Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rachel Held Evans - My Favorite Books About Justice

My favorite books about justice

by Rachel Held Evans
July 20, 2011

I’ve been focusing on justice this month, both in preparation for my trip to Bolivia and as part of the biblical womanhood project. Last week Dan and I attempted a “week of eating justly,” in which I vowed to know exactly where all the food we purchased came from in order to ensure that no people or animals were exploited in the process. In some ways it was harder than I thought ($3 for a can of chicken broth!) and in some ways it was easier than I thought (which fair trade chocolate should I taste test today?). In addition, I’ve been focusing my prayers and reading on subjects related to justice. So today I thought I’d share my favorite books on the topic:

1. The Hole in Our Gospel by president of World Vision Richard Stearns is a fantastic introduction to the centrality of justice to the gospel message. Packed with biblical references and personal testimonies, it’s the kind of book you can safely introduce as a book study option at your church if your group includes participants with a variety of political and theological viewpoints. Stearns issues a moving call to action that challenges Christians to look beyond the walls of their churches and work together to demonstrate God’s love for the world by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

2. In Half the Sky, Pulitzer Prize-winning duo Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explain how investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide will lift millions out of poverty. According to the authors, more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century. Focusing on sex trafficking, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality, the authors masterfully incorporate colorful stories of real women who have both suffered from oppression and triumphed over it in order to make the case that “women aren’t the problem but the solution. ” This is by far the most well-written book about poverty and injustice that I’ve read. What I love about it is that it really gives the reader a sense of being “on the ground,” where there are no easy answers and no simple categories of victim and rescuer. (In light of recent conversations here on the blog, I found it interesting that the authors are very much in favor of Westerners taking short-term trips to impoverished areas of the world.)

3. If you are looking for a super-practical guide to living more justly, I highly recommend Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson. I used this book to plan most of my activities this month, and it is has proven to be an invaluable resource for making better decisions as a consumer. With seven easy-to-read chapters on coffee, chocolate, cars, food, clothes, waste, and debt, Julie shows how our everyday decisions can affect people around the world. Best of all, each chapter concludes with lists of additional resources that provide readers with the books, documentaries, and Web sites they need to learn more and to put their resolutions into action. You don’t have to take all of Julie’s suggestions of course, but incorporating just a few can make a big difference.

4. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald Sider was the first book to really inspire me to rethink the way that I live in relation to my global neighbors. First published back in 1977, the book has been thoroughly revised and updated. (I read the 2005 version.) Like The Hole in Our Gospel, it provides a comprehensive biblical case for caring about justice, but with an emphasis on the contrast between Western materialism and worldwide poverty. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger was named one of the Top 100 Religious Books of the Century by Christianity Today, and it is well-deserving of that honor.

5. Last night after dinner, I finally picked up Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James and, believe it or not, I’d finished it by 1:00 a.m.! I loved this book! In it, James argues that the Church’s emphasis on marriage and motherhood is not far-reaching enough to encompass every woman’s whole life within a multicultural, rapidly changing world. In order to take on the sort of injustices we encounter in Half the Sky, Christian women must be freed to lead and to capitalize on God’s positive, life-affirming vision for them. I was absolutely thrilled to see James, an evangelical, interpret passages like Genesis 2 and Proverbs 31 in ways that I believe are much more faithful to the original meaning of the text than are typically presented at Christian women's conferences. James issues a stirring call for the Church to move beyond stifling arguments over gender roles and embrace a holistic understanding of God’s calling for both men and women. I wrote “amen” in the margins more times than I care to admit.

N.T. Wright - Called to Study and Teach

Wise words from Tom Wright on vocation, passion, and how sometimes
it's the little things that end up making all the difference.

Study & Teach from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Neo-Fundamentalism, Part 2

Another Hallmark of Neo-fundamentalism

by Roger Olson
July 6, 2011

I’ve been writing a series of posts here about the phenomenon among evangelicals (especially evangelical scholars and those under their influence including certain influential pastors and authors) that I call “neo-fundamentalism.” I’ve already identified several common (perhaps not universal) characteristics or hallmarks of this movement (if it can be called that).

First, let me reiterate that I’m not claiming there’s some kind of secret cabal or conspiracy at work. Rather, I think I detect a relatively new ethos among conservative evangelicals that feels a lot like the fundamentalism “the new evangelicals” supposedly left behind in the 1940s and 1950s. (In its broadest sense “evangelicalism” includes fundamentalists, but beginning with the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and then taking off with the founding and growth of the Billy Graham ministries including Christianity Today (CT) in the 1950s a “new evangelicalism” struggled to distinguish itself from the fundamentalist movement led by men like Bob Jones, Carl McIntire and John R. Rice.)

This neo-fundamentalism consists of (mostly) men who claim to be part of the new evangelicalism and are usually so identified but who seem to be turning back to something more like fundamentalism in terms of their attitudes and approaches to evangelical theology and ministry. But there doesn’t seem to be any unifying organization tying them all together even though they do tend to huddle together in certain organizations.

The one hallmark of the older fundamentalism not shared by these neo-fundamentalists (who prefer the label “confessional evangelical”–a label I can’t give over to them because we postconservative evangelicals confess a lot!) is the doctrine of “biblical separationism” and especially “secondary separationism.” However, even these seem to be returning to some extent among these neo-fundamentalists. (I’m thinking for example of the SBC’s withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance.)

One hallmark I don’t think I’ve talked about here before is the neo-fundamentalists’ tendency to publish ONLY scholarship aimed at “correcting” doctrinal drift or declension among fellow evangelicals. For them, theology should not be creative or engage in reconstruction. Apparently, anyway, God does NOT (for them) have new light to break forth from his word. They are defensive of whatever they perceive as “the received evangelical tradition” and pump out books and articles attacking those evangelicals they regard as somehow departing from it. It always turns out that they see all those straying evangelicals as “on a liberal trajectory.” They (the neo-fundamentalists) are obsessed with liberal theology–as if it still poses a huge threat. (In fact, although it is still around, it has almost no real influence except in some of the mainline Protestant denominations.) Fellow evangelicals like N. T. Wright, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, the late Stanley Grenz, and numerous others I might mention are treated very harshly by the neo-fundamentalists merely for daring to push the envelope of tradition so as to rethink some traditional doctrinal formulations.

