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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Evangelical Worldview
Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:


I just don't want people to think those of the Evangelical movement are the only Christians out there. There are many progressive churches that do have a clear message of engagement and affirmation.


The only hope for Christianity in the US today is to truly follow Christ. At the moment 'Evangelical' is the default, when you ask the man in the street what a Christian is. If we let this stand we are deader than the dodo.
I'm intrigued by Brenda's observation here, and it may tie in with Chris Stiles's latest post about US evangelicals being more sympathetic towards fundamentalists than UK evangelicals tend to be ...

(Although I do worry that there is an encroaching, incipient fundamentalism at play within previously more nuanced UK evangelical quarters ... but that's another issue)

But let's step back a bit ... and at the risk of taking a leaf out of SvitlanaV2's book.

SvitlanaV2 often appears to defend more full-on fundagelical approaches on the grounds that the alternatives - MoTR and liberal congregations primarily - are in melt-down.

I sometimes cross swords with her over that observation, but I think she has highlighted something that we do need to take seriously.

In a town not far from here the Anglican team parish arrangement has all but imploded with the result that there's only a single, viable congregation left - the evangelical one - plus a handful of Anglo-Catholics who didn't want to play ball with the team-parish arrangement when it was mooted a good few years ago now.

The MoTR and liberal Anglican congregations no longer exist to all intents and purposes.

This is not inner-city London or Birmingham. We are talking a fairly standard middle-England market-town.

Here, where I live, there are concerns about the future of the more liberal of the two Anglican parishes. Will the evangelical one be the only viable one in a few years time? If so, where does that leave those who don't want to do the evangelical thing?

I can certainly see Brenda's point about evangelicalism imploding if it laagers itself itself into some kind of impenetrable compound.

But in some places it does seem that the only viable congregations - like it or not - are the evangelical ones.

What happens if the evangelical option is the only game left in town?

I may start a new thread on this in due course ... about 'intentionality' and what alternatives there might be to evangelicalism for those who - for whatever reason - don't want to go along with the 'evangelical mindset' and subculture yet who do want a faith that takes mission and evangelism (and evangelisation) seriously.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by wabale:
he probably inhabits the Pre-Cambrian era in relation to several Dead Horses issues

It makes my hair boil when people mix metaphors.
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wabale
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by wabale:
he probably inhabits the Pre-Cambrian era in relation to several Dead Horses issues

It makes my hair boil when people mix metaphors.
Perhaps I got this wrong. He apparently got his information from a geologist friend, at the mention of which my heart sank, if you'll pardon the expression, Kaplan Corday. But come to think of it he could have said 'several dead horses in the Pre-Cambrian era'.
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Gramps49
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Just had a dia ja vu experience with the above post. I have seen this one before.
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Lamb Chopped
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Following Christ IS the only option, though I have a rather different opinion of evangelicalism (and yes, though I'm pissed at the political bedfellow they've largely taken in, but never mind for the moment).

This came up for me in a rather different situation today when I was considering what remains to the more "out there" Christians--you know, the not-nice ones? The ones who swear, who have quirky interests, who are either over- or under-educated, who don't wear the right things on Sunday, who have all the wrong friends, who upset gender expectations by helping in the kitchen (if male) as Mr. Lamb did today during doughnut time, or by writing theological stuff (if female) as I do now for a living. The ones who are macaws among the doves, and will never fit in no matter how they bleach their feathers and attempt to coo. The ones from a different ethnicity to the rest of everybody at the churches they nevertheless insist on attending. The weirdos like me.

As long as there is a church which follows Christ first and foremost, I will have a place to go (even if I pain many of the people around me). They will put up with me despite my (fill in the blank) because Christ does. And I will put up with them.

That makes me feel better on the days when I look around me and realize just how poorly I blend in.

(In other news, I sent an old thread on the theology of divorce to a coworker despite the fact that I swore like a sailor on said thread. I'm apparently getting over the PTSD from my last job, and starting to think they might really be able to cope with me here.)

[ 10. July 2017, 03:40: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Gamaliel
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Again, I'm not sure that we are dealing with specifically evangelical issues here - I've come across very conservative RC and Orthodox people online who gave thrown their lot in behind Trump and the US 'culture wars' just as much as many evangelicals over there have.

The issue of people not fitting in or conforming to expectations isn't a specifically evangelical issue either - and I'm not suggesting Lamb Chopped is saying that it is.

