Evangelical Identity Formation in Postcolonial Britain

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Abstract

The evangelical church in the UK is on the brink of an identity crisis. The movement is encountering new cultures in its midst and addressing changes in how its adherents understand God, the church and the world. Within the church, there are upheavals—particularly among the younger generations—in values. At this moment in history, the evangelical church will decide on the extent to which it will allow itself to be transformed along with the times. Should it dig in its heels (and perhaps die)? Or should it embrace this brave new world (and perhaps lose its soul)?

The author argues that on one hand, there is a foundation that should remain in place if the evangelical church in the UK aspires to maintain continuity with the 2000-year-old self-understanding of the Christian faith. On the other hand, the evangelical movement must constructively embrace certain types of change if it is to remain relevant and effective in British society. The methodology presented is characterized as reconstructive identity formation. The author suggests that there are elements of the Christian faith and practice that are foundational to evangelical identity. If these are removed, the church may be left with something that calls itself Christian, but which has little in common with what this title has historically signified..

The article begins with an exploration of the significance of postmodern culture as the context of postcolonial discourse. It describes a reconstructive response to postmodernity in contrast to deconstructive and paleo-constructive approaches. the author discusses special problems that the post-colonial project asks the British evangelical church to confront. Citing examples from other evangelical communities around the world, he argues that the paleo-constructive and deconstructive responses to these challenges fail because they do not uphold the church's foundational oneness. The reconstructive approach best enables British evangelicals to make desperately needed changes, while not undermining their historical and theological foundations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages68-81
Number of pages14
Volume46
No.1
Specialist publicationEvangelical Review of Theology: A Global Forum
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

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