Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reflections on the Coming Evangelical Collapse

If you haven't read Michael Spencer's (aka iMonk) op-ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor, I'd enthusiastically commend it to you. The article has enjoyed tremendous circulation (even Drudge picked it up!), and has prompted some good discussion. Spencer's prognostications for evangelicalism are bleak, but the article ends on a hopeful note;

Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, "Christianity loves a crumbling empire."

We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.

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 agree with Spencer that cultural hostility towards evangelicalism will increase, as will decentralized expressions of the church. Here's what I'm wondering...given that evangelicalism is crumbling in the West (and feel free to dispute this claim if you like);

1. What elements within the movement do we need to fight for?
2. What elements within the movement do we need to redeem?
3. What elements within the movement do we need to discard?

I want to ask these questions while the ship is still afloat.


Scott said...

iMonk's thoughts are always challenging.

The reason evangelicalism is being shaken up is that any 'ism' falls short of the kingdom of God, which Hebrews teaches cannot be shaken (Heb 12:26-29). Anything that is shaken and crumbles is actually a good thing because it proves it was not founded on the solid rock of Christ and His kingdom, and a new foundation is needing to be built. Revivalism, evangelicalism, ecumenicalism, or any other 'ism' are not necessarily inherently evil. But all 'isms' and movements usually get caught up in their own mindset, and this leads to easily veering from the kingdom of God. So a shaking needs to come, and when it does, those things that are not kingdom will fall. And, again, I believe this is a good thing. Not easy and comfortable, but good.

If our faith is shattered because evangelicalism collapses, or shrinks, or whatever, then God can use this to rebuild something on the true foundation of His kingdom. It’s challenging, but very good stuff.

Bill Faris said...

I'd like to go directly to the questions Jeffrey raises:

Q. What elements fight for?
A. Donuts and coffee after the service, church branding via websites, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and the like, hyper-Calvinism, and, of course, cool worship bands.

Q. What to redeem?
A. People

Q. Discard?
A. I can't think of one thing.

Hope this helps. Bill

Anonymous said...

The doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy is a product of enculturation and Modernity (Enlightenment), not scripture.

I would say that is has to be discarded.

I just wrote a post about it now: