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.