AFTER ALL, WHAT IS THE CRISIS OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH?
“In days past some knew Jesus in the flesh, but now we don’t know Him that way” — Apostle Paul.
“The Gospel was not tried and judged imperfect. It was deemed difficult. Therefore, it remains until today” — Sören Kierkegaard.
I recently read in a declaration of an “evangelical thinker” that some people say that “the crisis of the evangelical church is a crisis of content”.
If he is “evangelical” he is not a thinker, and if he is a thinker, he won’t be evangelical any more.
Nobody who thinks is “evangelical”. Not today anymore. Neither anybody who truly feels, is “evangelical”. Not today anymore.
Thus, let the evangelicals know. If anybody thinks, he is not evangelical, in the same way, if somebody has soul, he is not evangelical. From there, for me, the phrase “evangelical thinker” is an impossibility of mind and soul.
In the same text, which I referred before, the death of “evangelical movement” was proclaimed.
Mistake! That is not going to happen!
The “evangelical church” won’t die. It is already dead.
However, the “evangelical movement”, be aware, is not going to die. Yes, it will stay around…and will be what all the other religions are, even the “deadest”, but only with one difference. The evangelicals are the least sophisticated of all, with the possible exception of the fanatic Islamics.
If only the “evangelical crisis” were so simple!
The issue is that those who don’t know the proponents of these things and don’t even know what “content” is, think that “content” is about something dense and solid. But it is not.
When they speak about “content”, according to the text which I referred, they evoke the idea of a “sweet” theology, one which is pretty, good tasting, softly psychologized, politically correct, thought provoking, reflective, and evokes the sweetness of God as father and produce ethical moral rules disguised in integrity.
That is, those “contents” are still kindergarten things of the reality, according the gospel. They only make the individual nice and behave socially appropriate, aiming to socialize well when everything is all right. However, those same “contents”, make these same individuals completely “judgmental”, completely “theoretical”, deeply “theo-logical”, largely “rational”, or, when they are not “rational” they are suns of a mystical systematic mind (learned but not necessarily experienced).
From the point of view of existentialism, such contents don’t accomplish anything, unless everything is “all right”.
They don’t set you free from jealousy, pride, vain thinking, a factious spirit, the right to pursue scandals, seeking sensuality, spirituality based on books, the phobia of the soul, insecurity of being, the need of pretentiousness, proud sophistications, meaningless academicism, from many and many beautiful and sincere meetings, however, full of nothing.
That is, such “contents”, if they are confessed is because they are known, otherwise what certainty would there be about their validity? They would not produce anything in the lives of their proponents except things previously mentioned. They know very well that this is true.
These “contents” are a bubble of theories that are only useful for a group of kids who meet with another group of kids and show each other their virtual little games, because, in fact, they don’t affect reality. Such things they don’t even dream about knowing.
Yes, such “contents” are still the fruit of a protestant-illuminist’s mental production, or, sometimes from the seeking to experience some kind of Christian Renaissance. But they are nothing that relates to the radical visceral of the gospel’s calling.
Many people have “content” between evangelicals. But so what? Such “contents” are not life. They are only letters. Nice letters, well done sometimes, even poetic, but letters, nothing more than letters…
The crisis of evangelicals is deeper, and, among other things, it also includes these “contents” that some say is missing in the church.
God forbid! If the church is visited by the “contents”, then we will only have a pile of losers, prophets of themselves, kings of popularity, deeply convenient, polite traitors.
Well, in fact, the “contents” are part of the crisis that they finally see (it’s so late now that it is obvious there is a crisis which is old and fossilized).
There are many people who believe the lack of content is still relevant, there are, however, a lot of people, among the evangelicals, who have content. However, there is no difference between the two groups of people (with or without content). In the same way, content never made a difference at any other time. They are only the “eternal alibi” used by these same people to criticize without taking the risk in saying Come! Come along! Let’s learn together! Let’s be brothers! Let’s confess our sins: jealousy, diseases and pious madness, and together, let’s start the journey of the life, walking without having anything to be proud of but the Cross of the Christ.
No! They will never do that. They will only watch. They will give their opinion. They will make an analysis. They will play with themselves with their repetitions and repeated ideas. They don’t even have enough courage to face themselves. Nothing will happen without courage. Imagine getting the courage to show their face, to be beaten by faith, and to live the reality of the knowledge of God, not as “psychology of spiritual retreat”, but as life on the corner, on the little streets, at the middle of the sharpest human anguish or affliction, on the losses and the winnings, on the mourning, on the joy, on the heavens and in the abyss.
Only when we know, through the experience of the Grace of God, that “darkness and light are the same thing”, do we know God as a mystery. Well, the fruit of such knowledge is peace!
They still didn’t understand that part of the damn is the Greek heritance of the mistaken thinking that “contents” are the same thing learned by your head or with the periphery of the heart.
“To think contents” is another phrase they love!
Well, the contents of the gospel are not the same thing that they call “content”.
The real evangelical crisis (which includes everybody and everything that are not Catholic) is the crisis of total ignorance of the Grace of God.
Yes, they speak about Grace but only speak. When they really speak, they speak about something that the majority doesn’t even know about, unless through philosophical and theological definition of the gospel.
The Grace of God is not a doctrine or a speech about a God who is a little better.
Grace is better than life. The Grace of God can only be known as an experience of life as real transcendence and immanence in God.
That is: the one who believes, experiences!
According the shocking language of Mark 16…”certain signs follow…” in other words, it is not bla, bla,bla…it is life of faith and courage, it is risk, it is giving yourself, it is confidence, and it is joy, contentment and peace through the Holy Spirit.
Through the Grace of God we don’t just hear about knowing God, but we do know God.
The lack of experience of the real knowledge of God in faith, in Grace, and according to the spirit of the Gospel, asphyxiated the evangelical church, and killed its soul. It was killed in such a way that it will exist as a zombie and it will not die completely because it is already dead.
The faith in Jesus, however, is firm and unshakable, once the old skins leak the wine is wasted….but the new wine does not cease because of the leakage. The true vineyard doesn’t ever stop producing fruit through the branches, living in total submission and trust, knowing that without Jesus, nothing can be done, especially “to produce contents”.
The evangelical church was once a problem for me. Today, sincerely, it is not anymore.
I believe that many evangelicals will still get saved through the Gospel, and I believe that many will experience the abundant and confident life found in Jesus.
I know that this will happen only when they give up everything, and when they forsake the pretension of defining “contents”, or adding sugar to God hoping to give a better taste.
However, they will only know what I am talking about in the day when they experience the benefit of peace and total pacifying of the heart, through confidence, which is the fruit of real knowledge of God, and not from his theological projection.
Whoever understands, understand!
Original Title: "Afinal, qual é a crise da igreja evangélica?"
Translation: Kathy and Guilherme Sazonov, New Jersey