INTRODUCTION & INSTRUCTIONS for American Evangelicalism: Present Conditions, Future Possibilities:


Harold Heie, Senior Fellow, The Colossian Forum (TCF) & Rob Barrett, TCF Director of Fellows and Forums. 


There is disagreement among Christians as to what it means to be “evangelical.” And, depending on how one defines the “Evangelical” tradition, Christians disagree as to the present condition of that tradition in the American context and its future possibilities.

The purpose of this conversation is to provide a welcoming space for those who disagree about the present conditions and future possibilities for “Evangelicalism” to express their views and to model respectful conversation about their disagreements.

Although one cannot predict beforehand the results of a respectful conversation, it is the hope of this project that some clarity will emerge that can inform future expressions of Evangelicalism in America.

The following topics may help us to gain clarity. Though laid out as individual topics, they clearly have shared elements. And so we do not suggest that they exist in simple isolation. For example, a strong view of biblical authority, long held to be a pillar of evangelical faith, is relevant to most, if not all, of these topics. Still, the topics are complex enough to warrant individual treatment, and to bring into the conversation those with training and expertise in those areas. 

  1.  Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition
  2.  Evangelicalism and the Exclusivity of Christianity
  3.  Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture
  4.  Evangelicalism and Morality
  5.  Evangelicalism and Politics
  6.  Evangelicalism and Scientific Models of Humanity and Cosmic and Human Origins
  7.  Evangelicalism and Higher Education
  8.  The Future of American Evangelicalism


The co-sponsors of this project are The Colossian Forum, The Center for Faith & Inquiry at Gordon College, and Eastern University


On the first of each month for seven consecutive months, starting on May 1, 2013, pre-selected “primary contributors” will post 1000-1200 word “position statements” on the topic for that month (in the order given above). On the day before that launching of a new conversation, some “leading questions” will be posted (intended only to be suggestive and not binding on the primary contributors).

After the initial postings and before the 12th of the month, other pre-selected “primary contributors” will post 1000-1200 position statements that comment on the postings of one or more of the initial primary contributors and add their own reflections on the topic. 

Throughout the month, any reader of the web site can submit a comment on any prior posting in a “moderated forum” in which one of the moderators will read all submitted comments and post those submissions judged to satisfy the “Guidelines for Posting Comments” that are listed in the Conversation Guidelines.


The following stellar roster of Christian scholars have agreed to be primary contributors for the topics indicated. (Click on thier names for bio and picture.)

Vincent Bacote (Wheaton College) – topics 1, 4, 5

Nina Balmaceda (Nyack College) – topics 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Randall Balmer (Dartmouth College) – topic 5

Justin Barnard (Union University) – topics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Amy Black (Wheaton College) – topic 5

Jeannine Brown (Bethel Seminary) – topics 1, 2, 3, 5, 7

Peter Enns (Eastern University) – topics 1, 3, 6, 7

John Franke (Yellowstone Theological Institute) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7

Karl Giberson (Stonehill College) – topics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 

John Hawthorne (Spring Arbor University) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7 

Christopher Hays (University of Oxford) – topics 3, 4, 6

Christine Kim (Heritage Foundation) – topic 5

Ben Mitchell (Union University) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7

Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary) – topics 1, 7

Rick Ostrander (Cornerstone University) – topic 7

Wyndy Corbin Reuschling (Ashland Theological Seminary) – topics 1, 3, 4, 5

Kurt Anders Richardson (McMaster University) — topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7

Kyle Roberts (Bethel Seminary) – topics 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7

Sarah Ruden (Wesleyan University) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7

Dan Russ (Gordon College) – topics 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

Mark Sargent (Westmont College) – topics 1, 3, 7 

Corwin Smidt (Calvin College) – topics 1, 5

Theodore Williams (City Colleges of Chicago) – topics 4, 5,

John Wilson (Books & Culture) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7

Molly Worthen (University of North Carolina) – topic 3

Amos Yong (Regent University) – topics 123, 4, 5, 6, 7