It strikes me that the generic 'mindset' issues we're identifying or struggling with here have their equivalents and parallels in any group or society we could possibly mention - whether political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, religious or whatever else.

What is 'specific' to the 'evangelical mindset' that we don't find in other mindsets?

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Lamb Chopped
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That is to ask what is evangelicalism.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
From my experience of those who identify themselves in such terms, the two elements which I find hardest to deal with or get over are these two charges: tone-deafness to biblical text on any level other than grinding literalism, and obsession with ecclesial necromancy. From my observation, the epistles and especially Acts are read as recommendations as to how the "authentic" church should behave, rather than records of how the church made it out of nappies. No sane human being goes around trying to recreate the attitudes and behaviours of their earliest years, and I find this attitude to these writings incomprehensible and utterly maddening.

I think it is an exaggeration to say that Evangelicals are literalists. I'm not even sure that literalism really exists.

And of course this is part of the problem with those Evangelicals who claim that they are literalists; objectively they're obviously not, but the worldview is so strong that they really can't appreciate that what they've signed up for is in fact a complex interpretation rather than simple literalism.

Bingo. Evangelicals hold to a particular historically conditioned range of interpretations of Scripture but, aside from the more theologically sophisticated among them, assume their view is the plain meaning of Scripture.

I haven't identified as Evangelical in well over 30 years. I have respect for the tradition, especially its focus on a personal, living relationship with God and the desire to be faithful to Scripture. But at least in North America the term "Evangelical" is irretrievably ruined by vocal right-wing demagogues who have dragged it through the mud. Not to mention the 80% or so of self-identified white Evangelicals who voted for Trump.

As to the point about ecclesial necromancy: Fair enough, and I love that term, although I think it's a bit different from trying to recover how we acted/thought as children because the 1st century church was closer in time to Jesus. In that sense I think the desire to recover 1st century Christianity is understandable, even though it's not really possible.

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Al Eluia

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
At the moment 'Evangelical' is the default, when you ask the man in the street what a Christian is. If we let this stand we are deader than the dodo. [/QB]

I have a co-worker who was telling me about a wedding she attended which was co-officiated by a RC priest and a "Christian" pastor. She was genuinely unaware that Catholics are also Christians.

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An omer is a tenth of an ephah. (Exodus 16:36)

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
In a town not far from here the Anglican team parish arrangement has all but imploded with the result that there's only a single, viable congregation left - the evangelical one - plus a handful of Anglo-Catholics who didn't want to play ball with the team-parish arrangement when it was mooted a good few years ago now.

The MoTR and liberal Anglican congregations no longer exist to all intents and purposes.

Which suggests, at the very least, that Evangelicalism has a greater appeal to the current Zeitgeist while the other forms of Christianity seem to be culturally irrelevant to most folk.

Or it suggests - and this may be more true - that Evangelicalism has been more shaped by, and accommodated itself to, contemporary culture - possibly just as much as (say) "liberal" churches seemed to fit into and were shaped by 1960s culture; and Anglo-catholicism in an earlier era.

Unless you are an Old Order Amish or a Mount Athos Orthodox, your Christianity will, I suggest, inevitably be formed by its cultural context ... as, I believe, it was in the New Testament era.

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:


I just don't want people to think those of the Evangelical movement are the only Christians out there. There are many progressive churches that do have a clear message of engagement and affirmation.


The only hope for Christianity in the US today is to truly follow Christ. At the moment 'Evangelical' is the default, when you ask the man in the street what a Christian is. If we let this stand we are deader than the dodo.
I'm intrigued by Brenda's observation here, and it may tie in with Chris Stiles's latest post about US evangelicals being more sympathetic towards fundamentalists than UK evangelicals tend to be ...

(Although I do worry that there is an encroaching, incipient fundamentalism at play within previously more nuanced UK evangelical quarters ... but that's another issue)

But let's step back a bit ... and at the risk of taking a leaf out of SvitlanaV2's book.

SvitlanaV2 often appears to defend more full-on fundagelical approaches on the grounds that the alternatives - MoTR and liberal congregations primarily - are in melt-down.

I sometimes cross swords with her over that observation, but I think she has highlighted something that we do need to take seriously.

In a town not far from here the Anglican team parish arrangement has all but imploded with the result that there's only a single, viable congregation left - the evangelical one - plus a handful of Anglo-Catholics who didn't want to play ball with the team-parish arrangement when it was mooted a good few years ago now.

