the problem with us evangelicals

Ted Haggard has an interesting, insider take on the weakness of evangelicalism. From my much more limited perspective, I can agree.

Perhaps how I might frame the matter is in terms something like this:  The church needs to be gospel centered, which means Jesus and Kingdom of God oriented to the core. In the grace in which the law’s demands are met and even fulfilled, in and through Jesus, by the Spirit.

The evangelical proposition is too much hit and miss in terms of the above, I’m thinking. It is certainly committed to the teaching of scripture, and to the gospel. And how that is worked out will differ according to each church, and the gifts in each, especially those of the leadership, specifically the teaching and especially so in the pulpit.

I dislike generalizations especially when finding fault of movements, even if I think they can serve some good purpose. I want to say that the proclamation of the gospel and the teaching of God’s word should not depend so much and probably not at all on who is doing it. Granted the different gifts and ways the teaching is made known. There ought to be a common core, so to speak (a contemporary term in our country, the U.S., concerning public education), in both content and manner of making known the gospel. With the understanding that the gospel is central to the existence and orientation of the church.

While I think I’m thinking over my head (which in a true sense is always so on this blog, given the subject to which it is devoted), I also think this is pretty basic. Church traditions like the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox have it over the rest of us in this, I am suspecting. Because there is a common understanding and practice which does not at all depend on one or a very few people. Grounded in the Christian orthodox faith, with freedom within that commitment and practice.

It is not essential or important that churches all do everything the same way. If one thinks about it, every church has its own liturgy, in other words its own way of teaching and seeking to be faithful to Christ, to the gospel. For example a large part of Mennonite liturgy is in the hymns they sing. Neither is the concern here to get everyone to agree on interpretations, such as the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, etc. But the drive ought to be to get us more oriented to a gospel-centered existence in which God’s grace and kingdom in and through Jesus is the sphere in which we live and grow and serve, the mission to which we are committed.

Liturgy as in scriptural readings, songs and prayers can be beneficial. A regular practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer together is a good common practice. A common lectionary may help us stay grounded in keeping us in all of scripture and not just in the places to which we gravitate.

There are no easy answers to this. I appreciate the Evangelical Covenant church my wife and I are members of. The Lord’s Table is open every week and a part of the regular service once a month. We at least list scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. We are most certainly gospel centered and oriented in both content and manner of sharing in the faith each Sunday morning.

We in Jesus are all in this together. We can learn from each other. From the center- Christ, and the gospel of God’s grace and kingdom come in him.