Michael Spencer on Dissatisfaction and Unresolved Tension

While we are on the subject of dissatisfaction and unresolved tension, I would like to direct your attention to a series of posts written by Michael Spencer several years back.  These posts deal with unresolved tensions of evangelicalism with respect to the Christian worldview, Christian experience, Christian community, and Christian commitment.  He follows this up with responses to those who are dealing with the unresolved tensions in those areas.

The first post of the series deals with the Christian worldview.  Reading and understanding the Bible is not enough in much of evangelicalism; instead one must be prepared to give an answer for a whole host of questions including but by no means limited to:  Was the world created in six actual, literal days?  Did the sun actually stand still that day over Jericho?  Will there be a Rapture at the end of the age where all who believe in Christ are secretly spirited away before the Antichrist comes to power?  Go against the evangelical party line on these questions and more and…well, good luck with that.

The second post deals with Christian experience.  Evangelicals have made a specialty of big, bold, bodacious claims about all that God is doing in the world and in their lives.  But what about when religious experience (or the lack thereof) fails to sustain our faith in God?  There is a wealth of explanations out there:  human beings are sinful, God is sovereign, people experience the Holy Spirit differently, many exemplary Christians had seasons of minimal experience of God, etc. etc.

The third post is about Christian community.  While there are many wonderful examples of good Christian community in evangelicalism, there are also lots of places where we just don’t get the Christian community thing right at all.  An outsider could read the Bible and get a basic idea of what Christian community is supposed to look like, but there are way too many places in evangelicalism where Christian community is trumped by racial prejudice (as in the South of the 1950s) or by niche marketing, as is the case in many places today.  On top of that, there are actual breakdowns of Christian community where lots of people get hurt.  And yet, in far too many places where Christian community fails, the blame is shifted to those who say that Christian community is failing.

The fourth post is about Christian commitment.  A growing number of evangelicals are unwilling to do what is required to meet the standard for Christian commitment.  Not in the sense of atheism or agnosticism, although the refusal of these people to do what is required by the culture of evangelicalism to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of Christ may cause a lot of people to think them atheist or agnostic or at least moving in that direction.  But they are not rejecting Christianity so much as opting for “None Of The Above” instead of any of the options which evangelicalism presents as acceptable expressions of Christian commitment.

Following these posts, Spencer responds to those who are dealing with these unresolved tensions in two parts:  Part 1  Part 2