The MoTR and liberal Anglican congregations no longer exist to all intents and purposes.

This is not inner-city London or Birmingham. We are talking a fairly standard middle-England market-town.

Here, where I live, there are concerns about the future of the more liberal of the two Anglican parishes. Will the evangelical one be the only viable one in a few years time? If so, where does that leave those who don't want to do the evangelical thing?


What happens if the evangelical option is the only game left in town?


I'll tell you what will happen, because it's what is already happening. Evangelicals have a talent for convincing people that they're the only Christians around, or the only real Christians. Once people try them and lose their taste for Evangelicalism, they find themselves trying to follow Christ but outside the church - and I don't mean house groups etc. here - I mean entirely outside religious structures.

If Evangelicals manage to entirely colonise the Church of England (and see the Keele gathering for confirmation that this was John Stott's intention), I'll be with the "spiritual but not religious". I could no more join the Roman Catholic church than I could fly to the moon unaided, because I dislike its teaching on human sexuality, and by extension human personhood, deeply and intensely. I am too much of a sacramentalist to fit in with 90% of Protestant denominations. The only alternative might be one of the Orthodox denominations that has set up in this country, though the phyletism of the Russian Orthodox church makes me extremely uncomfortable. Either way, if the Evangelicals become the only voice it town, it will be because they have turned the Church of England into an exercise in booming at themselves. At that point, the only witness against this move will be the countless masses outside the Church altogether, which will have no voice at all.

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Currently mostly furious, and occasionally foolish. Normal service may resume eventually. Or it may not. And remember children, "feiern ist wichtig".

Foolish, potentially deranged witterings

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ThunderBunk

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Addendum: the alternative would be to be an unquiet Quaker (though I do actually do contemplative silence - days of it at a time, sometimes)

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Currently mostly furious, and occasionally foolish. Normal service may resume eventually. Or it may not. And remember children, "feiern ist wichtig".

Foolish, potentially deranged witterings

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Barnabas62
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Thunderbunk

Do you mean 'many of the evangelicals I've met have a talent for convincing people they are the only Christians around'.

I've met them too, having spent over 40 years in the same evo congo. But it's just a silly viewpoint. In scriptural terms it is a denial of the sovereignty of God, a point anyone can make to anyone else who claims to rely on the truth of scripture.

My local congo was privileged yesterday to hear a talk from the leader of a Pentecostal city church who is actively and ecumenically engaged with over 50 local church communities, including Catholics, Quakers and most other colours of the Christian rainbow. We're not all narrow obscurantists. Some of us are quite reasonable, really. Though, like you, I get a bit bothered when the narrow obscurantists get too much influence in any local congo.

BTW, IME narrow obscurantism is not confined to evangelicals either. Some folks find a strange security in such viewpoints. It can be hard to cope with diversity, easy to revert to a preference for a community of the like-minded.

[ 10. July 2017, 08:19: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Al Eluia:
But at least in North America the term "Evangelical" is irretrievably ruined by vocal right-wing demagogues who have dragged it through the mud.

ISTM that much of the time the problem is that the "vocal right-wing demagogues" within evangelicalism (and, we have them on this side of the Pond as well, just currently not as vocal or numerous) spot what they perceive to be tares among the wheat field and proceed to rip them up. Of course, as the parable warns us, in so doing they pull out a lot of the wheat as well.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Unless you are an Old Order Amish or a Mount Athos Orthodox, your Christianity will, I suggest, inevitably be formed by its cultural context ... as, I believe, it was in the New Testament era.

Aren't Old Order Amish and Mount Athos Orthodox also shaped by their culture? Albeit a radically different culture from the surrounding cultures, and one in part formed by their beliefs (which, in turn, had been shaped by the prevailing culture centuries before).

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

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ThunderBunk

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Barnabas62, I mean the Evangelicals I've come across, and the position I see most frequently put across as Evangelical. I mean the worldview that produced the Alpha course, which is remarkably effective in making its graduates convinced that they have experienced Christianity in its entirety, for better or for worse. I mean the mindset which I met in university Christian unions, which had the same effect, and drove people away from Christianity in greater droves than they drew in. Over and over again, only those drawn in have a voice; the repelled are simultaneously silenced.

