|Religion 21st Century|
Evangelical Protestant Churches
Worthen described the evolving, conflicting styles of evangelical Christianity in the USA. She focused on a radical revival of Calvin’s early protestant dogma in the form of Mark Driscoll, the pastor of a megachurch that draws about 7,600 visitors to seven campuses in Seattle each Sunday. Driscoll and others advocate regression to Calvan’s early protestant dogma. Worthen summarized the Calvanist vision: “Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few… Traditional evangelical theology falls apart in the face of real tragedy, says Brett Harris, who runs an evangelical teen blog with his twin brother, Alex. Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side. But they don’t say, ‘God gave me cancer.’ Worthen recalled that John Calvin did not tolerate insubordination or dissent: “He had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. The new Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.”
Worthen wrote: ”Driscoll has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen. His books, blogs and podcasts have made him one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide. Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. His message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Some paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness.
Other more benign Evangelicals have taken another approach, claiming that Jesus is a benevolent, omnipresent friend; believers are free to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your perfect, personal friend. Born again Christians are a peculiar group with euphoric attachments to their idea of Jesus as their ever-attentive friend.