When we look at a church, we want to see their doctrine, mission statement, website, and so forth. Of course. But we also want to see the human reality of that church. Their official position is important, but it is theory. What says more is the reality within.
I’m always a little skeptical when I hear people talk about reading Scripture “devotionally” rather than, say, “academically” (or vice versa). Who says we have to choose? I wonder.
But while my false dichotomy radar isn’t always bad, I have to remember people are wired differently. Humanity is not a sea of sameness. We aren’t clones. In fact, as Christians we are “stewards,” Peter says, of God’s “varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).
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20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan.
“It was like a spiritual ghost town,” the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.
Yet, over the recent decades—particularly this last one—New York has seen a surge in evangelicalism. Some cultural experts believe the Big Apple to be on the brink of another ‘Great Awakening.’
Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College—the only free-standing Christian institution of higher learning in New York City—compares this rise in Christianity to the the great Wall Street revival of 1857.
“I would say there is a very special moment of spiritual renaissance happening in New York City right now,” he said.
Evangelical Christianity, it seems, is moving back to a confessional centering on the Gospel. I find this to be good news. But that does not mean that the next generation of Gospel-centered Evangelicals should retreat from social and political engagement. As part of a reaction to their parents’ or grandparents’ errors, a Gospel-focused, missional Evangelicalism could become not only separatist and isolationist but just as politically idolatrous though from a different direction, all the while reassuring its members that they are avoiding culture wars or social gospel.
A while back I bumped into somebody who mentioned that he was ‘talking to my people’ to arrange for me to come and speak at his church. Somewhat puzzled, I asked him who ‘my people’ were. Equally puzzled, he responded that they were the people he contacted to arrange for me to etc. etc. I then explained that I had had a series of assistants when Vice President at Westminster (beginning with the inestimable Mrs. Peel, pictured left) who helped me be in the right place at the right time with regard to Seminary business and even remembered such things as my cell phone number for me. Having relinquished my administrative position, however, I had also relinquished that advantage in life. Finally, the penny dropped: the gentleman realized that the person responding to emails sent to the account which bears my name was none other than the person whose name was on said account: me, myself and I. Yes, if you email me and I respond, it is me. Then again, if you email me and I do not, please be assured that it is me who is ignoring you.