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.’