By Tim Etherington | January 1, 2010
I’ve been reading two very interesting articles that are not specifically about evangelicalism but both deal with the subject. Since I want to end on a good note, I’ll handle my least favorite of the two first.
Why is there no joy in the Reformed camp asks Anthony Selvaggio over at the Reformation21 blog? Why it is all evangelicalism’s fault, of course! Check it out:
What attracted these immigrants were the things that they perceived as woefully deficient in evangelicalism. These included things such as irreverent worship, imprecise doctrine and sloppy to non-existent church government. In other words, most of the immigrants to the Reformed world made their migration because they were dissatisfied with evangelicalism. They were evangelical malcontents.
See? Since evangelicalism is a mess Reformed people are grumpy. Well, that’s not entirely it, I mean this is only the first of two points on the issue. But I think Anthony’s point here falls flat. Not because there is no goofiness in evangelicalism, there is. The reason is that the Reformed folks who didn’t emigrate weren’t very cheerful either when we got here.
But really, let’s change evangelicalism for your job. If you were at a job where everyone was happy but the place was poorly run and things seemed to change quarterly and you left that job and went to one where things were much more professional and run more orderly, would you be grumpy once you got there? I wouldn’t be.
So why are Reformed folks largely a grumpy lot? I’m not sure but I know that once I allowed my focus to move from Reformed Theology to the better view of God I got from my Reformed Theology, I had more joy. I wasn’t always happy but I found more joy. So perhaps the grumpiness comes from dogmatism. I’m not sure but that’s what it felt like for me.
The second article is a bit more upbeat about evangelicalism. It is a brief interview with Os Guinness over at the Evangel blog at First Things. Within the first few questions Guinness humbled me:
[Evangelicalism] is deeply written into the tradition of our family. My great great grandfather, who founded the Guinness Brewing Company, was an Evangelical and a friend of John Wesley, George Whitfield and was a strong supporter of William Wilberforce. So, the Evangelicalism that I know is not American Evangelicalism. People often think of Evangelicalism as the post-fundamentalism of the 1950s emergence under Billy Graham and Carl Henry.
Gulp. When I’ve taught on evangelicalism I’ve often said that it started with Graham and Henry but that isn’t exactly right. When Henry and others began to distance themselves from Fundamentalism they were originally called “neo-evangelicals” and according to Guinness for a good reason. Any way, Guinness is always interesting and often provocative. I recommend reading the interview. And if you want to know about the history of his family, Guinness stout and their relationship to Christianity, there is a book on it. I have it on my wish list and haven’t read it yet but I hope to.