In the second edition of their book Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology (Baker, 2009), Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy offer a survey of seventeen theological issues of debate among evangelicals. That list includes the following:
- biblical inerrancy
- divine providence
- divine foreknowledge
- the interpretation of Genesis 1 (young earth view; day age view; restoration view; literary framework view)
- the divine image
- the incarnation
- the atonement
- salvation and election
- eternal security
- the destiny of the unevangelized (exclusivism vs. inclusivism)
- the Lord’s Supper
- charismatic gifts
- women in ministry
- the millennium
- theories of hell (eternal conscious torment vs. annihilationism)
When the second edition of Across the Spectrum was published nine years ago, I suspect a few evangelical eyebrows were raised to see topics such as “inclusivism” and “annihilationism” included as evangelical topics of debate.
But looking back from 2018, those issues are no longer surprising. Indeed, in our own day, the vanguard of evangelical conversation includes several other topics including theistic evolution, the historicity of Adam, and universalism. (In 2006, my friend Robin Parry published a book called The Evangelical Universalist under the pseudonym of “Gregory MacDonald. Parry forcefully argued that universalism — the conviction that all people will ultimately be reconciled to God the Father in Jesus Christ — is fully consistent with evangelical conviction.)
In recent years, a growing number of evangelicals (and folks from an evangelical background) have taken affirming positions on LGBT issues (e.g. Steve Chalke; Jim Wallis; Rachel Held Evans; Tony Campolo). I’m not sure at what point this trend will reach a critical mass, but judging by the current trajectory, I suspect that within the next few years, this issue will be recognized as an intra-evangelical debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 3rd edition of Across the Spectrum dares to include the LGBT debate.
All of this leads me to conclude with a couple of questions.
First, what do you think will be the future issues of debate within the evangelical sphere?
Second, do you think the evangelical tent will continue to expand? Or do you think a conservative retrenchment is on the horizon?