Will Evangelicalism Collapse? If So, Should We Care?

A lot of the Christian and theological blogs I read have been talking lately about some kind of coming collapse of evangelicalism. Stand To Reason’s blog is the latest I’ve read, but also the most reasonable assessment.

I figure that there are two kinds of people in this world:

1)Those who are easily lumped into convenient, pre-defined categories

and

2) Those who aren’t.

I guess among all the convenient, pre-defined labels within Christianity, I would probably be lumped in among the evangelicals. That really doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the age, the only identification that matters is me that of Christian, follower of Christ, or follower of The Way, which is what we were originally called all those years ago. I really don’t care what other labels I fall under, but for convenience I probably fall under that of evangelical.

There have been many movements throughout church history. Some seek to restore something from the past, some seek to explore some new interpretation (not all are wrong or heretical, so I’m being general here) and others seek to go in some kind of opposite direction from another doctrine that is popular in movements at the time.

My wife and I go to a church that is part of a “restoration” movement. They claim to have restored the church to the 1st century, or at least they’re trying to restore the church to what they think it was like in the 1st century, minus the ancient middle eastern customs and all that. I’m not sure that claim can be agreed with unless the evidence is examined through a subjective lens, but it is the local congregation, not the movement, that we consider ourselves members of. Were we to need to find another church, we would consider another within that movement, but it would not be the only consideration.

As far as Evangelicalism goes, if the “movement” collapses, I don’t care. I’m sure another movement will come along with a catchy label that I can conveniently be lumped into. It’s a movement. It came about in response to cultural or doctrinal issues facing the church during a certain time. The landscape has changed. I’m sure that those of us who make up the Evangelicals will find another challenge that needs to be addressed and another movement will arise.

Know any Puritans? What about Anabaptists? Donatists? Waldensians? I’m sure we could dig through some history books and come up with others. Some movements are alive and well. I know some Protestants. I also know plenty of “reformed” Christians (apparently they are not exactly the same thing). A lot of the preachers and Bible teachers I listen to and read outside of our own church claim to be Calvinists. The Amish are still around. I like the Amish. They are very friendly and hard-working people. We like spending time in Lancaster County, PA.

I recently finished reading Through the Storm by Derek Wilson. It’s about the life and legacy of Martin Luther. I found a quote near the end of the book that I think fits here perfectly:

a mission becomes a movement, a movement becomes a machine, a machine becomes a monument and a monument becomes a museum’- until woken up by the next revival.

That’s what I consider the problem with movements within the church. A movement can be a good thing. It can join and galvanize members to work together toward a greater good. But after a while, it seems that the identity of the movement becomes the object of worship. Many Christians I know and or follow on the Internet seem to identify more with their labels than with their Lord. I’m sure that’s not where their hearts are really at, but it does give that appearance.

If Evangelicalism collapses, I’ll be fine. I won’t miss it. I may not even notice. It apparently rose up partly out of a desire not to completely separate from the culture as fundamentalism does, and it was also apparently a response to “liberal theology”. There will be other challenges and we’ll find other movements within the church to join and make up new labels. I’m not worried.

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One Response

  1. ok

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