Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The State of Evangelicalism?


D.A. Carson: Evangelicalism’s E.F. Hutton

With cup of coffee in hand this morning I treated myself to watching a video of D.A. Carson’s recent lecture at ETS entitled The Changing (Changeless?) Face of Evangelicalism. I don’t exaggerate, it truly is a treat to listen to Dr. Carson speak and to read his books. I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching for one class while I was a seminary student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Dr. Carson’s lecture, as you can discern from the title, was on the current state of evangelicalism. What does it mean to call oneself an “evangelical”? Is it a label tied to history? Does it define a set of doctrines or convictions? Does it refer to a certain kind of Christian lifestyle? Is it synonymous with “Conservative Christian”?

The video can be viewed or downloaded from The Gospel Coalition website courtesy of Crossway Books. In the meantime I am looking forward to the release of Dr. Carson’s book Evangelicalism: What Is It and Is It Worth Keeping? this September. I imagine this book will do much to further the conversation.

What’s in a name?

I wonder if the term “evangelical” (and its related cognates such as “evangelism”, “evangelist”, etc.) is indeed losing its intended meaning similar to the way the term “fundamentalism” and terms related to it have changed over the years.

Our church was forced to consider this not long before I came to serve as their pastor. For many years the name of our church was “Fundamental Gospel Church”, in fact many in town still refer to it by that name. Today, in large part due to our adoption in to the EFCA denomination, our church is now know as Cornerstone EFC. Our leadership realized that the once positive name “Fundamental” did not communicate the same positive sense that at the time of its founding 50 years prior.

I would encourage you to watch the video and consider what Dr. Carson is saying. What do you think? What is the state of evangelicalism, particularly in America? What do you think the term conveys today; is it positive or negative? I’m looking forward to hearing your comments.

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