Sunday, February 12, 2006


The ten most controversial inner evangelical-Christian theological debates today (in no particular order).

‘Foundational’ matters:
  1. The inspiration of scripture (inerrant? Authority?)
  2. Appropriate hermeneutic (Scripture interprets scripture and sola scriptura? A big role for tradition? A role for the local community? The perspicuity of scripture?)
  3. The importance of changes in culture, from ‘modernity’ to late modernity/postmodernity/post postmodernity etc. (for many this boils down, unfairly, to the question: emerging church?)
  4. The role of theological research (indispensable? Global incubation chamber for false teaching and unbelief? Apologetics?)
Specific concerns:

  1. Homosexuality? (cf. the precarious situation of the Church of England at the moment)
  2. The nature of the atonement (penal substitution? Steve Chalke et al.)
  3. The ‘New Perspective’ on Paul (for many this boils, once again unfairly I might add, down to: Tom Wright?)
  4. Women clergy (speak up or shut up?!)
  5. The nature of God (open theism? immutability?)
  6. Eschatological questions (Pre-post-a-millenialism? Rapture? New creation?)

I thought about adding ‘gifts of the Spirit and second blessing for today?’, but I felt that to be more of a concern of the 80’s and 90’s.

What would you throw out or add?


At 2/13/2006 1:56 AM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

Whether Chris Tilling's near famous "Winds of Worship" is actually inspired of God! That's a real up and coming hot topic in the blosphere, I bet!

At 2/13/2006 2:42 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

What about politics? Especially in the US, political questions such as war seem to be pretty high on the list.

At 2/13/2006 3:06 AM, Anonymous Joshua said...

As an American raised in the Evangelical World, Ben is right you have to add politics (war, terrorism, nonviolence, etc.). As well as the whole debt, capitalism, free market, fair trade arguments.

At 2/13/2006 3:23 PM, Anonymous Alan Bandy said...

Chris, I believe you nailed it. For Americans (esp. Baptists), however, I would add ecclesiology-elder rule or congregationalism.

Thanks for this list.

At 2/13/2006 4:48 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Under foundational matters you might included the nature of truth, i.e., absolutes, relativism. This has been a matter of dispute for a long long time but since the 70s a situational notion of truth has become deeply entrenched in the evangelical culture in America.

My first encounter with this was a course at SPU in contemporary philosophy in 1969 where we spent almost the entire quarter discussing Elton Trueblood's "A Place to Stand." Ironically Francis Schaeffer wasn't given much much attention. He had been on campus for a week of lectures and my pastor/mentor was using his first two books Escape from Reason & The God Who is There as the focus for our College level sunday school class. In 1973 I lead a year long small group study of C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man".

The dispute isn't as visible as some of the others but it is the foundational issue in a lot of other disputes.


At 2/13/2006 11:02 PM, Anonymous Exiled Preacher said...

I agree with your list, but I would add eternal punishment and the need for sinners to hear and believe the gospel in order to be saved. It seems to me that these issues are now moot points among Evangelicals. They should not be. Incidentally, many of your concerns are dealt with by Don Carson's "The Gagging of God".

At 2/14/2006 12:07 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi TB! You said it!

At 2/14/2006 12:09 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks Alan. I wouldn't have thought of that one, nbut I suppose it is one of the main reasons for division among the denominations, so it makes sense.

At 2/14/2006 12:09 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Ben, Joshua, you are both quite correct. This lacuna shows more than you realise.

At 2/14/2006 12:11 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Clay,
Yes, I guess I meant that to be included under 3, but I think you are quite right to press the philosophical issues.

At 2/14/2006 12:14 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Guy,
Yes, I actually took this issue of my short list as I was thinking primarily of th edebate concerning universalism - not one really bothering too many evangelicals. But I think I was unfair to bracket that together too strongly with the question concerning eternal punishment. Good call.

At 2/14/2006 3:36 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

I figured someone would eventually mention this issue, but no one has as of yet. This issue is a very hot topic, especially here in America - the issue of abortion (prof-life/pro-choice)!

Now that's a very hot topic!

At 2/14/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Ah true! I should have made an ethical problem list as well ...

At 2/14/2006 4:11 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Although, I did mean to focus on inter evangelical debate. Is evangelicalism anything other than pro-life in the States?

At 2/14/2006 4:32 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

yes, there are pro-choice evangelicals - these are usually in the mainline churches - my step-father and mother were pro-choice and I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist Church - but they were also politically Democrat.

I, on the other hand, am pro-life. I would call myself a little more sociallly liberal but morally conservative - a centrist (or centralist) politically.


Post a Comment

<< Home