Tethered to the Center
The Gospel Coalition kicked off in late May with little fanfare, just how organizers wanted it. Any conference headlined by D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper would likely attract more than 500 attenders with a little publicity. But Gospel Coalition leaders chose a word-of-mouth strategy and capped attendance by hosting the two-day conference in the chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). They wanted to test their ideas on a relatively small, friendly group.
Don't let the low-key strategy fool you. This new group, spearheaded by 40 stake-holding theologians and pastors, has big goals. They want nothing less than a renewed evangelical commitment to core confessional beliefs. And they have the strategy to match their ambition.
The Gospel Coalition already boasts one hallmark achievement with its foundational documents, a confessional statement and theological call to ministry. Gospel Coalition's diverse leadership, ranging from Presbyterian pastor Phil Ryken to emerging leader Mark Driscoll, hashed out the documents in meetings over more than two years. Carson wrote the original draft of the confessional statement, while Keller penned the theological call to ministry. The confession, dense and comprehensive, addresses current trends with a positive tone meant to attract rather than condemn. But because the confession betrays a broadly Reformed perspective and expects that men lead churches and homes, it will not appeal to every evangelical. The ministry statement, on the other hand, can help all evangelicals navigate cultural challenges such as politicized faith, consumerism, and theological and moral relativism.
Bolstering the Center
Nearly every speaker during the May event expressed a sense of loss. They ...