Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Potential Theological Trends within Evangelicalism circa 2013

Brandan Robertson wrote a post, and I hate to say it but I had been pondering the same thing. I think there will be three things approaching.
1. Annihilationism will increase, as will support for universalism.
With the rise of ReThinking Hell and the increasing atmosphere of openness (given the Rob Bell fiasco awhile ago), we will see more open support for annihilationism. Given that Preston Sprinkle of Erasing Hell fame now leans towards annihilationism or conditional immortali, this trend is indeed a hot one. Bad pun intended. You have other scholars like David Instone-Brewer, John Stackhouse and even Justin Brierley throwing their hats in the ring. Within the near future, the traditional view will die down and the debate will shift between annihilationism and universalism, with annihilationism becoming the dominant view.

2. Egalitarianism.
Due in large part to the scholarship of varying egalitarian heavyweights (Philip B. Payne being one), I believe that the equality of women and men in ministry will begin to be sorted out in my generation. Thanks to the continuous remarks of many Complementarians such as Mark Driscoll and John Piper (both whom don't speak for many of my Complementarian brothers and sisters), the trend within evangelicalism is to reassess the traditional standing. Simply put, Christians are beginning to stop and stare and think about this issue. Many who are involved in justice are sensing something amiss, as well as many seminaries doing the same. The tides are changing, both at Talbot and at seminaries across the United States.

3. The battle for the Bible.
Inerrancy has been a hot topic since the 50s, but I suspect that the liberal/fundamentalist divide will begin to widen with more moderate scholarship and attitudes prevailing. Given the aforementioned emphasis on justice, I see many within my generation being repulsed by both the right and the left. This is a tendency to be sure, but I think one could mine for the best of both sides and create something new. We are currently within a giant hole left by the emergent church and the collapsing nature of fundamentalism.
I see multiple topics seething in the background but they are less likely to be explosive; atonement, evolution and maybe even a little something call gay rights.




  1. Nick, I think you hit these three right on the head. As a newly minted Conditionalist, I have faith that the exegesis of the relevant passages will be seen as properly supporting the Conditionalist view.

    As a moderate Complementarian, I appreciate the balancing effect that Egalitarianism has had, but I don't think I, or we, should entirely abandon the idea of male headship in the home or the church.

    Regarding inerrancy, I think we can maintain a high bibliology without it - I don't think it, and it's corollary doctrines, are biblical or logical.

    1. Thanks for your comment! :)

      I'm inclined to agree with you on the exegesis. I do think the positive case for universalism is strong so I hold the two in tension until I have time to sit down and hash it all out.

      I tend to view complementarianism in the same way as I do the traditional view: if it cannot hold up to Scripture, then it isn't of Scripture. We can agree to disagree of course, but I see little reason to maintain male headship in either the home or the church if it isn't in Scripture.

      I think I agree with you comment on inerrancy. ;)

      Thanks again!