The first 4 chapters of Anxious Christians deals with what Cary calls “the core of what is distinctive about the new evangelical theology.” When Cary refers to “new evangelical theology,” he is referring to an approach to spirituality and thinking which would have been unheard of a generation or 2 ago. He describes it so:
This is essentially a set of interconnected techniques or ritual practices for making God real in your life, establishing a relationship with God, and so on—as if that kind of thing really depended on you. The techniques all have the characteristic that they turn you away from external things like the word of God, Christ in the flesh, and the life of the church, in order to seek God in your heart, your life, and your experience. Underneath a lot of talk about being personal with God, it’s a spirituality that actually leaves you alone with yourself [italics mine].
Chapter 2 follows the theme of chapter 1, dealing with why you don’t have to believe your intuitions are the Holy Spirit. He again makes the point that “…the Holy Spirit does work in our hearts, even though our hearts and all the voices in them are our own.” Intuition is a skilled way of seeing, that develops as God works in our lives.
The danger is that when we feel like we must credit God with our innermost thoughts and feelings, we actually are short-changing what God is doing in our lives. We are left with no sense of personal growth, because anything good has to be solely God, not our being changed into the likeness of Christ.
Moving on, Cary then deals in Chapter 3 with the concept of “letting God take control.” This, again, is a way of short-changing what God is doing in us, and actually stunts our personal growth. Growth in anything involves an increase in responsibility, which people abdicate under the guise of being “spiritual.” The result is stunted spiritual growth. We don’t have to “give God control;” God is in control, and we must learn to accept this, and what God is doing in us, by faith.
Finally, in the 4th and last chapter in this section, Cary addresses the concept of “finding God’s will,” a major theme among evangelical Christians, especially those looking for a mate. He dispels the notion that there is such a thing as “the one” or that God really cares whether you have oatmeal or toast for breakfast. A part of maturing is making decisions.
God has already given us everything we need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3), and we need to believe that by faith. That doesn’t mean that we don’t ask God for wisdom, but that we trust that he gives it to us. Citing Hebrews 5:14, Cary writes, “For we already know the Lord’s will for our lives: he wants us to learn how to discern good from bad, including how to make good investments for his kingdom.”
The new evangelical theology actually works against any kind of spiritual maturity, conning us into believing that we need to ignore what God is actually doing in our lives, abdicating any kind of real maturity in favor of a vacuous spirituality.