A Church Without A View: Jonathan Edwards And Our Current Lifeview Discipleship Crisis -- By: David Scott
CAJ 7:2 (Fall 2008) p. 23
A Church Without A View: Jonathan Edwards And Our Current Lifeview Discipleship Crisis
David Scott is pastor for Carolina Community Church in Mooresville, NC, and a historian of Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans. He is also an adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary.
When evangelicals1 lament the current state of our Christian worldview, one of those we most often look longingly back to for inspiration is Jonathan Edwards. As Edwards’ biographer George Marsden observed, however, Edwards was not some Moby Dick, an anomalous white whale breaching history out of the blue, but his life and thought were very much a product of his background.2 As we search for a foot-
CAJ 7:2 (Fall 2008) p. 24
ing in which to once again foster in our ranks the kind of robust “God-Entranced Vision of All things” worldview that Edwards embodied, perhaps we ought to ask, what kind of church produces the worldview of a Jonathan Edwards?3
The answer to such a question could not be more urgent. Make no mistake: the Christian worldview among evangelicals is in crisis. Studies show that the pews are shockingly devoid of Christ-formed lives. The Willow Creek Association’s recent sweeping Reveal study of church and spiritual life across a diverse cross section of congregations of differing ministry models has shown that our evangelical church goers’ increasing participation in the standard fare of church activities is shockingly not a predictor for the maturity of their level of discipleship.4 In other words, the way we have been trying to form lives is not working.
According to George Baraa’s findings in his book Revolution, the problem is real and it is alarming. The average believer coming out of our churches has a spiritual short circuit between faith and life. Only 9 percent of those who call themselves born again have the basics of a biblical worldview. Most admit that the church service is the only place they worship God. Half would say they have not even experienced God’s presence in the last year. According to Barna, the majority defines success in life without mentioning their faith. Fewer than one out of ten wants to be known by others for their relationship with God. Is it any surprise then that, as Barna observes, “the typical churched believer will die without leading a single person” to Christ? With results like these, how can we be optimistic about our current efforts to disciple lives in a Christian worldview?
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