I am honored and humbled that Christianity Today’s Collin Hansen penned a synopsis of our discussion about evangelicalism at The City.   Hansen knows young evangelicals as well as anyone–his thorough and detailed treatment of the young Reformed left little more to be said, which was largely the reason why I left that specific demographic aside.

It is my hope that Hansen’s article will prompt people not only to read the first article, but the subsequent discussion.  But Hansen’s essay does reveal one flaw in our discussion that I think worth clarifying.

Hansen frames Reynolds’ proposal for evangelicalism (and my agreement) this way:  “Is it possible that Christendom, widely regarded as the depths of Christian captivity to politics, could offer the way of escape from today’s cultural morass?” 

This formulation, which focuses on the political aspect of Christendom, is largely due to our failure to distinguish between its social and political senses.  While I suspect Dr. Reynolds and I might think Christendom of the sort Oliver O’Donovan describes in Desire of the Nations appropriate in both ways, it was chiefly in the cultural sense that we used it.  I suspect we both think that the political order follows the cultural, and so Christendom must be a particular sort of society before it is a particular sort of political order.

That said, Hansen and I are in agreement that we should not be too quick to denigrate younger evangelicals.   There is (as I point out in my second essay) merit to many of their critiques.  I am sorry that Hansen (among others) took away the impression that I offered the critique as an outsider, as that was not my intention.  I count myself as an young evangelical, and share their struggle to understand and articulate an evangelicalism that is persuasive, attractive, and faithful to the Gospel.

I commend Hansen’s synposis to you as a fair and balanced reading of a long and intricate conversation.   My hope in writing them was simply to contribute, however poorly, to the important  ongoing discussion about the nature and future of evangelicalism.  It is enormously gratifying, humbling, and daunting to have a voice in that conversation, and I am grateful to ChristianityToday.com for magnifying it.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

4 Comments

  1. Clarifying “Christendom”: A brief response to @CTMagazine’s gracious synopsis of our symposium on evangelicalism http://bit.ly/Rblcn

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  2. It’s not just an increasing number of young evangelicals who are seeing through the Christendom caricature. Consider the words of Mark Noll: “Christendom, however manifold its shortcomings, has historically proved to be a most propitious environment for the flourishing of Christian learning.”

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  3. […] I mentioned in my response to Christianity Today, one of the central failures of our discussion about Christendom was our conflation of the […]

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  4. […] stories | submit new story | latest comments | give feedback Login – Signup   Clarifying “Christendom”: A Brief Response to Christianity Today (mereorthodoxy.com) I am honored and humbled that Christianity Today’s Collin Hansen penned a […]

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