Sunday, February 26, 2012

A potential downside of competition

"The consequences for the churches were immense.  They were now compelled to compete for adherents. . . ."
     "This combination of revivalism and disestablishment had effects whose importance cannot be exaggerated.  Analyzed positively, the combination gave the American churches a new dynamism, a new effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission, and a new vitality in bringing the gospel to the people.  Analyzed negatively, the combination of revivalism and disestablishment meant that pragmatic concerns would prevail over principle.  What the churches required were resultsnew adherentsor they would simply go out of business.  Thus, the production of results had to override all other considerations."

     Mark A. Noll, The scandal of the evangelical mind (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 66.  Yet wouldn't a determinative factor be the target audience?  Wouldn't it depend on who you're competing for?  And haven't intellectuals been always in the minority?  And if that's true, then don't you have to "become all things to all men"?
     Moreover, I find it hard to believe that schism isn't an additional factor, i.e. that a united church isn't in a better position to "become all things to all men" than an increasingly fragmented one.

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