Tim Keller on What It Means to Be an Evangelical

The Future of Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism crosses denominational, cultural and racial lines.  It is not a political movement; it is a heart movement.   

Francis Fitzgerald, in her book The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, describes evangelicalism as a revival religion. Mark Noll, a historian specializing in the history of Christianity, put it this way, “What evangelicalism has been great at doing is bringing life back to cold religious form.”

And maybe that’s the common denominator.

The biblical mandate hasn’t changed, but the causes have. A new generation of Christians is finding new ways to be salt and light, and sometimes in ways that their parents missed while they were fighting causes of their own. It’s called revival, hopefully of the big tent variety.

Could it be that this latest friction within the movement is not a harbinger of death for evangelicalism but the lifeblood on which it thrives?

Keller shares these hope-filled thoughts: “The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever. Some predict that younger evangelicals will not only reject the name but also become more secular. That is not what I have been seeing here in New York City.”

And Keller challenges evangelicals to stay the course: “Studies by the Pew Research Center and others indicate that religious denominations that have become more friendly to secularism are shrinking precipitously, while the evangelical churches that resist dilution in their theological beliefs and practices are holding their own or growing. And if evangelicals—or whatever they will call themselves­—continue to become more multiethnic in leadership and confound the left-right political categories, they may continue to do so.”

 

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.