The New Evangelical – Evil fit for a New Dark Age
I have been looking into Vatican II for a long time now wondering just how many of our well known pastors are Pope sympathisers. Then the Emergent Movement exploded onto the scene – and one by one, two by two, 10 by 10, our pastors who could not preach a word wrong are coming out and proclaiming unity with all faiths at all costs – a new evangelical for a new age.
This is an excellent article explaining the history, characteristics and fruit of the Vatican Second Council New Evangelization initiative. You might get a few surprises as you read.
Permission received to re-publish this article in full by David Cloud © Way of Life Literature http://www.wayoflife.org
Updated September 4, 2008 (first published January 1995) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service)
I am convinced that few errors are as destructive to fundamentalist Bible-believing churches as New Evangelicalism. When people leave our churches, where do they go? Do they join the Roman Catholic Church? Do they join a modernistic Protestant church, such as the United Methodist, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., or the United Church of Canada? Do they join a cult such as the Mormons? That seldom occurs. Most that leave fundamentalist Bible-believing churches join the positive-thinking, easy-going New Evangelical church down the street or across town.
Few false philosophies more directly pull at members of fundamental Baptist churches than New Evangelicalism. Church members are confronted with it on every hand–through popular Christian radio and television preachers, at the local ecumenical bookstore, through members of other churches, through ecumenical evangelistic crusades, through political activity, through interdenominational organizations such as Promise Keepers.
It is therefore crucial that we understand the nature of New Evangelicalism.
We are concerned that a many of the members of good churches do not have a clear understanding of exactly what New Evangelicalism is, nor of the history of the doctrinal battles which have been fought to preserve the Truth in the past 100 years. Many seem to think that New Evangelicalism is a problem that was fought decades ago and that no longer exists.
To be ignorant of the insidious and pervasive nature of New Evangelicalism is to be unprepared to identify and resist it. Yet, large numbers of fundamentalists do not know anything about New Evangelicalism. A few years ago, a fundamental Baptist evangelist asked the students of a well-known independent Baptist school to raise their hands if they could define New Evangelicalism. Only two raised their hands.
Hosea 4:6 warns, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”
I. The History of New Evangelicalism
II. The Influence of New Evangelicalism
III. The Characteristics of New Evangelicalism
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a repudiation of separation.
- New Evangelicalism New Evangelicalism is characterized by replacing separation with dialogue.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a love for positivism, by a repudiation of the more negative aspects of biblical Christianity, by a judge-not philosophy, by a dislike of doctrinal controversy.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting love and unity above doctrine.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a pragmatic approach to the ministry.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a desire for intellectual respectability, by pride of scholarship.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by an inconsistency, by contradiction.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by the division of biblical truth into categories of important and not important.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a mood of softness, a desire for a less strict Christianity, a weariness with fighting, a neutrality toward spiritual warfare.
IV. The Apostate Fruit of New Evangelicalism
I. THE HISTORY OF NEW EVANGELICALISM
1. THE FUNDAMENTALIST-MODERNIST CONTROVERSY SET THE STAGE FOR NEW EVANGELICALISM.
To understand New Evangelicalism, we must go back two centuries to the formation of theological modernism, which originated in the late 1700s in Europe.
Theological modernism (or liberalism) had its origin in Europe, particularly in Germany, in the 19th century and was merely the rationalistic thinking of that time applied to Christianity. It was the dawn of the “scientific era”; many men felt they were on the verge of discovering the secrets of the universe and solving the problems of mankind. Anti-Christian thinkers such as Darwin, Hegel, and Marx led the movement to dethrone God and replace Him with Man. Unregenerate “Christian” professors in many European universities and seminaries had already rejected the Word of God, so they gladly accepted the humanistic thinking of the day and set out to apply evolutionary thinking to the Bible and Christianity. The result was tragic: The Bible was considered merely a human book, inspired only in the sense that Shakespeare’s writings were “inspired.” Jesus Christ was considered a mere man, good and helpful, perhaps, but a mere man nonetheless
Modernism spread like ivy. The growth stages of ivy are described by the saying, “It sleeps, it creeps, and it leaps.” This is precisely what occurred with theological modernism. It began in a very small way in the 18th century, then it began to creep forward and expand its influence in the 19th century, and finally it leaped from denomination to denomination and spread throughout the world in the 20th century. It was introduced to American denominations through men who studied in prestigious (though apostate) European universities and through European professors who visited American schools and churches.
Nominal Christianity had paved the way for this apostasy both in Europe and in England.
In Germany, the Lutheran state church was spiritually powerless. The citizens of the nation were members of the church by birth and by infant baptism, but they were not born again and the new birth was seldom preached.
A similar situation existed in England, though to a lesser degree. The Church of England dominated religious life in the nation, and it represented a nominal Christianity, for the most part. In England, unlike Germany, there was a stronger evangelical movement within the state church; there was also a much stronger evangelical church movement apart from the state church, as represented by Baptists, Methodists, Brethren, and others. Spiritual revivals had produced good fruit in England in the late 18th century and early 19th.
Consider some examples of the heretical philosophies and doctrines that were taking hold in these days:
(1) It was the age of “enlightenment” in which rationalism was positively encouraged by Frederick II, the “philosopher king,” who reigned over Prussia 46 years (1740-1786). The “age of enlightenment” should be called the “age of unbelief.” Frederick was “a thorough rationalist and patron of ‘free thought.’ The sight of a cross, it was said, was enough to make him blaspheme” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 5). The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary of 1934 correctly defined “Enlightenment” as “shallow and pretentious intellectualism, unreasonable contempt for authority and tradition.”
(2) Professor H.E.G. Paulus (1761-1851) of Heidelberg, Germany, devised naturalistic explanations for Christ’s miracles. He claimed, for example, that Jesus did not actually walk on the water but that He was walking on the shore, and in the mist and fog it only appeared that he was walking on the water. He claimed that Jesus did not die on the cross, but only swooned, and in the coolness of the tomb he revived; and after an earthquake moved the stone, he walked out and appeared to the disciples.
(3) Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834) of Halle, Germany, exalted experience and feeling over Bible doctrine. He used traditional Christian language but reinterpreted it. He emphasized the necessity of knowing Christ through faith, but “faith” did not refer to believing the Bible as the infallible Word of God but merely to man’s own intuition or consciousness. He did not consider historical biblical truth to be necessary to faith. Thus Schleiermacher could say, “With my intellect I am a philosopher, and with my feelings quite a devout man; ay, more than that, a Christian” (quoted by Daniel Edward, “Schleiermacher Interpreted by Himself and the Men of His School,” British and Foreign Evangelical Review, vol. 25, 1876, p. 609). Schleiermacher barred doctrinal preaching from the pulpit (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 2000, p. 11). “Schleiermacher is correctly viewed as the chief source of the massive change which has occurred in the historic Protestant denominations during the last two hundred years. … In his separation of the intellectual content of Christianity (the objective biblical revelation) from Christian ‘feeling’, Schleiermacher seemed to provide a means whereby the essence of Christianity could remain unaffected, no matter how much of the Bible was rejected. Hostile criticism of Scripture need not therefore be seen as a threat to the ‘faith’ … Christianity, it was concluded, could be successful irrespective of whether Scripture were preserved as the Word of God, and this thought was the more appealing as the theological scholarship of the nineteenth century became increasingly destructive” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided). Schleiermacher paved the way for the New Evangelical view that men can be genuine Christians and “love the Lord,” even though they reject biblical doctrine. For this reason, Billy Graham can have sweet fellowship with modernistic unbelievers and Roman Catholic bishops and popes.
(4) F.C. Baur (1792-1860), founder of the Tuebingen School of New Testament criticism (Tuebingen, Germany) claimed that the Gospel of John was not written by the apostle John and, in fact, was not written until 170 A.D. and that only four of Paul’s Epistles were actually written by him. He argued that the New Testament was merely the natural record of the early churches. Baur’s school was very influential in the spread of modernism.
