“Yet twentieth-century evangelicals have been unable rationally to lift this generation to a clear vision of the reality of the supernatural, not simply because of human unregeneracy but because of their withdrawal into pietistic ghettos and their hurried call for spiritual decision which often leaps over an effectual intellectual confrontation.”
Dr. Carl F. H. Henry
God, Revelation and Authority Vol. 1 pg. 114
Actually, since the problem that Henry cites continues in the widespread double whammy ‘success’ of the Pentecostal (Charismatic) / Church Growth ‘gospel’ the worse thing in the world that could happen would be for these ‘converts’ to move out of their pietistic ghettos. The ‘Gospel’ continues to go forward and the Church continues to be built by ‘the hurried call for spiritual decision’ and by ‘leaping over an effectual intellectual confrontation.’
Anecdotally speaking, I saw this again, up close and personal when attending a ‘Promise Keepers’ conference several years ago. The first night was dedicated to a ‘gospel presentation’ and when the altar call was extended the front was wall to wall people presumably ‘giving their hearts to Jesus.’ The only problem was that their was no gospel in the gospel message that was preached. These people couldn’t give their hearts to Jesus because Jesus was nowhere to be found.
Likewise, in our Churches today there is very little ‘intellectual confrontation.’ To be perfectly honest, you would face mammoth difficulties by trying to build a self supporting Church with an ‘intellectual confrontation,’ approach. The last thing our culture wants is to be confronted. Better to emotionally manipulate people into getting saved, then to spend the intellectual effort, and the time required to articulate the wonder of God and the prevalent and deceptive nature of sin. You see, if you leap over effectual intellectual confrontation to emotional manipulation you avoid the heavy lifting that intellectual confrontation requires of the speaker and the requirement of real change (repentance) demanded upon those who listen.
As long as the Church continues to operate this way we need to sincerely pray that God would keep us in the ghettos because the damage we could do if we get outside the ghettos and into the mainstream would be devastating both to the mainstream and to the reputation of the Christian faith. Contemporarily speaking, a guy like Mike Huckabee is a perfect example of the embarrassment accruing to Christians when somebody gets off the reservation.
I am not arguing for an hyper academic Church. People like me, who are not particularly sharp knives, would be lost in that kind of setting. What I am arguing for is a Church that is willing to think through both how sin subtly manifests itself and how Christ’s redemption should be a cure and reversal of that. I am arguing for a church that quits with the emotional propaganda in order to make headway among people. I am arguing for a Church that realizes that the Gospel has a trajectory that requires Christians to have the ability to be vigorous thinkers — even and especially among the ‘rank and file.’
Lord Christ, grant us Reformation in head and members.