I am not against polemics, so long as they are practiced in a civil and respectful manner. But what puzzles me is why these seemingly brilliant neo-fundamentalist scholars, many of who teach in very respectable evangelical institutions, don’t get to work on something more constructive theologically than criticism of fellow evangelicals. They seem always to be waiting and watching for an evangelical to write or publish something they consider less than fully orthodox so they can jump on it and write another book attacking it.

This current evangelical situation reminds me of Karl Barth’s response to the question of possible universalism in his theology. In The Humanity of God (p. 62) he wrote: “One question should for a moment be asked, in view of the ‘danger’ with which one may see this concept [viz., universalism] gradually surrounded. What of the ‘danger’ of the eternally skeptical-critical theologian who is ever and again suspiciously questioning, because fundamentally always legalistic and therefore in the main morosely gloomy? Is not his presence among us currently more threatening than that of the unbecomingly cheerful indifferentism or even antinomianism, to which one with a certain understanding of universalism could in fact deliver himself? This much is certain, that we have no theological right to set any sort of limits to the loving-kindness of God which has appeared in Jesus Christ. Our theological duty is to see and understand it as being still greater than we had seen before.”

I think Barth’s comment there speaks powerfully into the ongoing debate over Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. And into the plethora of publications attacking moderate and postconservative evangelicals for daring to engage in fresh and faithful biblical research in order to test whether time honored (but still human) traditions are valid. We have too many “morosely gloomy” evangelical theologians today. I’d like to challenge them to take a year off from their inquisitions to write something positive and constructive.

Additional Comments and Notes

Thirsty says
Roger, one of the things I’ve been trying to do over the last year is to try to get a handle on evangelical Protestantism — in the main through reading what I can, through attending services at a local and thriving evangelical Anglican church, and through talking as much as possible to evangelical friends and friends-of-friends. Your blogs have been very helpful in this regard, but there’s one thing I keep wondering about.

You evidently envisage evangelical Protestantism as a kind of spectrum, with neo-fundamentalists at one end, and moderate and postconservative ones at the other. While labels can be limiting, they can be helpful too, and so I’m wondering where exactly you would place individuals such as Don Carson, John Piper, Rick Warren, Philip Yancey, and England’s John Stott, Steve Chalke, and Steve Jeffery? Indeed, where would you place yourself?

I’m having difficulties grasping the realities of the contemporary evangelical map, and I think some kind of pointers in this regard might be helpful.

I ask largely because friends at the local evangelical church have muttered gloomily about divisions between what might be termed the Chalke and Jeffery camps, notably talking of conventions splitting over Chalke’s views; one also has spoken unhappily about attending conferences where he’s been told that all books for sale there have been vetted in advance so only books completely in line with the conference’s doctrine are available. Feeling that we shouldn’t just read to validate our views, this bothers him.

Roger says
Well, watch for the forthcoming book The Evangelical Spectrum: Five Views. I, for one, don’t like the “right/left” spectrum. It operates from the assumption that all evangelical views are tied somehow to modernity. The spectrum I prefer is determined by attitudes toward tradition.

Fundamentalists and neo-fundamentalists are those who highly value militant or aggressive defense of something they perceive as a sacred hermeneutical and doctrinal tradition such that it is considered heresy or at least very dangerous even to question any part of it. These people tend to sanctify an entire systematic theology (in most cases in the U.S., anyway, somehow related to Charles Hodge’s and B. B. Warfield’s theology) as authoritative for authentic evangelicalism.

Postconservatives are those evangelicals who take more seriously sola or prima scriptura such that it is always worthwhile to question tradition insofar as fresh and faithful biblical research indicates it.


Charles says
"what puzzles me is why these seemingly brilliant neo-fundamentalist scholars, many of who teach in very respectable evangelical institutions, don’t get to work on something more constructive theologically than criticism of fellow evangelicals.”

Maybe these guys have hemmed themselves in. They know from their own behavior how ready certain folk are to criticize anything new, to excommunicate, as it were, anyone who deviates from the conservative evangelical script. Therefore, these “scholars” have no freedom to say anything fresh or new. There are haunted by the fear that they themselves have generated.

Roger says
I think you’re on to something there!


I don’t understand how Rob Bell’s opening shot — calling the traditional understanding of hell “misguided, toxic, and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love,” “a cheap view of the world [and]of God,” and “a shriveled imagination” — escapes the charge of criticizing fellow evangelicals.

Roger says
The difference is he doesn’t name anyone or aim at their throat so as to ruin their reputation and even get them fired from their teaching positions.


Barry says
There is no question that there is always more to be learned about God because our understanding of what he has revealed is not fully correct. That being the case, theology always needs further development.

The problem, as I see it, is to develop in the right directions. Bart Ehrman, for example, is not trying to develop a better understanding of God (IMHO). He is trying to cash in by saying the most destructive things possible to Christian faith. Rob Bell may, or may not, be trying to do something more positive. I’m not sure, but I think he may be tinkering with some things that don’t really need the kind of development he is exploring.

It is also clearly a fact that the neo-fundamentalists, as you call them, are vigilant to shoot down anything that sounds the least bit unfamiliar to them. That probably means they are going to hit some real errors as well as some possible improvements. I think you are saying that they should not be so fast on the draw and should ease up on their ferocity. But I’m not sure because you name no names.

