Why evangelicals are connecting with the early church as they move into the 21st century. (by Chris Armstrong)
Last spring, something was stirring under the white steeple of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
A motley group of young and clean-cut, goateed and pierced, white-haired and bespectacled filled the center’s Barrows Auditorium. They joined their voices to sing of “the saints who nobly fought of old” and “mystic communion with those whose rest is won.” A speaker walked an attentive crowd through prayers from the 5th-century Gelasian Sacramentary, recommending its forms as templates for worship in today’s Protestant churches. Another speaker highlighted the pastoral strengths of the medieval fourfold hermeneutic. Yet another gleefully passed on the news that Liberty University had observed the liturgical season of Lent. The t-word—that old Protestant nemesis, tradition—echoed through the halls.
Just what was going on in this veritable shrine to pragmatic evangelistic methods and no-nonsense, back-to-the-Bible Protestant conservatism? Had Catholics taken over?
It is so tempting, isn’t it, as Anglican Catholics to say “yeah? What else is new?” But that would be devaluing the immense direction of the Holy Spirit bringing evangelicals back to their Christian roots.