The tension growing in evangelicalism is healthy Dallas Morning News News for Dallas, Texas Columnists: William McKenzie
Here is a quote from the above article that I think is noteworthy:
Rice University sociologist Michael Lindsay has come up with the best way to
help the rest of us understand this split. He’s the author of the new book,
Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. After
interviewing some 360 evangelicals, Dr. Lindsay believes the split within the
movement is between populists and cosmopolitans.
Here’s how he describes populists:
“Populist evangelicalism depends on mass mobilizations and
democratic action. Populist evangelicalism draws sharp divisions between
traditional believers (who are “good”) and secular activists (who are “bad”).
And capitalizing on evangelicalism’s preference for simplicity and pragmatism,
populist evangelicalism typically eschews theological sophistication or
complexity in sermons.”
Here’s how he describes cosmopolitans:
“They travel frequently, are involved in the arts and live affluent lifestyles.
Cosmopolitan evangelicals have greater access to powerful institutions, and the
social networks they inhabit are populated by leaders from government, business
and entertainment. As one leader described it, this is ‘move-the-dial
Christianity,’ in which evangelicals are in a position to use their faith to
influence the rest of society.”
In an interview last week, Dr. Lindsay told me that this divide goes well beyond simplistic notions of left and right. You will find liberal and conservative populists, just as you have liberal and conservative cosmopolitans.
Interesting piece dissecting the two streams of Evangelicalism today. I would have to say that I see it more and more in my travels as well. You have those who are comfortable in being told what to do and how to think. Others want to struggle a bit and explore their faith in a setting that provides some real boundaries for safety. How we get along is going to be the key to all of this. How will we show grace to each other and the world in the midst of our internal struggles is what the outside world is waiting to see.