Falling Skies: Chicken Little and American Evangelicalism

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I thought I would add yet another postscript to the "sky is falling over American evangelicalism" conversation.  I think what Phil ends his post with is worth saying again.  So I will, just adding a bit. 

Fundamentally, American evangelicals can learn from global evangelicals that being winsome is better than being reactionary, that following Christ's agenda trumps any political agenda (Sean was great on this point), and that evangelicalism (yes, despite all the faults it has) is fundamentally about the good news of new life in Christ not about all things baseball, apple pie, and America.

As for the first part, not being reactionary, Rodney Clapp said something interesting over at Christian Century (be warned, don't go read the first part, you likely won't like it).  I thought the ending to be perceptive:

"It is in deep trouble because it faces a significant cultural and generational shift. Identifying itself with the wedge tactics of the political right, which is now falling (at least for a time) out of power, the movement cannot easily shake the image of being primarily negative and destructive. Indicators show that it is losing attractiveness not only among unconverted fellow Americans, but among its own young.

More significantly, evangelicalism is in deep trouble because the gospel really is good news, and reactionaries are animated by bad news, by that which they stand against. Undoubtedly Jesus Christ faced and even provoked conflict. But he embraced conflict as a path or means to the health and liberation--the salvation--of the world. And he hoped for salvation even, perhaps especially, for his enemies. If evangelicalism is innately reactionary, then it can follow Christ only by being born again."

Sean already said the second point, succumbing to the siren call of a political agenda, better than I ever could. 

As for the third point, Horton's latest, Christless Christianity, gets at it pretty well, not to mention everything David Wells has been telling us for the last twenty years.

One final point, looks like Darryl Hart, known to his readers as the mysterious D. G., was a prophet when he wrote Deconstructing Evangelicalism, after all.   

Maybe it's time for a new book, however:  Reconstructing Evangelicalism (dibs on the title and, being a good American, I do know some good lawyers).

Posted March 17, 2009 @ 7:43 AM by Stephen Nichols

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