Thursday, September 11, 2008

State of the Church

While browsing a couple blogs I like to frequent, I came across this link to a recent Time Magazine article titled "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals". I found a number of their selections interesting and to be frank, saddening.

While traveling through Israel this past summer with my wife and sister, I spent several days in a hostel in Eilat, which is located on the southern tip of Israel. During our stay there, we encountered a group of college students from the U.S. who had come on a two week trip to Israel to spread the gospel. Armed with Bible tracts and enthusiasm, they would leave the hostel every morning and spend the day trying to discreetly (proselytizing is illegal in Israel) hand out tracts and initiate conversations with non-Christians on the beaches.

However, more often than not, when they were able to actually start a conversation they would be stymied by the questions the Israelis asked them. Their theological knowledge did not go much beyond the basic information presented in the tract.

Talking to our hosts in Jerusalem (friends from Oklahoma who have lived in Jerusalem for over a year now) several weeks later, I discovered that this is fairly common. A short term evangelical group will come over and try to distribute tracts or initiate conversations, but as soon as the Jews start asking theological questions (and they can ask some doozies) the evangelicals have no response.

But who can blame them? According to Time Magazine, their intellectual leaders include, among others:

A man who denies the Trinity in lieu of the prosperity gospel (T.D. Jakes)

Another who denies almost any truth associated with the Bible and subscribes to a postmodern view of scripture (Brian McLaren)

A prosperity gospel preacherette whose teachings lack a solid Biblical basis (Joyce Meyer)

The "theological mind" behind the Left Behind Series (Tim Lahaye)
And on a somewhat amusing note, one of the names on the list (Richard John Neuhaus) is not evangelical at all, but catholic.  Huh?

To be fair, I was not previously familiar with all of the names on the list, so I cannot comment on all of them.  It was disheartening to me that no serious theologians (to my knowledge) were included.  
What do you think?  Are you happy with the direction the evangelical church in the U.S. is taking?  Do you think that it is creating a generation of shallow Christians?

Jude 1:3-16



"Striving to attain the true church and pure doctrine is inherently necessary." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer



While this is something I have been thinking about for some time now, some of the thoughts and inspiration and many of the links in this post come from a recent series on fads in the church by the Pyromaniacs blog.  It is a thought provoking read.


Alexander

5 comments:

Jayma said...

Wow, what a great post with some great insight. It definitely is saddening. My jaw dropped when I saw Tim LaHaye, Brian McLaren, and Joyce Meyer. I think it's time the evangelical church got more influential!

Dusty Takle said...

I think the one thing the evangelical church is at risk for losing is roots. The simplistic faith, obedience, and unadulterated word of God were the foundation laid for me as a child that I believe has rooted me in the Christian faith. Nothing wrong with progression, good music, media, etc. But, if we depart from the true doctrine, we risk a lot.

roger said...

I understand your point and think it valid, but I am glad that people aren;t required to memorize the bible, like in the jewish faith, before they can be considered a part of the church. Shallow or not as long as someone has accepted christ as their savior they have done that they really need to do. Being able to debate some deep theological issue seems to be too much head and not enough heart for me.

ericswife said...

You have made a very important point here.

The development of shallow Christians will only aid the enemy in his desires to line us up to be shot.

Ethan said...

Thank you for more information that will get "The Shelter " banned from Eilat