Monday, June 11, 2012

5 Ways Evangelicalism Has Failed Our Children

I came across an interesting post recently written by an Evangelical, titled "5 Ways Evangelicalism Has Failed Our Children". I thought it was well written overall, but he doesn't seem to realize some of these problems are self-stemming from Protestant itself, not just an abusive 'strain' of Protestantism. I'll quote his 5 reasons and give a brief commentary on them.
1. Evangelicals have identified themselves with the conservative political movement. Being pro-life and anti-gay marriage doesn’t mean those who hold those positions can communicate the Gospel in any coherent manner, and if we can’t communicate the Gospel clearly, lucidly, then our conservatism means very little, if anything, doesn’t it?
I thought this was very insightful. He clearly shows that "Conservative" is not synonymous with "Christian". That's because, as I noted in other posts on the matter, Conservatism says nothing specific about religion. In effect, what we have today is a large Conservative base with less and less specifically Christian content or rational supporting it. But it almost has to be this way because Conservatism has a 'big tent' mentality behind it, meaning that one can be pro-life and allow abortion under certain circumstances, allow contraception, or promote otherwise anti-family policy (e.g. mothers working outside the home). The same thing goes for being anti-gay-marriage, since Conservatives, as a whole, allow divorce, and more and more are in favor of "civil unions"

2. “Christian” music, books and media has produced young people who know very little about the Biblical faith and its God-breathed doctrines. They only know how they feel. They feel strongly about cultural topics like music, abortion, homosexuality and liberal politics, but care little about the orthodox, biblical requirements of obedience, the importance of the Law of God in a Christian’s life, much less why they should obey in the first place.
I would say this is more self-inflicted than anything. For example, without the Eucharist, Protestantism has lost a central, unifying, and fulfilling aspect of historic Christian worship. In turn, this void had to be (or attempt to be) filled with various aspects relating to entertainment. And with the Lone Ranger mentality of each denomination having self-appointed leadership, the role of pastor became supplanted with the role of innovative salesman, who now had to put a new spin and sales pitch on his version of the Gospel. Now we have Protestants writing whatever they want in regards to books or music, and the sole criteria by which the content is "judged" is the "coolness" factor and success of sales. This is precisely how something like 65 million Left Behind books were sold, which was nothing but a flooding of American Protestantism with the worthless and unbiblical doctrines surrounding The Rapture. How can an Evangelical understand "why they should obey in the first place" when their role model for authority is anyone who feels called to start a church or write a book?
3. Evangelicalism has traded spending time on one-on-one discipleship  in biblical training for spending of money on youth ministers, programs, art and conferences and entertainment. Do we even need to discuss this?
This ties directly into #2 above. But I don't think the suggestion that this money should be spent on Biblical training is that much of a shift in frittering money elsewhere. For example, I recently visited a tiny Presbyterian church that had its budget posted in the hallway. The pastor was making about $70,000 per year (which apparently is not unusual). I was stunned that such a paycheck came with not only such a small community, but also that a pastor could take in such money and broadcast this while his flock was having to survive the tough economic times.
4. Evangelicals have continued to allow their children to attend statist, government controlled, public schools for their education. When evangelicals do this rather than homeschooling, they give up any rights to complain because they, by doing so, have abandoned their God-given ordained role and responsibility for educating them in the first place. Shame.
This ties into #1 above. He makes a good point. Catholics have been saying secular schools are a terrible idea because Religion has to be replaced with a practical-atheism. Unfortunately, with the severe weakening of Christendom by Protestantism, there is no strong institutional church presence for Protestants to rely on, and thus having private Christian schools is not easy. The "Penny Catechism," which was very popular Catholic catechism a few generations back said this: "178. How do we expose ourselves to the danger of losing our Faith? We expose ourselves to the danger of losing our Faith by neglecting our spiritual duties, reading bad books, going to non-Catholic schools."
5. Evangelicals have relaxed the biblical mandate to separate. Doctrine is important, and there is always the need to examine, and, if necessary, to split theological hairs if said doctrine is ultimately an assault on the foundation of Christianity.
This is the most telling of all the 5 points he made, and it plays directly into the other four issues. It is the timeless problem Protestantism has had to face and there's no good solution since there's no practical nor consistent way to apply it. There are two extremes which Protestantism has gone back and forth on from the beginning, sacrificing unity for truth versus sacrificing truth for unity. Without a Magisterium, there is no way to make any objective case. This is precisely why there are something along the lines of 10,000 denominations or independent Protestant "churches" today.


English Catholic said...

Great post. You should link to it in the original article.

Your point about conservatism is quite right. The victory of the 1968ers has been so complete, and their destruction of the old culture so succssful, that most conservatives haven't the faintest idea what they're conserving any more.

I wonder if more Christians aren't at last waking up to this, though. I sometimes wonder if the only way out of the madness is to separate from society, to the greatest extent possible.

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