Help! I need your thoughts on the future of evangelicalism so I can impress Roger Olson

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So I’m pretty excited because on Monday, March 11, I’ll be partnering with Roger Olson and George Fox Seminary for what promises to be a fascinating conversation about the future of evangelicalism. 

From the George Fox Web site:  In a time when “evangelical” has more of a political connotation than a convictional connotation, we need bright voices that can help sort through the noise and imagine a way forward for those who call themselves evangelical Roger E. Olson is professor of theology at Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas. Rachel Held Evans is a blogger, speaker, and author of Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Together they will discuss whether there is a future for evangelicalism and, if so, what the future might entail.

Sounds interesting, right?


If only I knew what I was going to say!

I’m counting on my friend Roger to bring his historical and theological insight to the conversation, which means I’ll be sharing a bit more from a personal perspective, incorporating my own story with some of your stories  to make some general observations about what I think is happening in evangelicalism and why some of it makes me excited and some of it causes concern. I confess this isn’t as easy task, as debating my evangelical status has become something of a sport among Reformed bloggers, and a big part of me is just ready to toss the label and stick with something simple, like Christ follower….or maybe “it’s complicated.”

I wrote a post about the future of evangelicalism two years ago, and not much has changed….except that now I see a more defined stream of young, post-evangelical Christians finding their home in the Anabaptist tradition, which I think is exciting. I think of folks like Shane Claiborne and organizations like Red Letter Christians leading the way in this, not to mention the possibility of Greg Boyd and Woodland Hill's  joining either the Mennonite Church USA or the Brethren in Christ, which speaks volumes. I too am drawn to the Anabaptist tradition and believe it has something really special to offer Christians who are tired of the culture wars, as well as something important to say about how a post-Christian culture in the U.S. might actually be good for the Church.  If there was a progressive Mennonite congregation in our community, I’d probably be a part of it. (I've tried to convince my friend Kurt Willems to plant his church here instead of the West coast..because Dayton, Tennessee and Seattle, Washington are pretty much the same.) 

Anyway, I’d like to spend the weekend getting together my thoughts on this, and since a large percentage of you are smarter than I am, I figured I’d get your input. Know that I may quote you directly in my presentation, with attribution of course.

So here are my questions for you. Feel free to take a stab at one or all of them…or to go off on your own tangent. It’s a free country.

1.     Do you identify yourself as an evangelical? Why or why not? How do you feel about religious labels in general?

2.     How would you define evangelicalism?

3.     What are some of your greatest concerns for evangelicalism? And what are some of your biggest hopes?

4.     Do you know what Roger Olson’s favorite candy is? Because I think I’m going to owe him one for compensating for my lack of expertise on this. :-)

Note: You can register for the event at George Fox here. It's open to the public

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