Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America, by Jeffrey Sheler - Sept 26
This is a wonderful tour of evangelicalism through the lenses of various key points of evangelical life. So Sheler, a contributing editor fro Religion for US News and World Report, visits and reviews evangelical history, Dobson's Focus on the Family, Saddleback, Wheaton, a short term missions trip to Guatemala, a Christian rock concert known as creation, political activity by the NAE in Washington DC, and conflicting visions of two Seminary Presidents -- Al Mohler of Southern and Richard Mouw of Fuller. The book ranges into so many distinct layers of evangelicalism that it is a solid survey and proof of the fact that evangelicalism is diverse, hardly the monolith it is often portrayed to be (see my previous blog). There is little new here for one who has ranged through evangelicalism, but the beauty of the book is its breadth and sensitivity. It is full of carefully made observations about the movement. I lead a class every other year with Dr. M. Daniel Carroll-Rodas of Denver Seminary in Guatemala whose goal almost mimics the chapter on Guatemala. Sheler's descriptions of the experience for those who go for the first time was on the mark. The chapter that causes the most to ponder is the final full chapter on what evangelicalism will be after Billy Graham. Will it be the confrontational cultural engager as Al Mohler says is inevitable given the hard choices about what is right we have in the world? Or will it be the more irenic style of engagement that Richard Mouw advocates and models? Sheler is right to suggest that the key question for evangelicalism is not only what positions it takes but what tone is brought to those positions. The answer to this question may well tell us what evangelicalism will be. Where it is heading only God knows. Hopefully evangelicals can figure out how to makes its case, reflect Scripture, and incarnate it in a way that reaffirms the call and tone of the gospel that God has taken the initiative to fix that which we have broken as humans in our relationship to Him, if we will just stop and take that opportunity in.