Discussion questions by Joanna Felts
What is an evangelical?
1. According to historian David Bebbington, there are four primary characteristics of evangelicalism. Define and discuss what these mean within your community of faith.
If Ever We Knew by Jennifer Woodruff Tait
1. Given the various starting places in history that can be traced for the evangelical movement, what are the similarities in each circumstance?
2. The National Association of Evangelicals identifies evangelicalism by four crucial markers as given by historian David Bebbington. You were asked to define and discuss these in reference to the article, “What is an evangelical?” What are some “diversity of opinion” questions that can now be asked of these markers since you have defined them and discussed them in relation to your community of faith? Let the author’s proposed questions be a starting point.
3. What do you see in the searches of both the “New Monasticism” and the “Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future” that needs to be reviewed by modern evangelicals in their views of Jesus, God, community, etc? What do you see in their searches that seem to be superfluous to the evangelical “markers” discussed above?
4. The author asks a question of evangelicals even as we deliver the gospel to more and more people. “Is what they are hearing always adequately connected to the fullness of the gospel Christians have historically preached?” How would you respond to this question in your community of faith?
5. Do you agree with the author’s perception of the place where Mennonite Brethren “most clearly have a voice” in the present evangelical atmosphere? Why or why not?
Inconsistent Evangelicals by Richard Kyle
1. In Richard Kyle’s theological definition of evangelicalism, what do you see as its strengths and weaknesses in relationship to Anabaptism?
2. How does his behavioral description of evangelicalism line up with Anabaptism?
3. Knowing that evangelicalism spreads across class and denominations, do you agree with the assessment that the recent trend in evangelicalism is “toward an accommodation with society.” Why or why not?
4. What are the differences between evangelicalism and fundamentalism?
5. Describe how you see evangelicalism’s confusion of American culture with Christian faith. Do you see this becoming the case in your community?
6. Describe how “McDonaldizing” salvation has changed the face of evangelicals and Christianity. How does this propagate “cheap grace”? What is meant by “cheap grace”?
7. Where do Mennonite Brethren fit in this ebb and flow of evangelicalism, Christianity and Anabaptism?
Survey: Christianity will increase-except in the U.S.
1. How does this title make you see your place in Christianity in the U.S.?
2. Do you agree or disagree with Anderson’s statement, “Overwhelmingly there is an expectation of more Christians but a concern that these Christians may have less influence because of secularization, Islam and persecution”?
a. Do you feel that Christians have influence in our society and communities now?
b. How do you see that changing?
Survey: Moral Issues Facing America
1. This article opens with the statement, “Abortion, moral relativism and mistreatment of others are the top moral issues facing America…”
a. Among the issues listed here and those that follow in the article, is this the order you would choose for these issues?
b. Are there other issues you would choose to insert in the list?
c. What reasons would you give for the issues listed here or the issues you have added?
The Coming Evangelical Future by Leith Anderson
1. Leith Anderson states that evangelicalism will still be around in the future but that its face will change. What does that mean?
2. Look around your community. Do you see these changes happening around you? Do you see this as a positive or negative for the community of faith?
3. The author states, “In the coming decade many older local congregations will go out of business, just as many older Christians will die and many older businesses will close.” Does this necessarily mean that “older congregations” must go out of business or is there a way to “reface” the old while bringing in the new?
4. In the closing paragraph, the author lists some characteristics of evangelicalism in 2020.
a. Does your community of faith embrace these characteristics?
b. Can it be moved to embrace these characteristics?
c. Are these valid characteristics that should be embraced?
d. Do you have any to add to the list?
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