Now and then I have suggested 1975 as an approximate turning point in the near-term destinies of evangelical Christianity.
Several developments indicate, however, that historic Christianity need not be relegated, after all, to an impending Dead Sea Caves survival of an isolated minority remnant. I would quickly add, at the same time, that the penultimate future of the evangelical thrust is far from settled. Decisions still pending—or being avoided—may very largely influence the immediate fortunes of biblical Christianity.
Distressing factors are obvious enough. The growing secularization of modern life, the bold godlessness rampant today, not to mention the aggressive atheism of our campuses—these supply religious background perspective for the seventies. When coupled with the inevitable population expansion and the declining interest in church attendance, especially among young people, such factors should quickly temper evangelical enthusiasm about religious prospects. The fact is that evangelical forces, inside or outside the conciliar framework, are much too unrelated and scattered to register an effective national and cultural impact.
The growing disenchantment with organized ecumenical Christianity, moreover, has had consequences for related evangelical churches, particularly those that fall short of clearly and boldly articulating biblical distinctives. To be sure, many independent churches have remained aloof from the struggles vexing conciliar ecumenism, and others have become embroiled only at a polemical distance. But conciliar ecumenism is not the only enterprise now faced with living on capital reserves. To avoid the same fate, some highly independent groups are being driven to deep budget-slashing. ...1
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