Yesterday Dr. David Dockery, President of Trinity International University (http://www.tiu.edu/about/president/david-dockery/), addressed “The Current State of Evangelicalism” during a chapel service at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Beginning with the Protestant Reformation, Dockery traced the shaping role of doctrine upon Evangelicals. From the Reformers in Germany and England to the mission efforts of William Carey and the scholastic emphases of Charles and A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield at Princeton, concern for Christ’s death and resurrection continually molded Evangelical thought. In the late 1940’s Evangelicalism was expressed by such leaders as Charles E. Fuller, Billy Graham, and Carl Henry. Though Evangelicalism as a movement includes churches, denominations, para-church organizations, publishing agencies, etc., it has consistently been a movement attracting and uniting those who have been transformed by Christ crucified and risen. His work in them individually binds them together in mission for the glory of His name.
Dockery suggests that today Evangelicalism is a trans-denominational movement fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit. And both are needed to advance the gospel in a day of rapid cultural changes. Sociological, economic and ideological shifts are occurring not only in North America, but around the globe–and the gospel addresses these across cultures and normal ethnic boundaries. In other words, the times are ripe for gospel mission. As the lecture concluded, two points of application came to mind, one general and one specific to The MCC.
First, the gospel does its best work through stable local churches. Over time parachurch ministries, schools, publishing agencies and missions organizations lose their direction and energy without the aid of the local church. And the local church is the one institution that is naturally and purposefully both guided by the gospel and espousing it in all of its fullness, generation after generation. In a shifting culture, stable churches are uniquely positioned to show the gospel and equip believers to live holy lives above the divisions of race, age and socioeconomics. Second, The MCC is seeking (at least to some degree) to be this kind of a church. Our efforts at inter-generational fellowship in both our home groups (Master’s Community Groups) and Sunday School (Equipping Hour), and inter-racial worship with Peacemakers Bible Fellowship foster unity in the power of the gospel. Our practice of serious church membership, adherence to a church covenant and quarterly church conferences, foster an atmosphere of serious fellowship. As those apprehended by Christ crucified and risen, the Good News, we practice community above the categorical divisions shaping the natural world. Our ministry, the combined gifted service of the individual members of The MCC, is structured for stability, for the long haul, against the shifting, superficial norms of society. And this is good news.