(5) David F. Strauss (1808-1874), a pupil of F.C. Baur, “dismissed all the supernatural and messianic elements in the Gospels as myth.” In his book The Life of Jesus (1835-36) he boldly denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.
(6) Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) (right) popularized existentialism in contrast to biblical absolutes. Though little known in his lifetime beyond the borders of Denmark, his writings later became influential through translations. For example, Robert Runcie, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1990, said he was indebted to Kierkegaard’s idea “that religion had nothing to do with the rational part of your mind.” Runcie said this showed him “a way in which I could hold together a fundamental skepticism with religious devotion” (Humphrey Carpenter, Robert Runcie: The Reluctant Archbishop, 1977, p. 88).
(7) The Graf-Wellhausen theory was named for Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) and Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-1869). (Julius Wellhausen published the Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel in 1878.) According to this theory, the Old Testament is not divine revelation but merely the record of the evolution of Israel’s religion. He held “that Hebrew religion had undergone a development from the primitive stories of nomadic times to the elaborate, institutionalized ritualism of the period of the centuries before the birth of Christ” (The History of Christianity, Lion Publishing, 1977, p. 554). Wellhausen denied the historicity of Abraham, Noah, and other Bible characters in the history of Israel. He claimed that Israel did not know about Jehovah God until Moses taught them this at Mt. Sinai. He claimed that the laws and the priestly system were not given by Moses but were developed after Israel was in Canaan and, in some cases, after the Babylonian exile; that most of the Pentateuch was written during the days of Israel’s kings as a “pious fraud.” This theory has, in its ever-changing forms, wielded vast influence in theological education in most denominations.
At the heart of theological modernism is AN ATTACK UPON THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. A central tenant is the critical approach, which questions the traditional authorship and historicity of the Pentateuch and other parts of Scripture. The result is to question or openly deny Old Testament miracles such as the worldwide flood of Noah’s day, God’s destruction of Sodom by fire from heaven, Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt, the judgments upon Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the account of Job’s suffering, and Jonah’s three days in the whale’s belly.
The translators of the Revised Standard Version of 1951 were modernists and their writings illustrate this attack. They represented most of the mainline Protestant denominations in America at the mid-point of the 20th century. Following are just a few examples:
Clarence T. Craig: “Revelation has sometimes been understood to consist in a holy book. … Even on Christian soil it has sometimes been held that the books of the Bible were practically dictated to the writers through the Holy Spirit. … I DO NOT THINK THAT THIS IS THE DISTINCTIVELY CHRISTIAN POSITION. … The true Christian position is the Bible CONTAINS the record of revelation” (Craig, The Beginning of Christianity, 1943, pp. 17, 18).
Millar Burrows: “We cannot take the Bible as a whole and in every part as stating with divine authority what we must believe and do” (Burrows, Outline of Biblical Theology).
Russell Bowie: “According to the ENTHUSIASTIC TRADITIONS which had come down through the FOLKLORE of the people of Israel, Methuselah lived 969 years” (Walter Russell Bowie, Great Men of the Bible, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1937, p. 1).
Julius Bewer: “The dates and figures found in the first five books of the Bible turn out to be altogether unreliable” (Bewer, The Literature of the Old Testament, 1940).
Fleming James: “The narrative of calling down fire from heaven upon the soldiers sent to arrest him is PLAINLY LEGENDARY. . . . What REALLY happened at the Red Sea WE CAN NO LONGER KNOW” (James, The Beginnings of Our Religion).
Edgar Goodspeed: “The oldest of these elements [that formed Genesis] was a Judean account of the nation’s story from the beginning of the world to the conquest of Canaan by the tribes. … BABYLONIAN MYTHS AND LEGENDS AND CANAANITE POPULAR TALES HE FREELY APPROPRIATED to his great purpose of enforcing morality and the worship of one God. Sometimes crude old SUPERSTITIOUS IDEAS still cling to some of these. The writer of this ancient record was a prophet … He wrote his book about 850 B.C. in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. … And IN THE CAPTIVITY IN BABYLONIA THESE BOOKS [THE FIRST SIX BOOKS OF THE BIBLE] WERE COMBINED INTO A GREAT COMPOSITE WORK of history and law … So at last, not long after 400 B.C., arose the Hexateuch” (Goodspeed, The Story of the Old Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934, pp. 107-110).
Learoy Sperry: “Plainly no divine fiat compounded man out of the dust of the earth and the universal spirit on a Friday in the year 4004 B.C. It is harder than once it was to see God walking in that garden in the cool of the evening” (Sperry, Signs of These Times, New York: Doubleday, 1929, p. 110).
A more recent illustration of modernism comes from the pen of John Shelby Spong, a bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. Consider an excerpt from this man’s writings: “Am I suggesting that these stories of the virgin birth are not literally true? The answer is a simple and direct ‘Yes.’ Of course these narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn savior. … To talk of a Father God who has a divine-human son by a virgin woman is a mythology that our generation would never have created, and obviously, could not use. To speak of a Father God so enraged by human evil that he requires propitiation for our sins that we cannot pay and thus demands the death of the divine-human son as a guilt offering is a ludicrous idea to our century. The sacrificial concept that focuses on the saving blood of Jesus that somehow washes me clean, so popular in Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles, is by and large repugnant to us today” (John Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, Harper, 1991, pp. 215,234).
(In the clip above, Spong expresses the sort of heretical views that he is infamous for.) Another recent example of theological modernism is THE JESUS SEMINAR. This misnamed organization, composed of some 75 “experts in religion and New Testament studies,” began meeting in March 1985 (its organization was first announced in 1978) with the supposed object of discovering which words of the Gospels are authentic.
The Seminar met from time to time to discuss passages of the New Testament. After a passage was discussed by the participating “scholars,” they used colored pegs to indicate the degree of authenticity they felt should be ascribed to it. Red signified a strong degree of certainty in favor of authenticity; pink signified probably; gray signified maybe; black signified their conviction that the passage is not authentic. The colors therefore indicate degrees of doubt in God’s Word.
In 1993, the Jesus Seminar published The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. This included a new translation called “The Scholar’s Translation.” The color coding was incorporated into the text to describe the degree to which the various portions of the Gospels are considered authentic by the Jesus Seminar. Very few of the passages are red!
The Seminar concluded that Christ spoke only 18 percent of the sayings attributed to Him in the Bible. According to the Jesus Seminar, Christ did not speak most of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount; He did not say anything about turning the other cheek or giving to those who ask of you; He did not speak the parable of the sower, the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the ten pieces of money, or the parable of the talents; He did not say “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”; He did not pray in the garden of Gethsemane; He did not say “Take eat, this is my body” and the other sayings associated with the Lord’s Supper; He did not say “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” or “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” when He was on the cross. The Jesus Seminar determined that Christ did not walk on the water; he did not feed the thousands with only a few loaves and fishes; Christ gave no prophecies of His death or resurrection or second coming; Christ did not conduct the Last Supper as it is recorded in Scripture; there was no Jewish trial of Christ; Christ did not appear before the high priest or before Pilate; the Jewish crowd did not participate in His condemnation; Christ did not rise again bodily on the third day and did not ascend to Heaven bodily.
According to the Jesus Seminar, “THE STORY OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS ENDED WITH HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS AND THE DECAY OF HIS BODY” (Religious News Service, March 6, 1995).
