Tuesday, March 18, 2014


The recent revelation that Mars Hill Church in Seattle paid an outside company to boost sales of its pastor’s books has raised questions not simply about personal integrity but also about the very culture of American Evangelicalism.

As an English Presbyterian living in the States, I am never quite sure about whether I am an “Evangelical” by American standards. Back home, I am Evangelical without question, but here it is more complicated. I certainly hold to a traditional, orthodox Protestant faith with a strong existential twist. But American Evangelicalism is more (and sometimes much less) than that. The political commitments of the movement are, on the whole, a mystery to me. And, while the celebrity leadership of the movement is comprehensible to me in sociological terms, I find it distasteful and arguably unbiblical. It too often seems to represent exactly what Paul was criticizing in 1 Corinthians 1.

For those unfamiliar with recent American evangelical history, some background: Six or seven years ago, Calvinism became cool. More than that, Calvinism became so cool it started to become a very marketable commodity and to attract big money. A broad, eclectic, and dynamic movement emerged, dubbed that of the “Young, Restless and Reformed,” after the title of a book by Collin Hansen. Calvinistic churches seemed to be thriving as mainline churches continued to struggle. Recruitment at Reformed seminaries remained buoyant even as it declined elsewhere. Young people read serious theology and sought to connect their faith to all areas of their lives.

As a professor at a Reformed seminary and as a pastor of a Presbyterian church, I certainly rejoice in the renewed interest in the teaching of the Reformers which this movement helped to generate. I have personally benefitted from the movement in many ways. Its advent was at the time most welcome. As the poet said, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!”

For FULL Article, go to: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/03/mark-driscolls-problems-and-ours

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