In his article, “The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology,” published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 56/2 (2013), 355-77, Gerald McDermott surveys theological and cultural developments in the Evangelical world. The article is helpful and illuminating throughout, but his three suggestions at the end of the article are directly related to the vision of the Reformed Liturgical Institute. These suggestions are given in the hopes of healing the growing divisions in the Evangelical world.
His first suggestion is, “evangelicals would have to look more seriously at their own tradition [and he then holds up Jonathan Edwards as an example of how to be faithful to both Scripture and tradition]” (376).
Secondly, “evangelical theology would need to renounce the triumphalism that has heretofore treated church history as little more than darkness before the Reformation or 18th-century awakenings. It would need to submit to a vision of the whole that can be found only by living in the whole (theological) tradition” (376).
“Third, evangelical theologians need to beware of the peculiarly academic sort of ambition that seeks acceptance and recognition by our liberal colleagues” (376).
His concluding observations are right on target: “I will go so far to say that if evangelical theology does not adopt these suggestions, it will not survive. But it will strengthen itself and preserve itself against internal dissolution if it sees itself as a reform movement in the church catholic. The monastic movements, the Christian reform movement, the Dominican preaching revival, the Franciscans, and the Reformation itself thrived and influenced the broader church by relating to and learning from the broader church. Only if evangelical theology sees itself as a renewal and reform movement raised up by the Spirit from amidst and for the purpose of the wider church catholic, and therefore learns from that universal church, will it save itself from disintegrating into even more subjectivist and individualistic sects, many of them neither evangelical nor orthodox.
“Evangelicals have always put a premium on the local church. If they have talked about the universal church, typically they have thought only in terms of the universal church of fellow evangelicals. It is time for evangelicals to look more broadly, at the universal church beyond evangelical boundaries, not only around the world today, but especially to the last two thousand years of rich theological reflection” (376-77).