Excerpt: “Marcia Pally’s incisive essay on “the new evangelicals” highlights a relatively small but growing population of white evangelicals who appear to be embracing broader, less conservative visions of the common good, and public policy views (at least partially) more in line with Democratic politics than their recent forebears. While her descriptions presumably are not limited to those who necessarily call themselves “new evangelicals,” she does invoke the work and ideas of public evangelicals who clearly self-identify as such. This points to an interesting observation worth considering here: to assume the mantle of newness is to make an ideological statement as well as a historical claim.
Newness is a fascinating, and very loaded concept. It expresses ideas of innovation and progress, as well as rupture and substitution. Whether presented in the form of prophetic revelations, revolutionary ideologies, or consumer branding, “the New” is always wrapped in a combination of promise and threat – it promises to improve upon the old, while threatening to eclipse and even replace it. Newness inspires hope as well as fear, with a provocative power that sometimes borders on the messianic.”