Russell Moore has a great article at First Things that covers the history, present, and future of Evangelicals. The word “evangelical” comes from the Greek word evangelion which means “good news” or “gospel.” Since we are a gospel-centered church we are happy to be called Evangelical. However, this shouldn’t be confused with any political or social movement. The main thing that we focus on is the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This article had a lot of great points that really resonated with me. I would consider myself one of the people that Moore is talking about. He is writing to Evangelicals who “actually go to church and so represent the future.” Many people my age (<40) have grown up in church but never really liked what “church” had become. Some (false converts) walked away (1 John 2:19), others turned to the prosperity gospel hoping for their best life now, but others turned toward the gospel realizing that our hope was not in politics or in “Christian America.” Here’s how Moore put it:
As Evangelicalism grows increasingly estranged from American culture—especially from the evaporating culture of the Bible Belt—it grows increasingly committed to the “strangest” aspects of the evangel itself: atonement, resurrection, reconciliation, and so on. Some younger Evangelicals’ flight impulse from issues deemed “political” isn’t a move to the political left as much as a move to the theological right.
I, for one, am excited about where young Evangelicalism is and where it is going. Here is a partial picture of this “new” young church in America:
As a matter of fact, today the center of American Evangelicalism is, theologically speaking, to the right of the old religious right. It is true that your typical pastor of a growing, large urban Evangelical church often doesn’t look like his cuff-linked or golf-shirted forefather. But he is hardly in line with what the ambient culture would call “progressive.” He has tattoos, yes, but they aren’t of Che Guevara; they’re of Hebrew passages from the Bible. His congregation’s statement of faith isn’t the generic sloganeering of the last generation’s Evangelical doctrinally oozy consumerist movements but is a lengthy manifesto with points and subpoints and footnotes rooted in the Calvinist wing of the Reformation and the Augustinian legacy of the historic Church. His church doesn’t sing vapid “Jesus is my boyfriend” praise choruses but Puritan lyrics, albeit set to a steel guitar and a drum set.
And finally, here is a quote about where we are going.
The times will demand that Evangelicals stand for the faith in a different way from that in which we have done in the past even when we were at our best, to stand in a way that lives in the tension of prophetic distance and prophetic engagement. Prophetic distance in that we don’t become mascots for any political faction, adding Bible verses to justify somebody’s agenda when called upon to do so. Prophetic engagement in that we understand that the Gospel speaks to the whole of reality, including the decisions we make together in civil society and statecraft.
I encourage you to read the whole article. And pray that we have Christian leaders and churches ready for the challenges that lie ahead. This isn’t the time to get side-tracked or slowed down. We’re playing for keeps. Will you join us?