The First American Evangelical

Just finished reading “The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather,” by Rick Kennedy.

Kennedy proposes that Cotton (d.1728) represents a turn from the old Puritan ways to a broader church life, even while maintaining a strict High Calvinism. Kennedy writes, “We see in Mathers movement and openness to the winds of the Holy Spirit, the experience of answered prayer, a biblical focus on Jesus as Savior in and through history, and a readiness to judge, negatively or positively, the spiritual temperature of a pastor or church. These became core aspects of early American evangelical thought.”

Mather was open to and interested in “experiences” of God that he collected and reported. He took seriously “angelic visitations” and special speakings of God to the soul, as well as healings and other manifestations of God’s visitations.

“He encouraged his parishioners and readers to continue to live in the light of the lively and unpredictable God of the Bible. He was at the forefront of a more lively type of enlightenment, a type of evangelical enlightenment that would be deepened the next generation by Jonathan Edwards…For Mather was more worried about believing too little than believing too much.”

He was accused of being an enthusiast and being immoderate. Yet he continued to preach what he called “the top of Christianity,” and “an all-day-long faith.”

Usually George Whitefield is considered to be the fountain of the Evangelical movement, but Kennedy proposes that indeed it is Cotton Mather.

Winsome Words 8/24/2016

We do not have to ask, “Are you converted? When were you converted?” But rather: “What does Christ mean to you? What have you personally experienced with God? Is Christ important to you in your daily life?” If these questions elicit a reply which indicates repentant faith in Christ and a reliance on Him for justification and increasing victory over sin, we can presume we are dealing with a regenerate Christian. ¬†August Francke

Rod Dreher Says David Gushee Has It Right

Rod Dreher is a go to writer as the culture wars heat up, particularly on sexual issues. I commend him to you as an intelligent, thoughtful, balanced and Christian man. He is Eastern Orthodox in Louisiana! That’s a twist. But he spent a lot of time on the East Coast writing for the cultural elite. (And by the way, I highly recommend his book “How Dante Can Save Your Life.” I immensely benefitted from it.)

His proposal of the Benedict Option for Christians is gaining steam. It is very much like an Anabaptist option, the creation of intentional Christian communities that withdraw at some distance from mainstream culture to nurture one another in faithfulness, much like the monasteries Benedict founded and led. So far I am not persuaded of his position, but it is making more and more sense as it becomes clear that the broader culture not only rejects orthodox Christian morality but means to punish and shame those who hold to it.

Increasingly there will be loss of jobs, careers and personal standing based on one’s view of sex and marriage. There is evidence aplenty right now. How far it will go is the issue. Dreher says it will go far, very far. Below is his quote of David Gushee, a self-identified Evangelical who has immersed himself in the LGBT movement.

“It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions. Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”

Gushee believes this marginalization and demonization of traditional Christians to be a positive development.

See Dreher’s posting here.