With all the on-line discussion in past weeks regarding Evangelicalism and projections of the demise of Evangelicalism as we know it, I find myself distinguishing between cultural Evangelicalism and theological Evangelicalism.
I think we would all agree that if certain aspects of cultural Evangelicalism were to "go away", many of us would give a sigh of relief followed by the thought there is no loss there. We might even celebrate with thanksgiving the demise of those aspects of cultural Evangelicalism that play to the idols of consumerism in our secular materialistic society.
But what would be a real and tragic loss would be the demise of theological Evangelicalism. I'm not talking about Dispensationalism or Reformed theology or whatever theology you think you hold to. Those distinctions are subsets to basic Evangelical theology. (Both Reformed and Dispensational writers contributed to The Fundamentals, a series of essays compiled in response to the theological liberalism in the early 20Th century.)
Evangelical theology is about the essence of the Gospel; that God has broken into time and history, and through Jesus Christ is reconciling a lost humanity to Himself, and in that Gospel He is calling us not to just assent to a basic set of doctrine, but along with that assent to also enter into vital personal relationship with our Creator God. Whenever and wherever the Gospel is preached there will be in some form or fashion, to some degree or another,an Evangelical theology.
That is why I am personaly optimistic about the future of Evangelicalism. The cultural trappings may and in many cases should be stripped away, but the Evangelical message will never change.
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
"..and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." (Matthew 16:18b)