According to Jesus Seminar scholars, Jesus Christ was a mere man who was filled with delusions and was caught up in some sort of political intrigue. At the Redlands, California, meeting in 1986, Jesus Seminar scholar Ron Cameron stated: “THE DEATH OF JESUS WAS LIKE A CAR WRECK; IT’S AN ACCIDENT OF HISTORY. … I’m not sure why the Romans killed Jesus, but the gospel stories are not historical in the modern sense of the word. I don’t think Jesus had the notoriety that the gospels say he had. His sayings don’t any where give evidence that he was trying to found a church or a reform movement” (Christian News, April 7, 1986). [He can say something idiotic like this, because he discounts the majority of Jesus’ statements in the Gospels.]
Jesus Seminar leader Marcus Borg made the following statement to the religious press in 1992: “I would argue that the truth of Easter does not depend on whether there was an empty tomb, or whether anything happened to the body of Jesus. … I do not see the Christian tradition as exclusively true, or the Bible as the unique and infallible revelation of God. … It makes no historical sense to say, ‘Jesus was killed for the sins of the world.’ … I am one of those Christians who does not believe in the virgin birth, nor in the star of Bethlehem, nor in the journeys of the wisemen, nor in the shepherds coming to the manger, as facts of history” (Bible Review, December 1992).
(For a refutation of modernistic theories of biblical inspiration see the Advanced Bible Studies Series Course on Bible Doctrine or the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity, available from Way of Life Literature.)
Modernism flies under many flags and assumes many guises. Not all modernists are as bold and plainspoken as the translators of the RSV or John Spong or Marcus Borg, BUT ALL DENY THE PERFECT INSPIRATION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE and question the miraculous.
It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit prophesied all of this. The Lord’s Apostles warned that many unregenerate false teachers would creep into the churches and would deceive many, and in fact, such false teachers were already active during the times of the Apostles (Mat. 7:15-23; 24:5, 24; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:1-20; Gal. 2:4; Phil. 3:1, 2; 3:18-19; Col. 2:4-8; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:14-21; 3:1-13; 4:1-4; Tit. 1:10-16; 3:9-11; 2 Pet. 2:1-22: 3:1-18; 1 John 2:18-19; 4:1-6; 2 Jn. 7-11; Jude 3-19).
2. MANY CHURCH LEADERS IN NORTH AMERICA FOUGHT AGAINST THEOLOGICAL MODERNISM. THESE BECAME KNOWN AS “FUNDAMENTALISTS.”
The term “fundamentalism” has come to mean any number of things and is commonly used in a derogatory and slanderous way by those who do not believe the Scriptures. It is used to describe all sorts of dangerous extremism, such as Islamic terrorists, Pentecostal snake-handlers, the racist Ayrian Nations, and cult leaders such as Jim Jones who caused the mass suicide of his followers.
Let’s consider the origin of the name “fundamentalist.”
Fundamentalism arose from the doctrinal controversies that embroiled American churches at the beginning of the 20th century when theological modernism began to take root in seminaries and Bible colleges and in leadership positions in the denominations. In America, the church situation was significantly different than in Europe and even in England. There were no state churches, and the nation had been blessed with some powerful revivals in the 1700s, 1800s, and the early 1900s. As theological modernism began gaining adherents in U.S. denominations, regenerate Christian leaders who believed the Bible took a stand against it. The battle that followed was called the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.
The stage was set for this battle by the publication of a series of books that were written to expound fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Published over a five-year period from 1910-1915, the series, titled The Fundamentals, was composed of 90 articles written by 64 authors. With the financial backing of two wealthy Christian businessmen brothers (California oil magnates Milton and Lyman Stewart), some three million copies of the 12 paperback volumes of The Fundamentals were distributed to Christian workers in the United States and 21 foreign countries. The articles defended the infallible inspiration of the Bible, justification by faith, the new birth, the deity, virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and other Bible truths. Not only did The Fundamentals address the heresy of Modernism, but also of Romanism, Socialism, and the Cults. Contributors included W.B. Riley, James Gray, G. Campbell Morgan, H.C.G. Moule, James Orr, A.T. Pierson, Thomas Spurgeon (son of Charles Haddon), J.C. Ryle, Philip Mauro, W.H. Griffith Thomas, R.A. Torrey, and B.B. Warfield.
The fundamentalist cause was further advanced with the gathering of the World Conference on Christian Fundamentals in Philadelphia in 1919.
It is said that the name “fundamentalist” was first used in 1920 by Edward Lee Laws, editor of the Watchman Examiner, a Northern Baptist publication. Laws coined the term “to describe a group of concerned Baptists who had just met at the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York, to discuss the problem of Modernism in the Northern Baptist Convention” (David Beale, S.B.C. House on the Sand? p. 195).
In England, few accepted the name fundamentalist, preferring to remain known as evangelicals while attempting to distinguish themselves from the new evangelicals. G. Campbell Morgan, for example, said: “I dislike the word ‘Fundamentalist’ as much as I dislike the word ‘Modernist.’ I always decline to be labeled by either designation. My own position is that of holding the Evangelical faith in its fullness” (“Fundamentalist Foibles,” The Biblical Evangelist, Oct. 12, 1984). Peter Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, writes: In the UK the term fundamentalist has not been much used” (Are We Fundamentalists? 1995, p. 4).
The fundamentalist movement was never homogenous even in its earliest days. There were many aspects or divisions.
The Protestant fundamentalists in general were more oriented toward a “unity in diversity” type of fundamentalism that ignored such things as ecclesiology and prophecy for the sake of a wider umbrella.
The authors of The Fundamentals represented the broader approach to fundamentalism. They held a wide variety of doctrine, some holding very serious doctrinal errors. For example, James Orr of Scotland denied the verbal inspiration of Scripture and allowed for theistic evolution. J. Campbell Morgan denied the literal fire of hell and believed that men could be saved even if they do not hear of nor believe in Christ.
Some men who started out with the fundamentalist movement turned back and renounced their former position. For example, A.C. Dixon was the executive secretary of the committee that produced The Fundamentals. Historian George Dollar observes that though Dixon was a fundamentalist for many years, he “deserted because of the stigmas and battles of separatism.” Dixon helped found the Baptist Bible Union in opposition to the liberal Northern Baptist Convention, but “right in the middle of the fiercest battles against the liberals within the convention, Dixon abruptly and without warning turned in his resignation.” He went back into the very denomination that he had left and publicly called upon others to do the same. There were many sad cases like this that discouraged and confused the hearts of those who were in the battle for the truth.
Baptist fundamentalists have tended to be concerned about a broader number of doctrines and issues. G. Archer Weniger observed: “The bulk of fundamentalism, especially the Baptists of every stripe who composed the majority by far, never accepted … the lowest common denominator in doctrine” (G. Archer Weniger, quoted in Calvary Contender, April 15, 1994). An example was J. Frank Norris, who stood against modernism in the Southern Baptist Convention. He stood for the whole counsel of God and was not afraid to make an issue of anything clearly taught in Scripture. He even fought against the liquor crowd.
Historic fundamentalism involved a militant stand for doctrinal truth and separation from error. Some professing fundamentalists, such as Jerry Falwell and Jack Van Impe, have been teaching since the 1980s that true fundamentalism is merely the stand for “the five fundamentals.” They downplay the issue of separation and doctrinal militancy. The following facts refute this:
George Dollar, in his history of fundamentalism, defines it in this way: “Historic fundamentalism is the literal interpretation of all the affirmations and attitudes of the Bible and the militant exposure of all non-biblical affirmations and attitudes” (Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America, 1973). Dollar divides historic fundamentalism into two periods, and the second period was that of separation. From 1875-1900 conservative leaders raised the banner against Modernism within the denominations. From 1900-1935 these struggles resulted in men leaving their denominations to form separate churches and groups.
David Beale makes the same observation about separation being an integral part of historic fundamentalism: “The essence of fundamentalism … is the unqualified acceptance of and obedience to the Scriptures. … The present study reveals that pre-1930 fundamentalism was nonconformist, while post-1930 fundamentalism has been separatist” (Beale, In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850, Bob Jones University Press, 1986, p. 5).
