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Younger Evangelicals, The: Facing the Challenges of the New World [Paperback]

Robert Webber
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2002
Robert E. Webber has led worship workshops in every major city in the United States and Canada. Through his conversations and contacts with a network of emerging church leaders he calls the "younger evangelicals," Webber sees how this new generation and their style of leadership is bringing change and renewal to the evangelical church. These leaders, who include those young in spirit as well as young in age, have important insights to offer all generations faced with "doing church" in a rapidly changing postmodern culture.
The Younger Evangelicals explores the characteristics of these emerging leaders and provides an outlet for their stories. Beginning with a brief overview of twentieth-century evangelicalism, Webber examines what is different about the twenty-first century younger evangelicals' way of thinking about faith and practicing church. He allows them-Ph.D.s and laypeople-to speak in their own words on issues such as communication, theology, apologetics, pastoral leadership, evangelism, worship, and spiritual formation.
Thought provoking, energizing, and timely, The Younger Evangelicals is a landmark book for pastors and church leaders, culture watchers, ministry students, and worship leaders who want to prepare for and respond to the new evangelical awakening brought on by our changing cultural context.

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From Publishers Weekly

Over a quarter of a century ago, Richard Quebedeaux chronicled the history and prospects of evangelicalism in his sociology of religion study, The Young Evangelicals. Webber, who teaches at Northern Seminary in Wheaton, Ill., offers an insider's perspective on the present state and future of evangelicalism. He contends that the "younger evangelicals" include anyone "who deals thoughtfully with the shift from 20th- to 21st-century culture. He or she is committed to construct a biblically rooted, historically informed and culturally aware new evangelical witness in the 21st century." In this splendid overview of the shifts in the evangelical landscape, Webber examines the differences in theological thinking, worship styles and communication styles; attitudes toward history, art and evangelism; and ecclesiology between "traditional" evangelicals (1950-1975), "pragmatic" evangelicals (1975-2000) and younger evangelicals (2000-). For example, where the traditional evangelicals argued theologically that Christianity is a rational worldview and pragmatic evangelicals contended theologically that Christianity is a therapy that answers needs, the younger evangelicals' theological program involves a return to ancient Christian and Reformation teachings that Christianity is a community of faith. These younger evangelicals, he argues, are highly visual believers, possessing great facility with technology. They are committed to the plight of the poor, multicultural communities of faith and intergenerational ministry, and they recognize that the road to the future runs through the past. Webber's helpful and thorough guidebook offers a generous assessment of the history of evangelicalism as well as a judicious but enthusiastic evaluation of its prospects in the 21st century.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

A new evangelical awakening is taking place around the world. And the changes are being introduced by an emerging generation of leaders-The Younger Evangelicals. Who are they and what is different about their way of thinking and practicing church? How are they keeping ministry up to speed with our rapidly changing culture? In this provocative and energizing book, they will tell you.

"If you're suspicious about new winds blowing across the evangelical coastland, please don't criticize until you've read The Younger Evangelicals. It is by far the most thoughtful description of what's going on. If you're not critical but just curious, Webber will give you a thorough immersion into the emerging church. And if you're 'younger' yourself or young at heart, you'll find Webber giving voice to much that you have felt but couldn't yet articulate. Webber proves himself a sagely resource for this fresh, fledgling movement in this wise, warm, timely book."
Brian McLaren, pastor, author, senior fellow with Emergent (www.emergentvillage.com)

"At a time when many graying prognosticators are bemoaning the state of the church, it is refreshing to read a commentator of Robert Webber's stature who is optimistic about the future of the evangelical cause. Webber documents the presence of a cadre whom the Holy Spirit is raising up to lead the church in offering a biblically rooted, historically informed and culturally aware gospel witness. I am personally encouraged by Webber's findings."
Stanley J. Grenz, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Baylor University

"The Younger Evangelicals is an eye-popping, brain-bending look at where the evangelical church must head if it has any hopes of impacting postmodern culture. A superbly researched, foundational work, it is easily the best primer on the emerging church that I have seen."
Sally Morgenthaler, founder of Sacramentis.com, author of Worship Evangelism

