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Friday, November 16, 2007

My Problem with Evangelicalism

Here is my confession. I have been frustrated with Evangelical Christianity. Check. That's conservative Evangelical Christianity. I have found myself drawn to those who would be considered liberals...Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, etc.

So, why? What are the roots of the frustrations?

I think there are three main reasons:

1. Arrogance. Especially in the Reformed community there is a sense that "we have it right; you must agree with us." The emphasis on being Calvinist to be orthodox is scary.

2. Fear. There is the constant cry of the slippery slope. "We can't have women in ministry, because suddenly we'll be tolerating homosexuality." "If we accept some of the valid aspects of Open Theism, then the sovereignty of God is thrown out the window."

3. Modernity. There seems to be a marriage to the methods of modernity within conservative Evangelicalism theology, even though they would deny it.

So...I'm frustrated. Some friends of mine gave me a great book that is addressing these concerns by Roger Olson called Reformed and Always Reforming. I think I'm a post-conservative Evangelical. More on that to come.


St. Brianstine said...

Number 2 is spot on...but it's not fear, it's truth. Look what happened to the PCUSA et al. They started w/women pastors, now homosexual pastors. And yes, if we accept open theism, then God is lessened and weakened. He is not sovereign over all.

It has nothing to do with fear but with maintaining proper doctrine. As Paul wrote to Timothy: "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge,"(1 Timothy 6:20)

St. Brianstine said...

Also, RE: Campolo:

How about this assessment? Campolo holds the distinction of being the only living evangelical leader to undergo a heresy trial. According to Christianity Today, in 1985, a group of Evangelical Free Church pastors in Illinois convinced Bill Bright to cancel Campolo's appearance at Youth Congress '85, the first major joint rally by Bright's Campus Crusade and Youth for Christ. Specifically, they were upset that Campolo believed Christ was present in every person, Christian or not. "I do not mean that others represent Jesus for us," he wrote in A Reasonable Faith, a 1983 book aimed at secularists. "I mean that Jesus actually is present in each other person."

They were also upset with two other sentences in the book: "Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who is saved by Him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving," and "Jesus is God because he is fully human." ("By human I mean a full expression of the image of God," he later explained.)

Evangelical? I don't think so, I wouldn't even include him in Christendom with statements like those...

Pascalian Awakenings said...

St. Brianstine,

While something may be true with the PCUSA, that does not make it true across the board. Look at the Assemblies of God. They have had women ministers for a long time, and I seriously doubt they will ever accept homosexuality in any respect.

Also, would you mind pointing me to the article or books for the source of your Campolo statements? Thanks.

Grace and Peace.

Pascalian Awakenings said...

St. Brianstine,

May I call you Brian? How do you use the word Christendom? (I'm serious, not sarcastic.)

Pascalian Awakenings said...

St. Brianstine,
How is God lessened and weakened by what the acceptance of open theism?

St. Brianstine said...
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St. Brianstine said...

Source: Go to and type: "A Reasonable Faith" and the Campolo book will come up...

St. Brianstine said...

You may call me Brian....

Christendom? Those who are saved by Christ, the true Christ of the Christian bible.

St. Brianstine said...

God is lessened by open theism in a few ways:

O.Th. makes for an unsteady, unreliable God who can decide to throw us into hell if he likes even after Jesus paid for our sins. What if He changes His mind and goes back on His Word? This is scary to deal with. But my bible tells me Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Thank God.

God can't intervene and save us in the midst of disaster, etc, because He is removed from it, and can't help us.

A God who can learn and make mistakes isn't reliable. We can't count on a God like that. A God who doesn't know the future and can't affect the future is a weak, unbiblical God.

Etc, etc., etc. We need a Savior who we can count on not to change his mind, not to let us suffer without him meeting us in our suffering and a God who can control and conquer anything and everything in this world.

God reigns over all, and HE does in deed know what the future holds so we can be confident IN CHRIST because He has the whole world in His Hands.....

"Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' (Isaiah 46:8-10)

But my biggest issue w/open theism is that it's a systematic theology,not a biblical theology. God knows the future. God does not change. etc. It's all over the Bible, I just don't see O.Th. as BIBLICAL. That's the largest probelm.

Pascalian Awakenings said...


Just an FYI, thanks for your definition of Christendom. My general understanding has been that it refers to a regional area dominated by Christianity, or somewhat of a state religion. Now we are on the same page in communication.

Would it be fair for me to paraphrase you as saying Tony Campolo is not a Christian because of the statement you referenced, even if he has personally accepted Christ as Lord and Savior? Are you saying because of one area of doctrine he may have inaccurate he is not a Christian when you said you would not include him in Christendom?

Regarding Open Theism, I am not of the belief that OT actually changes the omnipotence of God. What something teaches is one thing, but it actually creating a deity mutation is another. I really don't think I or anyone else have the power to decrease God's capacity. I think we need to be careful in ascribing humans that much power.

To be very honest with you, I am wrestling with OT because there are many verses that classical theism has to twist to be consistent with it. There are indeed passages where God expresses his remorse over his actions, where He changes His mind, etc. You are familiar with them, I am sure. But I don't see that the classical view of God gives just warrant to these passages. They do attempt to twist them saying, "Well, that's not what that passage means." That's my real issue with an utter denial of Open Theism. It lacks honesty.

Also, I don't think Open Theism is saying, "God can't..." I think it says He is open to areas...but I am still studying it. Here are some statements from on OT:

"But open theists would not say that God is weak or powerless. They say that God is capable of predicting and ordaining certain future events because He is capable of working in the world and bringing certain events to pass when the time is needed. Therefore, God could inspire the Old Testament writers to prophecy certain events and then He could simply ensure that those events occur at the right time.
Furthermore, open theists claim that they do not deny the omniscience of God. They, like classical theologians, state that God is indeed all knowing. But the differ in that the God can only know that which is knowable and since the future has not yet happened, it can not be exhaustively known by God. Instead, God only knows the present exhaustively, including the inclinations, desires, thoughts, and hopes of all people."

Brian, I am honestly wrestling with a lot of issues. I know enough to know that there are a lot of things I still need to study. I am not in the place of simply assuming all I have been taught, or throwing such things out. I was raised with the classical view and am in the present honestly wrestling to ascertain the truth. So, I do appreciate your views. I hope you can appreciate this.

Grace and peace.

St. Brianstine said...

Wrestle away....thanks.

Just ask God for wisdom an discernment in everything. The Holy Spirit said He would teach us "all things."


Pascalian Awakenings said...
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Pascalian Awakenings said...


May the peace of God be with you and your family and friends this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

May he grant us all wisdom and guidance as we seek and serve Him.