This has bothered me for a while now and I’ve had several conversations with friends recently about it. I don’t know what exactly can be done about it and I’m not really sure that I have much of a stake in it. Nonetheless, it’s a situation that I find lamentable.
I’ve been struck recently by how much contemporary American evangelical leaders are unlike those of the past. Evangelical leaders who emerged between 1945 and 1970, such as Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, and Kenneth Kantzer were quite unique. They were conversant with wider cultural trends and their leadership was “big-hearted.” It would be easy to see things as far rosier than they were, but they sought to be catalysts for the development of evangelical culture and theology. They expected and celebrated diversity, cheered on the work of others, and didn’t get hung up on the parochial issues over which evangelicals may disagree.
Evangelical leadership today seems to be consumed with drawing lines, picking petty fights, and discussing nothing other than the parochial issues over which evangelicals disagree. They aren’t conversant with cultural trends, except to see them as signs that the sky is falling, and their leadership is “small-hearted.” A spirit of competition has overtaken the generous and hopeful vision of a very different generation.
There’s doubtless much else and much more to be said about this. But I just find it unfortunate.