I’m uncertain how you can be sure that allowing more free-flowing development in theology will not lead to really serious harm in certain cases. I feel sure there are developments in theology that you think are really headed for trouble. What is the right way to approach those cases?

Roger says
Good insights and questions. I don’t worry about theological innovation so long as it is tethered securely to the authority of Scripture. Where neo-fundamentalists see “unfettered theological experimentation” I often see faithful evangelical interpreters of Scripture doing their best to examine tradition critically in the light of God’s Word and unleash that new light God always has to bring forth from it. I get worried when a theologian, identified as evangelical or otherwise, begins to speculate apart from submission to Scripture. The problem is that neo-fundamentalists have trouble distinguishing between Scripture and their particular traditional interpretation of Scripture. I find it to be the case, often, that neo-fundamentalists have canonized the theology of Charles Hodge and confused it with God’s Word.

The Neo-Fundamentalism, Part 1

by Roger Olson
March 24, 2011

Several have asked me here to explain my meaning of “fundamentalism.” That’s difficult to do in a nutshell. Like “evangelicalism” one has to distinguish between the Fundamentalist Movement (or “movement fundamentalism”) and the fundamentalist ethos.

The Fundamentalist Movement is well understood; scholars such as Marsden and Carpenter have recounted its history and distinguishing features. I have interacted with movement fundamentalists over the years by having them visit my classes. One of those speakers (from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis) emphasized that fundamentalism is marked off from other types of Christianity (including neo-evangelicalism) by its militant (not violent) defense of biblical orthodoxy and its doctrine and practice of biblical separation including secondary separation.

The Fundamentalist Movement, in spite of itself, has no definite boundaries because it is a movement and not an organization. It includes organizations such as the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) founded by Carl McIntire which became an evangelical rival on the right to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).

Billy Graham started out in this Fundamentalist Movement but was ostracized from it because of his inclusion of Catholics and “liberal” Protestants in his New York evangelistic crusade in the late 1940s. (All of this is described in detail by Marsden and Carpenter in their books to which I have alluded several times before. Look them up on amazon.com.)

Harold John Ockenga’s “new evangelicalism” emerged out of the Fundamentalist Movement in the 1940s and 1950s. The major differences had to do with cultural engagement (as opposed to separation), a broader perspective on who is evangelical (Ockenga and the NAE included Pentecostals), a greater emphasis on the good of education (even outside of fundamentalist Bible institutions) and an attempt to rebalance the Christian beliefs that properly belong in the “essentials” and “non-essentials” categories. (Many in the Fundamentalist Movement had come to view premillennialism as an essential of Christian faith.)

The NAE’s statement of faith illustrates well the shift: It does not include the inerrancy of Scripture (although it does use the term infallible for the Bible) or the substitutionary atonement (it says “vicarious sacrifice) or premillennialism.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s and into the 1970s the new evangelicalism, largely focused on Billy Graham and his ministries (including Christianity Today), and the Fundamentalist Movement went their separate ways with occasional clashes. Both sides took delight in criticizing the other side. Fundamentalists criticized the new evangelicals for being “compromised” (with secular culture and liberal theology) and for seeking respectability. The new evangelicals criticized movement fundamentalists for being narrow minded, anti-intellectual, too separatistic and for majoring in the minors of doctrine and practice.

To make a long story short, during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s movement fundamentalists such as Jerry Falwell began to call themselves “evangelicals” and the media began to call them that (much to the chagrin of some movement fundamentalists and some new evangelicals). Billy Graham began to decline as the glue holding the new evangelicalism together. The NAE’s influence began to wane. Fundamentalism began to bleed out of its normal zone of separatistic isolation into culture and into evangelicalism. Many conservative evangelicals began to sound more and more like fundamentalists.

One major turning point in this blurring of traditional differences between movement fundamentalism and the new evangelicalism was Harold Lindsell’s 1976 book The Battle for the Bible that fell like a bombshell on the playground of the evangelicals. It argued that biblical inerrancy (rather narrowly defined) is an essential of evangelical faith if not of Christianity itself. Even Carl F. H. Henry, the “dean” of the new evangelical theologians, disagreed and was dropped as a columnist from Christianity Today. (Henry had been the founding editor of CT; Lindsell was one of his successors.)

However, numerous evangelical pastors, denominational leaders, parachurch organization leaders and administrators of evangelical colleges, universities and seminaries either agreed with Lindsell or were cowed into seeming to agree with him by pressure from constituents.

A personal, illustrative anecdote. When I enrolled in an evangelical seminary in 1975 it did not have a statement on inerrancy and, to the best of my knowledge, none of the faculty believed in biblical inerrancy. They talked about biblical infallibility but distinguished that from inerrancy. They talked about inerrancy as a fundamentalist view of the Bible and preferred to adhere to the Bible’s full authority for faith and practice. This was a mainstream evangelical seminary, not at all to the “left” or influenced by liberalism. It did have a Pietist background, however, which inclined it toward a more generous orthodoxy (not a term coined by [Brian] McLaren!).

After The Battle for the Bible was published, while I was still in seminary, the denomination’s pastors pressured the seminary to adopt a binding statement of the Bible’s inerrancy in the original autographs. The faculty were asked to sign it. I noticed that several of my professors who had criticized inerrancy in class signed it to keep their jobs. One resigned and went on to a stellar career in American and Canadian Baptist seminaries. The ethos of the seminary changed. A chill came over the classrooms and student-faculty lounge and chapel. At my graduation a fundamentalist pastor and radio preacher delivered the commencement address, much to the chagrin of most of the faculty and students.

It isn’t so much that movement fundamentalists switched sides or joined new evangelical organizations. It’s that some among the new evangelicals began to sympathize with SOME features of fundamentalism and regret evangelicalism’s movement away from it.

