"We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity."

So says evangelical Michael Spencer. See Link. The new emerging Christianity, if this happens as predicted, is what I meant when I said Christianity simply reinvents itself in every generation.

HT Russ

20 comments:

Brother Crow said...

We can only hope that evangelicalism will collapse, and that nothing will take its place. Evangelicals have redefined "scholarship", creating a universe of data and research that is unsupportable, unscientific and more philosophical and theological than evidentiary.

I tend to think that evangelicals will give the glory to God and call this collapse and the cultural enmity that accompanies it the fulfillment of end-time prophecy of persecution. Christians are great at slapping people on the face, spitting on them, and them accusing them of persecution if they say or do anything in retaliation.

But marginalization of christianity is a good strategy...and christians are doing a good job of marginalizing themselves.

John, as for your position that christianity continually reinvents itself...of course it does! It is an "incarnational" religion...God is always current, He is the "I AM." The Holy Spirit was given to continually create new wine skins that can hold new wine. Therefore, reinventing itself every cultural shift is what christianity does best. And because it does not have any clear evidentiary foundations, only pissed off, tradition-bound fundamental determinists get mad about it and complain about leaving the foundations (which don't exist...just ask them what they are).

feeno said...

"Christians are great at slapping people on the face, spitting on them, and accusing them of persecution if they say or do anything in retaliation."

Yeh, Bro. Crow, that's why I joined my church. Between our outreach efforts at the local mission and our Wed. night prayer meetings we all pile in our church van lurking about to find widows and orphans to slap around. Then we go back to our church for home-made pie.

Can we be "tradition bound" and be "re-inventing ourselves" at the same time?

Bro. Crow have a nice weekend. But be careful, I heard the nuns from St. Julie's were out on the prowl?

Peace out, feeno

Scott said...

Interesting article.

Couldn't help but notice the overlap between the authors criticism and Dr. David Eller's comments on secularization of religion during his Secular Nation interview.

ZAROVE said...

Isn't this more an indictment of Evangelical Christianity, which has only existed in its current form since the 1980's and the creation of the Moral majoirty?

During the last US Election, many young CHristians actulaly dropped the political prompts nd Voted for Obama.

It seems to me that what is actually happenign is that Evangelical Christianity and its aliance with Right Wing politics has begun to decline since its proponants have become progressively mor eintereste din Scaring peopel of Librals and not tendign to real needs.

The same thing happened ot Liberal Churches in the 1960's, when after a 20 year long supremacy they began to shrink, and today we see the Mainline Churhces in sharp decline.

But Christianity won't dissapear, and we see some signs of it reemerging in its new stages.

Loftus I beelive is correct when he says it reinvents itself for each Generaiton, but I think critising this is a bit silly since the same is true of Atheistic thinking, and for Politics, and for everythin else. Everythign needs to reinvent itself in order to be current. Thats why we have new songs and new clothign styles too.

I just suppose that this current trend will see an increase in a more traditional Christendom, focusing on CHristian Origins and a Cahtolic STyle Mystisism, which is perhaps better linked to Rationalism and study.

Evangelisism has always suffered, after all, from ti slack of serious study and htought on theological and ocial problems, and tended to favour in the alst 20 years a pat Republican Policy answr for those ocncerns withotu offring much spiritual or intellectual justification beyind tlaking points for the stances it took.

Granted, post Vatican 2 Catholiism hasnt fostered an intellegenia either, but Cahtolisism is seeing a revival of old traditionalism and the new Generation that are attracted ot it are very well intereste din studying Ancient History and Philosophy.

So, perhaps a more traditional form of CHristendom will emerge, or, if the Liberal CHurhces become mroe socially aware and begin to teach valuable lessons rathe than fa einto obscure political ideologies disconected form peopels lives, then maybe they will return as ell.


However, a downtrend in Christianity tends to happen periodically. THis is why modern Secular Europe is not liekly ot remain Secular dispite it beign popular to think in terms of Secularisaiton thesis. We're alreayd seeing growing numbrs complain abut how the EU Discriminates agaisnt CHristians, and more htna likely a Revival will hit there oemtime in the next 50 or so years.

I just see htis as the way of things, and as it has always been.

Nightmare said...

feeno said...
"Yeh, Bro. Crow, that's why I joined my church. Between our outreach efforts at the local mission and our Wed. night prayer meetings we all pile in our church van lurking about to find widows and orphans to slap around. Then we go back to our church for home-made pie."

What you are talking about (implied via sarcasm) is the "nice" face of Christianity, used primarily for recruitment and when one is in the fold. Try asking hard questions, try disagreeing with the authority figures - THAT is when the iron fist Brother Crow makes reference to is seen.

