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The End of Evangelicalism?

April 28, 2011

Scot McKnight has begun addressing this question on his blog, and points to a book on the subject:

David Fitch, in his new book, The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions), thinks evangelicalism’s influence is more or less over, that it needs to reexamine itself, and that it needs to rediscover what it could be in our world. This book by David Fitch could be one of the most significant studies of evangelicalism in the current academic climate. In some ways, he is doing deconstruction from the inside out.

To begin with, David Fitch believes evangelicalism’s social, cultural and political influence have waned to the point of being a minimal cultural presence.

The theory he will explore in this book is that belief plus practice (of that belief) shapes a community’s disposition in the world, and that means he can infer back from the lack of influence and viability of evangelicalism that it’s beliefs (or its practices of those beliefs) are no longer viable.

So David Fitch is seriously questing for what can be called an evangelical political theology, but he isn’t talking about political parties — instead, he’s talking about how to be a body, a present body, a body of influence for the gospel, in our world.

He believes evangelicalism has become an empty politic, and here’s why: the four (he blends two and three above) beliefs of evangelicalism were fashioned to be a “politic” in modernity and modernity is corroding and eroding and fading. He thinks those four beliefs, framed as they are, are to our culture what “Caffeine-Free Diet Coke” is to a drink: “a drink that does not fulfill any of the concrete needs of a drink” (xxi). So, let me state how David frames the three (blended four) beliefs:

1. Inerrant Bible.
2. Decision for Christ.
3. Christian Nation.

These are “ideological banners” but really are a “semblance of something which once meant something real” (xxii).

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