Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The difference matters--a lot

I believe that that the sine qua non of evangelicalism is not inerrancy or disputed aspects of soteriology, but rather, how one defines and expresses the evangel. Likewise, I believe in the reformation but I have to admit that Rom. 10.9-10 offers a definition of a Christian that is broader than the reformed confessions. My former Systematic Theology lecturer, James Gibson, taught a generation of ministry students that the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist is that evangelicals are more excited in telling you what they are for, while fundamentalists are more excited in telling you what they are against. I know what I am for, I think I know what Wright is for, and it seems to me that we are for the same thing: the advance of the kingdom of God in this postmodern world. My own sentiment is that if some bastions of evangelicalism are to prevent a slide into a quasi-fundamentalism then they need to strike a delicate balance between maintaining theological purity and a commitment to inclusiveness among those who believe the same gospel and share in the same basic theological fabric. —The Saving Righteousness of God, page 193

<idle musing>
That's the final excerpt. I fitting conclusion, I would say. The difference between fundamentalism and evangelicalism is eliding; many don't see any difference. I no longer can self-identify as evangelical—unless you qualify it so much as to be meaningless. As long as the heresy-hunters are allowed to dominate the conversation—and I would argue they have ever since Lindsell published The Battle for the Bible—there will be a continued slide toward fundamentalism.
</idle musing>

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