John Ashbrook has deep roots in the fundamentalist movement. His father, William, was brought to trial by the Presbyterian denomination because of his stand against modernism. After his separation from Presbyterianism, William Ashbrook established an independent fundamentalist church. He wrote an incisive book on New Evangelicalism entitled Evangelicalism: The New Neutralism. The first edition of this work appeared in 1958. His son, John, after a period of toying with New Evangelicalism as a young man, became a solid fundamentalist leader in his own right. His book New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise is, in this author’s opinion, one of the best books in print on this subject. In looking back over the fundamentalist movement since the 1930s, how does John Ashbrook define fundamentalism? “Fundamentalism is the militant belief and proclamation of the basic doctrines of Christianity leading to a Scriptural separation from those who reject them” (John Ashbrook, Axioms of Separation, nd., p. 10).
Consider the militancy of The Fundamentalist, published by J. Frank Norris, the influential fundamental Baptist leader of Texas. Baptist historian George Dollar describes Norris’s The Fundamentalist in this way: “The Fundamentalist alarmed and alerted … Reading the 1920-1930 back issues of The Fundamentalist, one can almost see the smoke and hear the battle cries of those times” (Dollar, The Fight for Fundamentalism, published by the author, 1983, p. 3). Norris’s paper is representative of that entire generation of fundamentalism in that it was a generation noted for its bold militancy for the truth.
Consider the militancy of T.T. Shields, a Canadian who helped found the Baptist Bible Union. At that time, he said, “What then shall be our answer to modernism’s declaration of war? There can be but one answer. The Baptist Bible Union is designed to mobilize the conservative Baptist forces of the continent, for the express purpose of declaring and waging relentless and uncompromising was on Modernism on all fronts.”
A definition of fundamentalism was given by the World Congress of Fundamentalists, meeting in 1976 in Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland. They said, “Fundamentalism is militant orthodoxy set on fire with soulwinning zeal.” They listed seven things that define a fundamentalist. Note particularly the final two points:
* Maintains an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible, and verbally inspired Bible.
* Believes that whatever the Bible says is so.
* Judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible.
* Affirms the foundational truths of the historic Christian Faith: The doctrine of the Trinity; the incarnation, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection and glorious ascension, and Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; the new birth through regeneration by the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the saints to life eternal; the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment and eternal death; the fellowship of the saints, who are the body of Christ.
* Practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach it to every creature.
* Exposes and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that Faith, compromise with error, and apostasy from the Truth.
* Earnestly contends for the Faith once delivered.
The very fact of New Evangelicalism proves that historic fundamentalism was more than an affirmation of a few fundamentals of the faith. If such a definition were true, the New Evangelical movement of the 1940s would have made no sense at all. The fathers of New Evangelicalism all held to “the five fundamentals.” In fact, one of these (Carl Henry) said that there at least several dozen fundamentals (cited from G. Archer Weniger, Calvary Contender, April 15, 1994). The keynote of New Evangelicalism, as we will see, was the repudiation of the separatism and other of the more militantly negative aspects of old-line fundamentalism. In his history of Fuller Theological Seminary, Reforming Fundamentalism, historian George M. Marsden makes it plain that Fuller’s early leaders were consciously rejecting the negative aspects of old-line fundamentalism. It is clear to honest historians that fundamentalism fifty years ago was characterized by MILITANCY, by a willingness to deal with the NEGATIVES, a zeal to JUDGE DOCTRINE, and by SEPARATION, and it was this fact that brought about the New Evangelical movement.
Thus, though fundamentalism has never been a homogenous movement and though it has taken a variety of forms, and though as a movement, it has been largely interdenominational, yet it is equally true to say that one of the chief hallmarks of fundamentalism–its very essence, if you will–has been a MILITANCY for the faith of the Word of God. Anyone who is not truly militant in standing for the Truth has no title to biblical fundamentalism.
Those today that deny the militancy and separation of historic fundamentalism are trying to rewrite history. Instead of admitting that they are NOT old-line fundamentalists, that they have repudiated biblical fundamentalism, have compromised the Word of God and adopted New Evangelicalism, these revisionists are trying to redefine fundamentalism to fit their backslidden condition.
Let me emphasize my own conviction that old-line evangelicalism and fundamentalism at their best were biblically deficient. I am a fundamentalist insofar as I believe in biblical dogmatism and militancy for the truth and separation from error, but I am more than a fundamentalist. The goal of my Christian life and ministry is not to be a good fundamentalist (or even to be a good Baptist). My goal is to be faithful to God’s Word in all particulars.
Following are two weaknesses that I have observed in fundamentalism as a movement:
(1) The first weakness is the transdenominational character that has often characterized fundamentalism. I do not accept the philosophy that limits the basis of fellowship to a narrow list of “cardinal” doctrines, such as the infallibility of Scripture and the deity of Christ. While the Bible does indicate that some doctrines are more important than others (e.g., Matthew 23:23), all teaching of the Bible is important and is to be taken seriously. Timothy was instructed not to allow any other doctrine than that which Paul had delivered to him (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:13, 20; 2 Tim. 2:2). Paul was concerned with the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). When the Bible instructs Christians to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), it does not specify only some narrow aspect of the faith. “The faith once delivered to the saints” refers to the whole body of New Testament truth delivered by the apostles and prophets by divine inspiration. When God instructs preachers to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2), no particular part of the Word is identified. He is to preach all of the Word of God. Obedience to these commands does not allow me to overlook denominational differences such as the mode of baptism, the manner of the Lord’s Supper, eternal security, the woman’s role in the ministry, or the interpretation of prophecy. I can accept as true Christians those who differ with me on such things, because these are not issues of “damnable heresy” (2 Pet. 2:1), but I cannot have joint ministry with them, because I do not believe the Bible allows it.
(2) The second weakness is the “universal church” mentality of fundamentalism. It is common among a large number of fundamentalists to view “the church” as composed of all professing Christians in all denominations. To call all of the denominations the “church” or the “body of Christ” is a great confusion that naturally produces an ecumenical mentality and makes the purifying of the churches impossible. Harold J. Ockenga used the many divisions of evangelicalism and fundamentalism and the “shibboleth of having a pure church” as an excuse for the non-separatist mentality (Ockenga, “From Fundamentalism, Through New Evangelicalism, to Evangelicalism,” Evangelical Roots, edited by Kenneth Kantzer, p. 42). This is dangerous and unscriptural thinking. God’s Word does call for a pure church, but it is not a universal church that we are to purify; it is the New Testament assembly (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). To attempt to purify a universal church is something the New Testament never envisions or requires. God has given His people clear instruction about discipline of sin and heresy, and those instructions are in the context of the assembly (i.e., 1 Corinthians 5; Titus 3). Regardless of what one believes about the New Testament definition of the church, it is a fact that in any sort of practical sense biblical church truth can be applied properly only to the assembly. It is obvious, at least to me, that God intends for His people to be content with the assembly and not to busy themselves with parachurch and transdenominational institutions.
By the way, I also strongly reject the Baptist Bride position. See the article “Are You a Baptist Brider?” at the Church section of the End Times Apostasy Database at the Way of Life web site — .
3. NEW EVANGELICALISM AROSE AS A REJECTION OF FUNDAMENTALISM.
The founders of New Evangelicalism grew up in fundamentalist homes. They were the “second generation” (Judges 2:10).
In the first half of the 20th century evangelicalism in America was largely synonymous with fundamentalism.
Many historians make this connection, including Mark Ellingsen (The Evangelical Movement) and George Marsden (Reforming Fundamentalism). Marsden says, “There was not a practical distinction between fundamentalist and evangelical: the words were interchangeable” (p. 48).
