Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Imminent Collapse of the Evangelical Church

This topic is causing a lot of fluttering on the websites. It originated in an article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled; The coming evangelical collapse. It would be interesting to hear people's feelings about this. I am in broad agreement with the article as regards it being a possibility but as to whether or not it will happen I am not sure.

Perhaps the more challenging question is 'would it matter'? What do evangelical churches stand for today and would it be a loss if we lost them? One of the themes in the article and the writer's blog is what we might call the sheer 'wooliness' of so many evangelicals. The writer makes the point that the shift to social concern which has been the pattern for much of the last 20 or 30 years as been at the cost of a 'confessional orthodoxy'. In other words a more traditional denominationalism with clear belief systems. He predicts that disenchanted evangelicals will head towards Catholcism and the Orthodox chruch in an endeavour to find a solid theological ground. We have, so he says, got to the position where the main criteria is 'growing numbers' and the mega-churches are, by definition, the success story here, but where is it all heading?

Some 30 years ago I sat a white haired preacher down and asked him a question. I said, "When I see the way that evangelical theology is heading with its 'decision based' practices and its claim that this is 'receiving Christ' I wonder whether or not evangelicalism has gone too far to be retrieved, short of another reformation. What do you think?" He refused to be drawn, maybe he didn't understand the question! Maybe, as with this article, there is little to be said that really adds anything to the discussion.

I have been thinking about John Baptist and his mission to clear the way so that men could get a clear view of the coming king. If it takes the loss of 'the evangelical church' to clear the way, perhaps it would be price worth paying.

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