2013 Theoblogy Predictions [VIDEO]

2013 Theoblogy Predictions [VIDEO] January 3, 2013

For the past several years, I’ve appeared on Doug Pagitt Radio to make my annual predictions for the upcoming year in religion. You can judge my prognostication abilities for yourself:

2012 Predictions

2011 Predictions

2010 Predictions 

Looking back, it seems that I’m batting about .500. Not bad (for a baseball player).

So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the Year in Religion 2013:

1. Rob Bell will start a church in Southern California. Everyone I know who knows Rob Bell insists that he’s done with church, even that he’s post-Christian. But I keep hearing him talk about churchy things — even the religious things that he spurned when at Mars Hill, like when he said we should all take communion more. Plus, the TV show that drew him to SoCal was shelved, and the people I’ve talked to who went to the taping of his talk show pilot report that, well, it wasn’t very good. What Rob is good at — brilliant at — is standing in front of live audiences and talking. He’s spellbinding. And he could rally a group of Southern Californians at the drop of a star. So I think he will. It won’t be a big to-do, he probably won’t call it a church, but I think he’ll start something.

2. There will be sea changes in the personnel of evangelicalism: Christianity Today has recently announced changes, naming Andy Crouch the Executive Editor. Fuller Seminary will be appointing a new president in 2013. Franklin Graham put words in daddy’s mouth during the election, and James Dobson was roundly condemned for his stupid comments after the Sandy Hook shooting. Evangelicals are looking for new leading voices. As the founding generation of the evangelical insurgency passes into dementia-induced incoherence, to whom will they turn? Not Rob Bell. Mark Driscoll has gone silent. Maybe Rachel Held Evans and Fred Clark? It seems doubtful that bloggers will lead the way, but these voices have been prominent among those telling evangelicals to stop listening to Dobson and Graham. Some new voices will emerge.

3. The Church of England will allow female bishops. When a vote sustained the policy of a male-only bishopric in the Church of England, it was a huge stain on the tenure of Rowan Williams, the now-former Archbishop of Canterbury. There are rules saying that there can’t be another vote on the issue for several years. But there will be, because they’ll change the rules. They can do that in a bureaucracy (though they’ll tell you that they can’t). When the vote happened, many of my Anglicanish friends defended the Church, telling me on Twitter that this was just a loophole in the voting procedures. Those tweets, of course, only confirmed my long-held opinion that bureaucracy is bad for the gospel. So, those of you stuck in denominational systems, pay heed. You’re often told that the rules can’t change — but just watch the rules change in this case.

That’s it for this year’s predictions from me.

What are your predictions for the year in religion? Post them soon, and I might read them on the air today — listen live at 11am EST.

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  • Chris

    My prediction: There will be a quiet, but official split in the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. They will overwhelmingly re-elect current president Matthew Harrison in July. After talking about confession and repentance for a few months, heresy trials will begin in that church body, though they will be called something else. A small numer of clergy and laypeople will leave the LCMS, but be unsure where they will go (denominationally speaking).

  • David

    Your 2012 predictions appear to have been as accurate as the Mayan forecast. However 2013 looks pretty realistic to me.

  • Not sure if it will happen this year, but soon there will be a falling out within Acts 29. The two lead planters’/pastors’ suicides surprisingly didn’t get much press that I saw. But, the cult-ish traits seem to be getting more common.

    • Wow, I hadn’t even heard about those deaths. How tragic.

      • (As a slight correction, these didn’t happen this past year, but within the last few years.)

        • Rob, I haven’t heard anything about this either. Can you post a link to more information? Thanks.

  • This one isn’t hard, Hugo Chavez will die. http://antichristaliens.com/wordpress/?p=91

    Iran will go nuclear.

    The highest rate of gay marriage divorce in the history of the US. (Tongue is firmly in cheek)

    California will run another multi-billion dollar deficit, and will loose more of its skilled working class by the week.

    Obama will play 20+ games of golf.

    There’ s mine.

    I will also wager the death of Billy Grahm marking the end of a Christian era.

    • NElson

      Death of Graham will mark the official end of white house anti-semitic cheerleading.

      • Barry

        “Death of Graham will mark the official end of white house anti-semitic cheerleading.”


  • Some of my own predictions:

    popular church personalities will continue to try and bolster their own sense of relevance through aggrandizing self-marketing;

    modern American Christian churches, both conservative evangelical and progressive brands, will continue the centuries-old habit of trying to establish “who is the greatest among us” and, in doing so, will continue to miss the point;

    Rob Bell, who is far less important than he has been made out to be, will find another way to earn a living as some kind of theological consultant;

    the “emerging/emergent” church movement will hit puberty (which means anything could happen);

    new and inspiring voices will absolutely be heard in the wilderness, but most will reject them (all the more reason to pay attention to those new voices);

    • “modern American Christian churches, both conservative evangelical and progressive brands, will continue the centuries-old habit of trying to establish “who is the greatest among us” and, in doing so, will continue to miss the point;”

      That’s my favourite so far. At the same time, the postmodern voice will continue to grow steadily although we’ll probably continue to get less and less press as has been the case the past couple of hours after lots of press 5-10 years ago.

  • Jason

    There will (finally) be a legit emergent seminary and it will be a success.

    • Jason, define “legit.” Define “emergent.” Define “success.”

  • Craig

    What are your Theoblogy hopes for 2013?

  • Jeremy K

    I hope you’re wrong about Bell. Maybe Bell will start something, but I hope it’s not another big room with lights and a stage. Yawn. The world doesn’t need another megachurch. Really could there be anything more tired and sad? Megachurch pastors are dinosaurs from the late-modern era of the crumbling evangelical age. I hope Rob does something beautiful and gospel-soaked that makes him a legitimately dangerous person in the world. You’re probably right though.

    Dobson isn’t going anywhere. He will fiddle even as his empire burns — and he will blame everyone but himself. Graham and Mohler will keep doing their thing too. People will keep giving them money, and the media will still use them for soundbites.

    Not holding my breath where the Church of England is concerned.

  • I see you’ve given up on predicting Big Billy’s passing,
    probably means this will be the year he goes!

  • JoeyS
    • from what I understand this ammounts to pretty much “don’t ask don’t tell”

  • Ang

    I predict that the New Apostolic Reformation will continue to devour people.

  • Tony, what do you mean by “Driscoll has gone silent”?

    • Bobby

      I’d take a stab at that considering I’ve been thinking about this very subject, though Tony may have different thoughts:

      Driscoll doesn’t put himself in the limelight anymore. Not really. He’s talked a lot about just staying with Mars Hill Seattle and doing his thing there. No more broad statements on YouTube or on interviews or whatever. I’d wager he’s content to just stay in his corner of the world. Even his departure from leadership (well, official leadership) at Acts 29 points to this. I won’t begin to speculate on the reasons.

  • Bobby, I hear you, but the Real Marriage best-seller press junket, as a recent example, suggests otherwise.

  • OK I’ll make a prediction:

    Rob Bell will realize that he can reach a far bigger audience than broadcast or cable television by going … online.

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