In my last post on Evangelical idolatry I focused on the various movements in evangelicalism and how they tend to be attached to various kinds of idolatry. In the discussion on Facebook, unfortunately not had on the post itself, it was suggested to me that evangelicals cannot honestly be concerned with the Christian tradition and still be Evangelical! I find this both possible and shocking. I have often said that if you want to be miserable (and are Evangelical), the best way is to study either theology or Church History, but I never imagined that giving the tradition any weight whatsoever would preclude you from being Evangelical.
I find this suggestion interesting because it could very well help to delineate two kinds of evangelicalism – as well as help explain why evangelicals tend towards either fundamentalism or frustration. Fundamentalism because they border on, or accept wholesale, bibliolotry, such as post-Reformed heretics who were biblicists (the renewal, for instance, of Arianism and general anti-trinitarian sentiments because they were seen to be an addition to the Bible itself). Frustration, because, with the total neglect of tradition, social action and, well, thoughtfulness I suppose, Evangelicals who learn about the broader church inevitably get angry and flee, leaving behind whatever good qualities Evangelicals do have.
So, for this post, I would like to hear your thoughts on a couple of things: First, is this true? Second, if so (even a qualified “yes), how is it the case? In other words, you could say that Evangelicals cannot care about the tradition unless they can use it for their own benefit (which is, sadly, usually the case), and therefore still cannot truly be said to give it any real “weight.” It is like when non-denominational pastors preach on money they suddenly sound like OT scholars even though they never really reference the OT in other discourse (we need to fill the storehouse)! Third, if you think otherwise, that you can both be Evangelical and give some weight to the tradition, could you specify how that is the case, and to what degree it is?