Evangelicals need to do something fast. One response says the movement must tighten up. Evangelicals need to hew even more closely to the most conservative and literalist standards of the Bible. They need to stop making nice to attract seekers. They need to unload the slackers.
This contingent, often composed of Calvinists, caused the Southern Baptist Convention, which claims 16 million members, to declare in June that its 43,000 churches should clean their rolls of deadwood. Hardliners suggested striking 6 million members who don’t live in the same towns as the churches to which they belong.
At the other end of the spectrum is a group sometimes called the emerging church.
They don’t always know exactly what they are. They’re emerging. Part of that can mean reaching out to unbelievers in ways that more fundamentalist evangelicals never could. For former megachurch minister Spencer Burke it meant writing a book called The Heretic’s Guide to Eternity that says everyone is going to heaven unless they opt out.
For Seattle Christian Jim Henderson it meant rejecting what he calls "beliefism," in favor of the idea that behavior matters more than belief. His organization, Off the Map, bid for the "soul" of an atheist a few years ago and won it for $500. Instead of trying to convert the atheist, Henderson took him to megachurches and asked him for critiques. A book ensued.
Brian McLaren, named one of Time magazine’s most influential evangelicals, suggests that people might be followers of Jesus even if they aren’t born-again Christians.
That sort of idea is being taken up by many young people who eschew the title evangelical or even Christian. For them, doing the work Jesus advocated is more important than doctrine. They favor small groups that often have no statement of faith at all. Their faith is about serving the poor, often internationally.
Eight Questions The Barna Group developed a list of questions to determine whether someone looks at the world from what it calls "a Biblical worldview." If interview subjects do not strongly agree — or if they disagree with any of the statements — they do not have a Biblical worldview by The Barna Group’s definition. The five optional responses for each statement are: strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree and don’t know. Here are the statements: I believe that absolute moral truth exists.
I believe the source of moral truth is the Bible.
I believe the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
I believe that eternal spiritual salvation cannot be earned.
I believe that Jesus lived a sinless life on earth.
I believe that every person has a responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others.
I believe that Satan is a living force, not just a symbol of evil.
I believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful maker of the universe who still rules that creation today.