When I listen to some leaders from within Sydney evangelicalism speak about what threatens the gospel in Sydney I hear things like Catholicism, liberalism and the Charismatic movement. These things are touted as what is going to move the evangelical church in Sydney away from the Gospel. The way they talk about these three movements gives the impression that the biggest threats to evangelicalism are from outside the camp.
But history doesn’t point us that way.
History points us in a different direction. The most dangerous and subtle challenges to the Gospel usually come from within the evangelical church. For example take the now-dead Emergent church movement. Tony Jones, Doug Padgitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, etc all have evangelical backgrounds. It was their wanting to reach out the postmodern world that caused them to have a look at their theology and change it. It was them, who from within evangelicalism, who have now become liberal. But we see this in other times also. Take Spurgeon and the downgrade controversy in the late 1800’s. His opponents were once rank and file evangelicals who went liberal. Or take Fuller theological seminary, a seminary that was started by evangelicals now has a president that endorses Rob Bell’s latest book, a book where Bell openly flirts with, if not capitulates to, universalism.
If history is any guide or teacher we are kidding ourselves if we think that the threats to Sydney evangelicalism are outside our fold.
With this in mind I will be blogging about this all week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I will be blogging about what I see the three biggest threats to Sydney evangelicalism and then on Friday I will be talking about what we need to be doing about these threats.
But to get the conversation started I have two questions:
- Do you think my assessment of history is correct?
- What do you think are the biggest threats to the gospel in Sydney?