The Internet Monk, Michael Spencer, is very widely read, so some of you may already have read his article on ‘The Coming Evangelical Collapse’. While he makes it very clear that he does not consider himself a prophet, the article describes his opinion of the likely future of Evangelicalism. I won’t quote the entire article, which has 3 parts, but its well worth a read.
IM predicts that the evangelical church as we know it will collapse as it has lost its theological core. He predicts that as a result of the political choices of the Evangelical movement to date, much of society will be left with a negative or antagonistic attitude towards Christianity. Vacuous megachurch structures will still remain for some time. The most dominant remainder of evangelicalism will the the Charismatic-Pentecostal Christians. The Catholic and Orthodox traditions will be impacted to some degree by incoming Evangelicals who have moved on. A small, very active remnant from the Evangelical traditions will work towards a second reformation of Evangelicalism – their work will be of benefit, but won’t revive the tradition.
IM stresses that he could be wrong about any of this – it is his opinion, not a prophecy.
Here are some interesting quotes from the articles:
From the first article, The Coming Evangelical Collapse
“…Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become particularly hostile towards evangelical Christianity, increasingly seeing it as the opponent of the good of individuals and society…”
“…Evangelical churches have now passed into a three part chapter: 1) mega-churches that are consumer driven, 2) churches that are dying and 3) new churches that whose future is dependent on a large number of factors. I believe most of these new churches will fail, and the ones that do survive will not be able to continue evangelicalism at anything resembling its current influence. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.”
From the second article: What will be left after the evangelical collapse?
“…An evangelicalism far from its historical and doctrinal core. Expect evangelicalism as a whole to look more and more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. The determination to follow in the methodological steps of numerically successful churches will be greater than ever. The result will be, in the main, a departure from doctrine to more and more emphasis on relevance, motivation and personal success….with the result being churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith…”
“…Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Within that community, the battle for the future of evangelicalism will be fought by those who must decide whether their tradition will sink into the quicksand of heresy, relativism and confusion, or whether Charismatic-Pentecostalism can experience a reformation and renewal around Biblical authority, responsible leadership and a re-emergence of orthodoxy.
I see signs of life on all those fronts, but the key issue of leadership and the preparation of leaders leaves me with little hope that Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity can put its house in order. The dynamics of leadership within this tradition have conspired to bring the worst kinds of leaders to the forefront.
The stakes in Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity are very high. It has become a worldwide missions phenomenon, and it has become a community carrying the most virulent and destructive heresies and errors in evangelicalism. The next 15-25 years will be crucial for this community. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. I see and hear little from this community’s younger leadership that indicates there is anything close to a real recognition of the problems they face.”
The third article is The Coming Evangelical Collapse – Good or Bad?
Well, this is quite a different prediction from what the proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation would have us believe. Not overly cheerful first up, but IM has no doubts that God will prevail and the gospel will be heard to the ends of the earth. Food for thought, either way.