More reflections on American Evangelicalism from Tim Keller.

posted in: Tony Thompson 1

In my previous blog I quoted Keller on distinctives within American Evangelical churches. In this blog I want share other insights from the same article, this time on why he believes the American Evangelical church is in decline.

My first blog.

The original Keller article.

He identifies six distinct reasons.

  1. The American church only reaches out to traditionally minded Americans, people who believe in a personal God, an afterlife, and moral absolutes. The church is unwilling or unable to reach the highly secular and culturally different who are becoming the majority in the US.
  2. Many leaders within the churches have been found to be guilty of spiritual and sexual abuse. Lack of accountability has led to high profile leader and church meltdowns. Sexual misconduct against women has been widespread.
  3. Linking themselves with one political party and one presidential candidate has alienated them to the 50% of the population with other political affiliations. Those alienated are mostly younger and multi-ethnic.
  4. There is a race problem. In the past the churches supported slavery, were silent during segregation and largely rejected the civil rights movement and were slow in integrating schools and Universities. Now structural injustices and systemic racism are denied despite such concepts being biblical.
  5. There is an anti-intellectual strand within the churches which means they are ill-equipped to reach the growing number of college-educated people. The inability to see the difference between biblical beliefs and American culture is largely due to a lack of scholarship.
  6. There is no healthy model for relating to secular culture. The only options on the table are to re-establish Christendom through government action or to withdraw from the public arena and just build up church.

These are helpful, honest, and fascinating insights from within the American church by an experienced and highly respected leader. We need to reflect on our own situation and seek to avoid these pitfalls ourselves. I think many in the British church are seeking to do this, which is encouraging.

  1. Jeremy

    I agree with this assessment of why the Evangelical Church is in decline.
    I do however think Keller is minimizing the problem. It goes further and deeper in every aspect.
    I’m ashamed and embarrassed to call myself an evangelical. I’m a recovering evangelical and there are many like me out there.
    It’s time to be honest with our our history. It’s time to engage our brains when we open scripture.
    It’s time to be good news to our neighbours.
    Love wins.

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