Three Worlds Of Evangelicalism & The Gods’ Return

Nov 16, 2022 by

by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative:

There’s an ongoing conversation now, mostly among Protestants, about Aaron Renn’s “Three Worlds Of Evangelicalism” thesis. Are we in “Negative World” — a cultural milieu in which being a Biblically faithful, small-o orthodox Christian, will cost you — and if so, what does that require of one?

In his comment on the controversy, Derek Rishmawy quotes Alan Jacobs making a forceful case that it’s always Negative World for Christians — that, for example, taking a public, faithfully Christian stance against racism in the segregated South in the 1950s would have drawn you far more negative attention (to understate things) than just about anything you might say as a Christian today. Was that really Positive World? Jacobs’s point is that it will always be costly to follow Jesus faithfully; time and place only differ in where the lines are drawn.

Rishmawy concedes the truth of that observation, but adds:

Nevertheless, it does not seem inane, politically, or pastorally irrelevant to ask the question: is there a coherent sense in which one could say the Roman world shifted to a “neutral” or “positive” stance with respect to Christian practice and confession before or after Constantine’s Edict of Milan? Is that a question that is relevant to Christian political witness and pastoral practice? Or, again, is there a relevant sense in which we could speak of a more negative stance of society and the state to Christian practice in China before or after the rise of the Communists? Or again, in Soviet Russia, or in post-Soviet Russia (I say that well aware of the state of the RO church and state persecution of non-Orthodox denominations.)

Again, the question is not whether in absolute terms, the potential cost of discipleship is different. The question is whether or not there is a politically and pastorally relevant shift that has occurred in the social conditions, social imaginary, state policy, or what-have-you, that makes the distinction of before and after, this time v. that time, worth noting and flagging in those types of terms (negative, positive, neutral)? Surely the prophets called Israel to fidelity and to keep from the idols which at all times were a threat to the people God, but is it entirely and utterly irrelevant whether it occurs in Israel or in Babylon? Do we think that pastoring our people towards the one, all-important, perennial goal of faithfulness to the Lord Jesus requires us to read the signs of the (admittedly non-eschatological) times, or not?

Read here


Related Posts


Share This