Evangelicals need to rediscover the spiritual riches of their own forebears or risk losing believers to other traditions.
Evangelicalism is without question the powerhouse of the modern Christian church. Time and time again, people put their discovery of the vitality and excitement of the gospel down to the witness of evangelicalism. But having won them for the gospel, can evangelicalism keep them?
The lack of a credible and distinctive spirituality is one of the greatest weaknesses facing evangelicalism today. Many people begin their Christian lives as evangelicals. They have been attracted by the power of evangelical testimony and the obvious difference that faith makes to the lives of their evangelical friends and neighbors. But what happens next? As a professor in England’s leading seminary, I have seen the same pattern happen too often for comfort: Many students begin their ministries as evangelicals, yet end up—often after a period of many years—committed to a form of catholicism. And what has attracted them away from evangelicalism? They gain the impression that evangelicalism has little help to offer those who are trying to deepen their understanding of God, develop approaches to prayer and meditation that will enrich their faith, and keep them going in the Christian life. I write as one who is deeply appreciative of the catholic tradition, especially within my own Church of England.
For some, Catholic spirituality leads to more catholic forms of theology. And why? Because there is something wrong with evangelical theology? No. It is, quite simply, that evangelicalism is seen to lack a spirituality to give its theology staying power. There is a serious weakness here.
Spirituality, one of the buzz ...1
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