Mohler: I think the whole idea of the evangelical dream of Carl Henry and Harold John Ockenga and . . . Dever: Christianity Today, the National Association of Evangelicals . . . Mohler: in the period right after World War 2 is one of those critical times we need to go back and look at. And I just have to acknowledge that Dr. Henry is a mentor to me and to many of us in this room, but very personally was like a theological father to me in a lot of ways, and yet I have to say that I think the evangelicals of that generation had a far too optimistic understanding of how easy it would be to stand on the gospel, and because of this, they just abdicated ecclesiology, and so they became a para-church movement, and I think that's the worst thing we can do in retrospect.And that is precisely what D.G. Hart is saying in Deconstructing Evangelicalism, as I have commented. Finally, I'm not going to take the time to transcribe it, but in the closing minutes they critique what has been called a "sell-out" to Rome in Mark Noll's book, Is the Reformation Over?
[Dever comments about Henry's faithfulness late in life to the church that Dever pastored and of which Henry was a member.]
Dever: Ecclesiology does not seem to play a prominent role [in Henry's theology], and so what you have are these big concepts that he wants a united front on, and they're all great concepts, but the enfleshment of them you don't see in the church. Mohler: Yeah, I think that's our generation's task . . . I think [the new evangelicals] saw themselves in a moment of cultural opportunity, and my thesis is that we're now in a moment of cultural crisis where we're not going to be seduced by that false impression, but we can be very much seduced by things we're not seeing in our own times as the danger.
Dever: I think we have a particular responsibility to talk to pastors because if we try to recongregationalize Christianity, not anti-Presbyterian in the sense congregational, but in the sense to, you know, just have people in churches that we would all think it is a good thing . . . Mohler: Local churches loving the gospel . . . Dever: Yeah, that's going to display different lives that are then going to begin to address some of those issues, so it's not a full-on Anabaptist separatism, but it's saying that the best way we can witness to the world and the culture, or one of the best ways—an indispensable part of it and the trunk of it—is by having disciplined communities of people who are effectively demonstrations.
Mohler: The lack of that discipline was the fatal absence in the evangelical structure. In other words, there was no way to say who was and wasn't. There still isn't any way to say who is and isn't an evangelical, and therein lies the problem.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Here's the section I promised that addresses the new evangelical strategy.
Posted by Ben at 1/26/2006