Monthly Archives: November 2011

What Is an Evangelical? 3: The Generic Evangelical View

This week, I am summarizing and commenting on the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

First, we looked at Kevin Bauder’s view (Fundamentalist). Yesterday, we worked our way through Al Mohler’s essay (Confessional Evangelical). Today, we’re taking a look at John Stackhouse’s position (Generic Evangelical).

What Is an Evangelical? The Generic Evangelical View

Representing the generic evangelical view is John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College. Stackhouse begins with a broad definition that conceives of evangelicalism in terms of ethos:

…to be evangelical literally by definition means to be grateful for, and necessarily involved in, both the tradition of the church and its ongoing life as it mediates, again with the help of God’s Spirit, the good news of Jesus to us and to the rest of the world. (117)

He unpacks the definition of this evangelical ethos by focusing on how it expresses itself in belief and practice:

Religious groups of any sort can be defined helpfully according to three components: tenets, affections, and practices – that is, what they believe, what they care about, and what they do. Evangelicalism has always been an initiative of renewal and mission. (117)

Stackhouse devotes significant attention to the theme of renewal as he works through the history of the movement and then speaks to our present situation. A major impetus for evangelicalism is …

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Worth a Look 11.30.11

To celebrate the birthday of C. S. Lewis, Greg Brezeale shares some of his favorite quotes from a variety of Lewis’ books:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

I’ve wondered out loud about the decline of vocational evangelism and the future of the traveling evangelist. Here’s a post from evangelist Clayton King – “Big Event Evangelism: Irreplaceable or Irrelevant?”

There are reasons why big events have gotten smaller and I will mention them briefly and move on to more important things, like leveraging these events by making them “leaner and meaner” for the gospel.

Our Secret African Heritage:

Engaging in dialogue with the ancient churches can remind us of those parts of our heritage—like the New Testament—that we may take for granted. And that can spur us on to be faithful in our own generation, that we might leave an inheritance to our family’s next generation.

Talk about needing a new hobby… “Obsessed Fan Spends 12 Years Building Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang”

Gordon Grant’s labour of love is identical to the original car from the classic 1968 film that was driven by Dick van Dyke. Chitty fan Gordon first watched the musical aged two and became obsessed with having his own version of the iconic car. He began to plan the project when he was 16 and finally finished it …

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What Is an Evangelical? 2: The Confessional Evangelical View

This week, I am summarizing and commenting on the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

Yesterday, we looked at Kevin Bauder’s essay (Fundamentalist). Today, we’re taking a look at Al Mohler’s view (Confessional Evangelical).

What Is an Evangelical? The Confessional Evangelical View

Representing the confessional evangelical position is Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. Mohler begins in a manner similar to Bauder, pointing to the gospel as the center of evangelical identity. He writes:

An evangelical is recognized by a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, by a deep commitment to biblical truth, by a sense of urgency to see lost persons hear the gospel, and by a commitment to personal holiness and the local church. (69)

Mohler recognizes the difficulty of coming to an established view of evangelical identity due to the ongoing nature of the conversation. He admits that “evangelical definition is dependent on a continual conversation and debate among evangelicals, association with evangelical institutions or churches, and identification with core evangelical beliefs” (74). And yet he also believes that “the integrity of evangelicalism requires a normative definition of evangelical identity.”

In developing a “normative definition,” Mohler points toward “Christian believers who seek a conscious convictional continuity with the theological formulas of the Protestant Reformation” (74-75), hence the introduction of the “confessional” aspect of his definition. He writes:

Evangelicalism is …

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Worth a Look 11.29.11

Why Academics Annoy People:

I think one of the more common mistakes is when we forget that what might be common knowledge to those with our particular research interests may not be (i.e. almost certainly isn’t) common knowledge to everyone else. So we make some off-handed comment about something that “everybody knows,” unintentionally making everyone around us feel stupid because they have no idea what we’re talking about.

5 Leadership Signs Your Movement is Dying:

One or two of these in isolated instances are likely handle-able. A pattern of any one or any combination of these signs in a pastor or the leadership culture of a church likely indicate a stalled or dying movement.

This post from Jon Acuff gave me a good laugh – “Dear Atheists, Chick-fil-A & Waiters”

Why do I completely act surprised every time I drive into your parking lot after church only to find you closed? I get so excited at first because the line looks really short, only to be crushed against the harsh rocks of chicken denial.

