Showing posts with label Demise of Evangelicalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Demise of Evangelicalism. Show all posts

Evolution is Now Accepted By More and More Evangelicals! Yesterday's Liberals Are Now Today's Evangelicals, Go Figure!

Evangelicals in the nineteen seventies rejected Karl Barth, women in leadership/teaching roles, the annihilation view of hell, inclusivist salvation, the mythical interpretation of the Genesis creation stories, the late dating of 2nd Isaiah and Daniel, and they especially rejected homosexuality and evolution. Any attempt to reject the historicity of the Garden of Eden story of Adam and Eve's fall into sin (from whence this all began) was rejected outright without a second thought. These liberal views are now being accepted by evangelicals while still calling themselves evangelicals rather than liberals.

Karl W. Gilberson said "The Evolution Wars Are Here to Stay and Heads Will Continue to Roll." Later I'll be sharing books by evangelicals, or former evangelicals, who now embrace evolution. It's something I never expected would happen. This dispute is taking place along with the debate evangelicals are having over homosexuality. It must be fun being an evangelical these days. Not! Evolutionary science and the acceptance of gay marriages is the wave of the future among evangelicals. You can count on it. Gone will be a historical fall into sin by two individuals named Adam (male) and Eve (female)--which never made sense anyway--and the prohibition against homosexuality. There are apparently no limits to their ability to find loopholes in the Bible so they can obfuscate their theology. It will become the new evangelical orthodoxy in the future, as I have predicted. Then amnesia will set in, and future evangelicals will claim true evangelicals always stood for these things! Their amnesia will provide quite the laugh to the rest of us, since we saw it coming. In fact, that's what they've been doing since the inception of their faith when it came to the question of who should be circumcised.

Evangelicals Concede They Are Losing in the Marketplace of Ideas

"In the next decades we will see a massive decrease in evangelical influence politically, economically, culturally, and financially" writes John S. Dickerson, in The Great Evangelical Recession (p. 26). "260,000 evangelical young people walk away from Christianity each year. Of that number 35% will find their way back, and 65% do not find their way back. Why are they leaving? They don't believe anymore." [Dickerson, pp. 98-102]. "This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline," said Ed Stetzer [as quoted in Dickerson, p. 32]. Here are a few of the books that are sounding the alarm:

The solutions offered in these books range from becoming culturally relevant to the young generation, committing to serious discipleship, fervent prayer, massive evangelism, and prioritizing the wisdom of God over the wisdom of man. Not one of them thinks for a nanosecond that the Christian faith should be abandoned, that their faith cannot win in the marketplace of ideas. But that is the real problem. In the minds of other evangelicals like Peter Enns, John Walton, Kenton Sparks, Christian Smith, Bruce Waltke, Randal Rauser, Rob Bell and others, they suggest revising and extending their faith to accommodate to the new realities. But when they do this they are conceding their faith is relativistic with no foundation. This is very interesting to watch.

We are watching the demise of evangelicalism!
Don't think so? Here is a page from Dickerson's book:

The New Evangelical Orthodoxy, Relativism, and the Amnesia of It All

I'm happy to have lived long enough to see that evangelicals are now embracing Karl Barth. I've personally seen how theology evolves. Back in my seminary days one issue of interest was Neo-Orthodoxy, stemming from what most people think is the greatest theologian of the last century, Karl Barth. Wanting to be on the cutting edge I did my master's thesis on his doctrine of the word of God, since Barth sparked a debate among evangelicals over inerrancy. Harold Lindsell's book, The Battle for the Bible, was heavily discussed among us. Evangelicals did not like Barth and neither did I. Due to the onslaught of nineteenth century biblical criticism Barth was forced to deny natural theology and basically argued that although the Bible contained myths and legends, God still speaks through it. For Barth, the word of God was not to be located in the Bible itself. No. Rather, God speaks through it. God's word, his revelation, takes place when God speaks to his people, and he can do so through myths, legends, and even a Russian flute concerto. It was described as the New (or Neo) Orthodoxy. It was all he could do to maintain his faith. To read up on those good old days see Robert Price's Inerrant the Wind: The Evangelical Crisis in Biblical Authority,where he made some predictions at that time which have proved to be true.

Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!


Biblical professors and apologists in evangelical institutions are not allowed to be honest scholars. That is a fact. They are not allowed to think and write freely. If they step out of line they are fired. But more and more of them are doing just that. Here's some proof that evangelical colleges requiring their professors to sign a confessional statement cannot be trusted to be honest scholars and should therefore be ignored, all of them. Below are links with discussions about a few evangelical scholars who were fired, suffered censorship, and/or intense scrutiny because they tried to interact honestly with the wider scientific and scholarly communities.

If Nothing Else Look at the Trend, From Conservative to Moderate to Liberal to Agnostic to Atheist

[Written by John W. Loftus] In Ed Babinski's book, Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former Fundamentalists, published seven years ago, there are testimonies from former fundamentalists who became moderates, liberals, and even "ultra liberals," like Dewey Beegle, Harvey Cox, Conrad Hyers, Robert Price (who now describes himself as a "Christian atheist"), and seven others. We could add other names like Howard Van Till, Valerie Tarico, John Hick, Marcus Borg, John A. T. Robertson, James Wall, Andrew Furlong, and James Sennett. In another section there are testimonies of former fundamentalists who became agnostics, like Ed himself, Charles Templeton, Farrell Till, and five others. We could add other names like Robert Ingersoll, William Dever, Bart Ehrman, and William Lobdell. In still another section of his book there are former fundamentalists who became atheists, like Dan Barker, Jim Lippard, Harry McCall, Frank Zindler, and four others. We could add other names like Hector Avalos, Michael Shermer, Ken Daniels, Ken Pulliam, Jason Long, Joe Holman, Paul Tobin, myself and many many others. I can't remember all the names of the important people who left fundamentalist Christianity because there are simply too many of them to remember! If you read, deconversion stories are posted there almost every day.

