I've been going to sleep to Mark Dever interviews lately. Last night I was listening to a 1997 interview he did with Carl Henry, one of the key pillars in the middle of last century of a new evangelicalism which was neither theologically compromising (liberalism) liberal nor culturally retreatist (fundamentalism), and a member of Capitol Hill Baptist for 40 years. One of the key books was his 1947 The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. His single point in that book is that Christians need to once again get out into the world to transform culture rather than being so fearful of being stained by the world that they lived with a basic aversion to all things non-Christian. A needed point for 1950's American Christianity. But he made a fascinating, backhanded comment at one point after describing this book. He said,
"The problem today is just the opposite. We no longer need to get the Christians out into the world. We need to get the world out of the Christians."
I have been wondering about this for a few years, as I try to understand the Emerging Church, some young church planting networks, and, I confess, many churches in my own denomination, the PCA. I think he is exactly right. The pendulum has swung the other way in much of American Christianity.