The Fundamentalist Movement still exists in relatively clear distinction from the post-WW2, postfundamentalist evangelical movement. The distinction still has to do with separationism and especially secondary separation. Even the most conservative, neo-fundamentalist evangelicals rarely practice secondary separation. Billy Graham is still their hero and they claim him even if some of his specific views are not popular among them.

However, what I call a fundamentalist ethos has bled out of movement fundamentalism and begun to have a pernicious influence among people who are heirs of the original postfundamentalist evangelical founders and leaders. I call this “neo-fundamentalism.” It is beginning to coalesce as a distinct movement within evangelicalism and is attempting to take over the entire evangelical movement (as it did the Southern Baptist Convention).

What are the distinguishing features of neo-fundamentalism?

First, a certain militancy in defense of perceived evangelical doctrinal tradition. Self-appointed spokespersons for neo-fundamentalism are actively seeking to get those evangelicals they consider doctrinally impure or compromised fired from evangelical organizations and not published by evangelical publishers. They congratulate each other and give each other pats on the back for pointing out heresy or heterodoxy where it has not yet been recognized. Their practice of theology is almost exclusively critical; they see no value in constructive or reconstructive theology even if it is based on fresh and faithful biblical research. They are militant defenders and promoters of something they call “the received evangelical tradition” (or by another name).

Second, a certain mean-spiritedness toward fellow evangelicals who disagree with them. Many of these neo-evangelicals see nothing wrong with misrepresenting their opponents’ views in order to marginalize them. (I have myself been subjected to this frequently and could cite names, but that’s not my goal here.) One well-known and highly regarded neo-fundamentalist evangelical theologian tried to get a colleague fired for allegedly not believing rightly in the resurrection. (According to him it has to be “physical,” “bodily” is not enough.) The same man wrote a book claiming that open theism borrows from process theology and cited pages in an open theists’ book to prove it. Anyone who looked up those pages could easily see the open theist author denied influence by process theology while only admitting similarity on one point–God’s knowledge of the future.

Third, a tendency to fill up the “essentials” (dogmas) category of Christian beliefs with non-essentials. For example, many neo-fundamentalists are claiming that substitutionary atonement is an essential of Christian faith. Even the NAE statement of faith doesn’t mention it! Some are claiming that inclusivism is in direct conflict with basic Christian doctrine. (They conveniently overlook that C. S. Lewis was an inclusivist as is Billy Graham.) I could go on mentioning secondary doctrines that neo-fundamentalists within the evangelical movement are contending for in a somewhat militant manner even to the point of questioning the salvation of those who do not believe them.

Fourth, a new version of separationism. Neo-fundamentalists don’t often practice secondary separation. But it is beginning to raise its ugly head among them. One example is the Southern Baptist Convention’s withdrawal from the World Baptist Alliance. Neo-fundamentalists are doing their best to take over organizations traditionally related to the broader “new evangelicalism” movement, but when they can’t, they are beginning to found their own separate organizations to compete with evangelical ones.

What I see emerging, that in my opinion is not being recognized by most evangelical leaders, is a third way–a way via media between movement fundamentalism and the postfundamentalist evangelicalism. People from movement fundamentalism are emerging out of their isolation into this third way and calling it “conservative evangelicalism.” People from postfundamentalist evangelicalism are adopting this third way and calling it “conservative evangelicalism.” THIS is why I call myself a postconservative evangelical. It has NOTHING to do with being liberal; it has everything to do with not wanting to be confused with these people creating and populating this third way via media. I simply refuse to give up the label “evangelical,” but because of the growing influence of this third way I have to use some adjective to distinguish my own way of being evangelical from that.

More to come….
Additional Comments and Notes

*Church Spectrums:
fundamentalism - neo-fundamentalism/conservative evangelicalism - classic evangelicalism - post-conservative evangelicalism

*(Non-)Denominational Spectrums: Catholicism - Anabaptism - Protestantism

*Primary separation (not a term used by fundamentalists but helpful to distinguish it from secondary separation) is the refusal of fellowship with false Christians. Secondary separation is refusing to have fellowship with people who have fellowship with false Christians.


John says
These two terms, evangelical and fundamentalist, are very nebulous terms and made all the more so by the various sub-strata related to each. I think your earlier post with a definition of evangelical and this one of fundamentalist are very helpful. The definitions are, of necessity, broad generalities but ones I find to be legitimate.

There is no doubt that there is a hardening of stance among many evangelicals who seem to have lost the ability to vigorously contend for the truth (as they see it) without becoming mean-spirited and exclusionary. There is also no doubt that some well-known and well-respected Christian figures are not above misrepresenting the views of others in ways that can only be described as dishonest.

To be clear, I am not a universalist, not a liberal, not one to question the authority of the Bible. There are teachings that genuine Christians hold that are wrong. There are also “tares” in broader Christendom. The truth should be upheld. But, we should be able to do so without sinking to methods that discredit bout ourselves and our beliefs.


Wikipedia - Christian Fundamentalists believe in:

1. The inerrancy of the Bible
2. The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles, and the Creation account in Genesis.
3. The Virgin Birth of Christ
4. The bodily resurrection of Christ
5. The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross
Point 5 expanded would say that the New Fundamentalists require a belief in the “penal” substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.

Roger says
Those 5 doctrines were the usual ones promoted as essentials of the Christian faith by the original fundamentalists. After 1925 (according to Marsden, Noll, Carpenter, Balmer and other historians) fundamentalism took a turn. For one thing, many of the leading fundamentalists added premillennialism as a fundamental of the faith. I once taught with an amillennialist who was constantly under attack for being “liberal” even though the college’s statement of faith said nothing about the millennium. Most scholarly treatments of fundamentalism include the pre-1925 and post-1925 phases noting that after 1925 “biblical separation” and even “secondary separation” became hallmarks of fundamentalism.


*Peter says
“THIS is why I call myself a postconservative evangelical. It has NOTHING to do with being liberal; it has everything to do with not wanting to be confused with these people creating and populating this third way via media.”

