Some of our readers will no doubt be interested in this book: D. G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004). What is it about? Hart gives a summary in the introduction:
“My point put simply is that the movement neo-evangelical leaders patched together ended up splintering because it lacked the discipline and rigor of the church. Of course, the aim of evangelicalism was to find a lowest common denominator faith that would take members from diverse denominations and independent congregations and stitch them together into a recognizable quilt. It was, as Jon R. Stone has rightly observed, a work of coalition-building.”
“The problem, however, was that the effort to establish a flexible and potent union of Protestant conservatives was predicated on a fundamentally liberal maneuver. To defend and propagate the essential truths of the Bible, neo-evangelical leaders pared back denominational (read: churchly) accretions such as a full-blown creed, an order of worship, and a polity to govern ordination and exercise discipline. In effect, the creation of a core set of common beliefs was similar to (if not the same as) the liberal attempt to separate the kernel from the husk of the Bible.”
“The study that follows could lead the rather disconcerting conclusion, then, that for mere Christianity to survive, its wise and constant diligence needs to be directed to as complete a reflection on biblical truth as possible. In other words, to preserve the minimum, you need to defend the maximum. This is the logic that those who call themselves evangelical have instinctively avoided” (p. 30-31).”
The following sentence stuck out for me: “to preserve the minimum, you need to defend the maximum.” Well said. You’ll have to get the book to see how Hart expands and explains this summary.
rev. shane lems