Evans’ appeal grew out of her deep roots within evangelicalism and the Bible Belt. Her facility with the Scriptures combined with her wit, humor, and fluid prose gave a way for believer and non-believer alike to consider faith in a fresh, lively way. In particular, evangelicals weary of the culture wars, angry about notorious hypocrisy within the church, and disenchanted with the conflation of culture, politics, and biblical faith found in her a refuge.
Evans’ hermeneutic, however, should be problematic for orthodox Christians of every stripe and tradition. She approaches Scripture from a human centered perspective, rather than a Christocentric one, and her primary exegetical tool is doubt.
It doesn’t take long for someone to stumble across difficult sections of just about any of Paul’s epistles. A number of years ago, I preached through 1 Corinthians and found it to be one of the most enjoyable expositions upon which I have had the privilege of preaching–that is, until, I hit the eighth chapter. Paul’s arguments about consciences and food offered to idols prove to be some of the most perplexing portions in the New Testament. Then, when you make it to chapter 15–and the glorious teaching about Christ’s resurrection and our own–you feel as though you’ve made it out of the woods and into the clear. Then you plow into the brick wall of Paul’s question, “Why then are they baptized for the dead” (1 Cor. 15:29)? Who is being baptized for who in this verse? What could Paul possible have in mind. This verse is certainly in the running for the most difficult verse in the Bible.
One of the best ways to “test” gospel-centrality in the life of a church plant is to look at the pulpit. A church may have “gospel-centered” peppered throughout their statement of beliefs and on their website, but one of clearest places to see whether gospel-centrality is a real value—or simply a buzzword—is when the pastor preaches God’s Word on Sunday.
One of the biggest debates facing evangelicalism today is not the nature of marriage and sexuality, but whether or not different views of marriage and sexuality constitute an issue on which orthodox Christians can simply “agree to disagree.”
In other words, how close is our understanding of marriage and human sexuality to the core of the Christian faith?
Does orthodoxy require a certain stance?
I enjoyed participating in this conversation on The Hero of the Story, the podcast I co-host with Brian Dembowczyk as part of The Gospel Project.