Excerpts and Essays: The Great Books Reader

Every essayist is also in full earnest about the power of these classics to inform and inspire, even in these drastically reduced doses. “You are reading a book that intends to introduce you to a better life,” says Reynolds, and each essayist sings the praises of their respective authors.

And here, to make the whole thing even more accessible, is a handful of quotable bits from the essayists.


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What Is an Evangelical? 1: The Fundamentalist View

What is an evangelical? It’s a simple question, but one that raises a number of various approaches. Depending on whom you ask, you may hear evangelicals described as…

    A religious political force within the Republican party.
    Christians who are really serious about their faith.
    A movement centered around the gospel as recovered and proclaimed in the Reformation and subsequent revivals.
    Christians with recognizable lingo (“personal relationship with Jesus”) who emphasize conversion and life transformation.

The debate over evangelical identity is nothing new. “Evangelicalism” has always been a contested concept, and it’s unlikely that the current debate will result in a consensus for future generations. Still, the question of evangelical identity is important and worthy of thoughtful discussion, for it brings us back to the gospel and its role in uniting Christians across denominational lines.

In light of this discussion’s importance, I will summarize the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Zondervan, 2011). Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

    Kevin Bauder (Fundamentalist)
    Al Mohler (Confessional Evangelical)
    John Stackhouse (Generic Evangelical)
    Roger Olson (Postconservative Evangelical)

Reading the back-and-forth between these four men is a helpful exercise in discerning the importance of Christian truth and its relevance in decisions of cooperation and fellowship. In the next few days, I will briefly summarize the various points of view and offer a few reflections of my own.

What Is an Evangelical? The Fundamentalist View

Representing the fundamentalist position is Kevin Bauder, research professor at Central Baptist …

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Worth a Look 11.28.11

Some Cyber Monday $5 deals to be aware of:

The Joy Eternal is offering their debut EP “A Sweet and Bitter Providence” (based on John Piper’s book by the same title) for free on Noise Trade. This album is meant to weep with those who weep and to help sufferers to see and experience our sovereign God in a way that will increase their joy and His glory in the midst of their suffering. Check it out here.

How A Charlie Brown Christmas Almost Didn’t Happen:

When CBS executives saw the final product, they were horrified. They believed the special would be a complete flop. CBS programmers were equally pessimistic, informing the production team, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.”

Those Hyper-Politicized Evangelicals!?

So as stories multiply of evangelical churches engaging the election process for 2012, let’s remember this: evangelical churches are, among the larger religious groups, the least likely to reference political and social issues from the pulpit.  Many who condemn them for “hyper-politicization” are less concerned with the fact of political engagement than with the fact that evangelicals tend to support the causes …

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May You Glory in the Scandalous Cross

May you glory in nothing but the scandalous cross and in no one but the mighty and merciful Christ.

May you rejoice in your deliverance from a cruel death, a deluded slavery; from a bleak and desperate wandering.

May you be at peace in your Father’s house.

And may you who’ve been chosen by Sovereign Love, choose to lay your lives down that others may live.

May you take up the weapons of deliverance, the prayerful instruments of justice and mercy.

May you live out and proclaim the reign of the King.

May you humbly submit to the rule of your faithful Father and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

May His grace so fill you that you overflow with the confident hope and joy His terrible and glorious death won for you.

And welcome all who hunger and thirst; who, willing to lose, will gain, who, willing to die, will truly live.

- Timothy Stoner,  The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith

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Mental Growth Means Growing Into More Definite Convictions

Some thought-provoking quotes from Chesterton on dogma:

The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas.

Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error.

It is ludicrous to suppose that the more sceptical we are the more we see good in everything. It is clear that the more we are certain what good is, the more we shall see good in everything.

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.

The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know that they are dogmas. It may be said even that the modern world, as a corporate body, holds certain dogmas so strongly that it does not know that they are dogmas.

- G. K. Chesterton, Heretics


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Friday Funny: Calvin and Hobbes – School Picture Day

One of my favorite story arcs from Calvin and Hobbes:





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Trevin's Seven

Seven links for your (holiday) weekend reading:

1. Nancy Guthrie: “Joy to This Cursed World”

2. Andy Naselli’s Take on Two New Bible Translations

3. Gratitude is Free

4. Why the Disagreement Over the Church’s Mission? A Potential Insight into the Current Debate

5. How to Roast Chestnuts Over An Open Fire (in case you want to do more than sing about it)

6. How to Be Better Prepared for Your Next Major Presentation

7. Meet the New Sin, Same As the Old

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