We have been decrying the decline of the “liberals.” Alternately, there has been the call for the end of “conservatives.” All in the Church. Not even in politics!
Now, John Ortberg has us wringing our hands about evangelicals again. Not really. I just wanted to be sensational in my headline.
This is a well-thought out column. We need to realize just how divided we are and actually fall to our knees asking the Shepherd of the Church for forgivness. We are so bent on taking each other down, or hoping the “other” goes down, or not caring if the “other” goes down, we’re left with very little as a vibrant witness to a culture that desperately needs salt.
Some of Ortberg’s thoughts:
The social capital of evangelical leadership is getting thinner each year. The desire for a pope might be as misguided as Israel’s desire for a king, but our current strategy of “each did what was right in his own eyes” is not working that hot either. There is an increasing sense of fiefdoms and competing coalitions. There is a certain kind of mindset that almost seems to rejoice in “outing” someone who has questionable evangelical credentials in the eyes of the “outer.” This is not healthy for the evangelical community, and is repellent to those who are truly on the outside.
C.S. Lewis (another well-digger) said that one of his reasons for writing about what he called Mere Christianity (“the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times”) was that when we publicly focus on intra-mural divisions it “has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold.”
We have been blessed with some wonderful voices in our own time—I think of Rich Mouw, Neal Plantinga, N.T. Wright, Scott McKnight, and Dallas Willard. I hope we listen to our best voices, not just the loudest ones.
I hope conviction-filled civility triumphs.
I hope we spend more time digging wells than building fences.