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Thus, while I might quibble with some of the details in Jesus and John Wayne, I finished this book and felt like Han Solo in The Force Awakens: “Crazy thing is, it’s true—all of it. It’s all true.”

And especially true and irrefutable is Du Mez’s main contention. In trying to explain the pervasive evangelical support for Donald Trump, Du Mez argues that this support “was no aberration, nor was it merely a pragmatic choice. It was, rather, the culmination of evangelicals’ embrace of militant masculinity, an ideology that enshrines patriarchal authority and condones the callous display of power, at home and abroad” (3).

There’s obviously a lot more here. As someone who grew up in this world and still has a range of connections to it, the cast of characters and their positions were quite familiar. But I look at this not simply as a participant, but also as an observer—a historian who has spent a great deal of time trying to understand modern American evangelicalism. While Du Mez’s contribution is undoubtedly anchored in her demonstration of the role that militant patriarchy plays in this evangelical story, there’s (at least) two other significant historical contributions that she makes

All to say that Jesus and John Wayne should be required reading for those who live and move and have our being within American evangelical denominations and churches. And the first thing we should do is to look in the mirror and say, “It’s true—let me see myself as I am.” Then, going forward to change will prove whether we evangelicals are doers of the Word or just hearers only.

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Published by Sean Michael Lucas, “Jesus Plus Masculinity for America’s Sake: Replying to ‘Jesus and John Wayne.'” Mere Orthodoxy. January 25, 2021.

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