The Internet is abuzz with the latest prognostications about "the coming evangelical collapse." This is the substance of three blog posts over at Internet Monk (a.k.a. Michael Spencer), who predicts said collapse in ten years. When his thoughts got picked up and condensed by the Christian Science Monitor and then the Drudge Report — well, you can just imagine the electronic excitement.
The title of Spencer's posts spoils the ending; still, many of the details are interesting. I've made many of the same observations in this column. For example, Spencer writes, "Expect evangelicalism as a whole to look more and more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth-oriented megachurches that have defined success. The determination to follow in the methodological steps of numerically successful churches will be greater than ever. The result will be, in the main, a departure from doctrine to more and more emphasis on relevance, motivation and personal success." My only caveat here is to wonder if this is a future or present reality.
Some predictions I warm up to because of my own biases, but in the end, they don't seem to be founded on anything substantive. For example, "Two of the beneficiaries of the coming evangelical collapse will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been steadily entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue." Spencer might have added Anglicanism as a beneficiary. As an Anglican, I wish it were true. But in my experience, the number of evangelicals entering these communions is not as great as those leaving these communions for evangelical faith. I don't know of any studies that have, or even can, measure this phenomenon accurately. So we might have to ...1
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