Monday, February 04, 2013

The failures of (New) Evangelicalism

The Church is the Bride of Christ who is to be nurtured so that her members grow in godliness, and that sheep not yet of the sheep-fold are brought in. One reason why I detest Evangelicalism is because it generally fails in the former, and stumbles through doing the latter.

Here is my case against Evangelicalism. Since Evangelicals love to see the fruit, we shall measure them by their fruit:

  1. New Evangelicals wanted to preserve orthodoxy while being winsome and engaging. Laudable motives, but has their strategy worked? From the inerrancy controversy to debates about origins (creation and evolution) to the issue of open theism, the strategy of Evangelicalism has been shown to be a disaster for holding firm to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It seems strange to me that, after being burned by the failure of New Evangelicalism in the later half of the 20th century, people like D.A. Carson decided to restart the same experiment with the Gospel Coalition as we begin the 21st century. Do they ever learn from history? If something fails even by their standards, is the solution to reboot the project and try again?
  2. New Evangelicals thought that being "nice" and winsome will help them witness to the world. Now, the desire to reach people where they are at has caused even unbelievers to be offended by the raunchy sexual ads promoting "church services" with titillating sermon titles (e.g. Ed Young Jr.). Now, many Evangelical may be outraged at Ed Young's antics. But what is Ed Young doing that is not inconsistent with the type of ministry philosophy that promotes an idea of soul-winning "at all costs" ?
  3. The number of heretical, semi-heretical and heterodox doctrines that is deemed acceptable to be labeled "Evangelical" has been increasing over the years. How does this line up with Evangelicalism' idea of preserving orthodoxy while the focus on being "nice" and "winsome" make them incapable of throwing out heretics? Or if being an open tent is a better idea, how does this line up with their desire to preserve orthodoxy?
  4. Has being "nice" and "winsome" won any liberal over to the conservative side, or is the traffic rather the other way? Historically, it seems the direction of influence is the other way round. If so, what is the fruit of being "nice" and "winsome" except compromise of doctrine and the falling away of Evangelical scholars from the faith?
  5. Has the desire to meet people where they are at helped people to grow in the faith? Or are we always pandering to their taste for milk? Those who decry someone teaching, for example the doctrine of reprobation, as being improper and stumbling to people, do you actually teach it in a way that you think is proper? As it is commonly said, "I liked your way of doing it badly rather than your way of not doing it at all."
  6. Closely related to that, how has Evangelicalism fared in terms of building people in the faith? Judging by growing bible illiteracy, not well.
  7. For Christians to be nurtured in godliness, they need to be a member of a true church ministered to by God's servants. Sadly, Evangelicalism cannot even decide on whether such is necessary for godliness, as we see in the extreme example of the "house church movement" promoted by Frank Viola and George Barna.
  8. Decades of Evangelicalism and we have Evangelicals, partaking of the culture, think with their feelings. Does it not show that Evangelicalism is failing in its stated goal of preserving orthodoxy? How can it preserve orthodoxy if its members cannot even think right?

With the failure of New Evangelicalism in its task, should not it be time to reconsider the entire project, and reject it altogether? Why continue digging the grave deeper and deeper?

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