Gordon T. Smith’s book, Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal: Why the Church Should Be All Three gets to the fundamental question of why talk about being all three? Hasn’t the Church been segmented this long and “got along fine?”
One of his answers as to why we need all three is pertinent to what I tried to say last year when I preached on “Living in Babylon.” That virtually got ignored… which I’m getting used to by now… but I just can’t walk away from what I know the Spirit really is saying to the American Church. Long after I’m gone, long after Gordon T. Smith is gone, and the American Church is in the position I could see “way back in 2016” (and, to be honest, back in 2001), I hope these words are found on the internet somewhere and somehow people begin to see with fresh eyes what the Spirit was wanting to say.
Why do we need all three? Smith answers it essentially as I tried to answer it with “Living in Babylon”:
… for the church in the West, in an increasingly secular society, or where the church is the minority presence in a community or a society — whether that society be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or secular, whether we are seeking to be the church in Cairo or Vancouver, wherever the church is culturally swimming upstream — surely we need every ounce of grace (if grace comes in ounces!) that might be available to us. (p. 39)
Quite frankly, when we decide to wake up as the Church in American (realizing we aren’t the “American Church” anymore) what will matter so little at that point in time is if we’re “evangelical” or “liturgical” or “pentecostal.” What will be necessary at that point is to be in Christ and simply latch on to him! And the label that used to be on the door just won’t matter anymore.