Hmmm… sounds like you’re retaining a key feature of both fundamentalism and evangelicalism in all their stripes: a tendency to define yourself by your opposition.

Roger says
And who doesn’t do that to some extent?


*Carson says
I read ‘Reformed & Always Reforming’ after graduating from a conservative Bible college, and restored my hope for what the task of theology could be. Yet I was confused by the nomenclature of “postconservative.” Why not just use the term “moderate”? Not conservative. Not liberal. Drawing on element of both. Rejecting elements of both. Sounds moderate to me.

Roger says
I have found “moderate” too broad. I know people who call themselves “moderate Baptists” who are out-and-out liberals. (That’s not true of all who call themselves moderate Baptists, of course, and I use that label for myself in contexts where it will be correctly understood.) Originally, I thought I had coined the adjective “postconservative” and I meant it as sort of a parallel with “postliberal” - not that I agree with everything postliberals believe. The whole idea of “postconservative evangelicalism” was to get off the “right-left” spectrum that still bedevils most of our evangelical theological debates. Postconservative evangelicals are neither right nor left nor somewhere in the middle on that spectrum. The right-left spectrum is inextricably tied to modernity.


Timothy says:
If I have understood Roger correctly, fundamentalism is not so much a theology as a state of mind. Thus one might have the most conservative theology but not be a fundamentalist in Roger’s sense of the word or liberal but a fundamentalist. The key aspect of fundamentalism is how it interacts with those who disagree with it. So to take one issue, if it is able to interact graciously with disagreement then it is not fundamentalist but if it persecutes those with which it disagrees then it is fundamentalist.

What is Anabaptism?


by Kurt Willems
July 2011

Below I give the answer to “What is an Anabaptist” by giving information from two sources:

1 - Core Convictions of the Anabaptist Network
2 - Twelve Principles of Anabaptism


Core Convictions of the Anabaptist Network

1. Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshipping him.

2. Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.

3. Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalised Jesus, and has left the churches ill-equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture. As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.

4. The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.

5. Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability and multi-voiced worship. As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together. We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender and baptism is for believers.

6. Spirituality and economics are inter-connected. In an individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation, and working for justice.

7. Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding non-violent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.

12 Principals of Anabaptism

1. A high view of the Bible

While not worshipping the Bible itself, for that would be bibliolatry, Anabaptists accept “the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God, and through the Holy Spirit…the infallible guide to lead men to faith in Christ and to guide them in the life of Christian discipleship.” Anabaptists insist that Christians must always be guided by the Word, which is to be collectively discerned, and by the Spirit.

2. Emphasis on the New Testament

Since Christ is God’s supreme revelation, Anabaptists make a clear functional distinction between the equally inspired Old and New Testaments. We see an old and a new covenant. We read the Old from the perspective of the New and see the New as the fulfillment of the Old. Where the two differ, the New prevails, and thus Anabaptist ethics are derived primarily from the New Testament.

3. Emphasis on Jesus as central to all else

Anabaptists derive their Christology directly from the Word and emphasize a deep commitment to take Jesus seriously in all of life. Such a view runs counter to notions that the commands of Jesus are too difficult for ordinary believers or that Jesus’ significance lies almost entirely in providing heavenly salvation. Rather, salvation of the soul is part of a larger transformation.

4. The necessity of a believers’ church

Anabaptists believe that Christian conversion, while not necessarily sudden and traumatic, always involves a conscious decision. “Unless a person is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Believing that an infant can have no conscious, intelligent faith in Christ, Anabaptists baptize only those who have come to a personal, living faith. Voluntary baptism, together with a commitment to walk in the full newness of life and to strive for purity in the church, constitutes the basis of church membership.

5. The importance of discipleship

Becoming a Christian involves not only belief in Christ but also discipleship. Faith is expressed in holy living. In Christ, salvation and ethics come together. Not only are we to be saved through Christ, but we are also to follow him daily in obedient living. Thus, for example, Anabaptists from the beginning renounced the oath. They determined to speak truth. “For them there could be no gradations of truth-telling.” Anabaptists continue to teach that salvation makes us followers of Jesus Christ and that he is the model for the way we are to live.

6. Insistence on a church without classes or divisions

The church, the body of Christ, has only one head. While acknowledging functional diversity, Anabaptist believers set aside all racial, ethnic, class and sex distinctions because these are subsumed in the unity and equality of the body.

7. Belief in the church as a covenant community

Corporate worship, mutual aid, fellowship and mutual accountability characterize this community. An individualistic or self centered Anabaptism is a contradiction in terms.

8. Separation from the world

The community of the transformed belongs to the kingdom of God. It functions in the world but is radically separate from the world. The faithful pilgrim church sees the sinful world as an alien environment with thoroughly different ethics and goals. This principle includes separation of church and state. Therefore, Anabaptists reject all forms of civil religion, be it the traditional corpus Christianum or more recently developed forms of Christian nationalism.

9. The church as a visible counterculture

As a united fellowship of believers every Anabaptist congregation models an alternate community. Such a covenant community functions as an authentic counterculture.

10. Belief that the gospel includes a commitment to the way of peace modelled by the Prince of Peace.

Here Anabaptists differ from many other Christians. Anabaptists believe that the peace position is not optional, not marginal, and not related mainly to the military. On the basis of Scripture, Anabaptists renounce violence in human relationships. We see peace and reconciliation – the way of love – as being at the heart of the Christian gospel. God gave his followers this ethic not as a point to ponder, but as a command to obey. It was costly for Jesus and it may also be costly for his followers. The way of peace is a way of life.

11. Commitment to servanthood

Just as Christ came to be a servant to all, so Christians should also serve one another and others in the name of Christ. Thus, separation from a sinful world is balanced by a witness of practical assistance to a needy and hurting society.

