Younger Evangelicals, The: Facing the Challenges of the New World Paperback – Jun 1 2009
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Younger Evangelicals are more traditional, very arts oriented, sacramental/symbolic, less legalistic, and seek meaning, as opposed to entertainment, from worship. They are leaving "contemporary" churches for ones that are more connected to the ancient Church. They are reading their Bibles in less literal ways, and see room for disagreement on controversial scripture passages, including the creation stories. Younger Evangelicals are more likely to take Eucharist weekly than sit through long sermons, and they seek a visible church, as opposed to an invisible one. In general, many young Christians are unsatisfied with both "traditional" and "contemporary" worship, and prefer a blending of the two, where the rich tradition of the Church is alive, but contextualized for each era.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I do all of Webber's books. Writers like Webber, Thomas Oden, Brian McLaren, and others speak to me as a postmodern Christian. Often Webber's yearnings are my yearnings.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
My name is Aaron Long, and in December 2004 I will finish with my M.A. in Philosophy of Religion from Denver Seminary. Read morePublished on May 19 2004 by Aaron Long
Although some would question whether there is such a thing as 'postmodernism', many would agree that we are presently in some sort of cultural transition period, or at least our... Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2003 by Herbert W Johnstok
If you are under age 30 stop reading here-and go read something else. However, if you are over 30-especially if you are in my own "boomer" generation, this is probably the most... Read morePublished on Dec 5 2002 by Keith Drury
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