I was honored to make my Comment Magazine debut late last week.

Comment, which is edited by polymath Alissa Wilkinson, plays in the substantive, culturally astute neo-Reformed space inhabited by thinkers like my own man Oliver O’Donovan.  They’re doing great work, and are worth adding to your list of organizations to follow.

Also, it’s Canadian.  Which means it does it within nothing less than the utmost generosity and kindness.  My only regret in publishing for them is that I tried to slip in an “eh?” but they wouldn’t let it through.  (Okay, that’s not true.  But I wish i had!)

That aside, I offer something of a critique and mea culpa for…well, just read it:

That minority seems even smaller when we reflect about the fact that “the next Christians” will probably not be from North America at all—or if they are, they will be first and second generation immigrants, as they often are in England and Europe. As Phillip Jenkins has argued in The Next Christendom, “the center of gravity in the Christian world has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” While the extraordinary rise of global Christianity cannot be solely attributed to evangelical efforts—Catholicism is still dominant—neither can such efforts be ignored. And locating the question of evangelicalism’s future in America in this global context would help give younger evangelicals a better perspective on our own strengths and weaknesses.

In the past 30 years, evangelicals have often teetered between healthy self-criticism and narcissistic navel-gazing, a challenge that the “next Christians” need to learn to apply not only to their own individual lives, but the movement as a whole. There are blind spots built into the discussion about who the next Christians are and what shape Christianity should take—blind spots which can only be really seen properly when the movement is put into dialogue with both history and other communities around us. For the many merits of both The Next Christians and Hipster Christianity, they also make manifestly clear the compelling need for a broader examination and analysis.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


  1. @Matt: You were transparent in admitting your own “myopic focus on white, college-educated young evangelicals.” Setting aside Gabe Lyons and Brett McCracken, what accounts for this “tunnel vision” (your term) or “western, white cultural captivity” (Soon-Chan Rah’s excellent term) in your writing on young evangelicals?


    1. Matthew Lee Anderson April 5, 2011 at 7:37 am

      FWIW, I haven’t read Rah’s book yet, but I’ve got no interest in denigrating the Westernness of white, western evangelicalism. Just for the record on that. Nor do I think we should say that we have to spend just as much time thinking about Christians around the world as we do here in America. Lots of reasons for this, none of which belong in a blog comment.

      As to myopia, we write about what are our most immediate concerns. That’s the sum and total of it.



      1. Indeed, “we write about what are our most immediate concerns.” Your Comment article raises a question: How can white, college-educated evangelicals develop a concern for the “silent but significant minority” that is “frequently forgotten by those of us eager to analyze and project the shape of evangelicalism’s future”? How do evangelical opinion-makers become less ghettoized? I suppose it begins by listening to those who aren’t like us and then letting ourselves be influenced by their voices and stories. At any rate, your transparency on this issue is appreciated.


  2. I enjoyed reading the portion you excerpted (Nice use of “teetered”), and I will read the full piece soon.

    But, really, I just wanted to comment on your comment in Comment. And now I have.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *