When I first filtered into an evangelical church at the age of 14, defining the term "evangelical" was simple, even for a kid my age. Without having to be told, I concluded evangelicals preached a solid gospel, emphasized evangelism and missions, majored in soul-winning and minored in social issues, abstained from some worldly values, were faithful in church attendance, Bible reading, and generally had a biblical worldview. I was never ashamed of the old definition of "evangelicalism."
Those churches are still around, but something has happened in the last twenty years. New leaders are rising and some do NOT preach a solid gospel yet are called evangelicals.
To me, this says today no one is really sure what "evangelicalism" means. When those leaning left such as Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis are called evangelicals, I can tell we have a new day. When "Emergent Church" leaders such as Brian McClaren, Rob Bell, and Erwin McManus are called evangelicals, something is a-miss. This is just blatant false labeling. Wallis is an apologist for Communist causes and is urging that members of the Bush administration be investigated and possibly jailed when out of office.
"The New York Times" states, "A tug of war is unfolding behind the scenes over theology--should evangelicalism be a big tent open to divergent views, or a smaller movement with more pure theology?"
Theology isn´t the only issue. Some of today´s so-called evangelicals are into global warming, immigration issues, anti-war movements, and other causes that were once found only in churches a part of the World and National Council of Churches. They are involved in ridding the world of AIDS, which is an impossibility, but a noble cause, but is it the cause of evangelicals? Or is it just the old social gospel from which evangelicals fled in the 1940s so a few denominations could focus almost exclusively on soul-winning and Bible teaching?
Now the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has a new leader and he hails from my hometown, Minneapolis, MN. Rev. Leith Anderson states in "Christianity Today" online that issues to be addressed by the NAE include human rights, creation care, justice and compassion for the poor, torture, and seeking peace in the world. Isn’t this the organization that should be reminding the world that it is racing towards judgment and there may not be a lot of time to repent? It sounds like making the world a better place to live is the new “great commission.”
I am very uneasy when “evangelicals” remind me of social gospel leftists and when sound theology is replaced by feelings and experience. Or when once-sound theologians applaud the new “Christian mysticism” and rally around “unity.” When church-growth methods take center stage and a church has to have a “marketing approach.” I thought God was the “Marketer-in-Chief” of all churches and ministries. He causes or hinders growth and the spiritual maturity of the body matters far more than growth in numbers. Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels has just stated that his “seeker” approach to church is a failure; however, it would appear that he is going to replace it with Emergent-friendly tactics and strategy.
Old fashioned evangelicalism is on life-support and has been snatched in what the Bible calls an “end-time falling away” (II Thess. 2). I see a new “slippery slope” and enormous compromise, and I will not remain silent. Yet the Lord loves His church. He has not forsaken it.
Submitted 11/8/2007 4:35:24 PM | Author: Jan Markell