Monday, April 26, 2010

What's Up with Evangelicals?

The evangelical world is all over the place, and the rest of the church might want to clue in.

Last week a friend referred me to a video from her conservative evangelical megachurch (inerrancy, pre-trib rapture, you name it). The church was launching a series on global poverty, in which the pastor used words like "justice" and talked about how God sides with underdogs, classic liberation theology lines. This, in the wake of Glenn Beck's call to abandon social justice churches, is a most hopeful sign. The movement to embrace social, economic, and environmental justice shows broad growth among evangelicals.

At the same time, Reformed Theological Seminary has lost an esteemed faculty member, Bruce Waltke, because he expressed openness to theistic evolution in an interview. Apparently belief in a literal Adam and Eve was not enough. That same seminary has rescinded a speaking invitation to Tremper Longman, III, for his radical opinion that Adam and Eve may not have been historical persons.

The upshot of all this? Evangelicals are feeling a huge pull, just as they did in the 1950s and the 1970s. Some are gravitating toward engagement with the outside world, the larger church, and scientific consensus. Others are resisting like hell, trying to hold the line at about 1913. It's time, now more than ever, for the larger church to reach out to progressive evangelicals, honoring our differences but inviting them into prayer and conversation.

New Executive Director for the SBL

The Society of Biblical Literature has named John F. Kutsko of Abingdon Press as its new executive director, effective July 1. Kutsko holds a Harvard PhD in Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near East and has been working with Abingdon Press. Here's the announcement.