Inside Baseball: The Problem with Evangelicalism

18 Oct

This might be a little “inside baseball” for a lot of the readers here, but bare with me…

Scot McKnight has picked up on an article in First Things by Joe Carter.  In the article, Carter criticizes much of the methodology of modern evangelism as it comes from evangelicalism.  Here is what Carter writes:

There are two types of evangelicals in America: those who naively embrace whatever trendy items happen to be hot sellers at “Christian” bookstores—WWJD? bracelets, Testamints, prayer of Jabez scented candles—and those who shun such kitsch. I am solidly of the second type. Like a good Pharisee, I thank God every day that I’m not like those people.

But I take comfort in knowing that most of this stuff is rather harmless and nothing more than a passing fad. It is not the dernier cri that will soon be gone that concerns me but the faddage that becomes a fixture. Fads still receive scrutiny; fixtures remain largely unquestioned.

The following are ten fixtures that I find particularly harmful not just to evangelicalism but to evangelism. None of them are inherently pernicious (well, except for #10) but evangelicals use them in ways that do not serve their intended purposes.

1. Making Converts (not disciples)

2. The Sinner’s Prayer

3. Do you know Jesus as … your personal Savior.

4. Tribulationism

5. Testimonies

6. The Altar Call

7. Witnessing

8. Protestant Prayers

9. The Church Growth Movement

10. Chick Tracts

In general, I agree with his critique of #4 and #10.  I think that, depending on how you define the terms, #1 & #3 can be problematic.  #2 again, I think, is about emphasis and perspective more than anything else.  I think his concern about #5 and #6 are that they can be too emotional — this is not inherently true and also reveals a bias against heart/emotion.  I have seen these tools abused, but more often than not, they are well-used and effective.  I am pro #7 when done well and have no idea what he is saying in terms of #8.  I am also pro #9 (for the most part — though I certainly have my critiques of specific methods and models within the diverse movement) and always agree that #10 is a bad idea.


1 Comment

Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


One response to “Inside Baseball: The Problem with Evangelicalism

  1. Ben D.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    <p>Good list Kim… as ususal, I think your analysis is on point.</p>



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