Early in February, I wrote a post titled, “LDS history and organization: a cautionary tale from the Catholics“. It deal with the controversy within the Catholic Church over the Legion of Christ and recent revelations regarding its founder, Father Marciel Maciel. I drew conclusions about the need for the LDS Church to continue to to be open and honest regarding its own history.
Today in the Christian Science Monitor is an article by Michael Spencer, a self-described “postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality”. The article is entitled “The coming evangelical collapse”, and while I think that Spencer may be overstating his thesis, his reasons for thinking that Evangelical Christianity will collapse are worth considering as Latter-day Saints:
1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. . . .
2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. . . .
3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. . . .
4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.
5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to “do good” is rapidly approaching. . . .
6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.
7. The money will dry up.
For the most part, the Church has avoided or is seeking to avoid these very problems. The big exception is #1, particularly in light of Proposition 8 in California (the irony being that the Evangelical group Focus on the Family alone spent three times what the LDS Church did in supporting Prop 8, yet no one is burning Bibles in front of FotF HQ down in Colorado Springs [or as we say here in Colorado, “the Springs”]).
I do not have enough expertise in the Evangelical churches to judge the accuracy of Spencer’s observations and the likelihood of his predictions. My suspicious is that he is (consciously or not) overstating his case in order to conform with his own frustrations and expectations, something not unknown here in the Bloggernacle. But be sure to read the whole article. ..bruce..
[UPDATE: Here’s a post to discuss possible futures of the LDS Church, particularly in America.]