12. Insistence on the church as a missionary church

Anabaptists believe that Christ has commissioned the church to go into all the world and all of society and to make disciples of all people, baptizing them and teaching them to observe his commandments. The evangelistic imperative is given to all believers.These principles constitute the essence of Anabaptism. While each emphasis can be found elsewhere, the combination of all twelve constitutes the uniqueness of Anabaptism.

The Protestant Reformation had not gone far enough. The early Anabaptists, while diverse and far from perfect, committed themselves to nothing less than the restoration of the New Testament church. We, their heirs, have the privilege of reemphasizing these twelve principles, in word and deed, here and now.

Evangelicalism in 2003 - A Historical Framework

Evangelical leaders that have come to the fore in the '90s ä have a greater political expertise. They have more friends in power. They're more experienced äthey have become political as well as religious in their public activity.Dr. Noll is a historian and professor of Christian thought at Wheaton College in Illinois, a leading evangelical liberal arts institution. He also is the author of America's God, a history of American Protestant Christianity. In this interview, he offers a summary of American evangelical history beginning with a definition of the word "evangelical." He talks about why evangelicals became more politically engaged in the 1960s and 1970s and how its leadership changed over the following decades: "They have more friends in power [now]. They're more experienced and working for different issues. They have become political, as well as religious, in their public activity." Noll also talks about the many layers of differences between the African-American evangelical community and the white evangelical community and he defines the type of evangelical George W. Bush represents. This interview was conducted on Dec. 10, 2003.

How would you define the word "evangelical?"

"Evangelical" designates both a trait of churches, religious practices, networks. It designates a certain series of convictions or actions, practices. The beginning of the modern movement and its American phase is in the mid-18th century, with revivals in the British Isles, North America, the West Indies. Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield are key beginning figures. From those movements have descended a wide array of religious organizations, churches and voluntary groups, and they are the evangelical movement.

But there are also a series of characteristics and designations, beliefs and practices -- of which four have been designated by the British historian, David Bebbington, and provide a very good summary designation of what evangelicals do and believe.

His four characteristics are: (1) a very strong belief in the Bible as the primary religious authority; (2) a commitment to the practice of conversion, so that people need to be changed in a Christian direction as a basis for participation in the life of God; (3) activism, especially a willingness to tell other people about the message of salvation in Jesus Christ; (4) a special assessment of the work of Christ on the cross - [that the] death and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the Christian faith.

These four characteristics do work quite well to designate a broad family of religious interest.

Are there certain denominations that fit underneath this, and others that don't?

Evangelical is a slippery word, because it can be used to designate certain religious groups or denominations. But then it also can be used to transcend denomination. So there would be in the United States evangelical Presbyterians, evangelical Episcopalians, evangelical Lutherans.

But there would also be lots of individual congregations that would be evangelical in some general sense. The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, would certainly be evangelical. Although because it is its own thing, and it's so big in the southeastern part of the country and large in other parts of the country, many Southern Baptists do not use the word "evangelical" for themselves, though everyone outside knows that they are.

So the word is plastic. The concept is not precise. Evangelical movements have been identified and identifiable. Evangelicals recognize each other, often by how they sing hymns, and what hymns. But it's not a hard and fast designation.

The word "evangelical" does designate a limited range of beliefs and practices. But it's not a word like Baptist or Presbyterian or Roman Catholic, because its designation is for a certain characteristic way of being religious.

Evangelicals tend to operate against tradition, but there are some traditional evangelicals. Evangelicals historically have been opposed to the Roman Catholic Church. Today, there are Roman Catholics who call themselves evangelicals. So the word is flexible, but it does have a core of meanings that have been associated with it.

The evangelicals that we talked to, they're mostly Republican. But this hasn't always been the case, right?

Historically, from shortly after the Civil War into the 1950s and 1960s, most people who were evangelicals shared the political viewpoints of their region. So it's probably the case that the individuals that sociologists, historians, would now call evangelicals were predominantly Democratic into the 1960s, because so many of them were in the South, and so much of the South was Democratic.

In the last 40 years, that situation has changed, because of political alterations that have taken place in the South. The movement of whites in general to the Republican Party in the South has included the movement also of white evangelicals to the Republican Party.

Northern evangelicals always tended to be more Republican than Democratic, but that is because they were part of the Northern white Protestant establishment. That was just as true for mainline Presbyterians and Lutherans as it was for Baptists and members of independent congregations.

Then there are also the changes in terms of evangelicals becoming more engaged politically. For example, I am thinking of the 1970s, when Roe v. Wade was passed....

Important things happened from the 1960s and 1970s. One was a process by which evangelicals became more actively involved in political life in general. For that to happen, it took national Supreme Court decisions having to do, I think, primarily with school prayer and abortion, that represented an affront to many evangelicals, North and South, represented what was seen by many as an illegitimate extension of government power.

So there was a process by which formerly quiet evangelicals became more active politically. The Republican campaign of Pat Robertson in 1988 was not particularly successful politically. But it did succeed in energizing particularly the Pentecostal and Charismatic parts of the evangelical world that were characterized by a kind of pietistic indifference to political life.

But along also with increased involvement was a change in partisanship. The political scientist whom you've talked to can explain that in great detail.

But what seems to have taken place is that, as the Republican Party came to be seen as the party with a moral agenda, it attracted middle class, lower-middle class white Southerners, and added those evangelicals to the Northern evangelicals who had been primarily Republican all along.

So what you are saying is that, along the way, there were a couple of decisions by the Supreme Court that ignited evangelicals to become politically active, and in doing so, they started to relate more to the Republican Party -- a party which also was taking on a more moral platform?

Yes. Two things happened from the 1960s. One was a fairly widespread evangelical resentment at the extension of federal power via the courts, particularly with the school prayer decision and the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Resentment or nervousness about extending government power goes back to the 1930s and 1940s. But these particular cases in the 1960s and 1970s sparked political mobilization of a sort that had not been present before.