ETA: I'm not talking about individual Evangelicals here; I'm talking about the effect of the worldview that has the loudest voice, and is definitely identified with both Christianity and Evangelicalism. Nuances exist at a smaller scale, but in terms of a unified worldview, the slick extremist viewpoint is the one that is most visible and has therefore the greatest effect.

[ 10. July 2017, 08:41: Message edited by: ThunderBunk ]

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Currently mostly furious, and occasionally foolish. Normal service may resume eventually. Or it may not. And remember children, "feiern ist wichtig".

Foolish, potentially deranged witterings

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Which suggests, at the very least, that Evangelicalism has a greater appeal to the current Zeitgeist while the other forms of Christianity seem to be culturally irrelevant to most folk.

Or it suggests - and this may be more true - that Evangelicalism has been more shaped by, and accommodated itself to, contemporary culture - possibly just as much as (say) "liberal" churches seemed to fit into and were shaped by 1960s culture; and Anglo-catholicism in an earlier era.


I'm not sure this is really true - the Evangelical subculture (really subcultures) are quite different to the culture of wider society and at times are at odds.

I think it is more to do with accessibility and stickiness. Many forms of Evangelicalism are increasingly accessible to outsiders so that they can quickly feel like they belong and there are reduced barriers.

But I think many large congregations find that they've got a high level of churn, that people often leave for various reasons and don't come back and that it is hard to get people to commit via the traditional routes (either via baptism or church membership).

Other forms of church (including many forms of Evangelicals) have higher barriers to entry so that new-comers find it hard to understand what is going on. But the churn is far lower and people tend to stay.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Baptist Trainfan
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I'm sure you're right about the "churn" - although I think a high turnover rate is inevitably among younger people in urban areas (i.e. where most of the big churches are situated), due to employment, housing and relationship issues. Also I remember my experience pastoring a small church in London, we had quite a number of folk who came through the doors but didn't stay as they had been "expecting a larger church". Not only did I want to say, "If all you folk stayed, we would be a larger church" but, more importantly, "You can have an authentic Christian experience in a small group without all the razzmattazz".

Going back to my earlier point, I still think that Liberalism hit a highpoint during the sceptical 60s, while much contemporary Evangelicalism (by no means all!) has fitted in well with experience-centred post-modernity.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Which suggests, at the very least, that Evangelicalism has a greater appeal to the current Zeitgeist while the other forms of Christianity seem to be culturally irrelevant to most folk.

Though an alternate explanation would be that Evangelicalism appeals to a particular niche and that they have been more successful at identifying that niche.
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Martin60
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We're a conservative monkey.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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Interesting reflections, folks ...

I certainly agree with much / most of what Baptist Trainfan and Barnabas62 are saying ...

[Overused]

However, there is a kind of evangelical triumphalism detectable even among some of the more nuanced evangelicals, that it's only a matter of time before the liberals and the High Church brigade (whom they are somewhat more tolerant towards because 'at least they believe something') die out and the floor is left to them ...

This may not be said explicitly, but there's an undercurrent of it there with several evangelical Anglican clergy I know.

I also think Thunderbunk is onto something with his observation that many disillusioned or revolving-door evangelicals don't end up in liberal, MoTR or more sacramental settings (although some do) - but they end up either unchurched or in 'ghost church' informal gatherings of the disillusioned where they spend their time slagging off their former churches without actually finding new ones to engage with ...

I've seen that happen a few times here in the UK and understand from US friends that it's an even bigger phenomenon over there.

On one level, being 'spiritual but not religious' is fair enough - but it doesn't bode well in terms of creating what sociologists call 'plausibility structures'.

I suspect that flexibility is where we're all headed though ... but we need some kind of skeletal structure and 'organisation' ...

I can't remember the sociologist's name, but the professor from Lancaster University who carried out some interesting studies into religious trends in Kendal and other towns in the North West of England made a rather telling point on a BBC documentary I saw about the possible future shape of Christianity in the UK.

She observed that the evangelicals had shot themselves in the foot to a certain extent by convincing everyone that to be a Christian one has to be extrovert, prepared to do 'out there' things - speaking in tongues, accosting people on the street etc - and that whilst this serves as a draw to people who want that level of commitment / engagement - it's a complete turn-off to anyone who doesn't ...

A lot of unchurched evangelicals and charismatics I know still retain the mind-set that the MoTR, liberal and more sacramental churches aren't worth bothering with ...

Having fallen out with their former affiliations and not prepared to give any of the alternatives a try, they end up in an echo-chamber of disillusionment, harping on and on and on about how things might have been different if only X, Y, Z and yadda yadda yadda ...

