In early 2009, the late Michael Spencer (aka the Internet Monk, or iMonk) wrote an article entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.” In this article, Spencer gave his assessment of the future of the evangelical movement. His forecast was not a pleasant one, especially for those who believe that evangelicalism is doing just fine. I tend to agree with most of Spencer’s reservations about the effectiveness of the movement in the years and decades to come, and like Spencer I also believe that this is a good and necessary thing. Movements, in general, serve a limited purpose and can be found scattered throughout the history of humankind. Like successful countercultures (for a very interesting book on this topic, get a copy of Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture), movements tend to move from the fringe to the center, only to be replaced—or at least modified—by a new movement coming in from the fringe. Simply put, evangelicalism is beginning to feel the strain of life at the center.

In order to understand how movements work, we must first recognize that every generation considers itself as the normative standard for everyone else. Kids judge their parents as ignorant and out of touch, parents judge their children as ignorant and out of touch, and both groups look at their grandparents as ignorant and out of touch. The grandparents and great-grandparents look on everyone else and wonder what is going on, because the whole world seems to be ignorant and out of touch. This is to be expected and should not come as a great revelation to anyone reading this. The conflict arises when any one generation, thinking it has all the answers, tries to force its way of doing and thinking on the entire population. While the Bible certainly extols wisdom and commands that we honor our elders, it does not limit wisdom to any particular age or generation.

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