I find it interesting in light of Time magazine's proclamation that the New Calvinisim is one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now that we also have a declaration of the Collapse of Evangelicalism at the Christian Science Monitor. This is a fascinating article and the author, Michael Spencer, asserts many truths about Evangelicalism that many of us ignore. Why will this happen? Spencer offers several reasons the first being, "Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism." How true. We have seen this before in Evangelical history in the early 19th century. We cannot ignore this trend. He also cites the fact that, "We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught." Again he is spot on. There is no doubt that we are saved by simple faith but to pass on this faith takes training, understanding and perseverence that likes of which is hard to find in today's evangelical church culture.
Spencer concludes his article by answering if the collapse of Evangelicalism is a bad thing. In part he speculates, Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.
Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success.
The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society." That doesn't mean they'll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a countercultural movement with a message of "empire subversion" will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement.
I don't agree with all of Spencer's assertions or conclusions but it is thought provoking article worth a read. As a very amatuer church historian I believe I can safely say that much of what we see today we have seen before without a collapse of "Evangelicalism". [I dont like the term "Evangelical" and will no longer desribe myself by that term]. However, we do all know that Christ will be victorious and all will acknowledge Him as such. But in the meantime, where are we headed?
Read more comments on this at the Ref21 blog here and here.