The article by Spencer (“The Coming Evangelical Collapse“) has been on my mind a lot recently. I can’t say I’m overly concerned by it, partly because I think he’s exaggerating and partly because I think the cultural forms of evangelicalism have become a hindrance to the growth of the church. Ok, honestly, I am a little concerned about it…
This afternoon I finished Newbigin’s Gospel in a Pluralistic Society. I loved the book, thought there was plenty I didn’t agree with (later posts on this book are in the works). Here is the thought he leaves his readers with (keep in mind he’s writing in 1989):
“In a pluralist society there is always a temptation to judge the importance of any statement of the truth by the number of people who believe it. Truth, for practical purposes, is what most people believe. Christians can fall into this trap. It may well be that for some decades, while churches grow rapidly in other parts of the world, Christians in Europe [maybe the U.S. too] may continue to be [or become] a small and even shrinking minority. If this should be so, it must be seen as an example of that pruning which is promised to the Church in order that it may bear more fruit (John 15:ff). When that happens it is painful. But Jesus assures us, “My Father is the gardener.” He knows what he is doing, and we can trust him. Such experience is a summons to self-searching, to repentance, and to fresh commitment. It is not an occasion for anxiety. God is faithful, and he will complete what he has begun” (pg. 244).
Oh, a small fyi, if you haven’t read anything by Newbigin before you should. There is a lot of free stuff at newbigin.net.