There is in our generation in evangelicalism an estrangement, even a cleavage, between Church and theology. Some would express it as an antithesis between doctrine and life; theology is then understood to be a purely theoretical business while the task of the Christian is to be active in shaping practical life. Elsewhere the seductive power of philosophy has caused some to fall prey to what has been aptly called “fear of thinking.”
Another common sign of what we are speaking of is the polarization of evangelism and teaching. Among evangelicals the first loyalty then goes to evangelism; teaching is easily held to be a matter of secondary importance for which one does not care greatly or has little energy left.
This cleavage in evangelicalism between Church and theology seems to be particularly wide at present. It has been deepened by the attitude toward the Word of God held by influential schools of modern theology. This attitude issues not just in form criticism but in unbridled criticism of the contents of the biblical message. Theology has posed as master of the Gospel.
Add the fact that certain church leaders have not only let this go unchallenged but have asked their churches to acquiesce to the development, and everything is set for conflict, even a divorce. A theology dominating will produce a church suspicious, then seditious or separating.
The Church cannot remain indifferent to this separation between itself and theology. For this division causes inestimable damage to the Church in at least three ways.
First, a lack of doctrine leaves the preaching of the Church (which naturally will go on) without re-examination and therefore without possible correction. Since the lack of theology also entails a lack of tradition and ...1
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