When the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was formed in 1942, for example, participants included such staunch fundamentalist leaders as Bob Jones, Sr., John R. Rice, Charles Woodbridge, Harry Ironside, and David Otis Fuller.
By the mid-1950s, though, a clear break between separatist fundamentalists and non-separatist evangelicals occurred. This was occasioned largely by the ecumenical evangelism of Billy Graham. The stronger men dropped out of the NAE. The terms evangelicalism and fundamentalism began “to refer to two different movements” (William Martin, A Prophet with Honor, p. 224).
The sons of evangelical-fundamentalist preachers determined to create a “New Evangelicalism.” They would not be fighters; they would be diplomats, positive rather than militant, infiltrators rather than separatists. They would not be restricted by a separationist mentality.
Harold Ockenga claimed to have coined the term “new evangelical” in 1948. Ockenga was pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, founder of the National Association of Evangelicals, co-founder and first president of Fuller Seminary, first president of the World Evangelical Fellowship, president of Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and chairman of the board and one-time editor of Christianity Today. Following is how Ockenga defined New Evangelicalism in 1976 when he wrote the foreword to Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible:
“Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address REPUDIATED ITS ECCLESIOLOGY AND ITS SOCIAL THEORY. The ringing call for A REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM AND THE SUMMONS TO SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT received a hearty response from many evangelicals. The name caught on and spokesmen such as Drs. Harold Lindsell, Carl F.H. Henry, Edward Carnell, and Gleason Archer supported this viewpoint. We had no intention of launching a movement, but found that the emphasis attracted widespread support and exercised great influence. Neo-evangelicalism… DIFFERENT FROM FUNDAMENTALISM IN ITS REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM AND ITS DETERMINATION TO ENGAGE ITSELF IN THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE OF THE DAY. IT HAD A NEW EMPHASIS UPON THE APPLICATION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE SOCIOLOGICAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMIC AREAS OF LIFE. Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the times, the REENGAGEMENT IN THE THEOLOGICAL DEBATE, THE RECAPTURE OF DENOMINATIONAL LEADERSHIP, AND THE REEXAMINATION OF THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS SUCH AS THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN, THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE FLOOD, GOD’S METHOD OF CREATION, AND OTHERS” (Harold J. Ockenga, foreword to Harold Lindsell’s book The Battle for the Bible).
Regardless of who coined the term “New Evangelical” (Ockenga’s claim has been disputed), it is certain that it aptly described the new mood of positivism and non-militancy that was permeating that generation. Ockenga and the new generation of evangelicals, Billy Graham figuring most prominently, determined to abandon a militant Bible stance. Instead, they would pursue dialogue, intellectualism, and appeasement. They determined to stay within apostate denominations to attempt to change things from within rather than practice biblical separation. (Billy Graham remained a member of a Southern Baptist congregation even as that denomination was permeated with theological modernism in the 1960s and never gave even the mildest warning.) The New Evangelical would dialogue with those who teach error rather than proclaim the Word of God boldly and without compromise. The New Evangelical would meet the proud humanist and the haughty liberal on their own turf with human scholarship rather than follow the humble path of being counted a fool for Christ’s sake by standing humbly and simply upon the Bible. New Evangelical leaders also determined to start a “rethinking process” whereby the old paths were to be continually reassessed in light of new goals, methods, and ideology.
Before this, the terms “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” (which, as we have seen, were basically synonymous) referred to A STRICT “PROTESTANT” CHRISTIANITY. Though the term “evangelical,” like “fundamentalist,” has never had one strict established definition and has always incorporated wide latitude of belief, as a rule it traditionally described Protestants who preached the new birth and were stridently opposed to Rome. Generally speaking (and certainly in contrast to the mushy evangelicalism of our day), evangelicals in past generations were militant soldiers for Christ.
Some trace the term “evangelical” to the English revivals of the Wesleys and Whitefield. Others trace it to the earliest days of the Protestant Reformation. In either case, evangelicalism of old was dogmatic and militant. It was old-fashioned Protestantism. Luther was excommunicated by the pope; John Wesley and George Whitefield were barred from Anglican churches for their bold preaching. All of the Protestant denominations once identified Rome as the Revelation 17 whore of Babylon. Anyone familiar with the old Lutheran and Methodist creeds knows this. Those men, though we Baptists don’t see eye to eye with them on many important points, stood militantly for what they believed. This is exactly what the New Evangelical does not do.
John Calvin was no New Evangelical when he said: “Popery is nothing else than a monster formed out of the innumerable deceptions of Satan, and that which they call the Church is more confused than Babylon.” This was typical of the position held by all of the old Protestant leaders.
Martin Luther was no New Evangelical when in December 1520 he published two tracts in answer to the Bull of Leo X, one of which was entitled, “Martin Luther against the Execreable Bull of Anti-Christ.” He charged the Pope and his cardinals of acting “the undoubted part of the Anti-Christ of the Scriptures.”
William Tyndale, the father of our old English Bible, was no New Evangelical when he identified the Pope as the Antichrist in his treatise The Practice of Prelates as well as in the preface to the 1534 edition of his New Testament. “Though the Bishop of Rome and his sects give Christ these names (His rightful names), yet in that they rob Him of the effect and take the signification of His names unto themselves, and make of Him but a hypocrite, as they themselves, and make of Him but a hypocrite, as they themselves be, they be the right Anti-Christs, and deny both the Father and the Son; for they deny the witness that the Father bore unto His Son, and deprive the Son of all power and glory that His Father gave Him” (William Tyndale). (The etching below depicts the Pope as Antichrist.)
On September 9, 1560, Waldensian Pastor Jean Louis Paschale of Calabria, Italy, just before he was burned alive in the presence of Pope Pius IV in Rome, proved that he was not a New Evangelical when he turned to the pope and “arraigned him as the enemy of Christ, the persecutor of his people, and the Anti-Christ of Scripture, and concluded by summoning him and all his cardinals to answer for their cruelties and murders before the throne of the Lamb” (J.A. Wylie, History of the Waldenses, c1860, p. 120).
William Latimer, a Greek scholar who loved the Word of God during the time of Tyndale, was no New Evangelical when he said, “Do you not know that the Pope is very Antichrist, whom the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what you say; for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life. I have been an officer of his but I have given it up, and defy him and all his works” (Christopher Anderson, Annals of the English Bible, I, pp. 35,36). Latimer was burned at the stake by Queen Mary.
In his 1893 work titled Union with Rome, Christopher Wordsworth, bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England stated the view which prevailed among evangelical Protestants at that time, and it was not a New Evangelical position: “… we tremble at the sight, while we read the inscription, emblazoned in large letters, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great,’ written by the hand of St. John, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, on the forehead of the Church of Rome” (Wordsworth, Union with Rome, p. 62).
The Methodists were not New Evangelicals when they wrote in their Articles of Religion: “…the sacrifice of Masses in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable, and dangerous deceit.”
David Otis Fuller, speaking of evangelicals of bygone days, said: “Each man possessed the same fierce conviction–that all truth is absolute, never relative. For these men, truth was never a nose of wax to be twisted to suit their system of dialectics or deceptive casuistry. Two times two made four. In mathematics, their supreme authority was the multiplication table; in theology, their absolute authority was the Bible” (D.O. Fuller, Preface, Valiant for the Truth, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1961, pp. ix, x). It is impossible to be a New Evangelical and hold “fierce” convictions!