"Can we be "tradition bound" and be "re-inventing ourselves" at the same time?"

Very easily - the whole "tradition bound" part of the Christian meme is a false front. The re-inventing part is the truth.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"Loftus I beelive is correct when he says it reinvents itself for each Generaiton, but I think critising this is a bit silly since the same is true of Atheistic thinking, and for Politics, and for everythin else."

This would be true save for the fact that athiesm, politics, etc does not claim to be the product of the timeless and perfect revelation of the immortal creator of the universe, continually reinforced by a portion of said creator dwelling inside each believer. Given that claim, criticizing Christianity for re-inventing itself is HARDLY silly, but rather a scathing assertion of it's falsehood.

ZAROVE said...

Nightmare, the general trend in the Attacking Christianity culture is to try to exagerate things, and htis yo have done.

THe idea that Christianity can be critisised because reinvents itself yet proffesses ot be a Revelation form a timeless immortal Charecter is itself absurd.

The reason is because, nothing has actually changed in CHristianity, politics, or Atheism in their core values, if you bother to study the history. The only things that have changed are the manners in which they are expressed in the culture, and the spacific undertading of them as filtered through cultural context.

Besides, Christianity may have been given but a perfect and immortal being, but we as a race of creatures are neither Immortal nor are we perfect.

Thus it stands ot reason that as our culture changes, we woudl also change the perceptions on a revelation, eben if it where perfect, and woudl sometimes get soem thigns wrong because we arne't perfect.

All that said, nothing in Christian teaching says God cannot himself reinterpret his own teachigns for changing contexts. Beign Immortal and prfect doens't mean beign static, and please spar eme the "God never changes" list of quotes, this doens't mean he never moves or does anything, it speaks of a fundamnetal essenc eof his being.

That said, the core value and teaching of Christianity has remained consistant for 2000 years, even with divergent theologies and practics.

So I'd say that yes it is silly.

Jeff said...

"That said, the core value and teaching of Christianity has remained consistant for 2000 years, even with divergent theologies and practics."

I think you need to explain this. These divergent theologies did not all come about at the same time, so somewhere in there was fundamental change. For instance, Catholics believe that baptism is essential for salvation, while Protestants (some of them anyway) absolutely do not. Would you not consider this a change to the core doctrines, considering it is dealing with salvation?

I could go on and mention the Marcionites, Ebionites, Gnostics, etc., but I think that one will do for now.

ZAROVE said...

Jeff, as you said not all Protestants think Baptism unnessisary, and all older Branches tend to teahc it is.

That said, Im not talking about the doctrins, but the essential value of the faith. The Philosophy that undergirds it.


Protestants and Catholics, and other forms of Christianity generally forgotten about, all share a core value in the teachings of Jesus, in that his words and ways are central.

Thus this is going deeper than the doctrines intot he core root of the Faith itself.


Christianity is rooted uponthe values passed down to it from Judaism, but modified. It is rooted in Salvation and Redemption, and in having to turn to God for remission of sins and the ability of man to do that, and to approahc God withotu shame, and ot become at one with God, makign peace with oens past, and reofrmin onesself and oens futue.


THose values are Universal in CHristianity. All forms of Christianity are rootedd in and driven by Salvaiton, each are at their core the story of Redemption and Sacrifice, they are all about compassion for one another and forgiveness of sins.

The Doctrines that emerge that express these values are of course divergent,but no Christian group exists apart form the core values.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"Nightmare, the general trend in the Attacking Christianity culture is to try to exagerate things, and htis yo have done."

Hardly. I merely strip away the BS that is often used to obfuscate an issue (as you are using now) and lay down the facts. Many cannot handle that.

But truly, if you think I'm attacking xtiainity now, you ain't seen nothing yet.

"The reason is because, nothing has actually changed in CHristianity.... in their core values, if you bother to study the history."

HAH! I'm well aware of the history involved - said knowledge is one of my primary grounds for objection. If you truly think that xtianity hasn't changed since it's inception I would hazard a guess that you are the one that needs to study the history.

"The only things that have changed are the manners in which they are expressed in the culture, and the spacific undertading of them as filtered through cultural context."

Oh, you mean little details like attitude toward race, slavery, how to deal with heretics, the place of women, rape, doctrines about the nature of every concept in the religion, etc etc etc. Yeah, those are all trivial cultural context (rolleyes).

"Thus it stands ot reason that as our culture changes, we woudl also change the perceptions on a revelation, eben if it where perfect, and woudl sometimes get soem thigns wrong because we arne't perfect."

What part of "continually reinforced by a portion of said creator dwelling inside each believer" did you not understand? To put it plainly, if the perfect creator of the universe lives in you and gives you knowledge about his revelation, why in the bloody hell do you STILL get things "wrong" or feel free to change things based on "cultural context"?

