Now I am not opposed to the idea of trying to be an influence. The Christian community should not isolate itself from discussion with anyone or from common action with non-Christians where the faith is not compromised. Christians should hope, pray, and work to be a godly influence wherever they can in this world. Christians need to recognize that certain kinds of compromise can be appropriate. Christians and non-Christians can unite to oppose abortion, for example. And Baptists, Reformed, and Lutherans can join the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals to promote some basic truths of the Reformation.
The danger comes, however, when Christians adopt a notion of influence derived from the world of politics or business. That world sees influence in relation to power, money, numbers, and success. Compromise, cooperation, and intentional ambiguity are all methods used to achieve influence in this world. But should Christians adopt strategies and set goals that compromise basic elements of their faith in the name of influence?
… What leads so many evangelicals to accept the myth? Part of the motivation is the American fascination with respectability, success, and numbers. But such attitudes actually show that American evangelicals have never really left behind their nineteenth century postmillennialism. They still with great optimism look forward to the restoration of the “Evangelical Empire” of the last century. They dream of being again the “mainstream” of American religion and culture as they were before the rise of liberalism and the immigration of Roman Catholics.
An even deeper cause of the attraction of the myth of influence, however, is theological. Evangelicals who succumb to the myth of influence do so in part because of their own flawed theology. They have developed theologies which depart from the rich biblical theologies of the Reformation. Read more»
W. Robert Godfrey, “The Myth of Influence,” Modern Reformation (1998).