Over the month of December, the American political environment opened an opportunity for many to discuss – perhaps debate or argue is more apropos – the merits of the moniker “evangelical.” There are valid reasons for such conversations as we’ve seen an expression of evangelicalism in America that seemingly gives more attention to the social morals and politics of our day than to making disciples of all people groups (Matt 28:18-20). So, it begs the question: can evangelicalism be saved? Might there be a sort of rebirth in 2020? Perhaps. However, if evangelicalism can be saved, it must recover its sense of mission: the declaration of the euaggelion.
The path to this salvation necessitates two critical elements: hermeneutics and identity. Without these two elements, I’m afraid that the evangelical church in America will never be born-again and will perhaps follow the path of the church of Europe. Similarly, in the absence of these two elements, I fear the evangelical church in the majority world will also follow the same path as the churches in America and Europe.
Alan Hirsch recently shared with the Ephesiology podcast that a church’s budget is a theological document. Where a church spends its money demonstrates its priority.
Hermeneutics and Identity
It seems the American hermeneutic – the way in which Americans interpret Scripture – is focused on ourselves, perhaps it’s even an egocentric or a therapeutic hermeneutic. Sunday after Sunday we listen to the moral and social, even the occasional political, platitudes from pulpits that are ostensibly out of touch with those in the pews. At other times, we hear messages about the “best me” or finding “my calling.” A typical Sunday in the American church feels like a place where I learn about myself – what I am to do, or how I am to act. And then comes Monday and I can hardly remember what was preached from the pulpit the day before.