Are Evangelicals Doctrinally Weak?

In the book God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards, Piper writes about the present state of evangelicalism:

I resonate with the lament of Os Guinness and David Wells that evangelicalism today is basking briefly in the sunlight of hollow success. Evangelical industries of television and radio and publishing and music recordings, as well as hundreds of growing mega-churches and some highly visible public figures and political movements, give outward impressions of vitality and strength. But both Wells and Guinness, in their own ways, have called attention to the hollowing out of evangelicalism from within.

In other words, the strong timber of the tree of evangelicalism has historically been the great doctrines of the Bible—God’s glorious perfections, man’s fallen nature, the wonders of redemptive history, the magnificent work of redemption in Christ, the saving and sanctifying work of grace in the soul, the great mission of the church in conflict with the world and the flesh and the devil, and the greatness of our hope of everlasting joy at God’s right hand. These things once defined us and were the strong fiber and timber beneath the fragile leaves and fruit of our religious experiences. But this is the case less and less. And that is why the waving leaves of success and the sweet fruit of prosperity are not as auspicious to David Wells and Os Guinness as they are to many. It is a hollow triumph, and the tree is getting weaker and weaker while the branches are waving in the sun.

John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 67-68.

Read the book free online or purchase at the Desiring God store.

(HT: Desiring God blog)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “Are Evangelicals Doctrinally Weak?

  1. Perhaps it reflects the tendency of our culture to seek celebrity, celebrate worldly success and look for easy, comfortable answers. I think this has left us with hollowness not only in doctrine but also in character and depth of intimacy with God.

    Like every generation, we need to hear the gospel afresh. Firstly this allows our new perspectives to help us challenge old assumptions so we can dump from our doctrine the spoken and unspoken additions that previous generations have let slip in. (It is scary how many hundreds of years it took us to decide that slavery is not a good thing, for instance). Secondly it allows the gospel to scrutinise and challenge our own culture lest we build church and doctrine in its image.

    I think it’s this latter thing that we desperately need to do.

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