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What Will Replace Evangelicalism?

  01/17/17 , by Dissidens, Categories: Evangelical culture



I suspect the Evangelical church—if we can call it a church* with a straight face—is going the way of the Democratic Party. I suspect it, like the American Left, cannot walk back the sentiments it has expressed in the heats of passion.

Neither group has the gift of reflection and self-criticism, and both will attempt to double down on their errors in judgment.

When that happens, and when it occurs to church-goers that they have lost the consolations and encouragements of a serious religious life, when the emptiness of soul begins to crush their lives, where will they turn? Some conspicuous personalities have turned to the Catholic Church, the Eastern Church, etc., but the typical middle-class, scrunchy-faced, entertainment besotted pew-warmer is not likely to wrap himself in a self-vindicating change of venue.

Where will he go and what will he be seeking?


*  You might read three typical and representative pieces offering the glib sensibilities of modern Evangelicalism:


Comment from: Keith Call [Visitor]

I’m not so confident that the Evangelical will turn anywhere. Aside from those conspicuous personalities who’re now walking the Canterbury Trail, the standard jellical cat stays put. Indeed, if the “typical middle-class, scrunchy-faced, entertainment besotted pew-warmer” stays true to form, at least from my perspective, he will remain seated right there on his stackable chair, awaiting the Next Big Thing. And then the Next Big Thing. And then his kids and grandkids will replace him, awaiting the Next Big Thing.

01/18/17 @ 08:55
Comment from: Dissidens [Member]  

I’m tempted to agree with you; it’s been that way for long enough it seems reasonable to think it will never change.

But how can we know that?

Can the human soul subsist at this level forever? Is there no hope for redemption? Is this Hell?

I balk at that.

01/18/17 @ 09:15
Comment from: Keith Call [Visitor]

We hope and pray for redemption, a movement of God whereby the Spirit grabs our shoulders and shakes some sense into us.

Regarding your observation, last year I heard Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis’s stepson, speak at Wheaton College. During the Q&A after his lecture someone asked, “What if Lewis were to awake or resurrect today? What would he think?” With absolute heavy-faced seriousness Gresham paused, then quietly replied: “He’d think he’s in Hell.”

01/18/17 @ 10:59
Comment from: Dissidens [Member]  

I believe every word of it.

It has always struck me as odd that Evangelicals latched on to CSL the way they did. In a way it made sense: it was a desperate grab for credibility and a kind of apologetic sobriety. (If all you had was Francis Schaeffer, everyone knew you were not a Dean’s List sort of person.)

But Evangelicals never, never ever understood the world of Barfield, Eliot, Williams, Coghill….

I always thought the Wade Center was a bit of an incongruous shrine.

01/18/17 @ 11:20
Comment from: Natchitoches [Visitor]

I agree with Keith Call as to most of the folks 50 and older. As to the children and grandchildren, they’ll largely flee Evangelicalism, as all the evidence clearly shows that they are. I’m over 50 and I’ve been contemplating Rome or Constantinople for more than decade. Family issues have hindered that. I tried liturgical Protestantism inside more traditional denominations (LCMS and ACNA), but they turn out to be Evangelicals with lectionaries, liturgy, and vestments. In fact, in my former ACNA parish, more of the parishioners were former Evangelicals than were former Episcopalians – including the clergy. In 25 years, Evangelicalism will be in the same situation that the Mainlines are today, looking back on decades of decline that have left them as a shell of their former selves. Unless the Mainlines rejuvenate, it is hard to see where else the next two generations are likely to go other than Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or leaving Christianity altogether (the current trend). Orthodoxy is not likely to see explosive growth, so it is Rome or nothing I am afraid.

05/28/21 @ 07:17

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