Baptist CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON (1834-1892) is an example of what “evangelical” meant in generations past. Spurgeon’s ministry was characterized by faithfulness to the truth, holiness of life, a pure gospel of grace, and unhesitating exposure of error. [DTW note: This is note true, Spurgeon was a full blown Calvinist who believed in Election. He might have spoken out against the Roman Catholic church, but he was in grave error with regards to TULIP. —> Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers]
Spurgeon stood unhesitatingly against Roman Catholicism. Consider this excerpt from one of Spurgeon’s sermons, which demonstrates just how much Spurgeon was NOT a New Evangelical: “It is impossible but that the Church of Rome must spread, WHEN WE WHO ARE THE WATCHDOGS OF THE FOLD ARE SILENT, AND OTHERS ARE GENTLY AND SMOOTHLY TURFING THE ROAD, and making it as soft and smooth as possible, that converts may travel down to the nethermost hell of Popery. We want John Knox back again. DO NOT TALK TO ME OF MILD AND GENTLE MEN, OF SOFT MANNERS AND SQUEAMISH WORDS, we want the fiery Knox, and even though his vehemence should ‘ding our pulpits into blads,’ it were well if he did but rouse our hearts to action” (C.H. Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 10, pgs. 322-3). It is obvious that Spurgeon was no New Evangelical, but his description of the soft-mannered men and silent watchdogs of his day fits today’s New Evangelicalism exactly.
Spurgeon was not content to preach boldly against error, he also separated from it. Though misunderstood and misrepresented even by his own brother and some of his former students, Spurgeon did not draw back from separating from the Baptist Union of Britain because of the false doctrine that was being countenanced. Note the following statement that characterized at least the stronger side of evangelicalism before the onslaught of New Evangelicalism: “Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. FELLOWSHIP WITH KNOWN AND VITAL ERROR IS PARTICIPATION IN SIN. As soon as I saw, or thought I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate, but quitted the body at once. Since then my counsel has been ‘Come out from among them.’ I have felt that no protest could be equal to that of distinct separation from known evil. That I might not stultify my testimony I HAVE CUT MYSELF CLEAR OF THOSE WHO ERR FROM THE FAITH, AND EVEN FROM THOSE WHO ASSOCIATE WITH THEM.” This position is ridiculed today as “secondary separation,” but it is obedience to God’s Word (2 Thess. 3:6) and it is wisdom, because “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
Another example of what evangelicalism was before the advent of New Evangelicalism is the late evangelist JAMES A. STEWART. He was used in a mighty way in revivals in Eastern Europe between the end of World War II and the fall of the Communist Iron Curtain, and his published sermons were characterized by uncompromising declaration of Bible truth. Not only did he preach the gospel and the “positive truths” of the Word of God, but he also preached a very “negative” fashion, reproving error and compromise. In sermons such as “Potpourri Evangelism,” Stewart witnessed mightily against modern ecumenical evangelism, which was beginning to raise its head in his day. Consider a quotation from that sermon, first preached in the 1940s (excerpted from James Stewart, Evangelism, Asheville, NC: Gospel Projects, pp. 25-28), and ask yourself how popular would James Stewart be in evangelical circles today?
“We must be more afraid of flattery from the camp of the enemy than persecution. Read the pages of Church history. Persecution never did the Church of God any harm, but compromise with the world has always robbed it of the power of its purity. … ‘Potpourri Evangelism’ consists of two features: mixed evangelistic campaigns and mixed Christianity. By mixed evangelistic campaigns I mean the alliance of Modernistic and Evangelical churches together in an evangelistic effort.”
“When religion gets up a revival, it must have from five to twenty churches of heterogeneous creeds and sectarian bodies to go into a great union effort; it must have a mammoth choir with great musical instruments, and many preachers and multiplied committees, and each committee headed by some banker, judge, mayor, or millionaire’s wife. It signs cards as a substitute for the broken-hearted cry of scriptural repentance. It must count its converts by the hundreds in a few days’ meeting. It must apologize for natural depravity.”
“Human religion’s enterprises have an atmosphere of earthliness about them. It despises the day of small things and scorns little humble people and lonely ways. It is eager to jump to the height of prosperity. Its music has no pathos in it, its laughter lacks divine cheerfulness, its worship lacks supernatural love, its prayers bring down no huge answers, it works no miracles, calls forth no criticism from the world, and has no light of eternity in its eyes. It is a poor, sickly thing, born of the union of the heart of the world with the head of Christian theology–a mongre James Dobsonl, bastard thing with a backslidden church for its mother and the world for its father. Oh, my dear brother and sister, never forget that this unnatural monster will be destroyed at the coming-again of our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ” (James A. Stewart, “Pot-Pourri Evangelism”).
Countless other examples could be given to show that evangelicalism of past generations involved contending plainly for the faith and separating from error. When was the last time you read things like the above, that we have seen from the pens of old-line Protestants or Charles Spurgeon or James A. Stewart, in Christianity Today magazine or preached by Billy Graham or Charles Colson or Charles Swindoll or Max Lucado or John Maxwell or or other popular evangelicals today? Sadly, today’s evangelicalism is almost 100% in the business of upholding “potpourri evangelism” and “turfing the road of Roman Catholicism.”
II. THE INFLUENCE OF NEW EVANGELICALISM
New Evangelicalism was a popular philosophy, appealing to the carnality of the age, and it spread rapidly to became the prominent doctrine among evangelicals.
1. New Evangelicalism was popularized through charismatic personalities and broadcast through powerful print, radio, and television media. New Evangelical philosophy has been adopted by such well-known Christian leaders as Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Harold Lindsell, John R.W. Stott, Luis Palau, E.V. Hill, Leighton Ford, Charles Stanley, Bill Hybels, Warren Wiersbe, Chuck Colson, Donald McGavran, Jack Van Impe, Tony Campolo, Arthur Glasser, D. James Kennedy, David Hocking, Charles Swindoll, Max Lucado, John Maxwell, Tony Evans, and a multitude of other men (and women).
2. New Evangelicalism became the working principle of large interdenominational and parachurch organizations such as the National Association of Evangelicals, National Religious Broadcasters, Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade for Christ, Back to the Bible, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, World Vision, Operation Mobilization, the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association, World Evangelical Fellowship, and the National Sunday School Association, to name a few.
3. New Evangelicalism has spread through educational institutions such as Fuller Theological Seminary, Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell, BIOLA, Regent College, Westminster, The Evangelical Divinity School, and Moody Bible Institute.
4. New Evangelicalism has been promoted by the publishing media. Christianity Today, for example, was founded in 1956 to voice the new philosophy. It was distributed freely for the first two years to ministers in the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, and also sent freely to missionaries throughout the world. Large Christian publishers such as Eerdmans, Zondervan, InterVarsity Press, Tyndale House, Moody Press, Thomas Nelson, and Broadman, have broadcast the New Evangelicalism.
5. New Evangelicalism has been promoted by national and international organizations, such as Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, National Association of Evangelicals, Evangelical Alliance of Britain, World Evangelical Fellowship, National Religious Broadcasters, National Sunday School Association, and Promise Keepers
6. New Evangelicalism has been promoted through international conferences, such as the International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1974) and the International Conference on Itinerant Evangelists at Amsterdam in 1983, 1986, and 1999.
7. Because of the tremendous influence of these men and organizations, New Evangelical thought has swept the universally accepted by those who refer to themselves as evangelicals that any distinctions which might have been made years ago are all but lost. It is no doubt true to state that ‘Ockenga’sglobe. Today it is no exaggeration to say that almost without exception those who call themselves evangelicals are New Evangelicals; the terms have become synonymous. Old-line evangelicals, with rare exceptions, have either aligned with the fundamentalist movement or have adopted New Evangelicalism. The evangelical movement today is the New Evangelical movement. For all practical purposes, they are the same. “Part of the current confusion regarding New Evangelicalism stems from the fact that there is now little difference between evangelicalism and New Evangelicalism. The principles of the original New Evangelicalism have become so designation of the new movement as New or Neo-Evangelical was abbreviated to Evangelical. … Thus today we speak of this branch of conservative Christianity simply as the Evangelical movement’” (Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise, p. 96).
III. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF NEW EVANGELICALISM
The following are important characteristics of New Evangelicalism that will enable the Bible believer to identify it. Not every New Evangelical will hold to every one of these characteristics, but every New Evangelical will hold to most of them, particularly to the repudiation of separation, the love for positivism, a judge-not philosophy, exalting love and unity above doctrine, pragmatism, pride of scholarship, anti-fundamentalism, contradiction and inconsistency, and a mood of softness and neutrality.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a repudiation of separation.
- New Evangelicalism New Evangelicalism is characterized by replacing separation with dialogue.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a love for positivism, by a repudiation of the more negative aspects of biblical Christianity, by a judge-not philosophy, by a dislike of doctrinal controversy.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting love and unity above doctrine.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a pragmatic approach to the ministry.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a desire for intellectual respectability, by pride of scholarship.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by an inconsistency, by contradiction.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by the division of biblical truth into categories of important and not important.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
- New Evangelicalism is characterized by a mood of softness, a desire for a less strict Christianity, a weariness with fighting, a neutrality toward spiritual warfare.
1. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY A REPUDIATION OF SEPARATION.
“The ringing call for A REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM . . . received a hearty response from many evangelicals. … Neo-evangelicalism [is] different from fundamentalism in its REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM” (Harold J. Ockenga).
The very first mark of New Evangelicalism is its repudiation of separation. The New Evangelical does not like separation and refuses to allow it to play a significant role in his life and ministry. This was what Ockenga emphasized two times in his Fuller Seminary speech in 1948.
Evangelicals do not separate from denominations that are infiltrated with modernism, such as the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the American Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Anglican Church. The Billy Graham religion column gave the following advice to a Roman Catholic couple who were disillusioned with their church and were thinking about leaving: “Don’t pull out of the church. Stay in it … help your church” (Sun Telegram, Jan. 6, 1973).
Evangelicals practice ecumenical evangelism.
Billy Graham has worked hand-in-hand with Roman Catholics and theological modernists since the 1950s, and yet he is praised and exalted by the evangelical world.
Billy Graham’s 1957 New York City Crusade was sponsored by the liberal Protestant Council and featured prominent theological modernists. At a preparatory banquet held the previous fall (September 17, 1956) at the Hotel Commodore in New York, Graham stated that he wanted Jews, Catholics, and Protestants to attend his meetings and then go back to their own churches. This statement was confirmed in the Sept. 18 edition of the New York Evening Journal. The New York Crusade was the catalyst for Graham’s break with fundamentalists such as Bob Jones, Sr. and John R. Rice of the Sword of the Lord.
The Graham organization and the co-operating churches in the 1957 San Francisco Crusade appointed Dr. Charles Farrah to follow up the “converts” and to report on the same. His findings were announced December 16. According to the Oakland Tribune, of the roughly 1,300 Catholics who came forward, PRACTICALLY ALL REMAINED CATHOLIC, CONTINUED TO PRAY TO MARY, GO TO MASS, AND CONFESS TO A PRIEST (Oakland Tribune, Wed., Dec. 17, 1958).
Graham has affiliated with and endorsed hundreds of rank modernists and Roman Catholic leaders. At the 1957 New York crusade, Graham spent ten minutes eulogizing Dr. Jesse Baird, a well-known liberal and apostate, calling him a great servant of Christ. At the 1957 San Francisco Crusade, Graham honored Episcopal Bishop James Pike, who had blatantly denied the deity, virgin birth, miracles, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy was chairman of the 1963 Los Angeles Crusade, and Graham called him “one of the ten greatest Christian preachers in America,” even though he denied practically every doctrine of the Christian faith. The first Sunday of that Crusade, Graham took several minutes to eulogize the modernist E. Stanley Jones, calling him “my good friend and trusted advisor.” Graham’s 1997 autobiography is filled with references to his friendship with apostates.
The practice of ecumenical evangelism has spread throughout evangelicalism. Bill Bright, head of Campus Crusade, Luis Palau, and other prominent evangelicals have walked in Graham’s footsteps in ecumenical evangelism. While reporting on Amsterdam ‘86, reporter Dennis Costella asked Luis Palau if he would cooperate with Roman Catholics. Palau replied that he certainly would and admitted that it was being done. He went on to mention specific plans for more extensive Catholic involvement in his future crusades (Foundation, Jul.-Aug. 1986). The 1987 Palau crusade in New Zealand was reportedly “the first time the Catholic Church has ever backed a major evangelical Christian mission” in that area. Catholic Bishop Dennis Browne of Auckland accepted an invitation to join the mission’s advisory board (Challenge Weekly, April 18, 1986, reprinted in Australian Beacon, May 1986).
Even the most conservative of Southern Baptists support Graham’s ecumenical evangelism. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a course entitled Christian Life and Witness, which trains students in crusade counseling techniques. On May 3, 2001, the Baptist Press ran an article entitled “Hundreds of Southern Students Prepare for Graham Crusade.” R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of Southern Seminary and a prominent conservative SBC voice, served as Chairman of Graham’s crusade. He told the Baptist Press, “Nothing else has brought together the kind of ethnic and racial and denominational inclusivity as is represented in this crusade; nothing in my experience and nothing in the recent history of Louisville has brought together such a group of committed Christians for one purpose.” Southern Seminary proudly hosts the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. To say that all of the participants of Graham’s inclusive evangelicalism crusades are “committed Christians” is to refuse to apply critical doctrinal standards.
Evangelicals attend ecumenical meetings and thus affiliate closely with heretics. For example, in 1997, Don Argue, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke before the general assembly of the National Council of Churches. The extremely modernistic National Council of Churches has sponsored such things as the Re-imagining conference in Minneapolis in November 1993 during which hundreds of women from various mainline denominations applauded lesbianism and worshipped the goddess Sophia. Thousands of examples of this could be given from our own files.
Evangelicals quote heretics with no warning to their readers.
Consider, for example, well-known evangelical writer and conference speaker Warren Wiersbe. His practice of quoting rank modernists without any warning was described by Jerry Huffman, editor of the Calvary Contender: “In a panel discussion at the April 1987 Tennessee Temple Bible conference, Wiersbe expressed gladness that Malcolm Muggeridge — a liberal Roman Catholic — ‘backed up’ one of Wiersbe’s views. In a Dec. 1977 Moody Monthly article, Wiersbe endorsed writings by liberal authors Thielicke, Buttrick, and Kennedy. More recently he praised books by other liberals such as Barclay, Trueblood, and Sockman” (Calvary Contender, July 15, 1987).
Consider also Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Church fame. In keeping with his “judge not” philosophy, Warren uncritically quotes from a wide variety of theological heretics, especially Roman Catholics such as Mother Teresa, Brother Lawrence (Carmelite monk), John Main (Benedictine monk), Madame Guyon, John of the Cross, and Henri Nouwen. Warren does not warn his readers that these are dangerous false teachers who held to a false gospel and worshipped a false christ. Mother Teresa and Nouwen were universalists who believed that men can be saved apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Another example of this is Chuck Swindoll, who devoted an entire edition of his Insights for Living publication (April 1988) to uncritical promotion of the German neo-orthodox Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Swindoll calls Bonhoeffer “a saint bound for heaven.” But this “saint” promoted the “de-mythologizing” and questioning of Scripture. Cornelius Van Til documented Bonhoeffer’s dangerous theology in The Great Debate Today.
Even those New Evangelicals who have not turned away from the infallibility of Scripture (i.e., Harold Lindsell, Carl Henry, and even Harold Ockenga himself) have never understood that the repudiation of separation was the foundational error that led to a weakening of doctrine. Harold Lindsell wrote two books documenting the downgrade of the doctrine of inspiration among evangelicals, but he never renounced the repudiation of separatism. He never went to the heart of the matter and called for strict fundamentalist-style separation from all forms of liberalism. As a result, his books had no impact on stemming the apostasy of the New Evangelical movement. The books were largely ignored and were never republished.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS?
a. Separation is not an optional part of Christianity; it is a commandment (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 7-11; Rev. 18:4). Separation is not mean or unloving; it is obedience to God.
