I get worried that evangelicalism increasingly lacks a center.

I don't mean in an ultimate, spiritual sense. The issue of who owns the church—while disputed in human courts—is terribly clear from the founding documents. Jesus has been making do with jars of clay for a long time, and if the church hasn't driven him to (in Anne Lamott's phrase) "drink gin from the cat bowl" in the first two millennia, he's probably not getting nervous now. Still.

I know the word evangelical is just about shot in our broader culture. But no good replacement has come along yet. And many of us long for a sense of Christian identity that is clear and crisp and compelling and non-anxious and carries the easy confidence of grace-filled conviction.

There is an old metaphor about two methods Australian ranchers use to keep cattle on their property: they can dig wells, or they can build fences. It seems like some of the loudest voices in evangelical circles spend most of their time fretting about the placement ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, join now for free and get complete access.