Evangelical Christianity is known for its defence of traditional Christian teachings and resistance to liberalizing trends. Many Western evangelicals themselves do not yet realize how their faith is being reshaped by the modern zeitgeist.
Caught in the Current explores how and why Western evangelicals are changing. Church attendance is declining, conservative moral positions are unpopular, and young people are drifting away from the faith. Evangelism is avoided, so few are joining congregations. Yet these surface changes are only symptoms of a more profound shift that church leaders have not fully apprehended. Drawing upon 125 interviews with British and Canadian clergy and active laity, Sam Reimer argues that evangelicals have been deeply influenced by a post-Christian culture that has rejected institutional religious authority and embraced self-spirituality. As individual evangelicals struggle to navigate these waters, and to distance themselves from politicized evangelicalism in the United States, they are caught between conformity and resistance, between faithfulness to church moral teachings and accommodation of secular values. Many are responding by turning inward to define their Christian beliefs for themselves. The ironic result is that the decline of institutional religious authority is not happening just in Western culture, but within evangelical churches as well.
Caught in the Current is an insightful and nuanced assessment of how British and Canadian evangelicals are navigating a post-Christian culture, often in ways that are distinct from how their counterparts in the United States approach it.
Sam Reimer is professor of sociology at Crandall University, author of Evangelicals and the Continental Divide: The Conservative Protestant Subculture in Canada and the United States, and co-author of A Culture of Faith: Evangelical Congregations in Canada.