Evangelicals at the Crossroads- and losing their way?

According to the Washington Post Evangelicals now find themselves at a crossroads with the death of Jerry Falwell who was a unifying figure in Evangelicalism. Falwell represented the now aged generation of Evangelical leaders who dominated in movement in the 80’s and 90’s. In the place of this generation of leaders a new generation of leaders are emerging with a new agenda such as global warming and AIDS in Africa. Classic homegrown issues such as abortion and homosexuality (a third of American evangelicals under 30 support same-sex marriage!) are now slipping down the agenda.

There are I think at least two concerns regarding this portrait of evangelicalism. First of all it is of concern that Evangelicalism is being defined both by itself and those outside the movement by the political causes it espouses rather than the gospel it preaches. Secondly, whilst AIDS in Africa and global warming are important issues the shift of the agenda raises the question of who is setting Evangelicalism’s agenda. It sounds as if it is now the world that is setting the church’s agenda. Furthermore the Evangelical movement’s distancing of itself from its traditional cultural agenda suggests that Evangelicals are now afraid of giving offence. Again it looks like they are giving in to an agenda set by the culture.

It was DL Moody an American Evangelical of another generation who once remarked, ‘The place for the boat is in the water, God help the boat when the water gets into it.’

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2 Responses to “Evangelicals at the Crossroads- and losing their way?”

  1. Feargal Says:

    The surrounding culture provides a language to communicate, not setting the agenda for us to debate.

    Global warming is a serious issue; so serious, gw denialists are calling it ‘religion’. Is that not a launching point for christian to become involved? Homosexuality is an issue relating to humans; dare we not involve ourselves because it is a human issue to grapple with? AIDS is important; not only because it impacts on peoples lives, but brings so much else that is Gospel-centred to the issue (equality, wealth sharing, education as a component of human freedom, compassion and dignity for all people etc etc).

    These bring into focus christian principles (which, of course, are really uiversal moral issues); egotism, greed, pride, compassion, courage, hope and self-denial. Isn’t that where we must stand, as strongly as Paul stood against the greed, lust and violence of the empire of his day?

  2. sibbesian Says:

    You are of course right Feargal that these issues provide our points of contact withe surrounding culture. However my concern as expressed above is that these issues which drive the world’s agenda should not be allowed to drive the churches agenda.
    For example we are constantly being told that GW is the most important issues facing the world today. My question from a Christian perspective is, is it? The Bible says little on our stewardship of the planet but a lot about our personal morality. People have plenty to say today about GW but little about personal morality.
    As someone has put it we are so intent on loving mankind in general we end up loving no-one in particular.

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