Andy Campbell has already done a splendid job highlighting three features of future evangelicalism: he envisions a future that is non-white, Spirit-filled, and female. (Three trajectories that I cannot help but agree with.) While I see no need to comment at length regarding Andy’s proposal, I would like to expand upon what he has suggested by humbly offering what I believe to be a few additional features of the future gospel.
- The #futuregospel will be more holistic. While the evangelical call for personal salvation will not be altogether abandoned, evangelicals will balance the call for personal repentance and salvation with a call for societal and systemic salvation. The latter call for salvation and repentance will include, but not be limited to, preaching a message of good news and redemption related to the economy,1 ecological issues,2 and systemic sins/injustices.3
- The #futuregospel will be more generous. (Yes, that was a tip of the hat to Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy. Like him or loathe him, McLaren and his writing have impacted younger evangelical leaders.) Name-calling and fragmentation amongst evangelicals will continue, but cooperative efforts and think tanks like the Missio Alliance evidence a new evangelical mindset –– a mindset characterized by cooperation rather than competition and theological discussion rather than disputation.
- The #futuregospel will be increasingly global. And not in the paternal, colonizing sense of recent centuries. Missionaries are now being sent to the United States from other countries. This, coupled with the advancements in social media, signal an incredible opportunity for an evangelical understanding of gospel that is more global in definition.
- The #futuregospel will emphasize both the crisis and progressive dimensions of salvation. A more global gospel will mean a gospel that is infused with a more robust understanding of sanctification/holiness. As evangelicals increasingly dialogue with Eastern Orthodox traditions, I believe that we will see a balanced call for crises of faith (the altar call) and transformational holiness (the working out of one’s faith with fear and trembling). Thus the #futuregospel will be less about a moment of decision and more about a life in which faith is cultivated and lived over a lifetime.
As Andy so aptly said, “I’m sure there are more things you could add to this list, or maybe features with which you disagree. Either way, I’d love to hear what you think the future of evangelicalism and the gospel is going to look like.” So please do take a moment to comment and share a thought or critique.
- Albert Hsu’s book, The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in a Land of Plenty, is but one example of how this contour of the #futuregospel is beginning to be addressed and discussed amongst evangelicals. ↩
- AJ Swoboda’s doctoral dissertation, Tongues and Trees: Towards a Green Pentecostal Pneumatology, and forthcoming book on the subject exemplify this facet of the future of the good news. ↩
- Two books that many of my evangelical friends are reading at the evangelical seminaries that they attend are examples of this contour of the future gospel: Generous Justice by Tim Keller and Injustice and the Care of Souls by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook. ↩