…and I love me some charts!!
Brandan, who I have only recently begun to read, has woven together his framework that expresses the variety within orthodox Protestantism today. After reading the article over a couple of times, and digging into the CHART HE CREATED, I think he’s done a pretty decent job on cutting up the angles of the American Christian conversation today. From the chart, he goes on and writes:
Now what is important about this spectrum is noting where the future growth of the Protestant tradition will come from. I believe that all signs and trends show that the two movements on this spectrum that will ultimately dominate the Protestant stream of Christian faith over the next 40-50 years will be the Reformed Evangelicals and the Neo-Evangelicals, who I believe will ultimately win out over the Reformed movement because of its commitment to orthodoxy and progressive missiology and practice. The movements that will fade the quickest are most definitely the “Mainstream Evangelicals” and the “Emergent Liberals”, mostly because they have already reached the peak of their movements and have been on the decline for a number of years. This means death to the megachurch movement, celebrity Christianity, doubt-based, and super informal, non institutionalized Christian faith. And I think that is something to praise God for. These movements had a purpose and a lot of good has come out of them, but now they are largely irrelevant and have detrimental results on the communities who belong to them.These movements had a purpose and a lot of good has come out of them, but now they are largely irrelevant and have detrimental results on the communities who belong to them.These movements had a purpose and a lot of good has come out of them, but now they are largely irrelevant and have detrimental results on the communities who belong to them.
His prediction of the “Mainstream Evangelicals” and the “Emergent Liberals” reads a little to bleak for my experience. There is too much money in the Mainstream Evangelical branch; it has at least another generation or two until it starts skipping any meals.. and as long as Western Culture is generally obsessed with success and celebrity, we will always be hoisting up a new Zeus and cohort onto Mount Olympus.
As for the “Emergent Liberals” – I don’t believe that conversation is going anywhere too quickly either. No doubt, it has always lacked the money, leadership, and vision to gain a foothold in the American Christian conversation. And, without a specific school of teaching that launches dialogue, or a respected publishing company that can round up capable and thoughtful scholars and leaders to express its reasonable existence as a part of the modern Christian experience, it will probably remain in the shadows all the same. But to accuse it or the Mainstream Evangelical church of being anymore destructive or broken that the institutionalized church is near-sighted at best.
In that regard, I think Robertson speaks too highly of the institutionalized church, as if it hasn’t faced incredible decline in the past decades. Universally, the institutional church has refused to address contemporary contexts and has fashioned its strategy of dealing the modern challenges as an ostrich does when it hears thunder in the distance.
What say you? What do you think of his chart? His assessment of the Protestant church?
Footnote: As always, if none of this post makes sense to you, but you are interested in it, contact me, and let’s walk through it together.