Curing the American Church from the Plague of Identity Loss
There is one identity that can unite American evangelicals. It is an identity that marks all evangelicals everywhere, and for all time: they are co-laborers in God’s reconciling mission in the world. When Evangelicals Sneeze calls the American church back to her rich first century heritage of defending the faith, standing up for justice, and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Has American evangelicalism lost its identity and sense of purpose? Who will define American evangelicalism in the 21st century? The kaleidoscopic diversity of opinions within evangelicalism betrays a lack of unity if not confusion about its primary mission.
If you are puzzled by the religious landscape of the United States or simply trying to understand the evangelical fascination with conservative politics then you will be challenged to consider how American evangelicalism can be restored to the historic identity and heritage marked by Jesus’ own desire for His church: The Great Commandment, the Great Compassion, and the Great Commission. In this accessible and sometimes academic book, Michael Cooper leads you in an honest and open evaluation with where American evangelicalism has strayed from the first century church. The influence of the American church continues to be felt around the world so it is no exaggeration when Cooper exclaims, “When the American church sneezes, the world catches a cold.” His goal is to be sure that this virus is not fatal.
Through a look at contemporary American evangelicalism, discover an identity loss cure for a church whose very presence in society draws people’s attention to Jesus Christ, not to a political platform. This is a virus worth spreading.
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As I picked up Dr. Cooper’s latest work and read it, I felt a punch to my gut. First it was like a jab but it then developed into a knock-out blow. As a retired pastor I have been taking time to weigh modern evangelicalism with what I learned in seminary and especially as it relates to the current political, healthcare and financial crises in our country. Cooper brings his massive understanding of history, theology and missional work to support the reality that evangelicalism, as a system, is being blown apart. In When Evangelicals Sneeze Michael is bold with his assessment and prognosis. Reading this makes me want to Love God, Love my Neighbor and when I learn about that, to Let the Whole World Know! In light of current struggles, the church and every confessing believer need to read this book.”
Rev. Scott Roley
Christ Community Church
Author of Hard Bargain: A Beautiful Place to Live
This is a book for those who desire to retrieve the euangelion in the declining Evangelical church.”
Host of Wild Theology Podcast
“Filled with facts and insights on the current church situation. This book is eminently worth reading.”
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
Trinity International University
Author of Religion and the Meaning of Life: An Existential Approach
“Well done!” – Kathy Richards Bhatia, MDiv, BCC
“Highly recommended.” – Prof. William J. Moulder
“A prophetic word, indeed!” – Toni M. Daniels
“Timely book.” – Arman Sheffey
From the Foreword
“The current state of affairs sets the stage for evangelicals to reflect anew on who they are, and who they might become. In this volume, Michael Cooper helps readers as they explore the issues related to how evangelicals lost their identity that was forged in the past, and how they might regain a more historic and biblical sense of it. Whether you are trying to understand your evangelical faith identity, or shape it into something new, this book serves as an important guide in your journey.”
John W. Morehead
Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword – John W. Morehead
Preface – When Evangelicals Sneeze
- Who Defines Evangelicalism?
- Trumpgelicalism: A Four-Year Virus
- The Politics of Jesus: A Mitigation Strategy for Republicans and Democrats
- Leadership, Wine Tasting and More Mitigation Strategies
- The Death of Evangelicalism?
- Is God Finished with the American Church?
- Can Evangelicalism be Cured?
- Recovering a Lost Evangelical Identity
- Evangelical Identity Rooted in History
- Evangelical Identity Rooted in Collaborative Theology
- Evangelical Identity Rooted in Missiology
- Healing Evangelicalism: A Virus Worth Spreading
Afterword – How Will You Decide?
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And so, I put forward this idea for you to consider. These three areas of ministry – defense of the faith, social justice, gospel proclamation – mark the identity of the evangelical church. Her defense of the faith marks her beliefs in the one true God and Savior of all humanity. Her engagement in social justice marks a behavior with the conviction that when she does these things she does them to Christ Himself. Finally, her declaration of God’s glory to the nations marks her unity with all evangelicals in a common mission so compelling that it brings others into the community of Christ followers.
About the Author
Michael T. Cooper currently serves as Missiologist in Residence for a missions agency, researching culturally relevant ways to equip leaders in evangelism, discipleship, leadership development, and church planting. He is the former president and CEO of an international NGO. In 2010, he founded a Business as Mission initiative that focused on helping alleviate spiritual and economic poverty in the developing world. For a decade he equipped undergraduate and graduate students at Trinity International University with skills to engage culture. He has thirty years of ministry and missions experience, ten years as a pioneer church planter in Romania after the fall of communism. He has helped equip Christian leaders in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. He holds a MA in Missions from Columbia International University and a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Throughout his career, Michael has focused on creative ways to engage difficult-to-reach people with the gospel.