Why am I so Grumpy? (about evangelical history)


Late last week someone accused me of being grumpy about evangelical history (I’ve been writing about it here and here).

Well, beyond the reason that I’ve already stated, here are a couple of reasons that get under my skin.

  • First off, I’m part of a historically Holiness (though non-Wesleyan) denomination (the Christian and Missioary Alliance) which practices healing and engage in world mission, and until the breakout of the “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” controversy really didn’t see a problem with women leading churches.  But in the last twenty years, that and other doctrines and practices have been criticized by those who are adopting a more Neo-Reformed outlook because they think it is the way to more effective “evangelical” ministry.  That makes me a little cranky.
  • Sadly, my denomination is hardly the only one this is affecting.  I’ve talked recently with a Nazarene District Superintendent who told me that after part of his denomination began engaging with the Emerging Church that a small, yet extremely vocal contingent, begun pushing the Nazarene church toward Neo-Reformed thought as a way of protecting against a perceived liberalism in the Emerging Church.  The same is happening in the Brethren Church, the American Baptist Church, and others.  That makes me a little cranky.
  • I’ve heard from people ministering overseas that Neo-Reformed missionaries actively disparage Wesleyan and Pentecostal missions for being cult like and not preaching the real gospel.  That makes me a little cranky.
  • I continue to read for Neo-Reformed pastors, bloggers, and leaders a woefully misinformed history of  evangelicalism that at times feel intentionally misleading. That makes me a little cranky.
  • I repeatedly see young pastors with little theological training being told by Neo-Reformed leaders that their theological heritage cannot be trust and that “real” doctrine is contained in 5-point Calvinism.  That makes me a little cranky.
  • Certainly this is a bit anecotal and personal (which is why I didn’t say all this in my Missio Alliance posts), but I think that actualy my experiences are very typical once we start talking about it.

But really, I’m not that cranky at all (people that know me in flesh and blood actually think I’m pretty laid back and fun).  But I AM passionate.  I’m passionate about my evangelical heritage, and I’m very hopeful for God’s mission.  And to be honest, I am worried about the future of evangelicalism (broadly defined as I’m doing in my series) if it begins to feel that it is only “truly” evangelical if it is Neo-Reformed.  Of course this worry can only be fully explained when I get to the end of my series over at Missio Alliance.
imgresBut this doesn’t mean that I hate Neo-Reformed pastors and leaders, and certainly I don’t despise those that attend their churches.  I hope to continue ministering alongside them as fellow evangelicals.  And I’m excited about of a possible round-table happening next June about the nature of the gospel between prominent Missio Alliance and Gospel Coalition leaders.

But I won’t engage these round-tables as an “inferior” evangelical, nor will I overlook the messages being sent out that presume as much (I think much could be said for so-called “gospel-centered” emphases, but that is for another time).

So yes, I’m a little cranky, but also super hopeful.