Carl Trueman over at the 9 Marks blog wrote a very interesting piece titled The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. In the post he writes about the confused state of evangelicalism as well as where evangelical academics often trip up.
I suspect there are a number of reasons for this problem. First, the context of evangelicalism lends itself to just such confusion. Evangelicalism really does not understand what it is. Is it a movement based on an experience (the new birth), or on theological commitments, or on parachurch institutions? Yet here’s the rub: The first (experience) will degenerate into mere subjective mysticism if not connected to the second (theological commitments). The second is now highly disputed among evangelicals, who cannot even agree on the answer to Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” And the third (parachurch institutions) too often either forms part of the problem of defining the second, or, in the USA in particular, becomes less a ministry and more a vehicle for a cult of personality, vulnerable to the kind of criticism made by Eric Hoffer, who said that every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and ends up as a racket. Evangelicalism is a sorry mess, neither pure nor simple.