I have been migrating selected records from an obsoleting database manager (Bento, a flat-file dBM for Mac from FileMaker) to DEVONthink. I’ve been unable to figure out a way to mass-migrate 4000+ records.

It’s surprising how little from 20-30 years ago feels worth copying-and-pasting for preservation. But I’ve preserved quite a few things from the period when I was learning a lot online about Orthodoxy (not recommended, by the way).

And then there was this:

Kenneth Offner works with Intervarsity Christian fellowship at Harvard. He has his work cut out for him. But recently he’s been wondering whether evangelicalism is up to the task.

In his newsletter he says he finds himself enjoying First Things ever so much more than Christianity Today, and is intensely interested in books from Ignatius Press while having zero interest in the Top Ten Evangelical Books of the Month.

Is Offner on his way to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy? Not necessarily, but he thinks American evangelicalism is in deep detritus. “We are drifting so far from our Reformational roots that were Luther or Calvin to appear today they might see more things they recognized in Catholicism than in evangelicalism. (Which is not to imply that they would become Catholics!)”

Offner includes his own taxonomy of what is meant by evangelicalism today. It is a question often asked. Most students of the subject come up with at least three criteria that define evangelicalism: belief in absolute authority of Scripture, a born again experience, an eagerness to evangelize others. But Offner says there are twelve different evangelicalisms, although not all of them have a brand name. Here they are, followed by the themes that characterize them.

(1) Reformed Evangelicalism — thinking Christianly, transforming culture, changing institutions, opposed to dualism.

(2) Anabaptist Evangelicalism —  community, countercultural, pacifist, servanthood vs. authority.

(3) Neo-Orthodox Evangelicalism — knowing God vs. knowing about God, narrative theology vs. propositional theology.

(4) Charismatic Evangelicalism — expecting Signs and Wonders, personal experience, God speaks afresh today.

(5) Theonomist Evangelicalism — God’s unchanging law, salvation as God’s lordship, postmillennial, America as Christian country.

(6) Fundamentalist Evangelicalism — antiliberal, biblicist, seriousness of (external) sin, everything is black and white.

(7) Dispensationalist Evangelicalism — nondenominational, pro-Israel, grace vs. works.

(8) Pro-American Pietist Evangelicalism — America as Christian country, civil religion, personal piety, power of politics.

(9) Anti-American and Anti-Pietist Evangelicalism — sinfulness of capitalism, anti-rules, anti-Right, anti-Fundamentalist, freedom is what counts.

(10) Therapeutic Evangelicalism — inner healing, sin as sickness, evil as dysfunction, self-knowledge.

(11) Social Action Evangelicalism — priority of the poor, physical-spiritual unity, works vs. faith.

(12) Liturgical/Sacramental Evangelicalism — tradition, sacraments, ordered worship, respect for the mystical.

Offner goes on to say that only the last is Trinitarian, the others focusing almost exclusively on the Father or the Son (with the Reformed including both Father and Son).

From Richard John Neuhaus’s “While We’re At It” Coda to his monthly rambling First Things review of the cosmos, this time from the November, 1993 issue (reformatted for readability, emphasis added).

That was about 3 years before I discovered Orthodoxy, which is Trinitarianism’s ne plus ultra. I had no recollection of this item, though I recorded it contemporaneously with the magazine’s arrival.

To say that only Liturgical/Sacramental Evangelicalism is Trinitarian surely is a statement about the reality of Evangelical praxis, not about the content of its nominal doctrine. But it is a true statement about praxis, or so close to categorically true that any orthodox Evangelical should feel a sad recognition upon reading it.

I wonder if it was working at me during those 3 years?

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