Is Evangelicalism Gaining Or Losing?

Several years ago a main line seminary professor was quoted as saying, “The idea of a literal after life has not been taught in any mainline seminary for many years.”

Yet, I would guess the vast majority of graduate preachers talk to their congregations about the afterlife as if it were literal.  To employed remain they must.

Thus, these trends cancel each other.  The main line clergy are taught something we might call evangelism lite but they must talk about the old message when they are employed by churches.  As a faculty member in the link below is quoted as saying, “I teach at a mainline seminary, and we do not feel very triumphal.”

There is a dilemma in this.  The parents and grandparents who pay for the preacher want the continue hearing about sin, forgiveness, heaven and hell.  The coming generation, surveys say, are not much interested in these ancient notions.  So, while the orthodox hangs in tough among existing church members it might not have legs to carrying on the future generations.

We all know current events often do not predict the future.  We have just seen a quick turnaround in Egypt from a democracy, which was thought to be part of the “Arab Spring”, to a military coup.

A friend of mine who has traveled the globe several times made a great observation about politics in the absense of critical thinking, “If it looks OK, it is OK.”

How it looks will determine the future of evangelicalism.

31 Responses

          1. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; This may (Probably not) help your “beats me”. Read “Is your life defined by a ladder or cross” by Tullian Tchividjian, in Christian Press. The ladder represents the “Ism”, the Cross represents the “Evangel”.

          2. Wanna 12:46 Thanks for trying to help. Let’s see, “At the bottom of the ladder is the cross, at the top is God shouting climb.” I’m afraid it’s lost on me.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; You completely miss the point. Your “…at the top is God shouting climb” is pure “ism”, no cross. It is lost on you, and there you remain. Bound.

  1. josh

    You’re insane. It’s time you visited your dementia MD. Now you’re rallying against guns? I work in an ED , let me tell you. Guns are not a problem. In suicides or else wise. Why can’t you think for yourself instead of towing the liberal line just to fit in? You know where the real problem is? The parasites that you advocate for that use the communities resources for B.S. like sore throats and rashes. Who pays for them. I do!

    1. josh 1:43 I think your rant is referring to an article in The Forum this morning annoucing I will be making an appearance at a local event sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

      “Guns are not a problem.” People are killed everyday by guns. They are killed everyday by cars. We require licenses to drive cars. Cars are registered and tracked. Some people are denied the right to drive a car. It doesn’t seem like it would be a problem, and would be at least a little safer, if guns users were licensed and subject to a little more scrutiny and guns tracked.

      1. josh

        Because the govt. has no business knowing if I have a gun or not. Just assume that i do and we’ll get along just fine. “An armed society is a polite society.”

      2. josh

        People are killed by butter knives every day. People are killed in walking shoes. Should we license those also? How about Big Macs? Those kill quite a few people also. How about gays that spread HIV. Now they should definitely be licensed don’t you think? Also it’s not the legal gun owner that’s the problem. Yet you’re crowd tries to lump in the legal law abiding gun owner with criminals that steal guns or buy illegally. You just don’t get it or refuse to do so because your crowd wants an unarmed society so that you can pursue your political agenda without fear of armed resistance when you attempt to usurp the constitution and enslave the people of the U.S.A.

    2. Jinx

      What’s this Josh? You admit you have ED (Erectile Disfunction) on Jon’s blog? My inferior female brain just can’t figure out why you don’t use Viagra or Cialis instead of broadcasting your deficiencies! Oh, I get it! No woman wants you near her!!!!! Very SMART SUPERIOR women know what your all about.

      1. josh

        “Very SMART SUPERIOR women know what your all about.”
        You mean what you’re all about. For a SMART SUPERIOR woman you sure could use a lesson in grammar. I imagine that any man looking at your face and body would have erectile dysfunction.

        1. Jinx

          ohhhhh Josh is an angry man…..making empty comments on something he knows nothing about. Typical!

          1. entech

            We have heard from Josh before, he thinks that women who like women are only that way because hey haven’t met the right man.
            Perhaps he needs a mirror.

          2. entech 9:36 “We have heard from Josh before..”

            I have to say I’m a bit amused by someone who tells me to “man up” but is afraid to register with his acutal email address.

  2. Wolfy32

    Although, I feel it is misleading to brain wash people into thinking a certain thing. I also feel it is inappropriate to influence people’s hopes? Here’s the deal. A. People die and cease to exist. If that’s the case, does it matter if people believed in the after life or not? They’re dead… It don’t matter if they did or not if there’s nothing more.

    B. People die and continue to exist in some other form, be it heaven, hell, or someplace else in the universe, or reincarnated, or as a ghost haunting something. Or as energy that powers a new alien body or something else entirely.

    The facts are we can neither prove nor disprove with our current scientific research and technology the afterlife exists or does not exist. Maybe we’re all in the matrix and apart of some grand experiment and when our life ends we wake up in the true reality?

    Or we wake up in a new version of reality? Or we are a new person in a different period of time on earth. Maybe we’re born in the 1960s, destined to relive history. Or the 1900s. Or 1600s.

    Our consciousness just becomes someone else, losing all memory of our previous identity.

    The fact is we can’t prove nor disprove anything. The other fact is that we currently have consciousness and we currently exist as who we are right now. Does that mean we could be someone else? something else? What determines who someone is?