"All that said, nothing in Christian teaching says God cannot himself reinterpret his own teachigns for changing contexts. Beign Immortal and prfect doens't mean beign static, and please spar eme the "God never changes" list of quotes, this doens't mean he never moves or does anything, it speaks of a fundamnetal essenc eof his being."

So you're saying that your god's attitude toward rape, genocide, and slavery HASN'T changed from the OT? You simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. We are not talking about some ephemeral meaningless platitudes about "fundamental essence" here - we are talking about documentable changes in attitude that have influence and effects in the real world.

"That said, the core value and teaching of Christianity has remained consistant for 2000 years, even with divergent theologies and practics."

What praytell is this core value?

ZAROVE said...

Nightmare, stop beign an idiot. Yo dont' sgirp away falsity and leave truth bare, you simply make crass attacks that are founded in false and simplistic thinking that has no real conenciton to reality and claim its the truth because it is conveneint.

WHen challenged you then say your oponant is obfuciiating.

I know CHristian hisotry well, and likely far bette r than you do. I know this base don your own attitude, and your whole "Rape, Gnocide, and salavery" routine. God neve or really condoend rape, for example, and the cherry picked Bible references you'd use are well explaiend elsewhere. No doubt you'll say they are just apologetics raitonalising the bad bits in he Bible, and that gets old, a does tryin to convince a closed minded, arrogant Atheist who refuses to have an intellegent conversation.

This is not sayign alL Ahtiests are liek this midn you, but you relaly haven't presented any real engagement in what Ive said.

Also, I actulaly don't see God living direclty in me in an indwellign Holy SPirit. I am not an Evangelcial or Pentecostal.

Yoru enture line of attack is complltey worthless since you dont' even take the time to reflect upon the actual divergent ebelifs in Christianity and prefer ot lump them into a single whole. How can I answer how peopel ge thtings weoogm if God lives inside us and tells us thigns when this sin't what I beleive in the firts place?

THen again,you also advance the tired TRjetoric that now inclides accusign the Bibel of Racism even though the enture conceopt of Race as we understand it didnt even exist at the time of its composition.

COm to think of it, the slavery spoken of int he Bibel is a much deeper isue than you undertand as well. Tjis isnt Hayleys Kunta Kente we're dealign with btu ancient pactices of servitude for a variety of easons.

As to cultural context, you ave to reinterpret everythign to allwo its meanign to be compatable to the current situaiton. THe US COnstitution has to be read an dunerstood in a modern context. SHakepsere has top be. Plato's Philosophy has to be.

THe reason is because if ou don'tyou won't be able to apply the pronciples to the modern world we actulaly live in.

So of coruse we will read the Bibel in accordance to Cultural context.

WHy is that so outrageous?

geeper, maybe God shoudl have made us static so nothign ever changed at all...

ZAROVE said...

All that said, Nightmare, maybe when you ecide to do some real study in regards to Philosophy and Theology, as well as History, we cna have a tlak in which you don't feel compelled to shout "The Bibel supperts Rape, Genodice, and Racism!" just to depict it as evil and can address the real points I've raised.

Before you try to claim how you just want to rpesent the facts and truth, try learnign about it.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"Before you try to claim how you just want to rpesent the facts and truth, try learnign about it."

I've spent the better part of my life learning about it infant, if the best you can do is to throw ad hominem in the face of my arguments, you truly aren't worth anyone's time.

(And before anyone complains about my usage of ad homs while calling him on it, note he started the trend - I simply give what I get, especially with arrogant xians).

ZAROVE said...

Nightmare, you didnt address anything I actually said. I do not care how long you called yourself a Christian, you clearly haven't studied it at any sort of deep level based soley upon your cliched critisisms.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"Nightmare, you didnt address anything I actually said."

Actually, I did.....IF you have bothered reading the response and have any real knowledge of what you call scripture.

"I do not care how long you called yourself a Christian, you clearly haven't studied it at any sort of deep level based soley upon your cliched critisisms."

Hmph, y'see spanky I glossed over the hard parts and overlooked the problems for a long time, same as you are doing. It hardly means they aren't there.

ZAROVE said...

Nightmare, I've read everythign from Augustine to Bart Ehrman. I'm not glosing over anyting. I can cite to you three seperate comleltey secular theories about hwo the Gospels where composed wihtout much effort.

My studies have been pretty thourough.

That said, no, you haven't addressed anythign I've said. Ignorign what I say then sayign Im theone ignoring things is rather silly.


