Sunday, October 5, 2008

Evangelical fragments move into clumps

2. Current evangelical fragments are moving into a new phase -- into polarized "clumps."

Don said evangelicals are identifying themselves in clump-like expressions of evangelicalism (Health/Wealth clump, Openness clump, Arminian clump, etc.). Carson said the National Pastor's Conference (NPC) is as inclusive as possible -- some speakers are stellar while others are simply heretical -- but they include as many unique tribal representatives as possible. "Even Reformed circles are clumping," said Carson, "and the center is emptying out in favor of vague, dilute evangelicalism."

Carson astutely said that old-time gospel would be around until Jesus comes while he believes (as Don humorously put it, "not as a prophet or the son of a prophet, but one who works for a non-profit") that in 25 years nobody will be calling themselves "emergent" but many will still be centralized in the gospel.

I wonder what will replace the center as the varied subcultures of evangelicalism move to the fringes. For orthodox confessionalists, the center is the perfect place for the gospel. We need pastors who call their people "back" to the inner city of the gospel without relenting to the flight to the suburbs of dilute evangelicalism, as Carson put it.

The main problem I see Don making reference to is the continual division among the church. Many evangelical groups are continually becoming more exclusive, working to drive those out of their groups that are not their identical counterparts. One example of this was the MBC's decision to pull funding from all church plants associated with Acts 29. Rather than working church planters to further the gospel, the MBC decided their extra-biblical view on alcohol consumption would not permit them to work with those who feel alcohol can be consumed in moderation. I am not saying we should become all inclusive, allowing any heretical group to join with us. We should however strive to keep the gospel center, and let secondary issues be dealt with by individual churches. We also, in order to prevent a " vague, dilute evangelicalism", need to focus on theology. It is very important for the pastor to empower his congregation by preaching the word and focusing on biblical theology.

No comments: