Over on The A-Team Blog, Roger Overton interviewed David F. Wells about his new book The Courage to be Protestant and asked him about Wells’ “three constituencies” of modern evangelicals.
Based on Wells’ answer, it seems that the marketers and the emergents are taking over and many of the classicals, when they are not changing sides, are capitulating in their quest to be “culturally relevant.” That phrase “culturally relevant” was used so much at our last church that you would have thought it was in the Bible somewhere.
Here’s the Q & A on that topic; links to both parts of the interview are at the end.
Q: In the first chapter of The Courage to Be Protestant you map out three constituencies that make up the current evangelical world: classical evangelicalism, church marketers (or seeker-sensitives), and emergents. To help familiarize our readers with your book, could you briefly explain each of these groups and the problems they pose for Christianity?
A: There is no time when the Church is perfect but there are times when it is better and others when it is worse. My view is that in important ways we are leaving behind better days, even as being “born again” gains cultural acceptance and as megachurches become more numerous.
It is the deep sense of truth, the truth that God has given us in his Word, that defined the earlier evangelicals and this sense is now fading in comparison to the desire to be culturally relevant. We should, of course, be engaging culture but not so that that culture defines who we are and what we want and how we go about our church business. It is “sola Scriptura” not “sola cultura”!
The marketers are in danger of building the Church by cultural means because they have adopted from the business world all of the tricks of marketing that make corporations successful.
The emergents are in danger of building the Church by cultural means because they have allowed themselves to be infiltrated by a postmodern mood which imagines that knowing what is true is arrogant, that the way we make connections with Gen Xers. is by being so diffident that we are unsure how true Christianity really is or what its demands actually are.