The Biggest Challenge Facing Evangelicals: An Interview with Scot McKnight Part I

Margaret —  May 24, 2010 — 8 Comments

The Biggest Challenge Facing Evangelicals: An Interview with Scot McKnight Part I

It’s a privilege to be part of The Origins Project, and get to spend time with Scot McKnight. If you’re not familiar with Scot, you need to be! McKnight is a professor at North Park University, author of more than thirty books including Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, and writes the popular blog, Jesus Creed, on Beliefnet. In addition, he’s an articulate, smart-kid whose accessible, funny, and feisty, not to mention a great guy.

I recently caught up with Scot to talk more in depth about what he sees as the greatest challenge facing evangelicals. I wanted to share some highlights from that conversation with you this week:

Margaret: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing evangelicals?

Scot: The biggest challenge facing American evangelicals is Christian universalism.

Margaret: What do you mean by Christian universalism?

Scot: Christian universalism if the belief that everyone will eventually be saved because of what Christ has done. Christian universalism differs from raw pluralism. Pluralism is the belief that no religion offers superiority in the process of redemption. With pluralism, all religions lead us to the same god and the same ends. The distinction for Christian universalists is that what God did for humans in Christ will redeem all humans, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, or atheists, all will eventually be saved.

Margaret: What do you think is contributing to the rise of Christian universalism?

Scot: I think many young evangelical adults who have been reared in the church have imbibed pluralism and tolerance from their years in the public educational system.

Click here to read the second installment of Scot's interview.

Click here to read the third installment of Scot's interview.

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8 responses to The Biggest Challenge Facing Evangelicals: An Interview with Scot McKnight Part I

  1. I have to say…i know kids that were raised in a strict, private, Christian school that have taken on the same attitude. I probably can say better than anyone else (having been raised in that Christian school from K-4 through 12th grade), that where you go to school doesn’t matter. What is taught inside the home is what will make the biggest difference in a child’s life as they grow up and decide what views to take on as their own. Don’t demonize the public education system…parents need to take a very critical look at themselves – what habits do they portray? What beliefs are they perpetuating, not through words but through actions? Are they exposing their children to the good and bad in this world…allowing kids to make decisions for themselves while they are still at home. Don’t just wait until your child has left to let him/her begin making decisions on his/her own!

  2. I suppose this is a tough question to answer, since we all have our own contexts to deal that bring different challenges. I’d be curious to know a bit more about why Scot chose Christian universalism. Does he see it as undermining how we love God and love one another? Does it undermine the Good News of the Gospel? If so, then how? I suppose that wasn’t clear to me.

    If I had to answer this question, I’d say that evangelicals need to figure out how the Holy Spirit relates to their salvation, relationships with one another, and to mission. I’m not sure if this is the biggest challenge to evangelicals, but it’s certainly up there. Evangelicals have a very weak Pneumatology. If the book of Acts is any clue, that means we’re doing God’s work with one, if not both of our hands tied behind our backs. Just my $.02 from my own ministry context.

  3. Melissa–I totally agree–the school has a secondary impact on students compared to the home. Parents are the single largest shaping factor, but depending on how much they’re available, the school can trump.

  4. Ed,

    That’s a great question–hoping Scot will pop on and respond this week!

  5. Great thoughts! A lot of what we are facing today in the Evagelical church, in my opinion, is a result of people buying into what is being said from pulpits to them without doing their own homework. God gave us the Scripture, His Word to us, and yet so many of us don’t really know what it says or teaches about the work of Christ for the world. I think this, of course, is probably on a small part of what is going on.

    I wonder if the rising Evangelical is attempting to make other religions relatable to Christianity because we truly struggle to understand the nature of a truly Holy, yet unmatchingly loving God.

    Thanks for the great post!

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  2. The Biggest Challenge Facing Evangelicals: An Interview with Scot McKnight Part II - August 15, 2013

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    […] Click here to read the first installment of Scot’s interview. […]

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