Along with a more general interest and involvement in political life came then this shift of partisanship. Middle-class and lower-middle class, largely white evangelicals, often Southern, who had been instinctively Democratic, began to be instinctively Republican, as the Republican Party … came to be seen as the party of family values or traditional values.

Tell me what "traditional family values" means to an evangelical.

Most white evangelicals, North and South, would probably see family values as related to influence in the local schools, as preference given to traditional families, one man, one wife married. Traditional values would include protection for children. Traditional values would include protection for life.

I think there probably are strong family elements in most evangelicals' opposition, for example, to abortion on demand.

Over the past 30-40 years, in what ways has this leadership changed or evolved?

Evangelicals have no given leadership. There is no pope in the evangelical world. But over time, different individuals do come to the fore as recognized leaders -- sometimes recognized within evangelical groups, sometimes recognized by the outside.

One of the really important developments after World War II was that Billy Graham and his associates came to be recognized leaders inside the evangelical world, and as spokespeople for evangelicals on the outside.

Billy Graham and his circle were always interested in politics, but in a low-key way that was pretty quiet, pretty much oriented toward behind-the-scenes influence. That generation of evangelical leaders eventually gave way in the 1970s and 1980s to a more assertive, a more aggressive, a more abrasive leadership. That was energized by the moral struggles precipitated by the Supreme Court decisions, but by other matters as well.

So Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and eventually Dr. James Dobson were not so much concerned about keeping together the coalitions that the Graham people had worked on, but were concerned about standing up for what they thought was important in American life and what was threatened.

A good question could now be raised whether there might be a shift of generations taking place again, with leaders like Bill Hybels and other significant local ministers of the mega-churches often, but of other significant churches who do have a more peaceful demeanor, but who may be just as adept politically as some of those from earlier generations.

Would you then separate the fundamentalists from the evangelicals in the leadership of the movement over recent decades?

Well, sometimes people … want to make a strong distinction between the word "evangelical" and the word "fundamentalist." I myself do not do that, because I think usually the word "fundamentalist" is used of people you don't particularly like. There aren't too many people who call themselves fundamentalists, and so the word can be abused.

I, for one, do not actually think it's helpful to call the major evangelical political leaders of the 1970s, 1980s, fundamentalists, as opposed to evangelicals. I do think, however, they were in earlier stages of political mobilization. Leaders that have come to the fore in the 1990s and on into the 21st century -- and Richard Land of the Southern Baptists would be a good example of these -- have many of the same beliefs and practice, many of the same things as the generation in the 1980s and 1990s, but have a greater political expertise.

They have more friends in power. They're more experienced, and working for different issues. They have become political as well as religious in their public activity.

When we look at polling numbers, evangelicals are mostly white. Why is that the case?

One of the most important features of American religious life is the political difference between blacks and whites who otherwise share a tremendous amount in their religious beliefs and religious practices.
When pollsters talk about evangelicals, they usually mean white evangelicals, and white evangelicals vote now overwhelmingly for the Republican Party. It would be legitimate, from a religious point of view, to regard huge sections of the African-American churches in the United States as evangelicals. They believe in the Bible. They believe in conversion. They are supernaturalists. On moral issues, they oppose abortion. They believe that marriage should be restricted to one man and one wife.

But on political issues, blacks, and especially African-Americans who go to church, vote for the Democratic Party. The reason for this feature of American public life -- and it's a very important one -- the reason is rooted in history, culture and the social divisions that have divided whites and blacks in United States history.

From the period before the American Civil War, evangelical religion became very strong in the African-American community. But African-Americans were at first enslaved, and then segregated, discriminated against, by a number of white communities, including the religious, the Protestant community.

So over the last 150 years, there's grown up an almost separate religious culture for African-Americans, divided from the religious culture of white Americans. There are some exceptions. But these two cultures, though they often share similar beliefs and practices religiously, they have been socialized into very different political behavior.

We talked to four students here at Wheaton. There were three white students from the Midwest. There was a fourth black student, also from the Midwest, and she's one of 35 or so black students on campus. I asked them, "What are the issues that you would vote on?" The first three kids said the moral issues. Abortion [and] gay marriage was very important to them, and the war, supporting the troops. They all said that. The black student said education, social welfare and then the war, but didn't list the moral issues. When I asked who would vote for Bush, the first three white kids said George Bush. And she said, "I just don't know yet." Does it surprise you?

Not in the least. Not in the least. Black churchgoers and white churchgoers who would share a common set of evangelical beliefs almost predictably are going to come down on different sides of the modern political debate.

African-American churches, and especially urban churches in the main cities of the United States, are concerned about issues bearing in on those communities. Those issues have to do with support for public education. They have to do with the provision of welfare for stressed families. They have to do with the provision of work and government policies that support the ability to make a living.

White evangelicals are -- not exclusively -- but they are comfortable in the suburbs, and in the small towns and rural areas of the United States. Those two environments historically and contemporaneously have posed different ranges of social issues, and have put different social issues in the forefront of church concern, as well.

So we have in the United States now a situation where religion is the second-strongest indicator of public partisan behavior. But race remains the number one indicator.

That's really interesting, isn't it?

...If you can somehow point out that huge numbers in the black churches are evangelical in a religious definition, that will actually be a step ahead, a step forward.

I keep hearing from black Protestants that, "Hey, we're evangelical, too. But I'm not going to call myself evangelical."

That's exactly right One of the interesting divisions between black America and white America is in the use of the term "evangelical." White churches and white church people who have the traditional evangelical beliefs in practice are much more likely to call themselves evangelicals than African-Americans who might share the same beliefs in doctrine and share the same attitudes toward moral practices.

Black evangelicals, and people whom historians might call black evangelicals, are much more likely themselves to use terms like "Bible believers," "spirit-filled," "true Christians," "folk on fire for the Lord" and not use the word "evangelical," because in American public discourse that is a word usually used by and about white folk. There's actually a complication with Hispanics too, but you don't want to get into that.

