Can the evangelical movement survive?
The evangelical movement is fraying, splintering into groups which are more at odds with one another than with the increasingly secular world. So argues Aaron M. Renn in “The Three Worlds of Evangelism” (First Things, February 2022).
Renn offers a brief history of the evangelical movement from the ‘60’s to the present, showing how it declined from a time of widespread acceptance and positive regard to its present status of negative acceptance and alarming decline. Three groups of evangelicals respond to culture in different ways, either opposing secular culture, appreciating and seeking to work within aspects of it, or embracing the secular and progressive agenda virtually wholesale.
Renn sees these major splinter-groups as being defined by their reaction to secular culture. What gospel they proclaim is not discussed. Nor is there any mention of their view of the Kingdom of God and what it means to seek that realm as the defining priority of all we do. Indeed, the article does not mention Jesus or His role in any of these splinter-groups, and, sadly, this may be a fair assessment of the state of evangelicalism today.
Renn holds out hope that evangelism will reunite and revive, but he does not see how that can happen. His article demonstrates our current captivity to the world’s agenda rather than the Lord’s.