Everyone I know seems to have weighed in on this topic.
Everyone is watching…
Is this really about Rob Bell and his thoughts on Hell and theology?
I think it’s a lot deeper than that.
Over the past couple years we have seen a growing hostility between conservative and more legalistic traditions of Christianity here in the USA and the more progressive traditions who focus more on loving and serving others. This doesn’t cleanly break across strictly denominational lines either.
You’re witnessing something big right now.
You’re witnessing a new split in Protestant Evangelicalism.
The most vocal factions of leadership of Evangelicalism have increasingly been wary of—and even rejected young Evangelical leaders over the past several years as being too liberal or not reformed enough. Young leaders who for the past several years who have clung to the title of ‘evangelical’ (simply because that is who we are) are growing increasingly uncomfortable with being associated with much of the conservative leadership.
The unwillingness to be associated with one another runs both ways. Neither camp is completely comfortable with being associated with the others perceived issues.
Heretics won’t be comfortable being lumped in with Haters
Haters won’t be comfortable being lumped in with Heretics
While this undercurrent has been happening for some time now…
We are reaching a tipping point.
You’ll see two sides soon with a fairly slim middle.
On one side you’ll have the Reformed Conservatives—entrenching and ‘expelling’ folks
On the other side you will see the Progressive Evangelicals—migrating toward work with mainline churches
This thing is going to split wide open.
I’m not saying it is a good or bad thing…but I can tell you it’s coming. It doesn’t have all the vocabulary put to it yet—but it is coming. It has been a bit under the radar for much of the Christian world—but it will spill out into the streets and the media and be a fullblown separation.
We have all felt tremors of this thing coming for a couple years now…
Rob Bell’s book will play a huge part in triggering this split.
This is not just about theology.
It’s about control of the story of Jesus.
It’s about the entire framing of God and The Gospel.
It’s gonna be something we mentally mark.
It’s gonna start something big.
It may not be nailing 95 theses on a door…
But it could mark a major shift in how Evangelical Christianity represents itself from this point forward. It could shift the way people think of Evangelicalism—putting young Progressive faces into the public stream that balance public perception. More importantly, it could give young people growing up Evangelical an option to explore. When I was young it never crossed my mind to switch to a mainline church—but had something like a Progressive Evangelicalism been around then— I would have sought it out and supported it.
This may be the future of Evangelicalism—and we may all be witnessing the tipping point.
It’s all just my opinion—and I’m not endorsing anything— but I think some huge shifts are about to happen to the US Evangelical community.
Hang on—starting on the 15th we’re in for a bumpy ride.
Let’s hope we all can act like Jesus thru the process.
Jimmy Spencer Jr is the founder and CEO of Love Without Agenda. He’s just a good guy trying to change the world—and himself—one act of love at a time.