I read the post-evangelical with mixed feelings: it saddened me that people are so put off by the evangelical church, and that at times the church can be so narrow and condemning.
Dave Tomlinson writes very well – looking not just to judge and condemn the evangelical church, but at the same time looking for similarities and options to work together. The first few chapters – especially the chapter entitles ‘Worlds Apart’ – really emphasised differences and similarities.
He is at pains to emphasise throughout the book that post-evangelicals are not just a bunch of liberals
In ‘Longing to Grow’ he spends a lot of time arguing that the evangelical church is wrongly inter-mingled with middle-class values:
‘Evangelical culture is laden with taboos, many of which owe more to middle-class respectability than to real holiness, and which all too often only pressure people into living dual lives.’ (p. 56)
His example of sex before marriage leaves me still very much on the side of the evangelical rather than the post-evangelical. I am clear that to me sex is something that is to be saved for the marital bed, not just for a loving relationship.
The second half of the book is much more philosophical, and spends time on the concept of truth, the role of scripture etc. Tomlinson challenges the doctrine of inerrancy that theologians such as Schaeffer held to, although interestingly ends up in agreement with John Stott. This leads onto the debate as to how does the Bible speak God’s words?
Being an evangelical Christian, working for a very strong evangelical church left me clearly on the other side of the debate at times. But I got the sense that Dave Tomlinson is someone who is interested in creating not just debate, but also dialogue, not just moaning, but moving forward together. So whilst I don’t agree with everything he’s written, I’d be interested in spending time with him over a pub lunch hearing more of his story which, as with all of us, has so clearly influenced his theology.
It was refreshing to hear a post-modern book written from a British Christian perspective, rather than the American perspective of McLaren and others.