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slanted Research Yields Slanted Results May 19 2004
Format:Paperback
My name is Aaron Long, and in December 2004 I will finish with my M.A. in Philosophy of Religion from Denver Seminary. With all of the four- and five-star reviews of this book, I'm sure that my one-star rating will turn some heads and provoke some angry reactions, but let me explain.
1. I have the unique privelege of having been at Wheaton College during the time that Joseph Clair, Joel Handy, et al., who have been repeatedly quoted by Webber, were there. Many of the students quoted were controversial idealists on campus, and I would not consider many, if any of them, to be representative of either the Wheaton College student body or the generation into which they were born. Webber has produced a work on the basis of the people that he chose to study, which were probably a vocal minority, but not a representative sample of the greater whole.
2. I have spoken with Dr. Webber personally in the last three months in order to determine whether he is 1) a proponent of postmodern Christianity (which is integrally related to the "emerging church movement"), or 2) merely a chronicler of a certain subcultural movement within Christianity that is taking place. He affirmed that he is the former, not the latter. It is important to remember that there are culturally-based movements like this within Christianity EVERY GENERATION, and often the result of these movements is the nuancing of Christian thought and lifestyles in such a way that a total cultural overhaul becomes necessary when the current wave breaks upon the shores of the public, yielding to the next crest that has been subtly rising behind the first one all along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Post-modern thought is not a "philosophy" Dec 17 2003
Format:Paperback
My reading of Foucault, Derrida, and especially Lyotard is that their thinking rejects "...isms" or ",,,ities" as in existentialISM or modernITY. Thought systems that offer a comprehensive or totalising world view are philosophies. Postmodern thought does not offer an alternative philosophy, rather it is a critique of such ways of thinking. It regects the assertion of a metanarrative, or big story.
In Sullivan's excellent review of The Younger Evangelicals, he generally use the phrases "postmodern thought" or "postmodern thinking," but then in one instance use the phrase "postmodernism" (second to last paragraph). In that context, Sullivan and the other reviewers have done an excellent job of equipping the readers of The Younger Evangealicals with tools of discernment. The book has captured how the Younger Evangelicals have regected post modern thought by believing the metanarrative (big story) of God's Good News and at the same time understood the effects of modernity on the church, effects which could only have been grasped because post modern thought has provided some excellent tools for discerning where and how modernity can lead Christians slightly or way off course. If asserting the value of post modern thinking is troubling to some, then I would remind them that truth is God's truth because it is true regardless of who articulated it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a postmodern solution June 24 2003
Format:Paperback
This book is a great resource and is loaded with a ton of valuable food for thought, but I cannot quite recommend it wholeheartedly without a few minor reservations.
I found many of the ideas expressed by the author and those he has interviewed and learned from to be not only refreshing but at times very moving. Most notable would be the notion that the church is supposed to be "incarnational", that is, the church is Body of Christ, the presence of Christ in the world - therefore the best apologetic is seeing people living truly and honestly under the rule of God in this life, in true community and service.
The author's main premise is that Evangelicalism has moved through three phases in the last few generations. The traditionalist phase exalted reason and doctrinal correctness above all else. The Pragmatic Phase emphasized felt needs and marketing strategies to make faith relevant and accessible to seekers. But the Younger evangelicals have turned toward "authenticity" and away from rationalistic or pragmatic approaches, seeking a God who is beyond rational definitions. They wish to communicate the faith by embodying the teaching of Christ, rather than articulating principles or programs.
The way many young evangelicals (as well as many in mainline protestant denominations and Catholic and Orthodox believers) have adapted to Postmodern thought can be both heartening and frightening. On the one hand, the recognition that rationalism has infiltrated the church is undeniable and worth correcting. Not only have liberal theologians applied naturalism to scripture in a way that removed the supernatural from faith, but conservatives have applied the scientific method to biblical interpretation to the point where individual interpretation reigns.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heart Freshly Stirred, But Read With Discernment April 11 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend "The Younger Evangelicals." Dr. Webber has portrayed a stunning mosaic of what God is freshly stirring in many hearts today. God is moving many with a fresh desire for a church community that knows each other well enough to have authentic relationships. We see ourselves as a people of God's Presence with our corporate life as "mission," something we are and not just something we do. We don't just want to hear the wonderful stories in Scripture, but we want to experience them so that His story intersects our personal stories. We desire to share Jesus with others in our sphere of influence in natural, non-religious ways, living out the Good News and not just verbalizing it. A new leadership is developing with servants becoming participative leaders, a team without any abdication of healthy leadership. Dr. Webber threads this fresh move of God throughout "The Younger Evangelicals" in a way that stirs a, "Yes, Lord!" from within.
What concerns me, however, is HOW this mature man of God encourages these younger leaders to find the answer. First, his book seems to imply that the norm today is to leave the established church and start a new church plant from scratch. There's nothing wrong with that as an option, but the existing church also needs these impulses. Many of his arguments describing the established church set up the mega church as the "straw man." The mega church is only one expression of the church, and certainly has built-in problems when the goal is a relational community of believers. Second, candles, incense, icons, silent retreats, etc. are the methods that I see salted throughout the book.
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