Scandal of the Evangelical Memory

Missio-alliance1

Over at the Missio Alliance blog, Geoff Holsclaw, affiliate professor of theology at Northern Seminary and co-pastor at Life on the Vine on the north side of Chicago, has been sharing an interesting series entitled, Scandal of the Evangelical Memory. It’s a play off the title of Mark Noll’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

Thus far, Holsclaw has posted 3 of 5 articles in the series. I think it’s well worth your time to read.

Interestingly, he relates various plots of modern-day films (Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report) to the situation of American evangelicalism. He, thus, gives this as his overall goal at the end of the first article:

In essence, I hope to encourage all those in the “messy middle” of evangelicalism by letting them know they are the true heirs of evangelicalism, but they don’t know this because their memory has been replaced [note the Total Recall connection]. In essence, we don’t remember who we really are and until we do, we will keep living in and out of dreams and nightmares.

In fleshing things out a bit more, Holsclaw gives a three-fold goal as to the purpose of his posts:

First, to slow the roll of the Neo-Reformed who often stylize themselves as the guardians of the gospel and  true evangelicalism (but who often don’t know the history of evangelicalism: i.e. referring to “classic evangelicalism” as 1950s evangelicalism).

Second, to slow the roll of Progressives who reject their evangelical heritage without knowing that it is actually fundamentalist corruptions of true evangelicalism they are rejecting, not knowing how politically engaged and holistic evangelicals have been in the past.

Third, to help Holiness/Wesleyan/Pentecostal denominational leaders understand that they don’t have to import a foreign Reformed theology to prove/protect their evangelical identity.  They always were evangelical, but have lost their memory of it.

Thus far, I’ve found the posts very interesting, noting my own shift from one particular evangelical ‘memory’ to another. I’d encourage you to check the posts out as well: article 1, article 2, article 3.

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8 thoughts on “Scandal of the Evangelical Memory

      • Your honesty is commendable. Sincerely.

        I actually mean this in only the the most positive and constructive manner there is. Those who know me know that I am a lay theologian. I am NOT afraid of thinking and do celebrate the image of God whereby we are able to do so.

        If you spent as much time laying on your face in a dark private place with a flashlight and a bible seeking the sweet communion of the one whose dominion is from everlasting and who wants to take you in His arms and spend still time with you as you simply know that He is God.

        If you spent as much time doing that is you did reading all these eggheaded spiritual weaklings, you’d stop reading them and you’d stop being one yourself. This stuff is for the first church of Barney the purple dinosaur. Oh how I wish you could know how NOT hateful or sarcastic I intend that to be. That’s how your ears have been tuned though. If only there were some way I could get you to believe that this damp soggy pluralistic inclusivism will never take you into His throne room Scott.

        I have, as of this moment, before heaven and earth, on your blog, forsaken the term “evangelical” from EVER again falling from lips in a manner intended to carry actual Christian content. It literally has NO usefulness anymore.

        I wish we lived near each other.

      • The interesting thing for me is how much I am stirred in God when I do get to study some of these issues, think them through theologically, etc. Sure, one can spend too much time in this direction, and that is something I must guard against. However, I believe God revels in me being the person he has created me to be, which is a student and learner.

        Also, one important thing for me to notice in my life-experience in ministry is that I’ve sat down with various evangelical pastors and theologically-minded folks (whether pastor or not) and talked some of these issues through, and I always come away with the typical perspective being that issues like being open to evolutionary creation, women in leadership, etc, are not detrimental to Christ, the gospel or Scripture. And I’ve sat and discussed some things with people who hold doctorates in various sciences and they see the benefit in engaging with some of the positive pointers coming out of the sciences as to how the creation all unfolded. I still very much believe that to identify someone as somehow anti-Christian, or liberal, because they are open to some of these issues is baffling to me. As I said, for me, I am very much stirred with the opportunity to consider these things in my study of Scripture and forming a robust theology.

    • JT –

      I used to identify as a charismatic, reformed evangelical. I’m definitely no longer reformed (especially in my soteriology) and I’m not as strongly tied in to the term evangelical (though I do believe I fall within an evangelical framework).

  1. The interesting thing for me is how much I am stirred in God when I do get to study some of these issues, think them through theologically, etc.
    You’ve never spent any time with Mormon missionaries have you? We’ve seen some rather committed Muslims who’s self sacrificial stirrings make yours look like indigestion. “Stirring” without the concrete truth of the ancient Christian scriptures is death. Not even the entirely capricious Allah is as unreliable as a god who would leave his people believing the foundational lies your god has.

    Sure, one can spend too much time in this direction, and that is something I must guard against. However, I believe God revels in me being the person he has created me to be, which is a student and learner.

    Also, one important thing for me to notice in my life-experience in ministry is that I’ve sat down with various evangelical pastors and theologically-minded folks (whether pastor or not) and talked some of these issues through, and I always come away with the typical perspective being that issues like being open to evolutionary creation, women in leadership, etc, are not detrimental to Christ, the gospel or Scripture. And I’ve sat and discussed some things with people who hold doctorates in various sciences and they see the benefit in engaging with some of the positive pointers coming out of the sciences as to how the creation all unfolded. I still very much believe that to identify someone as somehow anti-Christian, or liberal, because they are open to some of these issues is baffling to me. As I said,.
    for me,
    I am very much stirred with the opportunity to consider these things in my study of Scripture and forming a robust theology.

    You and your 1st Corinthians 1 wise men just keep on stirring each other Scott. As I say. I hope you begin a practice of extended times of just yourself, the one true living God and His written mind in the scriptures. Ya make me sad man. Ya really do. I want so much better for people than they want for themselves. It’s easier to want it and more painful when they don’t when it’s a likable guy such as yourself. The western church has castrated itself and is bleeding to death. I would renounce my faith and blow my brains out before I could ever subject my bible to the violence necessary to see what you see there.

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