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Evangelical Distinctives and Dialogue

Date recorded: 1 Jun 2005 | Speaker: Henri Blocher
Evangelical Distinctives and Dialogue


"Dialogue" has grown into a favorite, almost a magical, word in Christendom. General conditions (including large-scale emigration), changes in the mindset of many among the "late" modern, the rise of the Ecumenical Movement, have led to unprecedented exchanges between churches and trends in the churches that had long ignored one another. Some fear that they will blur the contours of identities, and in the case of evangelicalism, of its unique testimony; some argue the opposite, that amicable confrontation makes one more conscious of one's distinctives. Likely, both outcomes may be observed - a motive for examining evangelical distinctives in the present dialogical situation. After some reflections on dialogue and identity, and a brief reminder of historical fact regarding the phenomenon of evangelicalism, the topic isapproached from two sides, reflecting the duality of evangelicalism: Evangelical distinctives in relation to (1) the tenets of Christian orthodoxy, and (2) the claims of spiritual freedom. The first presentation raises such issues as adherence to Christological dogma, the divinity of Scripture, the authority of God's law, guilt and retribution, and a realist notion of truth (with its hermeneutical ties). The second presentation deals with attitudes concerning institutional mediations (including sacramental ones), emphasis on individual decision and subjective experience, and relationships with the world (with the relevance of eschatology). Finally, the question of the duality itself is addressed, including its viability and meaning.