[Disappointed]

I'm not pointing the finger. I've acted like that here aboard Ship at times.

[Frown]

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:

ETA: I'm not talking about individual Evangelicals here; I'm talking about the effect of the worldview that has the loudest voice, and is definitely identified with both Christianity and Evangelicalism. Nuances exist at a smaller scale, but in terms of a unified worldview, the slick extremist viewpoint is the one that is most visible and has therefore the greatest effect.

My guess it that we share at the least a scepticism about the strident extremist voice. But I think I'm with mr cheesy about its lasting impact, certainly in the UK. Wild enthusiasm is often followed by confusion, then disillusionment.

As you've probably gathered from my other stuff, I don't think much of consumerist churches who present salvation as a matter of personal self-interest. That's the gospel of self, and seems miles away from mainstream Christian belief and practice. But I guess you can see the appeal in our current culture. Get your eternal insurance here, folks. And insofar as there are aspects of current evangelicalism who have latched on to this as a kind of "success strategy", they are barking up the wrong tree. It may make sense in the short to medium term as a business model, I suppose, but Christianity is a higher calling than that. Recognising the casualties through disillusionment (and I've met more than a few), it remains true that some people who come in via that door do manage to cut through the chaff to a more genuine expression of faith.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Jane R
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Thunderbunk:
quote:
The repeated evangelical reflex is to adopt the external attributes of contemporary culture whilst dealing with actual people as if they were still in first-century Palestine.
To be fair to the Evangelicals, this is a trap that many other Christians also fall into.
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I can't remember the sociologist's name, but the professor from Lancaster University who carried out some interesting studies into religious trends in Kendal and other towns in the North West of England made a rather telling point on a BBC documentary I saw about the possible future shape of Christianity in the UK.

Linda Woodhead.
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wabale
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Evangelical, High Church and Liberal Anglicanism are interlinked within the Church of England as I understand it. Critical comments about extreme evangelicalism illustrate exactly why Evangelicalism within the Church of England needs a counter-weight. Incidentally, I have heard very apparently convincing arguments, from a non-believer who successfully raises money for a church, that it will be the more traditional C of E that survives. I was struck dumb trying to envisage that scenario. The perfect answer for him would I think have been ‘That depends whether my Friend is imaginary or not’, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
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Gamaliel
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Not as interlinked as we might think ... at least, that's not what I'm told by clergy at various ends of the spectrum ...

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Indeed not. When I was at an Evangelical Anglican church in Leeds we were more likely to do things with other Evangelicals in the area rather than the other "high and dead" Anglican (i.e. not Charismatic Evangelical) churches. There was a general assumption that most people in them were "nominal Christians". We were the real deal.

[ 11. July 2017, 08:27: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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mdijon
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My experience is that you are far more likely to have a visiting Baptist, independent Evangelical, house church, Methodist or Vinyard preacher at an Evangelical Anglican gaff than a liberal Anglican.

And a Liberal Anglican is far more likely to have a shared event with RC, liberal Methodist or Quaker than an evangelical Anglican.

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mr cheesy
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I don't think any of these things are incorrect, but it does come down to what one means by "interlinked". It is certainly true that being part of the Church of England means that individual congregations are connected in a way that independent Evangelical or Baptist churches would not be.

[ 11. July 2017, 08:56: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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That isn't just an Anglican phenomenon. Liberal Baptists for example are more likely to associate IME with similarly-minded Methodists, Anglicans and URC - even possibly with those of other faiths - than with some of their more "upbeat" brethren and sistren.

The dividing lines today are often more theological (including some Extinct Equus issues) and stylistic than denominational.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
That isn't just an Anglican phenomenon. Liberal Baptists for example are more likely to associate IME with similarly-minded Methodists, Anglicans and URC - even possibly with those of other faiths - than with some of their more "upbeat" brethren and sistren.

The dividing lines today are often more theological (including some Extinct Equus issues) and stylistic than denominational.

True, but this does come down to something about church governance. Having an episcopal governance is different to having a voluntary membership of (essentially) congregationist churches.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Of course I agree ...though I sometimes wonder if certain Anglican Evangelical churches behave as if they were congregationalists and only pay lipservice (or less) to the idea of episcopacy and being part of their diocese.
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Of course I agree ...though I sometimes wonder if certain Anglican Evangelical churches behave as if they were congregationalists and only pay lipservice (or less) to the idea of episcopacy and being part of their diocese.

