Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Part 1: Prolegomena
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” that classic Dickens opening, is so apt in describing my experiences within the broad and oft strange group we call Evangelicalism. For better or for worse, I have spent my entire life as an insider into the evangelical movement. I have been to Christian Missionary Alliance churches, Southern Baptist churches, megachurches, church plants, Evangelical Free-churches, non-denominational churches, charismatic churches, house churches, Reformed Baptist churches, and Presbyterian churches (PCA). I have known the inner-workings of the largest evangelical parachurch ministry in the world, Campus Crusade for Christ. I have seen dinosaurs and humans together, young-earth creationism, and premillenial pretribulation rapture dispensationalism be the core curriculum at youth group. I have heard long sermon series on demonology. I have heard pastors go on and on about their political agenda, neglecting to feed the sheep with the Word. I have also seen some really healthy examples where the people were well taught, well shepherded, and making a difference in their spheres of influence. I have seen severe anti-intellectualism and I have seen people who take the life of the mind seriously. I have heard staunchly semi-pelagian teaching and I have heard sound Reformed doctrine. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
The culmination of these years of experiences lead me to a few thoughts moving forward. We will look at several key things that I feel the evangelical movement will have to acquire or navigate. Specifically, we will look at: doctrine, worldview, urbanization, globality/mobility, no cultural center, contextualization, and balance. Like anything else, evangelicalism’s goal ought always to be right belief (orthodoxy), right emotion (orthopathos), and right action (orthopraxis).
Up first we will look at the role of doctrine in evangelicalism moving forward.