Michael Spencer has written a thoughtful article on the coming evangelical collapse that has gotten some good circulation, and you can take a gander here.
Only two quick comments. First, he is absolutely right that the evangelical movement is in the process of collapsing, but only in the sense that the banks that are all full of balloon juice are collapsing. There are (at least) two kinds of disasters. One is when an asteroid lands on the most beautiful albaster-gleamy city we have. This is disaster straight up. Then there is the disaster revelatory — it was a disaster all along, and now we know about it. The banks, the insurance companies, the financial institutions, Medicare, and the Social Security program, and all those other guys in Washington with quick hands, are all just a ginormous Bernie Madoff. What a name, and right out of a Tom Wolfe novel! “Where did all your money go?” “Bernie Madoff with it.”
The coming evangelical collapse will be the disaster revelatory. Some of us have been telling the evangelical SEC about these skylarkers for decades, and had there been an evangelical SEC, maybe somebody would have answered the phone. I am starting to piece it together now.
After all the financial dust settles, we will still have banks, and there will be money in them. A lot less money, but at least it will be real money, at least mostly. And we will have evangelical churches too — a lot fewer churches, but they will be the real ones. And we should remember that it didn’t bum Gideon out when the Lord got him down to three hundred men. Part of the plan, as it turned out.
The second point is probably my most significant disagreement with Spencer — he chides evangelicals for being too “conservative,” in the political sense, with special reference to our battles against homo marriage and in defense of the unborn. But our problem was that, in these senses, we weren’t nearly conservative enough.
“Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence.”
But in my experience, those Christians who know the gospel up and down, backwards and forwards, are usually the ones who understand most clearly that the resurgent paganism we are battling is a paganism that requires a blood sacrifice, and that it is the kind of paganism that will not be satisfied with a couple more sacrifices and then they are done. Are you kidding me? And when the helpless are being led off to slaughter, the appropriate response is not to leave a tract down at the laundromat, not even one that articulates the gospel with coherence. We must oppose all this, not by lobbying in a way that plays their game, but with the gospel. Our age needs a prophet in the worst way, one who can get into Obama’s head the way Elijah got into Ahab’s, and the way John Knox got into Mary’s.
And, on the flip side, those evangelicals who can’t articulate the gospel for beans are usually the ones who get muddled when Obama, in dulcet tones, describes his ghoulish policy of creating human embryos for purposes of experimentation and subsequent murder as a policy that respects both “sound science” and “moral values.” Oh, good. For a minute there, I was worried. These evangelicals can’t make it go anymore. Their ethics and theology machine has got a ninctobinkus broke on it, and it really won’t go anymore. Nobody at Fuller Seminary knows what to do about it, so they hired an ox cart from the Philistines and they carry it around that way.