see the muted response in some evangelical quarters to the Dobbs decision.