Posts Tagged ‘evangelicalism’
The Evangelical Alliance has published a report on a survey of British evangelicalism. The report is available in various formats.
Scott McKnight highlights some characteristics of those “typically evangelical”:
- 91% think Jesus is the only way to God
- 96% attend a church once a week
- 77% are in small groups
- 83% read/listen to the Bible a few times a week
- 96% pray a few times a day
- 96% have given money to their church this year
- 88% strongly agree that their faith is the most important thing in their life
- 94% believe in creation care
- 85% voted in the General Election
- 83% believe in miraculous gifts today
- 94% agree that Christians should be united in truth
- 93% think Christians should have a voice in the media.
More incisive issues:
- 83% agree the Bible has “supreme authority” in beliefs, views, and behaviour
- 71% believe it is a Christian’s duty to be involved in evangelism (58% talk about their faith to someone once a month)
- 62% think sex before marriage is wrong.
But there’s variation:
- On inerrancy, 54% believe it; 32% are for it or unsure.
- Abortion: 37% think it’s wrong; 46% are straddling (unsure/disagree a little); 17% disagree.
- Hell: 37% strongly agree that hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain; 13% agree a little with this; 31% are unsure; 8% disagree a little; 11% disagree a lot.
- Women in leadership: 51% are strongly in favor; 20% disagree only a little; [71% are in favor]; 9% are unsure; 10% disagree a little; 10% strongly disagree.
- Homosexuality: 59% agree a lot that homosexual sexual acts are wrong; 14% agree a little; 11% are unsure; 8% disagree a little; and 8% disagree a lot. [That is, about 16% of UK evangelicals are more or less in favor of homosexuality as acceptably Christian.]
A rather mixed bag, to say the very least.
Al Mohler reposts a helpful challenge to the current generation of young evangelicals. Here is his conclusion:
Sociologist James Davison Hunter has long warned that younger evangelicals tend to go soft on this doctrine [of the exclusivity of Christ as Saviour]. Educated in a culture of postmodern relativism and ideological pluralism, this generation has been taught to avoid making any exclusive claim to truth. Speak of your truth, if you must–but never claim to know the Truth. Unless this course is reversed, there will be no evangelicals in the next generation.
Charles Spurgeon stated it plainly: “We have come to a turning-point in the road. If we turn to the right, mayhap our children and our children’s children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word.” Those words ring with prophetic urgency more than a century after they were written. Evangelicals must regain theological courage and conviction, or we must face the tragic reality that this may be evangelicalism’s terminal generation.
Everyone else is linking to it, and being a kind of herd fellow, I thought I would follow suit:
At the Christian Science Monitor, the iMonk surveys the coming evangelical collapse.
At Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson suggests that, while the diagnosis may be right, the prescription is wrong.
In Crawley, after a weekend of much activity, I get on with the job of seeking to be a faithful minister of the gospel.
Do you ever think that we spend too much time talking about what is happening and discussing what we could, should or might be doing, and not enough doing what we are called to do?
The iMonk predicts the end of evangelicalism as we know it.
Some of what he predicts is already taking place. We call it Europe.
IVP, 2008 (248pp, pbk)
The Courage to be Protestant is the distillation and development of a sequence of four previous volumes: No Place for Truth: or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology (the volume that birthed the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals); God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams; Losing our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover its Moral Vision; and, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World. These were a kind of culturally-aware and diagnostic systematic theology, following the sequence prologomena, God, human nature, and the person and work of Christ. This summation and recasting sounds the same key notes: Wells assesses the lay of the evangelical land and what he calls ‘Christianity for sale’, before turning to the issues of truth, God, self, Christ, and church in the postmodern environment.
The focus lies particularly on American evangelicalism. The contrast generally lies in comparison with what is often thought of as the third world, and the more robust tone and steady progress of Christ’s kingdom there. Although there are occasional references to Europe and the UK, there are mainly and deservedly more negative: we are, it seems, often the exception that proves the rule. Though there is much that is broadly valid, one ought to be carefully aware of these perspectives in the reading.
Wells’ work is dense. Page follows page of almost relentless analysis and assessment, without always much pause for application. Thought, argument and language are all intense, so much so that the book can at times read like a series of pithy declarations advancing in tight ranks, almost Latinate in their aphoristic density.
The sub-title of the book identifies the three threads that run through its seven sections: the truth-lovers (classical evangelicals who are endangered by shrinking doctrine and a vanishing church), the marketers (the seeker-sensitive crowd) and the emergents (a broad church indeed). All this demands an assessment of what true evangelicalism really is, and the absence of reality felt even by many professing evangelicals.
Wells calls us back to truth, Biblically-grounded.
He calls us back to the holy and transcendent God who is nevertheless close to us, with all that means for law, sin, redemption, progress and obedience.
He assaults the gross self-centredness of the modern West, putting self firmly in its place, and calling Christians to a life of integrity and authenticity grounded in knowing our place before God.
He exalts Christ as the alone Saviour, contrasting Christian and pagan paths to God, assessing spirituality true and false, and centring our knowledge of God and our present and future hope in the risen Lord.
He examines the church of Christ, calling us back to the Reformation marks of a true church (the ministry of the Word, the sacraments, and church discipline), all the while hammering home that it is God’s church, not ours. In some senses, this is the most practical and prescriptive part of the book.
Whether or not you are willing and able to march through the first four volumes, this summary is well worth the time of any thoughtful Christian. It requires some sense of the wider world and the currents sweeping through evangelicalism. It needs careful attention and demands reflective engagement. There may be more on the problem than there is on the solution, but that is – in part – because the problem is complex and confused, while the essence of the solution is gloriously simple. Those who love the truth will still find some sharp challenges and some painful conundrums to face, not least in letting God be God, and in being more aware of who we are than of what we do. We are called to be truly Protestant – to live and die not with a casual label attached but embracing genuine, historically-grounded Christianity with all we are and have.