Many Evangelical spokesmen are upbeat about an “evangelism explosion.” At the same time, an equal number of voices point to an Evangelical implosion—at least when it comes to influencing our world. In fact, if one were to correlate Evangelical growth since the 1940s with the general diminishment of Christian influence over the culture, we are faced with a bizarre fact: more Christians, less impact. Whereas Evangelicals used to represent so much of what was praiseworthy in the church, today they are often confused and ineffective.
Scores of pastors, historians, theologians, journalists, pollsters, and activists have been sounding the alarm about the reasons why this
• withdrawal from the culture
• a limited view of redemption
• reductionist theology
• compartmentalized, part-time approach to Christian living
• overemphasis on individualism
• marginalization of the church and its mission in the world
The Late Great Evangelical Church goes one step beyond, explaining how these concerns are not only well founded but interrelated, and how a heresy that has been dogging the church since the days of the Apostles —Gnosticism— is to blame. C. Vaughn Doner chases this heresy through centuries of church history, revealing the startling connections to our present day and how it blunts believers and hamstrings the church, making us ineffective in our world.
But more than a Jeremiad, Doner’s insighiful book diagnoses the ills plaguing the church and helps point the way to renewed potential for redemptive change in the world.