Well, evangelicals have their own peculiar problems with the episcopacy and can adopt a particular schizophrenic attitude towards the whole idea.

OTOH the other wings have similar tensions, they just tend to play out differently.

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Barnabas62
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IME an independent attitude towards local church governance and an inclination to resist any form of outside interference can be found in just about any local congo, whatever the formal position may be.

When things go seriously wrong, the mood changes!

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Well, evangelicals have their own peculiar problems with the episcopacy and can adopt a particular schizophrenic attitude towards the whole idea.

OTOH the other wings have similar tensions, they just tend to play out differently.

I appreciate the sentiment but would appreciate if you wouldn't use mental illness in this way. I think this is one of the phrases that belongs in the bin.

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Higgs Bosun
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Of course I agree ...though I sometimes wonder if certain Anglican Evangelical churches behave as if they were congregationalists and only pay lipservice (or less) to the idea of episcopacy and being part of their diocese.

In the CofE there are different strands of evangelicalism. The rough groupings of 'Conservative', 'Open' and 'Charismatic' can serve to illustrate this. In my experience, the latter two groups have no issue with episcopy and being involved with the wider CofE. One sign of this is the number of people with roots in these groups ('traditions'?) who have become bishops over the last few years. Justin Welby is the obvious example.

One might also cite how the Alpha course has spread beyond its roots. There are Catholic churchs in different parts of the world using this material.

It is the Conservatives who seem to have the most problems with the hierarchy. For example, there is a group of congregations in SW London, many non-parochial, which sits uneasily at best with the diocese. There was a distinct row over ordinations a few years back. Ordinary evangelical churchs in the area have complained of their 'invasion'.

However, I would hestitate to call the polity of such churches 'congregational'. There is quite a tight-knit group of leaders, who make the decisions. If they look anywhere for overall leadership, it tends to be abroad. The big fracture with others came in the early '90s. At this time, Sydney Anglicans were a strong influence. Now, I would say that the ilk of John Piper is regarded as in charge of their 'magisterium'.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Higgs Bosun:
It is the Conservatives who seem to have the most problems with the hierarchy.

Which is intensely ironic, because you just try challenging them in their own bailiwick... they have no problems at all with hierarchy then.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Higgs Bosun:
It is the Conservatives who seem to have the most problems with the hierarchy.

Which is intensely ironic, because you just try challenging them in their own bailiwick... they have no problems at all with hierarchy then.
This was a huge issue in the Southern Baptist Convention a few years back. The central authority moved to basically draw a line in the sand and say "nobody on the other side of this line can call themselves Southern Baptists." This threw over hundreds of years of tradition of "soul competency" -- that the Christian filled with the Holy Ghost and using the Bible could determine truth. Instead, now truth was what the SBC said it was. They had become a de facto synod of bishops, despite claiming to be congregationalist.

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Brenda Clough
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People like this is why the term 'evangelical' is toxic. I read this and Buddhism sounds really attractive.

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
People like this is why the term 'evangelical' is toxic. I read this and Buddhism sounds really attractive.

But why allow people like that to define it, rather than someone like John Stott, for example?

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Brenda Clough
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Is Stott still alive? I haven't seen him commenting on American politics in 2017. It only takes one rotten egg to spoil the entire omelette.

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Is Stott still alive? I haven't seen him commenting on American politics in 2017. It only takes one rotten egg to spoil the entire omelette.

He died on 27 July 2011, which could explain why we haven't read any of his comments for a while.

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Brenda Clough
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I knew there must be a reasonable explanation!

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Well, evangelicals have their own peculiar problems with the episcopacy and can adopt a particular schizophrenic attitude towards the whole idea.

I attended one evangelical Anglican service where the vicar described his bishop as "an antichrist" based on his dead horse statements. I was quite shocked - and in fairness since I've been in Anglican evangelical circles a lot that implies it's an extreme example - but I doubt you'd hear something like that from many other wings of the church.

(I later met the bishop at a service elsewhere in the diocese. It seemed a very tame encounter considering.)

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Brenda Clough
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This is free, a long article about far-right Evangelicals in the US. Don't read this just before you go to bed, it'll give you nightmares.

