Monday, March 23, 2009

Predicting the Failure of Evangelicalism

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.

-- From "The coming evangelical collapse" by Michael Spencer, posted on The Christian Science Monitor 3/10/09 edition

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.

Why is this going to happen?

* We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. . . .

* 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.

* Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

* Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

* The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Also available is the full (original) writing by Michael Spencer

The author has presented a very thought-provoking treatise, but concerning the final point excerpted above, he is exhibiting signs of being cloistered from the actual churches that account for the majority of evangelical Christians. Sure, there is demonizing rhetoric from those who oppose evangelical Christianity concerning "culture war" issues, but the vast majority of evangelical Christians do not address such issues, rather it's only a very vocal, tiny minority of evangelicals, who are concentrated in advocacy organizations, bringing culture war issues to the fore.

It is utterly laughable to suggest that rank-and-file evangelicals are currently too focused on Christian witness to the decadent culture.

If the author's prediction of an "evangelical collapse" is correct, the precursor will certainly not be an overemphasis on recognizing the moral decline of American society.