Tim Keller: Evangelicalism Will Survive


It is not often that a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America publishes a piece at The New Yorker.  Here is Tim Keller, Pastor Emeritus of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

A taste:

Does the word, then, have an ongoing usefulness? For now, the answer may be no. These new urban churches are certainly not mainline Protestant, yet they don’t look at all like what the average person thinks of by the term “Evangelical.” Will these younger churches abandon the name or try to redefine it? I don’t know, but, as a professional minister, I don’t think it is the most important point to make. What is crucial to know is that, even if the name “evangelical” is replaced with something else, it does not mean that the churches will lose their beliefs. Some time ago, the word “liberal” was largely abandoned by Democrats in favor of the word “progressive.” In some ways, the Democratic Party is more liberal now than when the older label was set aside, evidence that it is quite possible to change the name but keep the substance.

The same thing may be happening to evangelicalism. The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever. Some predict that younger evangelicals will not only reject the name but also become more secular. That is not what I have been seeing here in New York City. And studies by the Pew Research Center and others indicate that religious denominations that have become more friendly to secularism are shrinking precipitously, while the evangelical churches that resist dilution in their theological beliefs and practices are holding their own or growing. And if evangelicals—or whatever they will call themselves­—continue to become more multiethnic in leadership and confound the left-right political categories, they may continue to do so.

Read the entire piece here.

One thought on “Tim Keller: Evangelicalism Will Survive

  1. Interesting. The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI; the organizational descendant of a group that left the Northern Baptist Convention in the 1940s and a group closely associated with Bob Jones University) recently dropped the word “fundamental” from its name, which it changed to “Foundations Baptist Fellowship International.” The name change was accompanied by discussion in the FBFI magazine/journal, FrontLine, on why the name was dropped. The biggest factor seemed to be that the term carried so much baggage–FBFI pastors avoided using the term when, for instance, sharing their Christian faith with people they met while travelling.
    I think more and more Christian fundamentalist groups will begin to drop the term once they can find another good word that describes their views. To be quite honest, I think the only thing stopping many fundamentalists from changing the word for their movement is that they can’t find a catchy word that means the same thing as “fundamentalist.”


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