January 6, 2012 by Jason Hood
At least, according to Google. (HT: Nathan Eubank.) If you plug a few key phrases into Google Ngram, such as “accepting Jesus into your heart,” “personal Lord and Savior,” and “personal relationship with Jesus” and the results across time help uncover the lineage of these evangelicalisms.
The results are interesting, even if (I suspect) the google program is neither entirely foolproof nor fully stocked on older books, particularly at the popular level.0 Comments
September 2, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
Matthew sent me this quote today, taken from the postscript of John Frame’s, Doctrine of the Word of God.
If I lost some of my conservative friends through my progressive ideas, I will now probably lose some progressive ones on the publication of this book. It may be called fundamentalist. If so, fine. I realize that fundamentalist is a term of derision, and for many reasons I would rather not be called by it. But I know through experience that name-calling is a staple of theological debate, and I have a thick skin. For all their frequent literalism, dispensationalism, and anti-intellectualism, the fundamentalists were stalwart in defending Scripture as God’s Word, in the face of attacks on all sides. Many of them will be closer to Jesus in heaven than many of us who seek to be more respectable.
I completely sympathize with Frame here. The quote reminds me of an important point Noll makes in his book, Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Noll takes fundamentalists to the woodshed, but for as much as he blames fundamentalists for the insular, backwater, anti-intellectual posture of North American evangelicals, he nonetheless rightly observes that it was fundamentalists, not liberals, who retained and passed on the core of the gospel. While the mainline churches were gradually denying the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, etc., fundamentalists still believed in a God who regenerated hearts, worked miracles, and who spoke through the Bible. And history has proven them right for doing so. The liberal churches are in decline, while fundamentalism was able to give birth to evangelicalism — the fastest growing Christian movement in North America.
In his book, Noll is not unsympathetic to the difficulty facing Christians at the turn of the twentieth-century. The world was shifting in remarkable ways–epistemology, authority, science, higher criticism — everything was up for grabs. We can’t be too hard on those Christians who, while not having the intellectual resources to deal with a brave new world of unbelief, at least knew enough to circle the wagons and hold on to what they did know to be true — the reality of the resurrection of God’s Son.
As Frame notes above, the term “fundamentalist” is now a term of derision. And fundamentalists have legitimated much of the baggage that weighs down that term. But all evangelicals are indebted to fundamentalism (in ways we are decidedly not indebted to liberalism) for preserving a belief in the supernatural and passing it on to us. Fundamentalism is a ditch that evangelicals can still fall into. Liberalism is another. But if you have to pick one or the other, history has shown over and over again that a firm belief in the supernatural always trumps intellectual sophistication. And this is why fundamentalism (for all its manifest shortcomings) is better than liberalism.
Which label scares you more — “anti-intellectual” or “anti-supernatural”? God help us always fear the latter more.11 Comments
February 12, 2010 by Gerald Hiestand
Nothing particularly new here. Todd and I had lunch with a number of area pastors who wanted to hear more about the SAET. We both came away feeling like maybe we could have been more precise in explaining the SAET vision and mission. So I’ve been trying to think in fresh ways about how best to frame the whole discussion. What problems are we trying to address? How does the SAET’s vision of an ecclesial theologian help address these problems? Writing helps me clarify my thoughts, so here you go. Your input is welcomed.
Here are the two major problems on the SAET radar:
1. The local church in North America is—in the main—theologically anemic.
2. Evangelical theological reflection is—given its location in the academy—often disconnected from ecclesial concerns.
Does anyone really dispute either of these? Evangelical theology is not about to run off the cliff of ecclesial irrelevance. Nor is the evangelical local church on its last theological breath. But I think most of us concerned about both would agree that the dough of evangelical theology could stand a little more ecclesial yeast, and that the local church would benefit from a more theologically substantive pastorate.
Solution? The pastor-as-ecclesial-theologian (i.e., a pastor who writes robust, ecclesially-sensitive theology). The ecclesial-theologian simultaneously addresses both of the above problems by at once returning a strong theological presence to the pulpit of the local church, and by influencing broader evangelical theological reflection toward ecclesial concerns.
It is self-evident that a theologian in the pulpit will go a long way toward addressing the theological anemia of a local church. Further, it is clear that a theologian’s pastoral vocation will influence his theological writing toward ecclesial concerns, thus returning a distinctly ecclesial voice to evangelical theology. Thus the pastor-as-ecclesial-theologian kills two birds with one stone.
Without a significant body of respected ecclesial theologians, the pastoral office will continue to be seen as a largely non-theological vocation; the local church will remain theologically anemic. And without the ecclesial theologian, theological reflection will continue to remain—at some level—disconnected from ecclesial concerns.
And having made the above argument, one can go on to point out that the pastor-as-ecclesial-theologian model is more than just a good idea; it’s detailed for us in Scripture.
August 21, 2009 by Gerald Hiestand
Matthew Milliner (of Millinerd fame) has a very nice review of David Hart’s Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the age of Billy Graham. Putting it mildly, Hart is not sympathetic to North American evangelicalism. For Hart, there is no substantive connection between Edwards (good) and contemporary evangelicalism (bad). The organic connection between Edwards and contemporary evangelicalism is a “fantasy” – a creation of historians such as Marsden and Noll. Critiquing Hart’s revisionist history, Matt insightfully comments:
The book’s oddest feature is how it both suggests that evangelicalism is “a fantasy,” but also credits it with an eroding American ecclesial culture and depriving millions of lasting spiritual nourishment. (A rather concrete fantasy.) No doubt chasing after evangelicalism is like chasing after the wind, but there are times, it seems not unreasonable to suggest, when that fleeting wind is the Holy Spirit. If evidence of intellectual output and coherent tradition is paramount, are we to suppose that the explosion of Global South Pentecostalism isn’t actually happening?
Hart’s attempts to sever the connection between neo-evangelicalism and the American Awakenings will be very appealing to ex-evangelicals, but the move is less than convincing. Hart claims that “historians have shown” this connection to be false, for the Revival “tradition ran out of gas in the mid to late nineteenth century.” With that assertion, a wimpy footnote points to only one such historian (Conforti). The majority report, which in addition to Noll and Marsden would now include Thomas Kidd, have also shown the long view of North American evangelicalism. Hart himself, in an unguarded moment in an interview, claims the experience based evangelical worship of today can indeed be traced to American revivalism (which he dislikes.) Hart, therefore, can connect the unpleasant part of the Great Awakening to contemporary evangelicalism, but reserves the best parts – the intellectual ones – for his own Reformed tradition.
Read the whole thing here.0 Comments