Michael Spencer describes himself as a “post-evangelical.” From his writing he seems to be a serious, intelligent Gospel Christian, with a distaste for mega-church worship-as-entertainment, for the Prosperity Gospel, and for an excessively public piety without a firm basis in private prayer and self-examination. You don’t have to agree with his theology – and I certainly don’t – to feel his pain about having the institutions of his faith taken over by hucksters.
Spencer predicts a collapse of evangelical Christianity as we know it, with the remnant drifting into Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or the pentecostal/charismatic traditions. His diagnosis: the movement as it stands is stronger on identity than on theology; the folks who groove to “Christian music” simply don’t know very much about actual Christian doctrine. Some of his prescriptions seem off-base to me: somehow I doubt that the U.S., and especially the Bible Belt, is going to be very open to missionaries from Africa and Latin America. And I have no way of knowing how likely his predictions are to come true.
But for the health of the Republic – even for the health of the Republican Party, which needs to function better than it now does if we are to have healthy political competition – I’m hoping that Spencer is right that one of the pillars of Karl Rove’s God-and-Mammon coalition may be about to topple.
Maybe I should pray for it.