The Bible, The Christ, and Evangelicalism


Pastor and professor David Fitch offers the following critiques of evangelicalism, as based in his book The End of Evangelicalism. This is found over at "The Other Journal."

TOJ: You claim that the evangelical belief in the “inerrant” Bible has not really been about the truth but about “being in control of the truth.” It appears that just as evangelicalism continues to fracture into different hermeneutical camps, large church personalities have effectively replaced denominations in defending doctrine. Over this next decade, how do you see the fight of inerrancy shaping up?

DF: There’s a splintering of evangelicalism, and strangely, I would say that the majority of evangelicalism realizes that “inerrancy” is an apologetic strategy whose time is over. It is a strategy that in fact undermines Scripture by defining its authority via a reference point outside itself, by what is an “error” and who gets to define “error,” as opposed to what Scripture is in its relationship to the Incarnate Christ. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if the New-Reformed movement among evangelicals makes inerrancy once again a shibboleth to determine who is a true evangelical. Once this happens, I think we’ll all be energized to expose the defensiveness in this move and move on to a true faithfulness.

TOJ: Another hallmark of the evangelical is the “decision for Christ,” but you write that this decision has effectively been “separated from one’s embodied life.” Could you explain that further, particularly how such a deep and personal decision has found such tragic separation?

DF: I refer to it as a separation because speaking of a decision for Christ doesn’t mean anything anymore. I am sure that is an overstatement. But what I try to show in the book is that the decision for Christ has become a master signifier that creates a fantasy, as if to make a person feel good for what he or she has done. Yet it demands nothing of this person. In essence it does what any good master signifier must do—it enables us to “believe without believing,” in Žižek’s famous words. It allows us to be Christians without it meaning anything material to our embodied existence. Nonetheless, conversion is at the heart of Jesus’s call to follow him. We need to recover conversion. I go much deeper into this whole phenomenon in the book. 

You can read more of the interview following the link above.