Evangelicals divided, a movement fractured, Part 1

 Marsha West

Marsha West, General Editor CRN

Evangelicalism as a movement is rushing headlong toward theological ambiguity, which is another way of saying apostasy. ~ Michael Horton 

The failure of modern evangelicalism is the failure to understand the holiness of God. ~ R.C. Sproul 

At one time the word evangelical was used to differentiate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Church. For decades evangelicals were often identified with the right-wing of the Republican party as well as the Christian Right.  But that ain’t necessarily so anymore.

At one time most evangelicals were primarily interested in electing candidates with Judeo-Christian values….until Purpose-driven pragmatism slithered into the visible Church.  Just like the typical pragmatist, Christian pragmatists hold that “the value of something is established by its practicality, functionality, and usefulness. Therefore, that which is impractical is rejected as having lesser value or no value as compared to that which works. Pragmatism has been considered in various fields of study such as law, politics, psychology, religion, and education.” (Source)

So now there’s a battle brewing between the conservatives and the pragmatists.  Conservatives insist on applying the “values voter” litmus test to candidates while pragmatists insist on supporting candidates who, they believe, would tenaciously push the conservative agenda through Congress. A candidate’s morals and character is of no particular concern.

Just to be clear, the pragmatist will always insist on compromise.

A Witch’s Brew

Witch's cauldronSeveral years ago I penned a piece that I hoped would help explain the downgrade in the Church.  I thought supermarket shopping would be a clever way to paint a word picture. In my piece I pointed out that there’s a “diabolically inspired supermarket of truth and error in the postmodern Church.”  So take a stroll with me, once again, up and down the Aisles as we shop for the ingredients to make Syncretism Stew….

Aisle 2-Charismatic Confusion;

Aisle 3-Pentecostal Pandemonium;

Aisle 4-Enlightened Emergents;

Aisle 5-Purpose-driven Pragmatism;

Aisle 6-Secular Strategies…to suck in seekers;

Aisle 7-Twelve-steps…to “group think”

Aisle 8-Preposterous Pop Psychology

Aisle 9-Discernment Disintegration

Aisle 10-Predatory Pastors.

On and on it goes.

And I added this reminder:

The Body of Christ trusts its Shepherds to feed them healthy nutritious foods, yet many of them are literally starving their sheep to death!  A diet of “Bible Light” does not nourish the soul – it causes spiritual malnutrition!  A shepherd’s job is to lead the flock in Christian life and faith. (Source)

Tragic, isn’t it?

Loose Definitions of Evangelical

Syncretism in evangelicalism started happening when elements of various religious beliefs were integrated into mainline denominations. As syncretism spreads, creeds, confessions and doctrine get tossed aside resulting in a fundamental change of beliefs. When Truth declines, false teaching flourishes. The wily serpent uses syncretism to separate God from His people.

Before I move away from syncretism, I want to stress that evangelicals have been assimilated into the world because of it.  More on how assimilation happens in a moment.

So, has evangelical lost its meaning as some suggest?  Or is it still possible to nail down the term?  The answer is yes and yes.  But in order to fully understand what it means we must go back in time to when the movement first began.  It is my hope that after reading this article with the simply stated facts it contains and perusing the research articles which are linked, the reader will come to know what evangelical originally stood for; likewise, those who identify as “evangelical Christian” will know if they can truthfully make that claim.

Uber liberal Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein wrote a piece entitled “Why Donald Trump is tearing evangelicals apart.” In it she quotes David Kinnaman, president of the Christian research firm Barna.  “Loose definitions of ‘evangelical,’” says Boorstein, “have ballooned the group’s size from a more accurate 7 to 11 percent of the U.S. population to roughly a quarter. Author of a new book about how conservative Christians feel sidelined, Kinnaman said he has talked with and appeared before thousands of people in recent weeks on his book tour “and I’ve not found a single person supporting Trump. How is he a thing among evangelicals?”

According to Boorstein:

Kinnaman said this election “is the most tribal election we’ve ever seen” and will redraw future evangelical lines. Institutional evangelicalism, he said, doesn’t want this because they like the political and cultural power that comes with being perceived as huge.

But, he said, “We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We want to be big, but not too big as to be associated with all that’s wrong with Christianity.”

Kinnaman’s recent experience where he couldn’t find a conservative Christian that supported Donald Trump could representative of much larger population.  I’ll leave that question and the 2016 election until part 2.

What Evangelicals Believe And Why They Believe It … 

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