I just read a characteristically helpful post by Steve Holmes on defining evangelicalism. Holmes wants to emphasize that evangelicalism is not simply defined materially, but also formally. What makes one an evangelical, in other words, is not only what they hold to, but how they hold to it (I encourage you to read the post after my terrible summary).
Since we have spent a lot of time on Theology Forum talking about the nature and boundaries of evangelicalism, being evangelical and all, I thought it might be helpful to take Holmes’ point to talk about the future of evangelicalism. If he is right, and I think that he is, we could see a lot of the fragmentation in evangelicalism as disagreements over the location of certain doctrines. The missional discussion is a certain material understanding of the Church-world relation as well as a specific understanding of the centrality of that doctrine to the nature and task of any evangelical church. Spiritual formation, likewise, entails a certain material understanding of the Christian life as well as the belief that spirituality is central, and therefore orders discussions concerning the Church-world relations (for instance). James posted earlier about the 9 Marks ministry’s concern about “liberalism” in evangelicalism (meaning something like, reading broadly, rather than theological liberalism), which specifically lays out 9 actual marks that are central organizing commitments.
That said, is this a helpful way to understand the various debates being had in evangelicalism? Can we use this as a way to talk about what could be defining debates in the near future (I tend to think that theological interpretation, Church-world relation and anthropology will be those kinds of debates)? Any thoughts?