Leftward To Scofield: The Eclipse of the Kingdom in Post-Conservative Evangelical Theology -- By: Russell D. Moore

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 47:3 (Sep 2004)
Article: Leftward To Scofield: The Eclipse of the Kingdom in Post-Conservative Evangelical Theology
Author: Russell D. Moore


Leftward To Scofield:
The Eclipse of the Kingdom in Post-Conservative Evangelical Theology

Russell D. Moore

[Russell Moore is dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.]

The protagonist of Walker Percy’s novel The Moviegoer would salve his depression by reading the liberal and conservative magazines in his neighborhood New Orleans library. The ideological conflicts in the pages were, to him, a “sign of life” in an otherwise lonely and impersonal cosmos.1 For some, the ongoing skirmishes between traditionalists and reformists over evangelical boundaries might seem to be a sign of life in a movement questing for an identity after Billy Graham and Carl F. H. Henry. For both sides of the divide, however, the issues raised by “post-conservative” proposals represent a challenge to the uneasy consensus of the postwar movement. For reformists, the post-conservative proposals are true to the heritage of evangelical theology as a movement initiated for the reformation of American fundamentalism. And yet, recent developments reveal that the evangelical left may be pushing evangelical theology away from the theological consensus around the centrality of the Kingdom of God that the founders of evangelicalism sought to establish and saw developed into a full-blown consensus by the end of the century. And, in so doing, post-conservative proposals represent an ironic regression to the doctrinal reductionism of twentieth-century fundamentalism.

1. Post-Conservative Proposals and the Development of Evangelical Theology

Like evangelicalism itself, the “post-conservative” or “reformist” strands within the movement are difficult to define with precision. This is because reformist evangelicalism is less a “party” than a constellation of proposals seeking to reform various aspects of traditional evangelical theology. Both sides would recognize these reform efforts to include open theist critiques of the classical doctrine of God, postmodern and narrative revisions of the doctrines of revelation and biblical authority, evangelical feminist advocacy for an egalitarian model of gender roles, and inclusivist proposals on the

salvation of those apart from conscious faith in Christ.2 These various reform efforts do not necessarily overlap completely in every case. There are, for instance, many evangelical feminists who would embrace an otherwise thoroughly traditionalist framework of evangelical theology.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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