I think, no I am pretty certain, that Evangelicalism is standing on a precipice. Some, like one of my favorite writers, Becky Garrison, have written off this segment of the church as having died. She and others have good reason for that assessment. But I remain a tiny bit more optimistic.
I believe that if the Evangelical church continues on its path, not heeding the warnings of her modern-day prophets and seers, she will plunge into an abyss of legalistic irrelevance, hated and dismissed not because of Jesus, but because the arrogant and unloving attitudes and actions perpetrated against those who are not part of their “holy” enclaves. A brief observation of the church’s reaction to the Newtown shooting is all one needs to hear to realize how far Evangelicalism has moved away from the covering of Jesus’ unconditional love and grace and chooses instead to cover itself with the filthy rags of moral superiority.
Thirty years ago, I became an Evangelical, because I recognized that I was a mess, but Jesus loved me anyway. it was the beginning of a great relationship until I was trained to believe that I needed to hold up my end of the bargain. At that point, grace was thrown out the window and legalism walked in the door, So for the next fifteen years I had heavy burdens tied to my back that I realized I could no longer carry. I was about to break. But God intervened and through a renewed understanding of his unconditional love and unending grace, he rescued me from me. And from fundamentalist Evangelicalism. All of this happened in the world of Evangelicalism.
The truth is, being an Evangelical is rooted in Jesus and who He is and what He has done for me, and not only me, but for all of us and for everyone and for all of creation as well. It is all about Jesus, not my view of any moral, social, or political issue. Those things do not define an Evangelical, Jesus does. And how we disseminate his love to others and for all creation will determine whether or not the Evangelical church survives.
I have turned from the cliff and there are others within the church that have turned as well, I still have hope.