Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 134:534 (Apr 77) p. 156
“The Evangelicals: New Trends and New Tensions,” Richa Quebedeaux, Christianity and Crisis, September 20, 1976, pp 197–202.
The very fact that an article on evangelicals appears in Christianity and Crisis is evidence that 1976 is indeed “the year of the evangelical” (David Kucharsky, Christianity Today, October 22, 1976, pp. 12-13). That the magazine commissioned Quebedeaux to write the article is not surprising.
Quebedeaux begins by noting the increasing visibility and impact of evangelicalism. His opening sentence reads, “The evangelicals are a talking point everywhere” (p. 197). But his pitch in the article is that evangelicalism is changing. He writes, “Most people outside the evangelical community itself, however, are totally unaware of the profound changes that have occurred within evangelicalism during the last several years” (p. 197). He calls these changes he sees a “revolution in orthodoxy” (p. 197).
Five areas of change are discussed by the author: (1) “the movement’s understanding of the inspiration and authority of Scripture,” (2) “its social concerns,” (3) its “cultural attitudes,” (4) its “ecumenical posture,” and (5) “the nature of its emerging leadership” (p. 197). Within evangelicalism some discussion and some activity in all these areas has taken place within the past decade or so, but Quebedeaux’s implication that evangelicalism as a movement is changing in these areas is a case of wishful thinking. Even Quebedeaux admits that “the vanguard” of these changes “is centered primarily on a small, highly literate, zealous elite” (p. 197).
Quebedeaux says that “these new trends among the evangelicals are highly significant. They indicate that evangelical theology is becoming…more open to biblical criticism and more accepting of science and broad cultural analysis” (p. 202). Quebedeaux envisions the possibility of “the emergence of a ‘new morality’ for evangelicals in which
BSac 134:534 (Apr 77) p. 157
love becomes the only absolute ethical norm” (p. 200). He describes “their evangelism” as “more like the call to social justice and discipleship than the traditional call to conversion. One can even discern among them a subtle shift in the direction of belief in universal salvation” (p. 202). No matter what they call themselves, persons (the neuter term is used in deference to the evangelical women’s libbers Quebedeaux exalts) who hold such views no longer deserve the name evangelical.
Quebedeaux concludes that “only time will tell to what degree all of this will eventually become pervasive. But one thing is certain. Evangelicalism...
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