Monday, March 16, 2009

Analysis 0f Michael Spencer's "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" (Part 6)

Let us examine Michael Spencer's fifth and sixth causes for the imminent collapse of evangelical Christianity.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to 'do good' is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what Spencer meant here so I went to his original post on his blog and found him to say:

"The deterioration and collapse of the evangelical core will eventually weaken the missional-compassionate work of the evangelical movement. The inevitable confrontation between cultural secularism and the religious faith at the core of evangelical efforts to “do good” is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, that much of that work will not be done. Look for evangelical ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive."

So, it seems Spencer thinks the "missional-compassionate work" done by evangelicals will somehow morph. Perhaps he is referring to efforts that address physical and spiritual needs of people here in the U.S. and abroad? I really don't know for sure. I would be interested in hearing from any of you astute readers who know what Spencer means here. We can certainly witness the kind of "missions" liberal protestant churches conduct- concerned primarily with undoing social injustice and poverty with now plan for carrying out the Great Commission. Much so-called "missions" is nothing more than a humanitarian effort to bring food, medicine, or other goods and services (sometimes birth control and abortion also) to "help" the plight of the poor and oppressed. Of course, all bible-believing Christians should be about helping the poor in may ways in addition to building up faithful local churches in those areas to bring the ministry of the Word and sacraments. It's a "both/and" type missional effort, not just one (physical needs) or the other (gospel witness). We are to share Christ in word and deed.

Spencer's sixth cause of the imminent collapse of evangelicalism-

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

The matter of passing on "a vital evangelical confidence" is a matter of how we (as a church and families) carry out the disipleship mandate addressed in previous posts. If the Church does not reform in this area, Spencer is right, there will be great failure in this crucial area. See previous posts on this issue.


Zach said...

I agree, Tony . . . that is an awkwardly and confusingly-stated prediction. I'm focusing on the "will be viewed as bad by so many" to mean that, as the cultural tide continues to turn against distinctively Christian good works (pro-life activism, defense of marriage, etc.), that work will be frustrated to such an extent that the evangelical-lite types will take the path of least resistance and transfer their energies to broadly non-controversial good works.

Reepicheep said...

Makes sense, you're probably right Zach.

Rick Calohan said...

In the Philippines, Presbyterian missionaries, from Korea since 1987, founded the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines. In my wife’s hometown, there is one such church. Since 2000, the leadership in these churches have gone from Korean to Filipino.

I have visited the church BUTUAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in
Gabriel Village Km. 3, Libertad 8600 Butuan City, they run a pre-school in this predominately Catholic nation in an a brick chapel building with no windows.
PCP adheres to the historic Reformed Faith, particularly the Westminster Confession and the Shorter and Larger Catechisms as faithful summary and accurate interpretation of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
Locally they are a member of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. Internationally, they are part of the World Reformed Fellowship.
In my wife’s hometown I believe they primary serve the village but I praise God that they have a presence there and throughout the Philippines.
Sadly, their online prayer board is bombarded with Spam but it does not stop the mission.
The PCUSA explains how the liberal mainline protestant denominations are working together in the Philippines in the following areas.
The mission priorities of the PC(USA) in the Philippines are:
Leadership formation of the youth and young adults of its partner church
Leadership development of pastors and lay leaders
Ministries to abused women and children
Social and economic development
Peace, justice and reconciliation and Christian-Muslim dialogue
While we cannot ignore the social Gospel at the same time we cannot ignore the complete Gospel.

MTW is doing the following:

MTW missionaries facilitating Filipino nationals in planting churches in the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines (PCP).

Future Ministry: Continuation of current ministries.
I know that when I took the Calvin’s Institute class, Tara Weathers was my mentor for the course and a former classmate of yours at Covenant Seminary husband Mark who is the speaker for the Men’s Retreat was headed on a Mission’s Trip to a border region town in India/Bangladesh/Pakistan region.
I say this because in order for the Gospel to take root, it is people like Mark, MTW, and the Korean Missionaries that will still follow the Great Commission to the ends of the earth, so that the Gates of Hades shall not Prevail! For Mark, MTW, and the Korean Missionaries know it is the Holy Spirit, who will convert and transform these adopted brothers and sisters in Christ.

Frontier Forest said...

In light of Pastor Tony’s astute analysis of Spencer’s “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”, I wonder how bad it is now? Representing my former church, on my last mission trip to Moscow in 2003, I remember the honor of being able to sit in on what came to be, a most disturbing, but now, Praise the Lord, a most providential interview. One of the Russian United Methodist pastors from the city of Voronezh, Pastor Kim, Vyacheslav Slava was totally sold out for Christ! He was a most welcomed guest in our home in 1998 and what an inspiration! Over the years he has ministered to and discipled thousands of Russian-speaking believers, leading them into ways of truth. Pastor Slava Kim came to the Lord in 1989, under the witness and discipleship of the last martyred warrior for Christ during the 60 black years of Communist reign, Father Alexander Men. At the seminary in Moscow, Slava had a reputation for being a trouble making rebellious outcast. He continually preached truth, and constantly questioned any ideas or doctrines that didn’t align with Scripture. Because of his zealous evangelical beliefs, the leaders of the seminary and most other Russian Pastors wrote him off. I learned at the seminary, making fun of him, ignoring his never ending cries for truth over tradition, had become a sporting pastime.
The day I was there, Pastor Kim Vyacheslav Slava, traveled 12 hours by train for a private meeting with the president of the RUMC Seminary, a German/Russian pastor, Tobias Dietz. Slava was seeking seminary enrolment for several outstanding young men that he had been mentoring 3 years in Bible class. During the meeting, I was shocked to hear the interpretation. Tobias Dietz, scolded, and then actually made fun of Slava’s overzealous requests. Through my friend and interpreter, Sevetlana Alekseeva, it was whispered, “President Dietz is angry at Slava and will not consider Pastor Kim’s requests.” Seveta went on to question, “But I don’t understand why president told Pastor Slava something that I know is not true? He told Slava that the reason for rejecting the 3 seminary applicants, is the positions had already been filled. But Slava knows the real reason! I think it is because the seminary students he is promoting are too extreme in their methods of evangelism.” I remember asking, “The president of the seminary lied to Slava and these students will be denied formal seminary training because they stand for truth of the Bible?” Sevta just shook her head in disgust and said, “I don’t understand why they say bad things about Slava. He is such a good and Godly man. And he knows the Bible better than all the rest of the teachers here?”
I should have gotten the hint and left the United Methodist denomination back then. But I thought I could make a difference. But the truth is this: Any apostate leader, teacher or pastor, who would lie for their own gain, openly deny truth, and choose pastors not on their beliefs and callings, but on appearance or what they will look in the pulpits, is an abomination unto God and a disgrace to the church of Jesus Christ!
I left the seminary that day with my hopes dashed! The stark reality was most disheartening. So many promising Russian-speaking, eager to learn believers would enter seminary and learn lies instead of truth. And what’s worse, be led and taught by a deceitful “president” who was arrogant and a vengeful liar! I should have known, “as the denomination goes, so the church follows.”