Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A PROPHECY OF DOOM: What Do You Think?

Adam and Eve Expelled
Marc Chagall, 1954-67

UPDATE 3: Part 3 of Michael Spencer's forecast about the future of evangelicalism has been posted at Internet Monk.

Part 2 of Michael Spencer's forecast about the future of evangelicalism has been posted at Internet Monk.

In one of the comments on Internet Monk, the theological problem of evangelicalism has been called, "Therapeutic Moral Deism." This is a devastatingly accurate description of the kind of "teaching" that is permeating so many evangelical churches and groups today. I, for one, don't believe that such doctrinal weakness can sustain God's people for very long.


Echoing warnings from books like The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, by Christine Wicker, Michael Spencer at Internet Monk predicts that...
I believe that we are on the verge- within 10 years- of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity; a collapse that will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and that will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. I believe this evangelical collapse will happen with astonishing statistical speed; that within two generations of where we are now evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its current occupants, leaving in its wake nothing that can revitalize evangelicals to their former “glory.”

The party is almost over for evangelicals; a party that’s been going strong since the beginning of the “Protestant” 20th century. We are soon going to be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century in a culture that will be between 25-30% non-religious.
Is there such a dramatic sea change in the near future for evangelicalism? What do you see from your vantage point?

This would be a great article to read and discuss. Feel free to do that at iMonk or here. I'd love to hear from you.


Damaris said...

Frankly, I think it would be a good thing. Anything founded on the rock will stand. If evangelicalism crumbles, so be it. The rock is still there. We shouldn't let any sentiment toward our old church experiences as children or young Christians divert us from what the true Church should be.

AZ said...

iMonk says this:

Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people the evangelical Christian faith in an orthodox form that can take root and survive the secular onslaught.

What does he mean by "evangelical Christian faith?" Is it reasonable to suppose that all, most, or any who read the post will understand the term the same way he meant it?

Maybe I'm the only one with this problem, but I don't think we can have the conversation until values and terms, both the Biblical ones and the contemporary/cultural ones, are defined and standardized.

Michael Mercer said...

AZ, he is speaking of what we might call the fundamentalist and evangelical churches as contrasted with Roman Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, confessional churches such as some Lutheran and Reformed denominations, Orthodox, etc. So, this would include non-denominational churches that hold evangelical doctrine (like the "community" churches we know), churches that would be part of the National Assoc of Evangelicals, like Baptist groups, Assemblies of God, and so on, Southern Baptists, Christian churches, etc. Groups that are represented by Christianity Today, Christian radio and TV, bookstores and non-denom publishing houses, evangelical missions organizations and megachurches such as Willow Creek (Bill Hybels) and Saddleback (Rick Warren). These would by and large be non-liturgical in worship, Bible-believing, conservative in morals and politics, and talk a lot about evangelism. Spencer himself is Southern Baptist, and many of his comments reflect his views of what is happening in that group as representative of evangelicalism.

Hope that helps.

Michael Mercer said...

By the way, I highly recommend reading The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, by Christian Wicker. There is a link to its page on Amazon on my post. Her research and interviews are thought-provoking and in some instances, devastating.