Evangelizing Evangelicalism

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile you know that I can be somewhat of an iconoclast with regard to popular evangelical teachings. I love my evangelical heritage, embrace it fully, so I don’t do this just to stir things up. I do so because I believe that too many of our doctrines actually do damage to our understanding of God and of ourselves. And I’m not alone in this assessment. So, it is in this light that I want to share a recent video from John Crowder.

In the following video, Crowder summarizes (linking to other podcasts and books for a fuller explanation) areas where he believes our evangelicalism needs evangelizing. The following is a description from the video (on YouTube):

“The term “Evangelical” which describes the bulk of all Protestant Christians, is based on the word “evangel” which means “Good News.” Evangelicals are supposedly Gospel believers. However, there are countless “foundational” doctrines which undervalue not only the finished work of the Gospel … they also starkly deny the very Person of Jesus Christ. Evangelicalism itself, as a system of belief, is in radical need of being evangelized itself.”

The areas Crowder thinks needs to change are the following. He begins each area with the statement, “Let’s evangelize…”

  • The Atonement
  • Human nature (sin nature and our true identity)
  • Understanding Scripture
  • Evangelism (transactional model)
  • Humanity (our union with God)
  • Asceticism (spiritual disciplines)
  • The Trinity
  • Separation from God

Here’s the video clip.  I hope you watch it. I will finish with my own thoughts on it afterward.

I think I’ve covered every one of these subjects here. I agree with Crowder that these need a fresh look. Crowder makes the following summation on the video:

“The most fundamental reality, the core of it all, is that we really just don’t think God is good. Christians have this flat view of sovereignty that blames God for every single thing that happens in the world….”

What’s ironic about this is that many Christians say “God is good” rather tritely, until something bad happens in their lives, which only reveals where they’re really at with God.

This following statement is music to my ears:

“Finally, I think what we just need is probably a foundational experience with Jesus, because He is not just taught, He is caught….because, ultimately, I think that beyond just trying to figure things out from the books, we need to taste in order to see that the Lord is good….because one moment of experiencing His glory can undo decades of wrong thinking….we need a grid for engaging God Himself….”

This is something that I’ve said here. While I DO believe that good doctrine and right understanding are critically important as a believer and follower of Christ, the problem is, we actually get so many things backwards because, as Crowder puts it, we start with the head in order to get it into the heart, when it must start with the heart before our head can make any sense of it.

Because of this, many of our doctrines were not forged in fire of God’s overwhelming and empowering love but in the imaginations of well-intentioned men filling in the blanks, which invariably must include our own projections and assumptions of what we think He’s like (and I readily include myself in this).

I want to emphasize here that this is not a bad thing, for every living thing must go through seasons of pruning (reformation) in order to sustain healthy growth. We must always be ready to take a fresh look at our cherished doctrines and make sure they still hold up to our growing revelation of God.

But let me say this bluntly: the only way we can truly know what God is like is to open our hearts to Him, laying everything bare before His penetrating gaze—our biases, teachings, agendas, fears, etc.—allowing Him to explain Himself to us, because anything that’s not exactly like Jesus is not like God…no matter who said it.

18 No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor
    except the uniquely beloved Son,
    who is cherished by the Father
    and held close to his heart.
    Now he has unfolded to us
    the full explanation of who God truly is! (John 1:18 TPT*)

We don’t have to agree with everything Crowder is saying here, but I believe he has his finger on the pulse of what God is doing in His Church today. And, again, it’s not just him (or me) saying this. There’s a growing number of leaders tapping into this fresh manna from heaven.

And let us remember that while Scripture is inspired, not all of our doctrines that we hold dear are necessarily so, nor were some even historically embraced.

Beloved, I believe there’s a fresh reformation happening in Jesus’ church today, one that’s painful because it demands we put our certainties and doctrinal comforts on the potters wheel, to be re-shaped and re-formed, but like with any birth, all the pain gives way way to joy when the new creation comes forth. If we’re willing, there’s a major upgrade on the other side of this.

So let us always be a people, closely following Jesus, ready to take a fresh look at what we think we know, using eyes of faith, “holding on to what is good….being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:21; Phil.1:6). Amen.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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9 Responses to Evangelizing Evangelicalism

  1. Very cool! This week I just so happened to watch Crowder’s “evangelizing evangelism” and also to listen to your, “I have a dream” talk. Good combination! Feeling much more encouraged and hopeful about where we are all going as a church overall, as a kingdom. 🙂

    I think you said something about how, “glory is the goodness of God on display.” Amen to that one.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, IB, and thanks for taking the time to listen to my “dream” message. I will be sharing more on this in the coming weeks, possibly doing a couple posts on it here, too.

      Btw, my wife will be sharing the message next week (21st) on getting out of our comfort zones in order to embrace the adventure. She’s a life coach and has some really good things to say about the subject. 🙂

  2. hawk2017 says:

    I hope this reformaion is happening. He must put the church back on that potters wheel not ourselves. The doctrine should be in line with the Word, in this I agree. TY.:)

  3. Wow!! I just heard John Calvin roll over in his grave in anger. I, however, think you are spot on. Good word

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! Thanks Patrick. I’m sure by now that Calvin has realized he didn’t have all the knowledge there is about God (or any other father of the faith). As long as we think their reformation was THE reformation (meaning only reformation), we are doomed to stay stuck there. This is the sin of certainty, which is, as I said in the post, an enemy of faith because it requires no ongoing, totally dependent relationship with the Head. We actually end up putting our particular doctrines over relationship with Christ. I believe this very thing is at the source of everything ugly about Christianity.

      I believe, like with our personal knowledge of Christ, we still have not even come close to full, or even adequate, knowledge as Jesus’ Church. For instance, we still have not learned how to love like Christ loves (which is the very center of it all). Repentance (changing our thinking) is a constant state for the follower of Christ, from generation to generation. One generation’s “ceiling” should be the next generation’s “floor.” At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

      It’s better that we humbly stand on the shoulders of these great men and women of God throughout Church history, and rather than making monuments to their doctrines and never growing past them, honor them while continually reforming and advancing in our revelation knowledge of Christ. And I believe we’re personally in such a transitional time. It may be scary but it’s truly the best and even safest place to be. 🙂

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