Why is it that, right now, mainline Protestant churches are going along at a sort of steady pace and even declining, and evangelical churches are definitely seeing an increase? What's going on right now?

The churches that are known as evangelical today are descended from the mainline Protestant churches of the 19th century. When a distinction is made between evangelical and mainline churches, it's not a hard and fast distinction. There are many, many evangelical mainline Protestants.

But the mainline churches are traditional. They are less entrepreneurial, less flexible in relationship to cultural [issues], and have, for reasons of belief and practice and organization, not fared nearly as well in the postwar world as have more self-consciously, self-identified evangelical churches.

Would you consider President Bush an evangelical?

George Bush is evangelical, but evangelical of a particular type. His church in Midland, Texas, as I understand it, shares some characteristics of the mega-churches. It is, however, a Methodist church, but it's a Southern Methodist church. It's a largely white church. It's a church that does not stress doctrine, but stresses community and fellowship and therapy.

So, yes, George Bush is an evangelical. But he's one kind of evangelical in a mosaic that includes many, many other kinds of evangelical Christians.

When you say "of a particular type," what do you mean?

George Bush is an evangelical of a certain type. There are evangelicals in the mainline churches, of which he would be one. There are churches that have a mega-church style, of which his would be one. There are evangelical groups that emphasize the kind of therapeutic rescue that his group of supporters in Midland provided for him after he turned from alcoholism.

That style would be very different than, say the reform Christians of western Michigan, or the Pentecostal churches of downtown Chicago, or even, in many ways, the inter-denominational evangelicals of Wheaton College.

To read more:

For more Information on Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism see:
Wikipedia - Fundamentalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist_Christianity
Wikipedia - Evangelicalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

Evangelical Rejects 1/4 - You Might Be An Evangelical Reject If...

You Might Be An Evangelical Reject If…

by Kurt Willems
June 6, 2011

I wish it were otherwise, but, unfortunately it’s true. Everything within me resisted this realization. But, the time has come to admit it: I’m an Evangelical reject.

The more I write the clearer this sad truth becomes. This blog, as much as it’s served as a place to flesh out ideas I believe to be central to expressing the euangelion (gospel [hence, evangelical]) in our day to our culture, also continues to damage my reputation in the evangelical circles that I run in.

I’ve had friends distance themselves from me because they think my views blindly accommodate for twenty-first century secular culture. Colleagues question my commitment to the Scriptures. Past and present church members discuss my heretical views behind my back. To top it all off, one time, in an angry email, a passage was quoted to me from one of the letters to Timothy that talked about false teachers. I’m an evangelical reject. And today, I’ve decided to embrace it.

The question is, what makes this so? Why do I get accused of heresy on the regular? Before I get to that, maybe there’s a bit of explaining on my end that’s necessary. Do I consider myself an Evangelical? Yes. But in these interesting times, different people want that word to mean different things. I am with Roger Olson (although, more tempted to throw out this term than he is) who has struggled with the label recently. He states:
All labels have their problems and, to be sure “evangelical” is fraught with them. But I am not giving it up. Instead, I will fight for it. To me, it is virtually synonymous with “God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving” Christianity. Of course, that needs unpacking also.

One thing I find helpful when talking to someone or a group with time to listen is to distinguish between the evangelical ethos and the evangelical movement. I see myself as participating in both, but I am more comfortable claiming the evangelical ethos than I am identifying with the evangelical movement– at least as it is viewed by most people.

So, most of the time, when I say I am evangelical I mean I am a Protestant Christian who believes authentic Christianity requires a conversion experience of regeneration and that faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and repentance for sin are necessarily included in that.
In so far that evangelical means the belief in repentance and conversion into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, the term describes me. What I continue to find, is that such a central conviction is NOT enough to appease those who want the term to mean other things. So, based on my experiences, I want to let you know that: You Might Be an Evangelical Reject If…

  • You’re uncomfortable calling other branches of Christianity “apostate.”
  • You worry that those who cling to terms like “orthodox” often do so because they believe it to be synonymous with “Neo-Calvinism.”
  • You have significant questions about controversial theological “hot button” issues of the days and are some-what comfortable with the subsequent cognitive dissonance.
  • You’ve been asked to leave a church leadership position for philosophical / theological reasons.
  • You had a “love wins” sticker on the back of your car before the book controversy was even thought of.
  • You read theologians from all across the spectrum.
  • You think that science and scripture both reveal God’s truth in complementary ways.
  • You think that what we believe about the so called “end times” actually matters for how we do mission today.
  • You know that living the truth is more important than defending it logically.
  • You recognize culture wars as pathetic attempts for Christians to grab for power.
  • You don’t use the word inerrancy to describe biblical authority because its too rigid a definition and a modernist categorical imposition on the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures.
  • You think women should do anything BUT be silent in the church. (Can I get an AMEN from my sistas?)
  • You think that postmodern philosophy helps theology more than it hurts it.
  • You drink alcohol sometimes (in public).
  • You endorse someone that has been deemed a heretic by apprising.org
  • You believe that there are significant parallels between the Roman Empire of the 1st Century and the United States of modern day.
  • You believe social justice is central to the gospel of the Kingdom.
  • You throw up a little in your mouth every time someone says that “the rapture is coming soon, so what’s the fuss with taking care of the planet? Lets save souls!”
  • You’ve said “I’m not that kind of Christian…”
  • You considered or actually voted democratic in the last two elections.
  • You think that African American Activists have valid points when it comes to justice issues.
  • You have gay friends.
  • You’ve been in a conversation where the other was appealing more to the constitution of the USA than actually biblical theology.
  • You’re also an Anabaptist

Question: How would you end the following sentence: You might be an Evangelical Reject If…