Through life and circumstance, I am attached to a college that is loosly affiliated with the SBC, and the direction it and the denomination have taken is not one that will appeal to the average prole -- it's a weird mish-mash of Evangelical fervor, culture war and semi-intellectual Calvinism.So basically a bunch of little John Pipers (I don't mean that as an insult)?
Bingo. These guys eat up everything that Piper has to say.
While that has a certain appeal to a certain subset of Baptist culture, the next generation of the SBC will be both substantially different and smaller. I do not know that they will ever see their former level of baptisms again, precisely because religion is increasingly irrelevant in the lives of the common man.
Interesting. I was involved in a discussion of this on another board. We were discussing in the wake of the Love Wins
debacle whether Baptists and US Evangelicals in general are going to trend liberal and more Rob Bell-like over the next generation or are they going to go for a "circle the wagons" conservatism? If you don't mind my asking, what's your take?[/quote]
They -- I speak of the SBC here -- will trend "liberal" in the sense that they will continue to shed a lot of cherished Evangelical practices/teachings (altar calls, patriotic services, aversion to private consumption of alcohol, etc.), but they are very much firming up a new little-o orthodoxy for themselves that is still very theologically conservative, at least for those in the Baptist tradition.
Evangelicals as a whole will continue to become more and more of an amorphous community where one cannot discern the theological differences between ecclesial communities (to borrow a term from the Latins) by simply attending. Already, we see significantly less emphasis on the secondary issues that divide them. Music has and will continue to become the primary sacrament of the Evangelical movement, and will serve to render former theological barriers null.
The theologically liberal Evangelical element will continue down the emergent church road (a la Bell, McLarin, Lamott, Kimball, etc.), but will eventually be absorbed into high church mainline denominations. This is happening more and more as the emergent faction starts to embrace the -- and I shudder to use this wretched term -- smells and bells of "ancient" liturgical worship.