The money quote: "Evangelical conservatives are convinced that their agenda will save the country from God-ordained death. Pat Robertson and many others believe that natural disasters are sent from God specifically to punish America for letting marginalized people have rights and be alive. This motivates them to do everything in their power to “save” the country from the ungodly – even, maybe especially – if it involves stripping others of the freedoms they deem to be against God’s wishes. They don’t care if their war for Christ hurts humans they see as living wrongfully, because they are capital “R” Right and that’s what matters. Their Rightness, they believe, comes from God Himself. Their beliefs are callous and without empathy, prioritizing dogma over people."

Or, to say it more briefly, it's not about God. It's about power. It is this hypocrisy that has ruined the word in this country.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Well, evangelicals have their own peculiar problems with the episcopacy and can adopt a particular schizophrenic attitude towards the whole idea.

I attended one evangelical Anglican service where the vicar described his bishop as "an antichrist" based on his dead horse statements. I was quite shocked - and in fairness since I've been in Anglican evangelical circles a lot that implies it's an extreme example - but I doubt you'd hear something like that from many other wings of the church.

I've heard an anglo-catholic say much the same thing - beause the bishop ordained women.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Brenda Clough quoted:-
quote:
... They don’t care if their war for Christ hurts humans they see as living wrongfully, because they are capital “R” Right and that’s what matters. Their Rightness, they believe, comes from God Himself. Their beliefs are callous and without empathy, prioritizing dogma over people."
That's a fairly stark assessment. It may apply to some but I doubt it applies to all. However, it's useful as it draws attention to a defective ethic. Though to explain why it's defective (it kind of obviously is) it may be helpful to quote an earlier post by Mrs Beaky -
quote:
Evangelicalism is not only about core doctrines. It is also about core attitudes which is where I struggled. There is such a culture that "What we believe and what we are doing is right" (which in my experience spans the conservative through to the charismatic)that it often comes across as either smug, dismissive or judgemental. Sometimes this can be personality as well as belief driven but ISTM that it is impossible to hold deontological views without creating in-groups and out-groups no matter how hard we try.

That seems a great insight to me. Deontological ethics is all about how I may be an ethical person through the following of rules, obligations etc. That seems to be a very conspicuous thing in evangelical interpretation about following the Word of God. As against say other forms of ethics such as virtue ethics etc.

Not that these are intended as anything but analytical tools for getting a handle on an important area of human concern and flourishing, but the comment you quote above does draw attention to the deontological aspect at the expense of others such as virtue and consequential ethics. The way that some see Trump is pretty indicative of that. Virtue ethics would deplore Trump for an entire raft of reasons concerning his life. Consequential ethics would deplore Trump on account of the way many will suffer from his dismantling of healthcare. But this all requires a balanced view of ethics.

Ethics is only one way of looking at this issue of course, but I think it may be helpful. It's also helpful in explaining the difference between American puritanism and the English form of puritanism, which are early antecedents to today's evangelicalism.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


SvitlanaV2 often appears to defend more full-on fundagelical approaches on the grounds that the alternatives - MoTR and liberal congregations primarily - are in melt-down.

I sometimes cross swords with her over that observation, but I think she has highlighted something that we do need to take seriously.

In a town not far from here the Anglican team parish arrangement has all but imploded with the result that there's only a single, viable congregation left - the evangelical one - plus a handful of Anglo-Catholics who didn't want to play ball with the team-parish arrangement when it was mooted a good few years ago now.

The MoTR and liberal Anglican congregations no longer exist to all intents and purposes.

[...]

[Linda Woodhead] observed that the evangelicals had shot themselves in the foot to a certain extent by convincing everyone that to be a Christian one has to be extrovert, prepared to do 'out there' things - speaking in tongues, accosting people on the street etc - and that whilst this serves as a draw to people who want that level of commitment / engagement - it's a complete turn-off to anyone who doesn't ...

A lot of unchurched evangelicals and charismatics I know still retain the mind-set that the MoTR, liberal and more sacramental churches aren't worth bothering with ...



I think what we agree on is that evangelicalism has always existed in the CofE, but is now taking an ever larger share of the CofE pie - and a greater share than in any of the other historical English churches apart from the Baptists, and perhaps a few of the small groups such as the remaining Congregationalists.

The problem with this increase seems to be two-fold. Some like Linda Woodhead state that the growing separation between the expanding conservative CofE faithful and the nominally CofE English public is bad news for the Church's moderate, inclusive image.

Then there's your claim that ex-evangelicals these days are reluctant to turn to tolerant religion because their former churches have poisoned their minds against non-evangelicalism.

