Why I Want to Leave and What It Takes to Stay
by Dan Stringer
Foreword by Richard J. Mouw
The IVPress Interview: The Good, the Bad, and the Future of Evangelicalism
Maybe you’re struggling with evangelicalism too. If so, it could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re disillusioned with the political platform that’s been confl ated with Christianity into a package deal. Or you’re grappling with how a seemingly 18 STRUGGLING WITH EVANGELICALISM Christ-centered apologist like Ravi Zacharias could have sexually abused so many victims by using his ministry as leverage. Even if you’re not surprised when famous Christians get caught doing terrible things, your revulsion may stem from a particular church environment that turned you off from evangelicalism by the way someone close to you was treated. The dissonance you feel could also stem from how the evangelicals you know have (mis)handled subjects like science, sexuality, singleness, or supernatural gifts. Perhaps it’s all of the above. You’re not alone.
Coastal cliffs are a mixed bag, offering breathtaking views but also hazardous landslides. In a similar way, evangelicalism can be simultaneously life-giving and dangerous. Much of the recent commotion surrounding the evangelical label reacts to one of these seemingly incompatible characteristics. On one hand, cynicism has swelled because hypocrisy, injustice, and abuse repeatedly harm those Jesus commanded us to love. Cynicism’s negative filter makes it increasingly difficult for some to see any hope for evangelicalism’s future. At the spectrum’s other end, conversations tend to focus on evangelicalism in its ideal form, emphasizing what it should or could be if we lived out our values faithfully or recaptured the best of our heritage. This idealistic approach sets a high bar with good intentions, but, like cynicism, it tells an incomplete story by failing to describe evangelicalism as it really is: a mixed bag.
This book proposes a third way that is neither idealistic nor cynical. In order to take the mixed bag seriously, I believe we can neither disavow evangelicalism on account of its brokenness nor minimize its complicity in ongoing patterns of idolatry and injustice. By grappling with a more realistic account of evangelicalism experienced from the inside, this book aims to cultivate appreciation for the gifts God has given us, even as we learn to repent for our collective sins. As we come to terms with a complicated space, we must neither yield to the status quo nor oversimplify the mess we’re in. Beginning in the next chapter...
Until we engage evangelicalism’s good and bad in an integrated way, we won’t come to terms with our mixed feelings about this influential space where so many have encountered Jesus in direct and personal ways. Whether you’re on the brink of leaving evangelicalism behind, strongly committed to staying, or somewhere in between, I desire to help you make an informed decision about your relationship with evangelicalism moving forward. Are you ready?
•Read the complete excerpt here>>>
•Read the IVPress Interview: The Good, the Bad, and the Future of Evangelicalism
•From the Foreward:
"Dan Stringer was once my student, but now he has become my teacher. I learned a lot from this book, about both the brokenness and beauty of the movement that I love. He also offers many wise, practical lessons about how to go about the necessary repair work. May it happen!"