Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Evangelical Looks Honestly at Evangelicalism

This is a very thought-provoking article by Michael Spencer on his prediction that the Protestant Evangelical movement is on the verge of collapse. I think his criticisms are spot on in many places (e.g., selling out to the culture of bigger is better, too many churches going into prosperity gospel, tying themselves too intimately to politics, etc.) but I hope he is wrong that it will all collapse. There is much grace and goodness in the movement (e.g., the emphasis on Scripture, call to evangelism, preaching the heart of the Gospel, etc.).

Very worthwhile reading, but if you want the longer argument from his blog, it is even better.

Some snips of the article to whet your appetite:
We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.
and this...
We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.
and this...
Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.
he sees the Catholic Church growing because of it...
Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.
ends with this...

We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.

I'm not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential?

Just go read it for yourself.

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