Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evan-jello-calism

An excellent, short commentary at this blog on the nature of evangelicalism today.

3 comments:

suneal said...

In the article above at "The absolute Truth" blog, obviously the intent is humorous, at least here.

So what does it mean to be "Evangelical"? I contend it means that as a Christian one first of all takes their stand on a proclaimed (evangelized) message of the gospel of Christ, unto the saving of the soul by grace through faith.

Now, this may not be unique from any other segment of Christianity, however, the emphasis upon a personal, necessary obtainment by faith into what God has provided via the "born-again" experience of His Spirit, is something unique to Evangelicals, at least in their emphasis upon it.

Second to this, is the conviction that this personal obtainment into God's blessings in Christ, immediately begins to show "fruit" or good works in that believer's life, or else that person's faith is not "alive," but "dead" as argued in the Book of James, chapter 2. Along with this comes the conviction of WILLING accountability to the Word of God as the community of faith.

So, why are we often so "jello-like"? I believe we have not let the second above mentioned factor remain an integral part of Evangelicalism. This has happened via two primary ways of co-opting with the world. We "blend in" either by accepting their low moral standards, accompanied with their low or humanistic view of God, which means the message is "watered-down" so anyone can "be saved," and be home in time for their favorite TV show. Secondly, we go buddy-buddy with the world's methods of doing things, of which Bill Hybel's leadership conference is an example.

In the one case, Satan comes as the tempter, of which we all too often submit, in the other case, he comes as our friend, of which we seem often more elated, for Satan as our "friend," comes as the "Angel of Success." What "works" plays as "god." Of course this implies theology has been relegated to a "back-bencher" in the church's House of Parliament, while other "elected" officials represent us, or rather entertain us.

The end result of losing our separation from the world, either in practiced doctrine or in the methods of our being the church, is that we no longer show forth "fruits meet for repentance." Since we then look like jelly, we actually lose our first distinctive, point one above, which means now we no longer focus on the "salvation of souls," by faith. Instead, we focus on "leadership conferences," or the latest book, or other church functions (not that these events themselves are wrong). If we do preach "salvation by faith" and the need to "get right with God," it is as mentioned above, very weak, often with little personal cost attached to it.

So, "our focus determines our reality." This is not to say we create our reality, but rather, by focus on the truths of God's Word, they become primary to our identity. Since Evangelicalism is essentially about revival at the personal level, just letting slide our essential values is not enough to call ourselves "Evangelical."

One last point, as in church history, every Evangelical movement has always been built upon Orthodoxy, the essential teachings of Scripture, such as the belief in the Canon of Scripture as divinely inspired and fully sufficient for instructing us unto salvation, the Apostles Creed, the Athansian Creed, and obviously the Reformation headed by Martin Luther, in which salvation through grace alone by faith alone are proclaimed. The Divinity of Christ, the Virgin birth, the Resurection and Ascension of Christ to the Father in heaven, the belief and experience of the "Spirit poured out," are non-negotiables. This is the foundation upon which Evangelicalism subscribes to, and upon which the above two points are built.

Furthermore, this is not to say, minimalism is the goal of Evangelicalism, on the contrary, but rather that these are essential for true saving faith to exist. For the true spirit of the evangelical movement has been revival, which implies wanting God's fullest and best.

Christopher said...

Suneal,

You're awesome! Thank you for that insightful post.

I really do wish you'd write for this blog. *sigh*

Cheers!
Christopher

suneal said...

Thanks Chris, but to let you know I posted the same comment at "The Absolute Truth Blog," and well... I think I am being censored by Jeff, the author. He has not posted my comment. So, is it the "absolute truth," or.....

It bothers me to cut ourselves up, without speaking forth what is good about us. The good and the bad is the absolute truth, not just the bad. And the good should therefore encourage us to aspire to be more like that, while the bad should enable us to know what to avoid, you know, the pitfalls. Does this sound anything like the Old Testament stories, both good and bad, both left there, out in the clear, for some strange reason, perhaps so that we could heed the Apostle Paul's words as spoken to the Corinthians, "now all of this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire evil things as they did (Isrealites in the desert coming out of Egypt), nor to worship idols as some of them did" (I Cor 10:6-7)? For later Paul makes it pristinely clear, "All these things happened to them as examples for others, and they are written down as a warning for us" (I Cor 10:11).

Yeah, how does a warning and jello go together. Not like ebony and ivory, more like a stick slapping down on whipped cream. Yes Evangelicals, it is o.k. to warn each other in the Lord, out of love, "warning every man, teaching every man in all wisdom, that I (we) may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col 1:28).