Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Squishy evangelicalism"

Kevin DeYoung has been thinking about "If We Believe All the Same Things, Why Do Our Churches Seem So Different?" and has come to some conclusions:
...[H]ere are ten things that distinguish between what I would call a vibrant, robust Bible-believing church and one that gets the statement of faith right but feels totally different.
  1. The mission of the church has gotten sidetracked.  ....
  2. The church has become over-accommodating. .... [B]ecause of this dominant instinct, they avoid hard doctrines, cut themselves off from history and tradition, and lean toward pragmatism.
  3. The gospel is assumed. While the right theology may be affirmed in theory, it rarely gets articulated. No one believes the wrong things, but they don’t believe much of anything. ....
  4. There is no careful doctrinal delineation. .... You will quickly notice a difference in message and methods between the church whose operating principle is “doctrine divides” and the one that believes that doctrine leads to doxology.
  5. The ministry of the word is diminished.  ....
  6. People are not called to repentance. ....
  7. There is no example of carefully handling specific texts of Scripture. .... Churches may still espouse a high view of Scripture but without a diet of careful exposition they will not know how to study the Bible for themselves and will not be discerning when poor theology comes along.
  8. There is no functioning ecclesiology. .... Careful shepherding, elder training, regenerate church membership, a functioning diaconate, purposeful congregational meetings–these are the things you may not know you’ve never had. But when you do, it’s a different kind of church.
  9. There is an almost complete disregard for church discipline. .... All the best theology in the world won’t help your church or your denomination if you don’t guard against those who deny it. If we are to be faithful and eternally fruitful, we must warn against error, confront the spirit of the age, and discipline the impenitent.
  10. The real problem is something other than sin and the real remedy is something other than a Savior.  .... We lose sight that the biggest problem (though not the only problem) confronting the churchgoer every Sunday is that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.
.... The evangelical church needs depth where it is shallow, thoughtfulness where it is pragmatic, and conviction where it has become compromised. A casual adherence to a formal set of basic doctrines does not guarantee real unity and does not ensure genuine spiritual strength. [more, in which he expands upon the ten points of difference]
If We Believe All the Same Things, Why Do Our Churches Seem So Different? – Kevin DeYoung