September 21, 2020

The Cornerstone 09 Panel on “The Future of Evangelicalism”

Prof Rah’s Youtube channel has the entire Saturday panel on “The Future of Evangelicalism.” It’s excellent video and in seven parts. There is some minor editing (no introductions for example.) Thanks to Jonathan Choe and crew for great work in producing the video.


  1. That was all very interesting and insightful. I’d like to ask, though, what your take was on the end result of the discussion on the Prosperity Gospel. I think I land with Phylis Tickle in the idea that as long as prosperity is an economic issue I don’t see how it can be validly tied to the Gospel regardless of the cultural or socioeconomic package. I.e. while it’s a good thing if the Church helps the poor and helps impovershed nations rise up from that, if the message of the Gospel gets mixed up with economics, we’ve tained the message of the Gospel.

  2. Somewhat of a tricky question. Nothing that I would ever call the “Prosperity Gospel” is anything short of worthless, but I do recognize that in various contexts, there are are aspects of Biblical teaching that do have a positive economic and social effect on the poor and the powerless.

    If a drunk comes into my church and is converted, then gives his testimony a year later that he has a job, a house, he pays his bills, his kids have shoes and he thanks God for removing the curse of poverty and prospering him, I understand what has happened, and I wouldn’t call it the “prosperity Gospel.” I understand that some evangelicals might.

    I also understand that even bad teaching can have good effects. A prosperity preaching may cause a person to make many better choices in an effort to be blessed, with the end result of more money, more ability to share with others, etc.

    I grew up among SBCers giving God credit for financial prosperity as a result of tithing. I don’t agree with that, and I don’t call it the PG, but I understand how becoming responsive to God may have material and financial implications.

  3. Those are some pretty sweeping comments made in Part 5 on influence, specifically regarding denominations. As one who grew up in an non-denomination (Independent Baptist-granted it had alot of the marks of a denomination) but is now a licensed preacher in the PCA, I find the general, sweeping remarks by the gentlemen on the right a bit troubling. His hasty & over-generalization of denominations as organizations who exist to perpetuate themselves came over as a bit arrogant. I’m sure he’s aware of the good work of Anglicanism in Africa, of the PCA in Asia & even some of the reforms in your own SBC. Authority doesn’t come from ourselves or community; it comes from the Scriptures & you can’t properly interpret them in isolation or in an isolated “community.”

    I must say, though, that this panel has given food for thought.

  4. Sorry the intros were edited:

    The panel is, from Left to Right:

    Michael Spencer, Blogger extraordinaire
    Sharon Gallagher, Editor of Radix Mag
    Soong Chan Rah, Seminary Prof and evangelical gadfly
    Phyllis Tickle, author and teacher
    Patrick Provost-Smith, Church historian
    Tony Jones, author, advocate for the Emerging Church

  5. Thanks for the update on the names, iMonk. That would explain Tony’s sweeping statements. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be finding a new community to join soon as the Emerging Church is headed off into the sunset.

  6. If I remember correctly, the question in part 5 was actually about influence. I think the problem in evangelicalism is exactly the fact that ‘authority’ was brought up in this conversation. People think they need authority to influence others. Human authority that is. Jesus gave us His authority, and that’s all any Jesus-follower needs to influence others. Too many Christians follow the human leaders in our churches instead of following Jesus. It’s the same reason God called it a sin when the people of Israel kept crying out for a human king, because they didn’t have the faith to follow an invisible God. (tho I don’t know what it says about God that He gives in to their whining and gives them Saul)

    I also agree that we need to get rid of the label ‘prosperity gospel’ and deal with each situation more individually. Any theology that says, if I do X, God must do Y, is very dangerous. I think it’s fine to say in impoverished areas, if I work with my hands, I will produce/earn substinence, but I think it does more harm than good for people to believe that physical possessions equal spiritual blessings. Because I don’t believe it’s true that everytime something materially positive happens to us, it’s God wanting to bless us. Sometimes He doesn’t want us to work 30 hours of overtime a week so we can afford better cars/homes while neglecting our families.

  7. I asked a question about influence- what is true influence- and I asked a question about whether the authority issue would be the undoing of evangelicals in the long run, per RC criticisms.

  8. My mistake. I do remember the question about authority, but I thought the subject of authority was brought up by one or two people right before that, while still talking about the question of influence.

  9. Tony mentioned it at the end of an answer, and I picked it up and asked it from that. (It was the only question I’d been told to be sure and ask.)