Dr. Molly Worthen joins Matt and Derek to talk all things evangelicalism, not the least of which is her book, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism. As someone outside of the camp of evangelicalism, Dr. Worthen helps bring a new look at the many paradoxes in the evangelical movement.


Intro + what was it that made Dr. Worthen want to study evangelicalism? [0:00 – 7:10]

Dr. Worthen’s case that one has to study all of church history in order to understand evangelicalism [7:10 – 10:43]

What is the crisis of authority in evangelicalism? 1) How do you develop an authentic relationship with God, 2) How do you mend the rift between faith and reason, 3) How do you act publicly on your faith in an increasingly secularized public square? [10:43 – 19:09]

What of sola scriptura? [19:09 – 24:49]

The crises of authority in evangelicalism juxtaposed with more ecclesiastical traditions [24:49 – 33:15]

Issues of inerrancy in evangelicalism and its difference to sola scriptura + how many are retrieving Natural Law and catholicity [33:15 – 42:44]

Does the crises of authority in evangelicalism explain why Trump happened? + Conclusion [42:44 – 55:58]

Resources mentioned:

Are You Alone Wise?: The Search For Certainty In The Early Modern Era (Oxford Studies In Historical Theologyby Susan E. Schreiner


If you’re interested in supporting the show financially, you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

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Posted by Caleb Wait

Caleb Wait (MATS, Westminster Seminary California) is a writer and the producer of Mere Fidelity. He and his wife Kristin have two children and live in Northern California. You can follow him on Twitter @calebwait and he invites you to email him at ciwait93@gmail.com.

One Comment

  1. Great job.

    I probably need to listen to this again, but these are important discussions to have within evangelicalism. A couple of thoughts come to mind.

    1. It does make a lot of sense to view Trump as a phase of the Pentecostal movement. At his essence, he is a health-and-wealth huckster. He just doesn’t know the Christian vocabulary. Consider his meandering description in his current press conference about the alleged effectiveness of chloroquine. Notably, Dr. Birx elected to say nothing on this topic. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of how drugs are tested could easily tell that Trump was, at the very least, engaging in gross exaggeration. Trump simply wants to sell hope, even if he knows it’s false hope.

    2. We need to have a more productive discussion on the break-up of the neo-evangelical movement. The fissures that began to surface in the 1970s have only widened. As I see it, the movement has bifurcated into a group that experience anxiety about the problems of interpretive diversity, and others who welcome such interpretive diversity. Those in the former camp have made fairly aggressive moves to paper over the problem, deny its existence, and bully anyone who mentions it into silence (or call them out as heretics). This kind of bullying was on full display in the way in which these folks engaged the Revoice conference. In my view, many of these folks are looking for Biblical(TM) certainty on various social and political issues where Scripture offers very little beyond providing general guidance. These folks would rather be clear than be right. And as the broader culture is moving away from these folks’ preferred social and political outcomes, they’ve become more aggressive in their disingenuous attacks against those evangelicals who are more open and honest about the problem of interpretive diversity. This has to stop. And if it won’t, there is no basis for fellowship. And folks who acknowledge and accept the problem of interpretive diversity need to cast out on their own and leave the “Biblical(TM) worldview” folks behind. The median age of a member of a PCA church is 65. There’s a reason why so many kids who grew up in our churches have left. And it’s not simply because they’ve fallen away from the truth. In many cases, they’ve left because they see that the “truth” propounded within our communities often amounts to little more than the subjective social-cultural preferences of suburban Boomers.

    3. We would do well to embrace the diversity of the term evangelical, recognizing that, in the words of C.S. Lewis, we can never be more than “probably right” on a lot of the issues that distinguish different strands of the movement. We would do well to celebrate and embrace that diversity, instead of trying to propound some authorized version of what evangelicalism is. When we do this, we drive more people from the church than otherwise. The neo-evangelical movement was borne out of a rejection of fundamentalism. Let’s not return to it.


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