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What is an evangelical . . . and has he lost his mind? Carl Trueman wrestles with those two provocative questions and concludes that modern evangelicals emphasize experience and activism at the expense of theology. Their minds go fuzzy as they downplay doctrine. The result is “a world in which everyone from Joel Osteen to Brian McLaren to John MacArthur may be called an evangelical.”
Fifteen years ago in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, historian Mark Noll warned that evangelical Christians had abandoned the intellectual aspects of their faith. Christians were neither prepared nor inclined to enter into intellectual debates, and had become culturally marginalized. Trueman argues that today “religious beliefs are more scandalous than they have been for many years”—but for different reasons than Noll foresaw. In fact, the real problem now is exactly the opposite of what Noll diagnosed: evangelicals don’t lack a mind, but rather an agreed upon evangel. Although known as gospel people, evangelicals no longer share any consensus on the gospel’s meaning.
Provocative and persuasive, Trueman’s indictment of evangelicalism also suggests a better way forward for those theologically conservative Protestants famously known as evangelicals.