A Recommendation To American Evangelicals: Focus On The Trinity As An Alternative To Arguments About “Islamic Terrorism” -- By: Steven W. Ladd

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 07:1 (Summer 2016)
Article: A Recommendation To American Evangelicals: Focus On The Trinity As An Alternative To Arguments About “Islamic Terrorism”
Author: Steven W. Ladd


A Recommendation To American Evangelicals:
Focus On The Trinity As An Alternative To Arguments About “Islamic Terrorism”

Steven W. Ladd

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

This essay notes why American evangelicals may feel beleaguered after a string of perceived losses in cultural contests. The US media’s use of the term “evangelical” to mean cultural conservatism may woo them on to other such arguments, for example, about jihadism and “Islamic terrorism.” Even if there is a benefit to being more informed about such matters, it is argued here that any cultural contests, even arguments over Islam, are unproductive if the real distinctiveness of Christianity is not advanced. The key issue is the deity of Christ and thus the doctrine of the Trinity. How can Christians gain access to this doctrine that is perhaps the most difficult one to understand? A recommendation is offered: Gather Scripture texts that ground the doctrine of the Trinity and summarize how they work together for the proclamation and defense of Christianity.

Introduction

American evangelicals in the twenty-first century face an identity crisis. “American” is increasingly burdened with a negative connotation having little to do with geography and “evangelical” suffers from the media’s use of it to designate a Republican voting bloc. But “beleaguered” might express what they feel identifies them. Evangelicals see their world “turned upside down” in just the opposite way that Acts 17:6 meant it, when Thessalonian Christians so influenced their culture that such a charge could be made. Now it is evangelicals who sense their influence diminishing and it is their world that seems to have toppled. Older evangelicals find that their younger counterparts reject denominational identity and seem not to rely on clear biblical parameters for defining gender, marriage, family, sex, morality, sin, religion, tolerance, citizenship, property, education, security, and even the meaning of life itself. Consider as well the antagonism directed at evangelical views on such matters. One study concludes:

There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction; the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms . . . . It is the responsibility of the research

community to address contro...

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