September 19, 2020

David Sessions Riffs on “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”

I appreciate the good work of David Sessions at Patrol Magazine. He’s breaking new ground everyday. If you want the same beat as Relevant, but with more intelligence, wit and edge, hit Patrol and make it a regular feed.

Patrol editor David Sessions takes on my “Coming Evangelical Collapse” in a sizable column. You’ll find his responses articulate and provocative. I’m honored by his attention to my prognostications.

I think David and his commenters miss a few things, particularly in what exactly I am predicting. (I am NOT predicting the END of evangelicalism,) but it’s quality work. Take your time and take it in.

Blessings and peace on David and crew.

Comments

  1. I think its interesting that the article mentions very orthodox Christian churches in DC and NY, but these seem likely to be the conservative equivalent of the churches around seminary towns where they are used to hearing trendy theology- for
    some its interesting and they’ll seek it out, but its not likely to have much effect on your average evangelical church (a pity, and perhaps a main cause of their decline). Mark Driscoll and his ilk get lots of attention, but they are not taken seriously in most places, and I don’t see that changing. (Just imagine the reaction to one of his sermons at a typical SBC church!:) Its nice that they attract young professionals, but most people aren’t young professionals, and its not obvious to me that a church should be making a special effort to reach those as opposed to, say, the working-class poor. Its amazing that so many pastors have a heart for the comfy middle-class:)

  2. The danger when reading either stuff such as iMonk’s original posts or DS’s response is the temptation to respond with anecdotal evidence. I almost posted some from my own experience in a Christian University’s graduate program, but then I remembered that some of what’s made my experience different (in a good way) is the specific professors, not the school itself. All that to say, I see a lot of “that’s not what’s going on in *my* church” floating around. Then again, as Mark Twain famously said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics 🙂

  3. piratemonk says

    I think David’s take here is interesting, and yet predicable. He wrote a very similar article at Slate regarding the support of political candidates 10/2/07.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2177388/

    He links the evangelical doomsayers to growing trend toward his description of “Reformed Theology”…Quoting, he says,

    “That shift might be related to their embrace of Reformed theology, a doctrine that encourages believers to acknowledge that they are all inherently sinful and have received undeserved grace (thus making them respond less judgmentally to others’ sexual behavior). Reformed theology also rebuffs the idea that behavior makes one righteous, effectively discouraging the equation of patriotism and blind party activism with piety. A 2006 Pew survey shows that college-educated conservatives are more likely to be less conservative on issues like gay marriage, stem-cell research, and contraception than those who’ve completed only some college or high school”

    I found that interesting. Though David is obviously quite intelligent and well spoken, this is an incredibly simplistic let alone inaccurate description of Reformation thinking. While no doubt, denominational factions from a Reformed theological position have gone aberrant, no less the circus that the Evangelical Zoo of TBN can claim.

    Perhaps age and experience is the culprit here – not to be simplistic…but I believe the old adage I once heard in the Aerospace industry… “The Facts are cheap, we can buy those. It’s the Perspective that’s truly valuable”.

    I’m NOT going to post here on subjectivity, but certainly perspective when tempered with a measure of objectivity might get us somewhere.

  4. But why just jump the discussion to higher ed? Primary/secondary Christian education is a critical place where the faith is or is not formed.

    So what we’re talking about is confirmation/pastor’s class/Sunday school/youth group, and how the faith is taught and formed in those settings. Right now, they assume it’s mostly being delivered somewhere else, which it ain’t. The branch of the movement that figures out how to effectively deliver solid, orthodox faith formation other than through having their own in-house K-12 school will become a major factor in future evangelicalism.

  5. Mr Monk,

    Though it may appear there is disagreement between your thoughts on the demise of evangelicalism and David Sessions’, I agree with both of you. Excuse me if I mention too many influences outside of scripture, but I think Jacques Ellul came nearer than many in describing a Biblical way of thinking and acting that is both hopeless and hopeful at the same time. He was often accused of being too negative in his prophetic descriptions of the doom toward which culture rushed headlong. He readily acknowledged that he saw little evidence for hope that the things he wrote about would be changed before the doom struck. Yet he was at the same time always actively involved with churches, communities, schools, and government at the highest levels in trying to effect positive changes. Though he had little hope in anything he could see in the world, including his own effort, he acted with hope. He did this because he knew that Christ might intervene at any moment and make possible the impossible. He knew that Christ presence was manifest in and through the lives of His faithful, and that the call of the disciple is to to follow Christ and live toward the world as He did when physically living upon the earth. Without hope in man, he was hopeful in Christ, and lived accordingly.

    So I agree with you. And I agree with Sessions. But mostly I agree with Christ.

    God help me to live as such.