Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition

Respectfulconversation.net has just launched its 6 part series on “American Evangelicalism: Present Conditions, Future Possibilities.” Each month for 6 months a different topic will be discussed with posts from various perspectives. This month’s topic is “Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition” and I wrote one of the 6 posts, “Evangelical Identity and the Broader Christian Tradition.”  An excerpt is below.

Click on the SECOND link above to read all 6 posts and join the conversation with your comments.

Evangelicalism has been going through a bit of an identity crisis. After marking off its territory early on, with membership being wholly voluntary, we have seen an increased willingness fromwithin the ranks to engage deeply beyond Evangelicalism’s borders and re-engage issues thought long settled and indisputable.

Undoubtedly there are numerous complex and interconnected factors that help explain this shift in mood. One factor that I feel is important to note is the rapid access to information and the creation of global virtual “communities” afforded by the Internet. The result is that Evangelicalism has become acutely conscious of itself as a participant in a diverse global Christianity. 

Be that as it may, in my experience, more and more Evangelicals—perhaps especially younger ones—are restless. They are actively looking for ways to respect the cultural movement that gave them spiritual birth while also looking for alternate language and categories better suited to explain their world and their place in it. Still others have given up on the Evangelical experiment altogether as a hopelessly encultured relic of their parents’ faith. It is not uncommon to hear reports of the significantly dwindling numbers that cause genuine concern for Evangelicalism’s future viability, let alone retaining its status as a mover and shaker.