A Coming Evangelical Collapse?
September 24, 2012 11 Comments
Over at Near Emmaus:
In the last week I have read three interesting blog posts that mention people exiling from evangelicalism (or Reformed thinking) that I have found interesting:
- Jason Stellman discusses his controversial departure from the Presbyterian Church of America to the Roman Catholic Church in “I Fought the Church, and the Church Won”–a guest post for the blog Called to Communion. He says that Catholicism was not alluring to him, but that he found it to be “the truth,” especially when he began to doubt the reformational language regarding Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. Remember, this is the man who lead the trial against Peter Leithart for the Pacific Northwest Presbytery because Leithart was suspected of teachings that were close to those of Rome.
- Roman Catholics are not alone in anticipating more people to flee evangelical and reformed community. The Orthodox Church is asking themselves if they are ready for the “coming evangelical collapse.” Kevin Allen provides a self-diagnosis for this communion in “Are We Ready for the Coming Evangelical Collapse?” He believes that the Orthodox will be “short-term beneficiaries, but that there are many hinderances to people joining their ranks as well.
- Peter Enns has written many blog posts providing an “in-house” critique of evangelicalism’s shrinking boarders warning that there are many who no longer feel at home in evangelicalism as it is self-defined currently. In “Outgrowing Evangelicalism: It’s Not Just for Scholars Anymore” he shows that it isn’t academics alone who are feeling marginalized within evangelical circles. Of course, the so-called “emerging church” has been saying this for sometime now. I think evangelicals seeking to realign and redefine evangelicalism may have a harder time than Roman Catholics and Orthodox because there has yet to “emerge” an alternative to evangelicalism than doesn’t have the feel of evangelicalism run amok with individualism or the type of church that seeks to be “ancient-future” in practice while being liberal-progressive Protestant in theology (something that may lack staying power).
Pentecostalism continues to expand globally and domestically (I think the Assemblies of God are one of the few larger denominations in this country that have seen growth over recent years). There remain many problems there as well. When the energy declines and the emotionalism dries many “thinkers” in Pentecostal ranks wonder what they are doing with their time. At least that was my experience.
Do you foresee a “coming evangelical collapse?” If so, where will evangelicals go? If not, what reforms do you think need to be made?