Here are Three Trends Evangelicals will face due to new revelations of the longterm Abuse Crisis:
1) Evangelical culture, especially in the south, was bound with constructs of hierarchical authority. More Evangelicals will now begin extricating themselves from those cultural ideologies.
2) Evangelism will become more difficult. The willingness of persons to receive a message is affected by perceptions of a speaker’s credibility. Listeners’ presumptions going into evangelistic conversations will be increasingly negative. The Evangelical voice has lost integrity.
3) The widespread argument going into the strident culture wars dominating the later Twentieth Century was that Evangelicals had a claim to moral probity. Those claims were buttressed through working alliances with Roman Catholics. Both Catholics and Evangelicals lost probity.
Catholics and Evangelicals have been able to bring the nation to see the moral problem with abortion. Now they face headwinds on every front of the culture wars. The pugilist attitude of culture war will be increasingly challenged by desire for more peaceful forms of engagement.
What are the Key Theological Emphases which will help Evangelicals build a better future? In my opinion, there are three recoveries that must be made:
1) Imago Dei — Humans treat other people according to their understanding of who they are. We must recover our sacred dignity.
2) Divine Perfections — Evangelical Christians must recover a high anthropology, but a high anthropology depends upon a high theology, for human beings are created “in” the Image of God. We must dwell upon both divine transcendence and immanence, divine holiness and love, etc.
3) Discipleship — Evangelicals have been busy about evangelism and cultural engagement, but these are mere pieces of a greater truth. Christ Jesus commissioned his church to “make disciples.” Filling his commission depends entirely upon Christ’s presence and power, and teachings.
These theological recoveries are, of course, bound tightly with divine revelation and Holy Scripture. But make no mistake about it: Until Evangelicals recognize our errors and return to a radical dependence upon God, which results in Christians who look like Jesus, we will die.
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