"Changing Morals and the Fate of Evangelicalism" by Robert M. Price


By Robert M. Price:

It used to be the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists would never darken the door of movie theatres, even if Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place was showing (I kid you not!). Now that's moot, especially in the wake of home theatre technology. They wouldn't dance, because it was supposedly arousing, essentially mating behavior-which it obviously is! But now they've skipped the preliminaries (keep reading).

More significantly, they were very much against divorce and had a low incidence of it. But that, too, has changed. Evangelical churchmen and seminary professors found they just could not thunder against divorce any more once their own grown children were getting divorced. Same with women working outside the home. Economic realities dictated theology just as sure as the Feds' threats to the Mormon Church miraculously prompted new LDS revelations to abandon, first, polygamy, then racial discrimination in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Homosexuality is next on the list. More and more educated Evangelicals seem to feel they must find a compromise between the inherited party line and their liberal social conscience. This is especially true with seminarians and young ministers. And such theological accommodations are not hard to find. It doesn't take as much text-twisting as slave-abolition or feminism, that's for sure. And it was secular feminism challenging the church that led, more than anything else, to the great inerrancy crisis among Evangelicals in the 1970s. Prayer changes things? Things change prayer.

Recent surveys indicate that more and more Evangelicals are questioning or rejecting the doctrine of an eternal hell as well as the idea that non-Christians will not be saved in the afterlife. You can see where this is headed: they are making their way toward being one more tolerant, live-and-let-live mainstream denomination. Nor am I complaining. I doubt many of us are really that vexed by the particular beliefs any fundamentalist happens to hold. No, what we find is the pugnacious obnoxious attitudes that so often accompany their beliefs. But what if they drop that attitude? Why would they?

It was for the sake of feeling uniquely indwelt and transformed by the Holy Ghost that they have erected attitudinal walls against non-co-religionists. It was a mind game to protect their cherished in-group and their firmly-cemented membership in it. But the more you become like the mainstream, the less separates you from everybody else, well, the more difficult it becomes to feel special, uniquely connected to God and sanctified by Jesus. It's not like they ever wanted to relegate everybody else to the Lake of Fire. It just seemed necessary in order for them to rejoice in not being relegated there themselves. And now feeling so different is no longer the priority. Attitudes affect doctrines which affect attitudes.

But the thing that will sooner or later bring the Evangelical Wailing Wall down is sex. More and more, Middle School, High School, and College Evangelicals admit to having sex in the same casual way as their "unsaved" contemporaries. That is, pre-marital, recreational sex. Having been so long Apollonian, they are itching to yield to Dionysus. But the gospel teaching of Jesus happens to be far more Apollonian than Dionysian. (Give 'em time, though, to discover the Q Source Jesus of Leif Vaage, Jesus as a "first-century party animal," and they'll be boasting of their biblical fidelity again.)

From the standpoint of sect-maintenance, this shift is fatal for two reasons. First, and most obviously, if this fundamental plank of the Evangelical platform rots and snaps, you can find little of similar magnitude to point to as the signal difference between the saved and the unsaved. I admit, there are a few more that would be similarly fatal, such as a casual permissiveness re drugs and alcohol.

Again, I admit that there are matters of graver moral content. A Christian ought to be able to say, e.g., "Jesus saved me from lying, from being insensitive, from being self-centered, cowardly, evasive, materialistic," etc., and those things might be more important. I'd say they are. But you see, everybody accepts and admires those values. They don't give Evangelicals special bragging rights like the sexual and other behavioral codes used to do.

Second, relaxing the sexual code is symbolically significant. Any group's mores concerning food and sex are symbolic of their social boundaries and the shape of their self-identity. A group does not necessarily have both indices. One will do, though usually there are both. Old Testament Israelites were separated from rival cults/cultures by upholding inflexible restrictions on permissible food and on possible intermarriage partners. Sexual fidelity had a lot to do with guaranteeing that one's true heirs inherited one's land and name. Jewish Christians were alarmed at Paul being willing to abolish Jewish dietary and other ceremonial scruples to make it easier for Gentiles to join Christianity. They could see instantly that such a move would result in Jews being squeezed to the margins of the new religion-and it did. Jewish identity within Christianity was lost. Similarly, among American Jews today it is not bigotry when Orthodox rabbis discourage mixed marriages with non-Jews. Allow that, and you can say the big goodbye to Judaism in America. It will be only a matter of time before intermarriage with well-meaning and good-hearted non-Jews will completely erode American Judaism. The hybrid "Chrismika" is only a stop along the one-way track. Maybe there will be an Orthodox farm next to the Amish farm.

Well, when the sex barrier falls, the same fate is in store for Evangelical Christianity. (There never was a consistent Evangelical food boundary; even the Reformed drank alcohol.) And when the new generations are none too sure that non-believers are headed for hell, it becomes inevitable that American Evangelicalism will ease into the acid bath of American Pluralism. And it may happen sooner than you think. And then all those mega-churches will be up for sale. Unless of course they find a new product to sell. TV preacher Joel Osteen has done just that. His Evangelical belief is merely vestigial; he has converted to New Thought. It is no coincidence that he fills that stadium. Others may not be so lucky.
This was published by Robert Price in his monthly opinion email, Zarathustra Speaks. See his home page to subscribe. The newsletter notes: Copyright © 2007 Robert M. Price. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this newsletter if accompanied with this copyright notice.