    Religion seeks to answer that question. Revelations says the dead sleep until the rapture. Other parts of the bible indicate there is no in between for the dead. There is only heaven or hell. There again, none of them had died or known death, they too were speculating. Speculating to answer questions we have no better way of answering now than we did 2000 years ago. It’s kind of astounding that over thousands of years we still don’t have answers to the most basic of questions.

    I think nothing happens after death, is just one of around infinite possibilities that could happen and all of the possibilities have an equal chance of being true at this point… That to me, by definition, means that nothing happens, is the least likely, because only one out of infinite possibilities is nothing happens. The rest are all something happens… The odds of there being something after death are in favor of something happening to us… What that is, is anyone’s guess at this point!!! For all I know, it’s based on what we want to happen after death… We choose where we go next.. Be born again into humanity as a new person, or go dwell somewhere in the universe as energy, or who knows. The possibilities may be endless!

    1. Henry

      Wolf:” Revelations says the dead sleep until the rapture.”

      I have never read that in Revalations. I have never read that in 1 Thessalonians either.

      1. Wolfy32

        I was a bit off, the verse I was thinking of was Daniel, but, here’s some other biblical references to the dead are sleeping plus the Daniel reference. Jesus himself described the dead as sleeping.

        “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11).

        “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).

        “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39).

        “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

        “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:15-16).

        “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not” (Job 14:12,21).

        “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).

        “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. For David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:29,34).

        By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19).

        “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Eccl. 9:5,6,10).

        For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks?” (Psalm 6:5)

        The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence” (Psalm 115:17).

        “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4).

        The bible is pretty clear on what happens after death… The soul needs a body to live. God created us that way. Why didn’t genesis says “God breathed life”. He breathed it into something. The two components are needed, a soul, and a body are needed for us to exist in a conscious state. Revelations says he’ll provide us new bodies…. Thereby completing what was started in Genesis. New bodies free from disease and free from affliction. That are eternal. Without the living body there is no life.

        1. Henry


          I was previously keying on the word “rapture”. I am unaware of its existence in either word or description.

        2. Wanna B Sure

          Wolfy; What you refer to here is “soul sleep.” A teaching common among the 7th day Adventists, and a variation of it in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which includes soul annihilation, with soul re-creation at the resurrection. Considered by a couple church fathers, and others, yet discarded upon further consideration. Mainly declared a heresy among the remainder of churches, and Biblical scholars. It would do you well to examine the remainder of the Bible which contradicts this teaching, and the proper contexts regarding those you used to support it.

          1. Wolfy32

            I agree wanna. As well as many other parts that contradict these verses, there is the possibility that biblical scholars didn’t know what happens after death anymore than we do.

            There could be infinite possibilities or sleep until we’re awakened, or nothing.

            Not that my personal belief matters, I still believe there’s infinite possibilities after death. All that needs to happen is for one of the infinite possibilities to be true.

            The bible even recognizes that sleeping is a possbility.

          2. Wolfy 6:15 My question would be, why don’t we just focus on things we actually know. Here is what we know:

            1.) No person has ever come back from being dead for weeks and reported being alive while being dead.

            2.) One of the most appealing messages anyone has come up with to get people’s money and alleginace is to say he can guarantee you life after death.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Wolfy; There are many subjects where speculation is a hazard. This is one of them. One must remember that error begets error. Before one places an absolute on a questionable conclusion, it is good to consult various Bible commentaries subject by subject, and verse by verse. There are many if not most available on the internet. Consider Henry, Poole, Keil & Delitzsch, Lenski, Jameson Faosset Brown, Kretzmann , Elwell. This just a short list. These come from different persuasions within Christianity with some disagreement of emphasis, but you will be interested in the general agreement on the whole. A couple of the most notable non-orthodox church groups today started with unschooled laymen without the aid of those who knew the languages, history, or the development (including the fathers of the church). Primarily they started with a narrow concept, (error) and spread out from there, using selective verses out of context for support, ignoring the rest. When that failed, or wasn’t defensible, they created their own Bible or additional writings. This is how cults are started with an ambitious leader.

          4. Wolfy32

            Jon, what we know, is highly subjective… There’s paranormal investigators now that have tracking equipment that could potentially detect paranormal experiences. There’s authors and books on personal experiences of people being medically dead and what they were doing while medically dead. I’ve read one of their books and heard a first hand account. To them what happened while being “dead” was real.

            However, medical staff brought them back to life. Is that modern day resurrection? I don’t know. You tell me? We just explain it away as nothing abnormal when we defib someone out of death.

            You assume that what “we know” is standard according to your point of view. While I respect your point of view / perception of reality, that does not mean that you’re perceptions define reality. The facts are there are a lot of questionable instances that put into question life after death. Are they all hoaxes? I don’t know, neither do you.
            Regardless of the bible, I would say the lines of fact for death are pretty well blurred.

          5. Wolfy32 “Jon, what we know is highly subjective.”

            I don’t believe the two things I mentioned were subjective at all. 1.) We have no record of someone who was dead for a long period of time come back to life and report having been alive and 2.) there are a host of shamans who coninue to play on and take advantage of peoples’ fear of death. These two undisputable facts set the stage for looking at the concept of life after death.

          6. entech

            Also a judaic concept, you know those people you stole your ideas from and then corrected their “errors”

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