A few days ago, Michael Spencer, a.k.a. “The Internet Monk“, wrote a thought-provoking opinion article about Evangelicalism for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html

Mr. Spencer, a long-time blogger and commentator about issues related to the Evangelical Church, is also the blogger behind the Jesus Shaped Spirituality site.

The article is divided into four parts: an introduction, an explanation about why, in the author’s view, Evangelicalism is going to collapse, a summary of what will be left in the wake of the Evangelical Church, and, finally, a discussion of whether this upcoming collapse will be good or bad.

The introduction explains the thesis of this commentary article. Evangelicalism will not die but will shrink to half of its current size in two generations. More aggressively secular societies will lead to more hostile public policies towards Evangelical Christianity. In the face of public pressure, many evangelical churches and para-church ministries will either fade away or grow increasingly secular themselves.

The collapse of Evangelicalism will occur because of financial difficulties, too close of an alignment with conservative politics, ignorance about history and theology, and consumerism, among other things. In Mr. Spencer’s view, megachurches will never completely vanish, but they will become increasingly weakened as they emphasize “relevance” over doctrine.

Many evangelicals will go to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Others will go into the growing house church movement. Mr. Spencer also predicts that “emerging” churches will fade away by blending back into Mainline Protestantism. He also sees the rise of Pentacostal/Charismatic churches becoming the dominant part of what remains of the Evangelical Church.

Perhaps in a tip of the hat to Shane Claiborne and other new monastics, Mr. Spencer observes that the church will need to return to being countercultural and “empire subvers[ive]” instead of relying on a sense of entitlement and privilege.

I found Mr. Spencer’s critiques of the “pragmatism and shallowness” of evangelicalism to be his strongest. The failure of Evangelicalism to build across the generations through personal discipleship is perhaps its greatest weakness.

Mr. Spencer provides more detailed information about the coming Evangelical collapse at:

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-original-coming-evangelical-collapse-posts

Article: “Shock of Recognition”

Posted in: Current Events, Popular Culture by bill-o on December 06, 2008

If you have a moment, please take the time to read newspaper columnist Paul Greenburg’s article commenting on the tragic death of a store worker in New York state on Black Friday:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/05/shock-of-recognition/

Please be warned that this article will prick your conscience in regards to greed, materialism, and commercialism.

“Black Friday” in the United States is the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday (which is always the 4th Thursday in November). Many, but not all, workers enjoy a holiday from work on Black Friday, and so take the occassion to shop for gifts for Christmas or other winter holidays. More people in the U.S. go to stores to shop on Black Friday than on any other day of the year. Black Friday is called by the color black because it is often the day that merchants make so many sales that they are said to go from the color red (the accounting color for a deficit) to the color black (the accounting color for a surplus).

Over time, it has become a tradition for retailers to provide unusually high discounts on their products during Black Friday, particularly during the morning. Also, it has become a tradition for stores to open at eariler and eariler hours on Black Friday: now, some stores even open at 4:00 a.m (0400).

The stores with the best sales on Black Friday are known to attract large crowds. These crowds gather close to the door in the middle of the night and then rush in as soon as the doors of the store are opened. The customers move quickly into the stores so that they can get their hands on featured products before other customers do.

Until Black Friday 2008, these events often led to minor assaults (some pushing and shoving), but nothing really serious. This past Friday, however, a large crowd of customers rushed in to a Wal Mart store on Long Island, New York, and trampled to death a worker there who was trying to save a pregnant woman from serious injury.

In the midst of this tragedy, we greatly admire the deceased worker who courageously laid his life down to help someone else. Yet, at the same time, we are greatly saddened by the callousness of a crowd which would trample someone to death in order to purchase an item at a discount price.