An Introduction to Mark Galli

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In 2009, Mockingbird had an exclusive interview with ]]. I am fearful of posting too much on Galli as a person because for too often, we attack the person and not the stance or doctrine. This is unfair, however, I want to post some introductions to Galli in order to better equip me with his worldview. I know were Rob Bell is coming from. I want to know where Galli is coming from. This helps to judge the outcome of their books and their goals in their ministry. Further, it helps to assess whether or not Galli is really a ‘big-tent Christian’ or not. Again, Galli is not an evil Christian imposter because he is a Calvinist (nor Bell because he is more Arminian), etc… but it helps to know his back ground before we can correctly ascertain his trajectory. I simply don’t want to judge someone on their foundational beliefs, but I think that in knowing where they are coming from, it helps to understand what they are saying.

You can find the interview here: Part 1; Part 2.

Below are statements which have stood out to me for one reason or another:

  • But at the same time, that activism is almost like an addiction.
  • …what I consider to be the main concern with the evangelical movement right now; it’s addicted to the horizontal: what we do, what we’re doing wrong and how we should fix it.
  • I just keep on coming back to Luther’s truth that we are simultaneously justified and sinners.
  • A lot of this is driven by my own personal spiritual journey and is hammered home by the biblical message, and something that Luther got really well: the harder I try to be a good Christian, I notice the worse Christian I am: more self-righteous, more impatient, more frustrated.
  • Though who I’ve read the most is Karl Barth. Especially recently. That’s probably why you’re seeing a new intensity in my writing on this. I’m exploring writing a book on Barth. And in the course of doing that I was reminded how much I really like this guy.
  • Well, I do think the neo-Calvinist movement is a hopeful sign.
  • The other thing that’s a helpful movement, but could move in one of two directions, is the Ancient-Future movement. When people are trying to draw on the resources of Church historic, especially the early church fathers, and the church tradition that’s found in Catholic and Orthodox (and Anglican) circles, I think that is helpful, as long as it’s not being turned into a new traditional-ism, or it’s turned into a new religion.
  • There were no evangelicals in 1500, but then God raised up Luther and John Calvin to remind us of that. There were no Evangelicals per se in 1700 but Whitefield and Wesley came along and started the preaching that led to the Great Awakening.

Alright – what I am worried about is the Galli sees Christian History skipping from far distant past to Luther and Calvin (What, no Zwingli? Heretic), then to the Great Awakening and now to us. Further, with the book which I hold in my hands, both of them, they both claim to like Barth and to be big fans. Yet Willimon‘s take, I suspect, will be vastly different than Galli’s.

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10 Replies to “An Introduction to Mark Galli”

  1. “There were no evangelicals in 1500, but then God raised up Luther and John Calvin to remind us of that. There were no Evangelicals per se in 1700 but Whitefield and Wesley came along and started the preaching that led to the Great Awakening.”

    This does not sound like big tent Christianity to me.

      1. Rod and Joel:

        Its a statement of fact that evangelicalism (in the way that Galli is using it) has a punctuated history of existence.

        Also, Galli does not use evangelicalism as a marker of true Christianity. In fact, immediately prefacing this section he stated ” I really don’t care if Evangelicalism survives or not, as we know it today. God cares about Evangelicalism as he cares about the nations of the world—they’re a drop in the bucket. He doesn’t need Evangelicalism to further his cause in the world. And if Evangelicalism were to disappear tomorrow, we shouldn’t lose much sleep about it.” So I don’t understand your objection Rod, or why Joel was seconded it…

        1. Erlend, he is introducted in “God Wins” as a “big tent Christian.”

          Saying that only Luther and Calvin were evangelicals in the 1500s, Wesley and friends in the 1700s, I would say he is wrong historically.

          I don’t see Galli promoting Luther and Calvin’s views on Mary or infant baptism. Or stoning heretics.

  2. Joel: Given that Mark Galli has created a biography of Francis of Assisi, and has authored a book entitled ‘131 Christians Everyone Should Know’ that included (for example) Anselm, Aquinas, Dominic, Bernard of Clairvaux, Zwingli, John of the Cross etc… I don’t really think you need to continue with this particular concern.

  3. Joel :
    Erlend,
    What concern do you think I am having?

    Erm…well: “what I am worried about is the Galli sees Christian History skipping from far distant past to Luther and Calvin (What, no Zwingli? Heretic), then to the Great Awakening and now to us.”

    1. Okay – so he wrote a book which has biographies, and yet, he relies heavily upon Luther and Calvin. This is just not one set of quotes, but several.

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