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After almost two months, I finally finished Tim Alberta’s The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicalism in an Age of Extremism. What a great read, but wow, it was a slow slog through the book for me, especially as someone who is usually a pretty fast reader.

My slow pace had nothing to do with Alberta’s writing or the book itself. It’s a compelling, interesting, and important story. I was impressed by the thorough research and extensive legwork Alberta put into the book, interviewing and profiling evangelicals across the political and religious spectrum. He offers a frank and sometimes disheartening take on the current state of evangelicalism in the United States, but somehow manages to end in a sort-of hopeful place.

So all-in-all, a fantastic book, but it was a hard read for me. I could only stand to read about one chapter at a time before I needed a break, as the chapters made me too angry and depressed to read a lot in one sitting. So much of the material in the book is upsetting and frustrating.

The book traces white evangelicals in the age of Trump, and the various ways their extremism has evolved and infected so many congregations, trying to answer the question of where it all went wrong. From ongoing extremism surrounding Trump to American history to COVID and more, Alberta uncovers the depths of white evangelical paranoia and their increasingly extreme political and religious views. He also probes the disconnect between their words and actions and what is taught in Scripture and traditional Christian teachings.

At the same time, he highlights evangelicals who are resisting these trends and pushing back against the rising tide of evangelical extremism. And he notes the price many of them have paid for doing so — losing members of their churches or being fired from their jobs for speaking out and taking a stand.

Taken all together, it’s a stark snapshot of white evangelicalism at this moment, and it’s not a pretty picture. Alberta’s book underscores the dangers of white Christian nationalism both for evangelicalism and for the country as a whole. He defines their goals in his epilogue, “This effort to assert dominance over the culture is but a precondition for dominating the country itself.” At the same time, Alberta notes that these beliefs are in direct contradiction with many teachings of the Bible: “There is nothing here to reclaim. This country — a drop in the bucket, like all the nations — was never God’s to begin with.”

Again, I could only read one chapter at a time because it was so intense, and sometimes I had to take a break mid-chapter and revisit the text a day or two later. You can tell it was an intense experience for Alberta as well, as he vacillates between hope, anger, frustration, and despair himself throughout the book.

Tim Alberta

I’m happy someone is willing to do this work — to investigate what is going on with white evangelicals and highlight some of the work being done to turn things around. And though I’m not in that place myself, I’m happy Alberta is able to show a little more grace to evangelicals and hope for where they might end up than I can.

Ultimately, I think this difference comes down to the fact that Alberta is still somewhat of an insider in evangelicalism. His father was a pastor of a church in Michigan, and Alberta himself is still a churchgoer and believer. He’s able to show evangelicals some grace and offer a hopeful conclusion because, while he might not agree with many of their political beliefs, these are his people. He’s invested, so he kind of has to end on a hopeful note. It’s what I would do too if I were in his shoes.

As someone who decided to leave evangelicalism for good, I am decidedly less hopeful about the trajectory of white evangelicalism. I fear that too much damage has already been done and that the number of evangelical insiders willing to challenge the current consensus is just too small.

Maybe on this Easter weekend I can hold out hope, like Alberta, for some sort of rebirth and resurrection within white evangelicalism.

Allison Vander Broek

Allison Vander Broek is a historian of American religion and politics. She earned her doctorate in history from Boston College, Her research explored the origins of the right-to-life movement in the 1960s and its rise to national prominence in subsequent years. Though she swore she'd move back to the Midwest after grad school, Allison still resides in the Boston metro area and now works in academic advising at Tufts University.


  • RZ says:

    Thanks for this(I guess), a very fair and accurate summary of the book. I never envisioned that the greatest threat to Christianity would come from within. That is probably foolish though. The church has failed miserably at multiple times throughout history. Jesus’ most potent warnings were against those who were willingly blind. Whenever the church haa aligned with empire, it is always the church that loses its identity. “My kingdom is not of this world.”

  • Jeff Carpenter says:

    My wife’s sister and brother-in-law were members of that church in Michigan where Tim’s father was the pastor. When Rev. Alberta retired, new leadership took the church off the rails with unswerving support for DT, and every program a hard-line conservative bent, with no room for discussion and dissenters vilified. They along with their adult children left, bewildered, angry, brokenhearted —and haven’t darkened a church door since. Any church. They are still believers who read and study the word, who pray and serve, often putting me to shame with their strong faith—but also burned so badly by a Church Gone Bad.

  • Ben Dykstra says:

    My wife and I were members of Cornerstone Church (Tim’s father was our pastor) in 2004. Although De. Alberta was very patriotic (post 9-11) I would not have characterized him as Christian Nationalist at that time.
    We really appreciate Tim’s book. In our Reformed Church in the Chicago area we often feel disenfranchised because our moderate left positions on politics and social Justice are at odds with many fellow parishioners.
    The Alberta family has had a profound impact on our faith and helps keep us grounded in our church home because we still believe that God’s work of redemption is still being carried out by the church.

  • Ruth E. Stubbs says:

    Christian nationalism needs a new label. There’s nothing Christian about it.

  • Dale Hulst says:

    I can relate to need to take it a chapter or less at a time; Tim describes battle lines I’m unable to comprehend (anti-vaccine being just one example). My alma mater’s use to advertise with the tag line “Minds in the Making.” What Tim describes is minds unmade. Depressing, angering, frustrating…and I have over half the book to go yet. The people I relate to are the resistors he interviews.

  • Sara Tolsma says:

    Thank you! Adding this to my “to read” list.

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    Our pastor has been preaching through the book of Mark during this Lenten season, showing us the consistency of Christ’s life and message, told in the rapid-fire manner of Mark. Along with that message it has been so apparent throughout the chapters that the “church” leaders of that time did not get it. They did not hear the message of radical love and hope. They held onto the law and power, trying to box Jesus in with rules and governance. I can’t get away from the parallels to what is happening in the Evangelical world and our own denomination. And yet we are to believe that a select group has the correct interpretation of all Biblical truth. I’m hoping I’m not making it too simplistic, but that’s not the message I hear in Mark.

  • Phil boogaart says:

    Reading the book in a book group now. I think what began as “the prosperity gospel” has morphed into Christian nationalism we are witnessing today.
    Dark money groups have been pulling the strings and manipulating this movement for quite some time.

    • Randy Buist says:

      This is a fantastic book. I listened to most of it; it’s read by Tim as well. His voice is convicting & yet somehow soothing.

  • Ann Prins says:

    I am half way through this book and it is hard to read – we had a divided church – congregation over Covid and our church has not fully recovered as so many left over the policies of Covid . As an outsider not having grown up in the RCA , I can see the influences of DT followers and cannot comprehend why people have fallen for false prophets . I am glad that Alberta is strong enough to stand up for what is right.

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