Hope in the cauldron

April 10, 2017


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I confess. I’ve sometimes joined maudlin evangelical Christians in their fashionable despair. Our tribe seems to have drifted far from its moral, theological, intellectual, and spiritual roots, which once entwined themselves in the great Protestant luminaries and summoned all Christians back to the Bible. The more congenial rolled out the carpet to sympathetic Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers.

Lately, of course, political partisans battered and twisted the evangelical label into a God’s-on-America’s-side civil religion, then pasted it on their foreheads. They rarely open their Bibles. The teachings of Jan Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin,  Heinrich Bullinger, the Anabaptists, the Lutheran Pietists, Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards dissolve into an oily, pseudo-spiritual cauldron.

So why have I suddenly turned hopeful? Maybe it’s because I’ve rediscovered real evangelicals. They were always there, no further than podcasts and my YouTube ap. I finally caught up with them when I joined the 21st century and bought a smartphone. I’ve discovered the sermons of Tim Keller, the pastors at the Vineyard Church of Evanston, Illinois, and John Piper.

Go figure. I actually like hyper-Calvinist John Piper. I’m one with his passion for Christ even as I ignore his near-canonization of the Westminster Confession. We’re homies.

But pride of place goes to The Veritas Forum, an organization that plumbs the depths via talks and debates on college campuses. It’s fearless. Brainy, credential-laden Christian intellects weigh in on the era’s issues — and they’re often pitted against pagan and secular thinkers. Sample this 2009 talk by Francis Collins, who headed up the Human Genome Project. He was an atheist who became a Christian:

And then there’s Notre Dame philosophy professor Meghan Sullivan, who talked about her conversion from atheism to Catholicism at Middlebury College in Vermont:

I was also delighted to find this challenging chapel message at my alma mater, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Hilary Davis talked about the adulterous woman in John 8 in a sermon entitled “Jesus The Mama Bear.” Go for it, Hilary. Ruffle feathers:

These are just samples. They show us that a thick and vibrant faith still lives and breathes within the evangelical brand.

That’s my brand.

About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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