For the past several years, I’ve appeared on Doug Pagitt Radio to make my annual predictions for the upcoming year in religion. You can judge my prognostication abilities for yourself:
Looking back, it seems that I’m batting about .500. Not bad (for a baseball player).
So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the Year in Religion 2013:
1. Rob Bell will start a church in Southern California. Everyone I know who knows Rob Bell insists that he’s done with church, even that he’s post-Christian. But I keep hearing him talk about churchy things — even the religious things that he spurned when at Mars Hill, like when he said we should all take communion more. Plus, the TV show that drew him to SoCal was shelved, and the people I’ve talked to who went to the taping of his talk show pilot report that, well, it wasn’t very good. What Rob is good at — brilliant at — is standing in front of live audiences and talking. He’s spellbinding. And he could rally a group of Southern Californians at the drop of a star. So I think he will. It won’t be a big to-do, he probably won’t call it a church, but I think he’ll start something.
2. There will be sea changes in the personnel of evangelicalism: Christianity Today has recently announced changes, naming Andy Crouch the Executive Editor. Fuller Seminary will be appointing a new president in 2013. Franklin Graham put words in daddy’s mouth during the election, and James Dobson was roundly condemned for his stupid comments after the Sandy Hook shooting. Evangelicals are looking for new leading voices. As the founding generation of the evangelical insurgency passes into dementia-induced incoherence, to whom will they turn? Not Rob Bell. Mark Driscoll has gone silent. Maybe Rachel Held Evans and Fred Clark? It seems doubtful that bloggers will lead the way, but these voices have been prominent among those telling evangelicals to stop listening to Dobson and Graham. Some new voices will emerge.
3. The Church of England will allow female bishops. When a vote sustained the policy of a male-only bishopric in the Church of England, it was a huge stain on the tenure of Rowan Williams, the now-former Archbishop of Canterbury. There are rules saying that there can’t be another vote on the issue for several years. But there will be, because they’ll change the rules. They can do that in a bureaucracy (though they’ll tell you that they can’t). When the vote happened, many of my Anglicanish friends defended the Church, telling me on Twitter that this was just a loophole in the voting procedures. Those tweets, of course, only confirmed my long-held opinion that bureaucracy is bad for the gospel. So, those of you stuck in denominational systems, pay heed. You’re often told that the rules can’t change — but just watch the rules change in this case.
That’s it for this year’s predictions from me.
What are your predictions for the year in religion? Post them soon, and I might read them on the air today —
listen live at 11am EST.