I'm not entirely convinced by either argument. Firstly, in the British case, only a small number of people are likely to have any but the vaguest awareness of evangelical 'prominence', because organised Christianity has such a fragile presence in the public square. The new focus on Islamic extremism has probably also diverted attention away from conservative Christianity. (Even the DUP's conservative Christianity won't hold the nation's horrified attention for long, I feel.)

Secondly, regarding ex-evangelicals, if you've walked out on your church in a dramatic volte face why would you remain obedient to its diktats about other Christians? Isn't it at least equally likely that many of the people who are initially attracted to evangelical churches just wouldn't find the alternatives very engaging?

David Voas says it's community not theology that attracts people to church life. Unfortunately, many local, ordinary, moderate churches fail to offer distinctively appealing forms of community. This is unsurprising, because uncertainty, tolerance and individualistic approaches towards doctrines, biblical interpretation and lifestyle - which all have their advantages - don't automatically help to foster close-knit religious communities. Especially not in a demoralised or beleaguered church setting.

Yes, there are churches that can provide a strong and lively community, tolerance, a sacramental approach, etc., in one attractive package, but that seems to rely very much on quite a specific surrounding environment, and on exceptional church leadership. Both are rare.

Rather, ISTM that the moderate and liberal constituencies drifted towards marginality a long time ago as a result of their own decisions and lack of vision. Strident evangelicalism then increased in prominence in reaction against that, and sought to fill the vacuum that was left, for better or worse.

Of course, secularisation means that most people now don't know what's available to them and aren't bothered to look, so any Christian movement that promotes itself assertively has a good chance of creating the narrative. In that sense, I agree that self-promoting evangelicalism is a PR problem for the moderate, invisible mainstream. More of a problem in the USA than in England, though. If the English seriously thought the CofE was being taken over by 'fundagelical approaches' they'd turn disestablishmentarian, I'm sure. But how many of them give a toss?

Solutions for the non-evangelical British mainstream are difficult to agree upon. (Should the CofE as a whole to be more like the Church of Denmark?) It's easier to dream of reforming evangelical churches than of breathing life into what in many cases are the moribund, moderate alternatives. Indeed, I suspect that bad evangelicalism is a useful fall guy for Christians who find the problems of other church constituencies too painful to talk about for any length of time. But maybe I'm mistaken.

The American 'disenfranchised evangelical' Rachel Held Evans has talked about how the moderate, sacramental churches might welcome others like herself, or even learn from some of evangelicalism's good points. Some of her advice will be suitable for British churches.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Honest Ron Bacardi:
Brenda Clough quoted:-
quote:
... They don’t care if their war for Christ hurts humans they see as living wrongfully, because they are capital “R” Right and that’s what matters. Their Rightness, they believe, comes from God Himself. Their beliefs are callous and without empathy, prioritizing dogma over people."
That's a fairly stark assessment. It may apply to some but I doubt it applies to all.
I think the point is that it applies to enough to "ruin the word in this country". I'm sure many, probably the majority, of Pharisees were decent human beings. But, there were enough that demonstrated a very similar attitude of prioritizing dogma over people, believing in their God-given Rightness, that the entire name "Pharisee" is a by-word for self-righteous hypocrite. I'm sure the majority of Pharisees would also say that their name had been ruined.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Which suggests, at the very least, that Evangelicalism has a greater appeal to the current Zeitgeist while the other forms of Christianity seem to be culturally irrelevant to most folk.

Or it suggests - and this may be more true - that Evangelicalism has been more shaped by, and accommodated itself to, contemporary culture - possibly just as much as (say) "liberal" churches seemed to fit into and were shaped by 1960s culture; and Anglo-catholicism in an earlier era.

Our experience here is that events within churches which are not doctrinaire are popular. If the music is good, if the thrust of a special service is topical and not about tradition nor liturgy, people fill it up and the under 40s show up. Reconciliation re indigenous peoples, classical mass settings with choir and small orchestra - at opposite ends of the music spectrum - are standing room only. Whereas Sunday mornings are extra room if you wish to lie full length on a pew.

I think it appeals to a wish for transcendence and some sort of "feeling moved". This may then draw some people in, but they aren't going to attend a "Jesus in your face" type of service, nor that which appeals to traditions. Without words and doctrine, but an experience. Very "Millennial" (i.e. the age group).

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