Forinstance, when I say that the core values of CHristianity are ocnxtant but how its undertsood and expressed over time may change dependant upon a cultural milleu, you interjectt hat this is inconsistant with an eternal God controlign the affair, even though you offer no real reaosn why an Eternal God woudl not be able to adjust these thign sin a changign culture, or why we, as not-so-eternal beings woudlnt. You then say that we shoudln't make mistakesbecause, accordign to you, I beleive we have a god livign in us if we are CHristian.

Well, Im from the Churches of CHrist, so I actulaly dn't htink that at all.

You didn't address any of this, or anythign else I said, such as how Christianity represents an ideal that cmna be reinterpreted over time to suit our current udnerstanding and situaiton in life wihtout compromisign the main asepcts that make it appealing.

You just spout off abotu racism and genocide as if that has any barign on what I said even if it was just flatly true.

And it snot, at leats, not as your presentign it. (Racism spacificlaly, as the concept didn't exist at the time.)

So no, you didn't address the topics and I don't think your well studied.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"you interjectt hat this is inconsistant with an eternal God controlign the affair, even though you offer no real reaosn why an Eternal God woudl not be able to adjust these thign sin a changign culture, or why we, as not-so-eternal beings woudlnt."

I can see I'm going to have to lead you by the hand through this (a noisome prospect, as that is where all the apologetics BS comes out and I dislike shoveling).

An eternal god with an unchanging nature should be able to and desire to clearly point out what is and is not permissible behavior: Yes or no? (no other answer is acceptable)

"You then say that we shoudln't make mistakesbecause, accordign to you, I beleive we have a god livign in us if we are CHristian.

Well, Im from the Churches of CHrist, so I actulaly dn't htink that at all."

And I'm somehow supposed to have the clairvoyance to know what sect of xtianity you belong to? (Let alone care?) I was arguing to the base - at this site that means fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. Read the blog title.

"You didn't address any of this, or anythign else I said, such as how Christianity represents an ideal that cmna be reinterpreted over time to suit our current udnerstanding and situaiton in life wihtout compromisign the main asepcts that make it appealing.

You just spout off abotu racism and genocide as if that has any barign on what I said even if it was just flatly true."

An intuitive leap in which it seems you were incapable of following me in. Follow the line of questioning I begin in the first response in this comment, and I will prove this statement false. (If you choose not to follow said line of questioning, it proves to me you do not want actual discussion, but rather simply someone to whip to make yourself feel superior - a game I will not play into).

"I don't think your well studied."

Still can't resist the insults huh? How very xian of you. Regardless, what makes you think I care about your opinion of how well studied I am? My arguments are not based on fallacious "authority".

ZAROVE said...

Ah yes, I gave a dire insukt by saying I dont htink your well studied... sorry, being told how little Christian I am is not going to grant you much by me.

That said, you did say I beleived that God lived inside of me and told me the truth. This has nothign to do with the blog title, as you dictated what I beleived. Though finding an excuse rather than admitting an error is certainly the standard fr those who won't reexamine their arguments, and need them for an emotional crutch.

As to the unchanging God quesiton, you still try to limit it to simplistics that do not exist in the real world, and are still shiftign it to God and not us.

We are the oens beign duscissed, and we are the ones reshaping Christianity to fit our culruture in an ever changing world.

Your point is simply not veery strong.

ZAROVE said...

Also, nightmare,I've already challenged many thigns taught me over the coruse of the years. I tended to follow Rene Des Cartes adice and quesiton everything sand to come up with my own conclusions.

No Iron fist, or imposed nastiness occured at all, and as I learned I also learned the reasons thebeelifs are held to and htier historical pedegree.

Whereas I do not always agree iwht all thigns in the Churches of Christ, I did arrive at the conclusion that they are closer to what I see in the oriignal Christianity than others, at leats in ,my view.

You can of coruse asusme I didnt ask the rihgt questiosn or go far enough or whatnot, btu you don't relaly know me, and as I said, I did read Ehrman, and I've even read Carrier and Wells and Doughtery.

I've asked in Churhc aout, and challenged, the interpretation of some passages.

I'v still not been exposed ot the Iron Fist of control.

So, I'm sorry but your wrong.

Nightmare said...

ZAROVE said...
"As to the unchanging God quesiton, you still try to limit it to simplistics that do not exist in the real world, and are still shiftign it to God and not us."

I said a simple yes or no answer. You proved unable or unwilling to provide such. As such an answer is essential to understanding the chain of logic employed to link the rape, genocide, etc comment to the concept of this discussion, you have shown me that you have no true desire to understand what I'm saying.

It is clear (especially by your anal retentive insistence on semantic games and refusal to take any responsibility for your behavior) you merely want a whipping boy to stoke you ego on. Sorry, homey don't play that. With that, I'm done with you, you may go.