Friday, March 13, 2009

Analysis 0f Michael Spencer's "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" (Part 5)


Spencer's third cause for the imminent collapse of evangelical Christianity-

"There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive."

Spencer seems confident with these designations. David Wells sees the evangelical landscape with three divisions labeled: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents. I am not sure how to categorise the different strains that make up the "evangelical" church in the America. Defining "evangelical Christianity" is difficult enough, let alone determining what category the various churches fit. Spencer's labels are blunt and identifiable. I can think of churches who would proudly wear the "evangelical " label fitting each of his categories.

Here's the problem with Spencer's designations, as I see it- there are myriads of churches who do not fit precisely under the evangelical moniker, yet are considered evangelical by most onlookers. Two posts ago I sited Time's recent article that described "New Calvinism". In that article people like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and Al Mohler are described as Calvinists, Reformed, and evangelical. My denomination will describe itself as Reformed and evangelical. Where do we fit? What category are we in? Time would have us believe such churches are growing, not declining. Maybe such churches will retain what is worthy about historic evangelicalism (belief in the Bible and Christ alone as Savior) but jettison it's negative traits? I see this as a good development. Maybe we are witnessing the fall of evangelical Christianity and the rise of something better? I hope so. Perhaps Spencer is too pessimistic about what the demise of evangelical Christianity would mean for the church in this country?

6 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

Tony,

Was not the reason to retain the ‘Evangelical’ quotient was in part to the 1982 merger?

“In 1982, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, joined the Presbyterian Church in America. The Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, had been formed in 1965 by a merger of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod.”

http://www.pcanet.org/general/history.htm

I know that you and Nathan are of a BPC background, if in your view the PCA became to Evangelical in a current day and not a Biblical Christianity way, would it be you individually or would the Redeemer session make a gesture or move to go to another Reform or Presbyterian denomination. If so do you have your eye on one? Because I read that Coral Ridge PCA may merge with a EPC.

http://christianpost.com/church/Megachurches/2009/03/church-elders-ok-merger-of-kennedy-s-coral-ridge-tchividjian-s-new-city-12/index.html


The only logical denomination I could think of would be the OPC should it come to that.

Frontier Forest said...

During last Saturday’s, “Iron Sharpens Iron” men’s bible study, we had a healthy dialog about God’s impending judgment upon America. Because of what is happening around us, for several weeks now, I have been meditating on some very sobering thoughts about this distressing subject. I think about the day after God’s Hands of grace are removed from this once great land…. what Americans, both lost and churched alike, will say, who they will blame, where they will turn and what desperate acts of survival will be forced upon the masses? My immediate thoughts make me wonder, how the Chosen people of God must have reacted when God, time after time, warned them, yet they turned away. They laughed, paying no attention to His constant words of warning. For wrath and judgment were reserved for the “heathens” not the “righteous.” So they removed God from their midst, took His word from their schools, set up their own idols, made their own rules, established their own plans, and lavished in their self-made prosperity. But when God’s wrath was unleashed upon the Nation and the people of Israel, and when the Jews realized they had been conquered, that peace, security, and prosperity as a nation was gone, who did the blame and what did they do? I believe, for many years most of them never thought about God or His promises or His warnings. I think repentance and turning back to God came many years later. After all, from their arrogance, greed and corruption, I believe they smugly concluded their once powerful nation’s demise was everyone else’s fault!
You don’t hear it anymore, especially from the pulpits of church’s Pastor Tony is referring too. But let’s face it, a little “hell-fire and damnation” preachen’ wouldn’t hurt. And maybe….. just maybe, make us think about God and where we as a nation are headed?

Reepicheep said...

Rick,
Yes, the merger with the RPES certainly brought the "Evangelical" moniker with it, however I think the PCA would have called itseslf Reformed and Evangelical before the merger. Back then "evangelical" identified more with the Evangelical Theological Society's definition of evangelical which I basically can identify with (authority of Scripture and belief in Christ as only way of salvation).

There is considerable overlap between the PCA and OPC. We (RPC) are comfortable with the PCA in its present form so there isn't much sense in speculating. I pray the PCA remains faithful to God's Word, by God's grace.

Wayne said...

Are we growing? I've heard that the PCA has essentially plateaued - of course I don't have any real data, just second-hand comments.

Reepicheep said...

Wayne, I'm not sure about the PCA. I was referring to the "New Calvinism" type churches in general. Driscoll and co. are definitely seeing growth. Piperites and the like. That's what I meant.

Rick Calohan said...

An update on the New City EPC and Coral Ridge PCA merger. New City will join Coral Ridge and the PCA.

http://www.newcitypres.com/blog/?p=651