What a New Book Showed Me About the Charismatic Movement

Andrew Wilson | September 1, 2016

More institutions, less nostalgia.

That’s the prescription for American civil society in Yuval Levin’s recent (and excellent) The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism [interview]. Levin has unapologetically written a book about politics, and both his diagnosis of the current problem and also his proposals for the solution are politically, economically, and culturally framed.

But as I was reading it, something occurred to me: his argument applies with uncanny accuracy to many evangelical and particularly charismatic churches, including my own.

Best of Both Worlds

Levin’s argument is that much contemporary political discourse is characterized by nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s. For the Left, it’s a longing to return to the economic solidarity of the post-War years (low inequality, worker benefits, strong unions) alongside its cultural liberalization (sexual revolution, civil rights)—despite the free-market nuts who are destroying the nation. For the Right, it’s a longing to return to the cultural solidarity of the post-war years (strong families, churches, social responsibility) alongside economic growth (strong corporations, job creation, increasing prosperity and living standards)—despite the liberalizing socialists who are destroying the nation. Levin cites numerous examples—from both Left and Right, from Obama to Trump—of politicians and thought leaders appealing…

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