Friday, March 13, 2009

Two Very Interesting Articles from this Week

I'm not a big fan of Time Magazine, but as has been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere, they recently released an article entitled Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Third on that list is "The New Calvinism." Referring to individuals like John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler, the article highlights how this resurgence of Calvinism is where much of the lifeblood of the broader evangelical movement is found.

Yet just earlier this week a quite different article was published entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse. Michael Spencer argues the following:
We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

Without implying that these two are the only options, do you find yourself encouraged by the growth of the new Calvinism and see it as a sign of good times to come for the evangelical movement? Or are you more inclined to see the end of evangelicalism as we know it? Or do you foresee some combination of the two?

3 comments:

Shannon Lewis said...

Both. The process is cyclical. The church always shifts into a liberal phase, then declines, and about that same time a conservative, more-Biblical expression of the church grows up from the ashes. Emergent, with it's benefits, will still one day end up as the mainline churches, and the re-emergence of a new "fundamentalism" of sorts will re-establish itself. It's been happening since the foundations of the church - I call it reformation and revival. ;-)

danny2 said...

though resisting it at first, i have come to LOVE the joy of resting in God's sovereign rule in salvation. i wish that all men and women would see it in the text.

however, with press coverage, if fear some will be drawn to it for pragmatic reasons. then, this movement will simply run out ahead of itself, with people claiming they adhere to the monergist perspective even though they will betray it with their actions and doctrine.

i pray this movement is growing because it is Biblical, not because it has momentum.

Anonymous said...

Of course, no one can predict the future but God. But if we're starting with the prognostications of the venerable Time Magazine, then I think it will be a combination of the two. Recovery of biblical doctrine, if truly recovered not only in mind, but also in affection and will (as seems to be genuinely happening), should lead to recovery of biblical practice. This, in turn, will lead to the strengthening of true churches, and their distinctiveness from the culture. This distinctiveness will likely produce, as it always has, two contrasting results: (1) unpopularity amid the culture, leading to persecution,a clarification between true and false converts, and biblical pruning of the vine; and (2) attractiveness to the culture based on that same distinctiveness, leading to increased evangelistic effectiveness, true conversions, and real, biblical growth. I agree that Emergent will end up as the mainline churches, and i also think they'll end up as evacuated as the mainlines are now.