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Will the Diffusion of Evangelicalism Spell It’s Disintegration?

Feb. 9, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

The conclusion of The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott

If the global diffusion of evangelicalism proves eventually to have transmuted into the global disintegration of evangelicalism, it will not be because of the philosophical and hermeneutical boldness of a few post- conservative evangelical theologians in the North. It will rather be because in the explosive popular Christianity of the southern hemisphere the balance will have been tipped away from a Bible-centered gospel that, while being properly holistic, still holds to the soteriological centrality and ethical normativity of the cross, towards a form of religious materialism that subordinates the cross to a crude theology of divine blessing reduced to the promise of unlimited health and wealth here and now. In the majority world the sharpest challenge confronting believers in the message of the atoningFocuslogofc6e12f923 power of the cross derives not from Enlightenment scepticism but from the daily realities of endemic poverty, hunger, pandemic disease and structural injustice. In cultures in which the traditional role of religious rituals and specialists was to provide power to ward off sickness and evil, Pentecostal versions of evangelicalism that give central place to the victory of Christ and power of the Spirit have proved immensely attractive. The question is whether such deeply inculturated variants of Christianity will succeed in grounding the message of the victory of Christ over the powers of darkness in a biblical eschatology that recognizes that the full establishment of the kingdom of God is still to come. The battle for the integrity of the gospel in the upcoming years of the twenty-first century is being fought not primarily in the lecture rooms of North American seminaries but in the shanty towns, urban slums and villages of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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