What Happened to Evangelical Theology? [#ETS2014 Liveblog]

This weekend I’m attending the Evangelical Theological Society and American Academy of Religion, and I will be liveblogging some of the sessions that I’m attending.

Assessing Stanley Grenz’s Contribution to Evangelical Theology: 10 Years Later,” that’s the name of the session I’m attending at ETS. But Stan’s death isn’t the only thing that happened ten years ago at ETS. That was also the year that ETS voted against Open Theology, for all intents and purposes expelling people like Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, and John Sanders. Now, when you look through the program book, in addition to the annual reaffirmation of inerrancy in the image above, you will see that many sessions are dominated by Southern Baptists.

8:50am Jason Sexton just presented Edna Grenz, Stan’s widow, with a volume of 20 essays in his honor. She implored the gathered scholars to not just continue Stan’s theological rigor, but to also treat one another with humility and respect as they debate one another.

8:54am Sexton continues that many, looking back, do not think that Stan really understood postmodernism. Some also incorrectly believe that he had departed evangelicalism before his death. This would only happen, Sexton says, if we look exclusively at Stan’s academic work and ignore his spiritual and ecclesial life.

Sexton also thinks that Stan is unfairly criticized for his book on homosexuality,Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality. Instead than being a recalcitrant evangelical, Sexton says, Granz was “ahead of us” on sexuality, women, postmodernity, and the Trinity.

Who’s the real Stan Grenz? That’s what Sexton tried to discover in his dissertation, but he says Stan cannot be found in the secondary literature — the books and articles about Grenz. That’s because, “Maybe we’re afraid of what we might find, how the real Stan Grenz might push us beyond our own boundaries.”

9:05am Derek Tidball takes on the topic of Stan Grenz and Evangelicalism. He says that evangelicalism is virtually impossible to define doctrinally, so others define it historically. But Grenz argued that evangelicalism is a living, mutating organism. By seeing the Bible as the book of the community, Grenz was faithful to his Baptist roots, and that’s something that evangelicalism at large should heed. Stan is wrongfully called the “godfather of the emerging church.” [Read more...]

The Evangelical Unicorn: A Third Way on Gay Marriage

I reviewed two books by evangelicals on gay marriage for The Christian Century — God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines and A Letter to my Congregation by Ken Wilson — and the review is now available online. Here’s the core of what differentiates their books:

[Read more...]

Why Is Moorohler Nervous? Because Evangelicals Are Embracing Gay Marriage

The evangelical intelligentsia is very, very nervous. That’s because opposition to same sex marriage is crumbling among the generations that will be running evangelicalism in coming years. Yesterday, we saw Moorholer attacking a couple younger evangelicals who had the gall to question Arizona’s anti-gay, pro-discrimination legislation. But as the new survey out this week from PRRI shows conclusively, evangelical opinions about gay marriage are shifting very quickly among those under 40.

Here are some other findings of the survey:

[Read more...]

Westmont College and the Apotheosis of Evangelicalism

Jeff Sharlet is probably the best long-form religion journalist we have today. A few years ago, he published a haunting account of The Fellowship. It’s a must-read.

Now Sharlet has followed up with an article on Westmont College, the top recruiting field for the Fellowship, published at Killing the Buddha (which Sharlet co-founded). I have some personal resonance with this story. For one, I started college in 1986, the same year as one of the subjects of the story, Ben Daniel, enrolled at Westmont. That means I got to Fuller Seminary four years later, where I matriculated with some of Ben’s classmates from Westmont — the first time I’d ever heard of The Fellowship was when one of my Fuller classmates, a Westmont grad, told me how heavily he was recruited while an undergrad. He referred to it as “The Fellowshit.”

Ten years later, when I was a youth pastor, a few graduates of my church went off to Westmont College, and at least two of them were recruited into the Fellowship and lived in the Fellowship’s notorious Washington, D.C. houses.

Sharlet writes about Ron Enroth, a prof at Westmont who’s studied cults for years. Enroth has sneaking suspicions that The Fellowship falls into that category, but he also hedges his bets:

[Read more...]


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