By looking at the present divide between what he calls "Meliorists" and "Traditionists", Gerald McDermott helpfully sizes up the present tension, warning of the inevitable outcome if the situation persists:
If history is a guide, the present divisions between Meliorists and Traditionists will widen. In another twenty years, Meliorists may not be recognizable as evangelicals, and, like the liberal Protestants they resemble, will likely have trouble filling their pews.[…] If the evangelical movement does not learn from that experience, it will risk disintegrating into ever more subjectivist and individualistic sects, many of them neither evangelical nor orthodox. (From "Evangelicals Divided", First Things, April 2011.)I think McDermott is right. The question that continues to persist is why this is the case. What is it about evangelicalism that dooms it to this cycle? He may be onto something when he points out that, "sola scriptura is a necessary but not sufficient principle for maintaining theological orthodoxy." The problem with the present situation, and similar past situations, is that both sides appeal to the text, but do it with subtly different assumptions. As in the case of Schleiermacher, the vocabulary remains the same but the meanings shift in seismic ways.