A Review Article The Younger Evangelicals -- By: Rolland D. McCune

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 08:1 (Fall 2003)
Article: A Review Article The Younger Evangelicals
Author: Rolland D. McCune


A Review Article
The Younger Evangelicals

Rolland D. McCune1

The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World by Robert E. Webber. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, 288 pp. $16.99.

This book is an apologetic for and a chronicle of one of the latest editions in the ever-widening evangelical saga. Robert E. Webber is Myers Professor of Ministry at the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the Institute for Worship Studies. He taught at Wheaton College from 1968–2000. He has authored numerous books on the general subject of evangelicalism, including Ancient-Future Faith (Baker, 1999) and Ancient-Future Evangelism (Baker, 2003). The author’s research and contact with his subject are aptly demonstrated in the book under review, although the ideas and practices of the new group he portrays are still largely from anecdotal accounts at this early point. In this book Webber “interprets the changing face of evangelicalism since about 1950 and projects where evangelicalism is going in the next decades” (p. 13).

Webber introduces the subject by placing the new movement, called the younger evangelicals, within the history of evangelicalism that spans roughly 1950–2000. From 1950–1975 there flourished a group that he calls “traditional evangelicals,” or what I would term the new evangelicals, that arose out of the old fundamentalist/evangelical coalition that itself had emerged from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s. The new or traditional evangelicals repudiated the essential motifs of the fundamentalists. From 1975–2000 a new stirring of “pragmatic evangelicals” appeared, baby boomers that turned against the traditionalists and created the mega-church, seeker-sensitive, market-driven, and generation-targeted philosophy of church

ministry. From 2000 on into the 21st century, the latest wave has rebelled against the drastic innovations, self-esteem therapeutics, and crass commercialism of the boomer pragmatists. They are now returning to the past—pre-Constantine church practice, patristic theology, ecumenical creeds, and ancient liturgics, icons, and symbols—as a paradigm for doing church in a postmodern culture. They are known throughout the book as younger evangelicals (young in age or young in spirit), postmodern evangelicals, 21st century evangelicals, twenty-somethings, Gen X evangelicals, and millennial youth.

Webber lays out the flow of his thought well. Part one (chapters 1 and 2) is introductory, locating the recent vintage of evangelicals in the evangelical history of the twentieth century, mainly in the USA, and outlini...

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