The Spectrum of Evangelicalism 1

If and when you read the new Counterpoints book Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology), and I really recommend you do,

Which view will you read first? And why?

The book presents four views on Evangelicalism:

  1. Fundamentalism (presented by Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary)
  2. Confessional evangelicalism (presented by Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary)
  3. Generic evangelicalism (presented by John Stackhouse of Regent College [Vancouver BC])
  4. Postconservative evangelicalism (presented by Roger Olson Truett Theological Seminary)

I think the view that we are most interested in reading about is likely the one we’re most likely to identify with. For me that is the generic/postconservative evangelicalism of Stackhouse and Olson. I’m not saying that I agree with say Olson in every detail but I find myself most at home with these conceptions of the movement.

My own biography has spanned this spectrum. I was raised in a fundamentalist home and attended a university that was fundamentalist but on the move to confessional evangelicalism (for example they allowed us to attend a movie theater after my Freshman year .  .  hip hip who-ray!). I attended a seminary that was somewhere between fundamentalism, a confessional evangelical and generic evangelical institution (this range depended largely on the particular professor). After getting a Ph.D. at a university (of no religious affiliation) and studying at Tyndale House (a generic evangelical context) I now teach at an institution that would fall squarely  on the left side of postconservative evangelicalism. I feel at home in this setting although I’m probably on the right side of most issues (theologically and politically) among the wider faculty of the university.

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  • Rick Wadholm

    I find myself (now) most particularly to be a more Confessional Evangelical. This is coming from a Fundamentalist leaning upbringing and extensive work and exposure to those of the generic and post-conservative perspectives. I personally find the historical rootedness of the Confessional flavor to be a powerful incentive and strength.

  • Rick Wadholm

    I find myself (now) most particularly to be a more Confessional Evangelical. This is coming from a Fundamentalist leaning upbringing and extensive work and exposure to those of the generic and post-conservative perspectives. I personally find the historical rootedness of the Confessional flavor to be a powerful incentive and strength.

  • Ken Hamster

    How about “Non-American evangelical” i.e. not a fundamentalist?

  • Ken Hamster

    How about “Non-American evangelical” i.e. not a fundamentalist?

  • Robinsondavidb

    I have found that to understsad and see evangelism at work study
    the work of Jehovah’s witnesses and what they preach.

  • John Thomson

    I am ambivalent about labels. I recognize they may help a little to categorize, however, the finer-tuned the categorizing the less useful it is. The categories are normally caricatures anyway. My biggest concern is how divisive in principle labels are. My point is not that we ought to have unity with all and sundry – far from it, nevertheless unity is harder to achieve when we straightjacket someone or when they return the favour. There is also the problem of being proud of your label and altogether partisan.

    Are we not all a bit of each if we are truly believing? And should we not all eschew bits of each?

  • John Thomson

    I am ambivalent about labels. I recognize they may help a little to categorize, however, the finer-tuned the categorizing the less useful it is. The categories are normally caricatures anyway. My biggest concern is how divisive in principle labels are. My point is not that we ought to have unity with all and sundry – far from it, nevertheless unity is harder to achieve when we straightjacket someone or when they return the favour. There is also the problem of being proud of your label and altogether partisan.

    Are we not all a bit of each if we are truly believing? And should we not all eschew bits of each?


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