Can you tell I’m taking “History of Fundamentalism” this week… 🙂
From Ramm, Bernard. “Welcome ‘Green Grass’ Evangelicals” Eternity 25 (March 1974) 13.
“Green-grass evangelicals”: That’s what I call the new breed of evangelical Christians emerging today.
These green-grass evangelicals are committed to evangelical theology but not committed to the older bromides of previous generations. They want their version of evangelicalism.
I find the following characteristics of this new thinking to be generally true of the green-grass crowd. But I must qualify what I say by pointing out that research staff is composed of one person: Me! So what I offer is drawn from my encounters in traveling and speaking rather than from any scientific use of polls.
1. Green-grass evangelicals are not interested in doctrinal questions like “eternal security.” To them such issues are too academic. Actually, only God really knows who is in the kingdom and who isn’t. The real business of Christianity is living the Christian life: indulging in debates about the possibility of losing one’s salvation is pure luxury.
2. (Concerning evolution and science)
3. Green-grass evangelicals are not much interested in prophecy or the millennium or details about the tribulation. This is all fulfilled. So why so much concern about settling details about something that hasn’t happened yet? Furthermore, so much can be done now for Christ it is a pity to waste time, energy, and print over something yet to happen.
4. Green-grass evangelicals believe that debates over Scripture (infallibility, inerrancy) pay not great dividends. They are more experience-centered and rest their case for Christianity in the character of their encounter with Christ.
5. (informed about psychology)
6. Green-grass evangelicals believe that the real case for Christian faith is the authenticity of the lifestyle of Christians. If for no other reason, this is inspired by the manner in which their non-Christian friends evaluate any religious belief, namely, not on a doctrinal or philosophical basis but rather the cash value of belief in daily life.
7. Green-grass evangelicals have a much greater social concern than previous evangelicals. They understand enough economics, political science, and sociology to know that Christian and non-Christian live together on this planet and share its destiny. Therefore a Christian needs not only a sense of personal salvation but also a concern for the social conditions of all mankind. A secondary aspect of this is the humanitarianism of young evangelicals.
8. Green-grass evangelicals see art as a prime means of expressing one’s faith and of experiencing the fuller riches of God’s common grace to all men. It is my guess that if we had statistics pertaining to evangelicals participating in the arts, we would see a recent startling rising of the curve upward.
My recommendation is. Don’t fight them! Try some of that very old virtue, humility, to see what we can learn from this new breed of evangelicals.
NOTE: On one hand I hate to post this because it would seem that ‘if Ramm saw these ideas coming thirty years ago and fundamentalists rejected them then we ought to do the same today.’ The problem is that type of answer is to simplistic. For one, it doesn’t consider the issues individually. Furthermore, in my opinion it fails to realize that the reason the questions are being asked again today because they’ve never been satisfactorily answered. The question of how ‘the experiential’ squares with ‘the doctrinal’ is among the hardest questions to answer in the church today. I do want to post this though because I think it’s important to recognize that no ideas are new and we can learn from the past. In some ways, a few of these descriptions would fit me, particularly point eight (interesting…). Let’s pray for one another as we continue to wade through these issues.