“mark them . . . avoid them” (Rom. 16:17)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with” (2 Cor. 6:14)
“Have no fellowship with” (2 Cor. 6:14)
“Come out from among” (2 Cor. 6:17)
“withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:5)
“shun” (2 Ti. 2:16)
“purge oneself from” (2 Tim. 2:21)
“from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5)
“reject” (Titus 3:10)
“Receive them not into your house neither bid them Godspeed” (2 Jn. 10)
b. We are to separate even from brethren who are walking in disobedience (2 Thess. 3:6).
c. Separation is a wall of protection against spiritual danger. Failure to separate from error leaves one open to the influence of error (1 Cor. 15:33). The reason the gardener separates the vegetables from the weeds and bugs and the reason a shepherd separates the sheep from wolves is to protect them. Likewise, a faithful and godly preacher will seek to separate his flock from spiritual dangers that are even more destructive than bugs and wolves.
2. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY REPLACING SEPARATION WITH DIALOGUE.
New Evangelicalism “differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day” (Harold Ockenga).
Since the last half of the 20th century, theological dialogue has become a prominent aspect of Christian life. A report issued in 1983 by the Center for Unity in Rome listed 119 official ongoing dialogues between representatives of Anglican, Baptist, Disciples, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Pentecostal, Reformed, Roman Catholic, United and World Council of Churches.
Dialogue between EVANGELICALS AND ROMAN CATHOLICS. Many calls have been made in recent decades for this dialogue.
On the side of the Roman Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, in its “Decree on Ecumenism,” called for “dialogue with our brethren” and said that “dialogues and consultations … are strongly recommended.”
Evangelicals have responded to this call. Following are a few examples:
From 1977 to 1984 Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue In Mission was conducted in Britain. John R.W. Stott was at the forefront, and one of Stott’s co-workers, Michael Harper (formerly assistant curate at All Souls Church where Stott is pastor), wrote the 1977 book, Three Sisters, which contends that the “Three Sisters” — Evangeline (the Evangelicals), Charisma (the Charismatics), and Roma (the Roman Catholic Church) — are part of one family and should be reconciled.
The December 1984 issue of Jerry Falwell’s Fundamentalist Journal contained a dialogue between fundamentalists and a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic cardinal, a theological modernist, and a New Evangelical. The editor said, “We Fundamentalists must start listening to others” (Edward Dobson, “Is What Others Think Important?” Fundamentalist Journal, Dec. 1984, p. 13)
In 1986, Kenneth Kantzer called for dialogue with Roman Catholics. “How does all this affect the Evangelical? First, we should continue to dialogue. To refuse to dialogue would be to say two things no Evangelical wants to say: (1) We are not interested in our Lord’s desire to have a united church, and (2) We Evangelicals have nothing to learn from anyone” (Kantzer, “Church on the Move,” Christianity Today, Nov. 7, 1986). [This statement is predicated upon an unscriptural view of “the church” and Christian unity and the strange notion that Bible believers should “learn” from heretics.]
In 1992 Chuck Colson, in his book The Body, called for closer relationship with and dialogue between evangelicals and Catholics. Colson said, “…the body of Christ, in all its diversity, is created with Baptist feet, charismatic hands, and Catholic ears–all with their eyes on Jesus” (World, Nov. 14, 1992). [Colson is either ignorant of the fact that there are false christs, false gospels, and false spirits, or he ignores the fact.] The Body was endorsed by many well-known evangelicals such as Carl Henry, J.I. Packer, Pat Robertson, Bill Hybels, and Jerry Falwell.
In 1992 Catholic priest Thomas Welbers announced in the Los Angeles diocese paper that a four-year dialogue between InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Catholic Campus Ministry had resulted in an agreement to seek “mutual understanding” and to “refrain from competition in seeking members” (Battle Cry, October 1992).
In 1994 Moody Press published Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us. Thirteen evangelicals contributed. Michael Horton concludes his chapter, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?” with these words: “I do not suggest that we should give up trying to seek visible unity, nor that we refuse to dialogue with Roman Catholic laypeople and theologians, many of whom may be our brothers and sisters” (p. 264). [He does not explain how someone committed to Rome’s false sacramental gospel could be a born again child of God.]
In 1997, InterVarsity Press published Reclaiming the Great Tradition: Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue. It was edited by James Cutsinger and contained articles by Harold O.J. Brown, Peter Kreeft, Richard Neuhaus, J.I. Packer, and others. The book is a collection of material from an ecumenical dialogue held at Rose Hill College, May 16-20, 1995. The objective of the dialogue was to answer the question: “How can Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians talk to each other so as together to speak with Christ’s mind to the modern world?” (p. 8).
Dialogue between EVANGELICALS AND MODERNISTS.
In about 1976 Pentecostal David du Plessis became chairman of dialogues with the World Council of Churches’ Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Du Plessis was long at the forefront of promoting ecumenical dialogue between Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and liberal and evangelical Protestants. Fuller Theological Seminary made du Plessis its “resident consultant on ecumenical affairs.”
In 1983, after attending the Sixth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, some prominent evangelicals signed an open letter encouraging dialogue with the WCC. The signers included Richard Lovelace of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Arthur Glasser of Fuller Seminary. The letter rebuked those who practice separation and said: “Is there not the possibility that evangelicals have not only much to contribute but something to receive through ecumenical involvement? Do evangelicals not also have the obligation along with other Christians to seek to overcome the scandal of the disunity and disobedience of the churches that the world might believe (John 17:21)? Should evangelicals not seek to receive all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, even though they may seriously disagree on theological issues apart from the core of the Gospel?”
A three-day dialogue was held October 22-24, 1986, at Fuller Theological Seminary involving Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and liberal Protestants. The Ecumenical Press Service said, “Although some came with predetermined agenda, many came to listen and learn” (Ecumenical Press Service, November 1-15, 1986).
In 1988 InterVarsity Press published Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue. The evangelical was John R.W. Stott and the liberal was David Edwards, who rejects the fall of man and the atonement and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Stott said heretics such as this “do not forfeit the right to be called Christians” (Iain Murray, Evangelical Essentials, p. 228). To the contrary, to deny the fall of man and the atonement of Christ is to deny the very gospel itself, and there is no salvation apart from the biblical gospel.
Dialogue between EVANGELICALS AND MORMONS.
Evangelicals have been dialoguing with Mormons since InterVarsity Press published “How Wide the Divide: A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation” in 1997. This is a dialogue between Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary and Stephen Robinson of Brigham Young University.
In November 1998, Assemblies of God pastor Dean Jackson presented Mormon leaders in Provo, Utah, with “a formal declaration of repentance for prejudice against members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.” The document was signed by more than 160 members of Jackson’s Canyon Assembly of God Church in Provo, and roughly 100 Mormon visitors were on hand to receive the official apology (Charisma News Service, March 1, 2000, citing Deseret News of Salt Lake City). The declaration of repentance was also endorsed by the regional presbytery of the Assemblies of God.
Standing Together Ministries was formed in 2001 in Utah “to build greater dialogue between Evangelical Christians and Latter-day Saints.” Founder Greg Johnson has traveled extensively conducting dialogues with Mormon professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University.
An “EVENING OF FRIENDSHIP” was held in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle on November 14, 2004, featuring evangelicals who are calling for dialogue with Mormons. Ravi Zacharias was the main speaker. He was joined by Richard Mouw (president of Fuller Seminary), Craig Hazen (a professor at Biola University), Greg Johnson (director of Standing Together Ministries), Joseph Tkach, Jr., (head of the World Wide Church of God), and Michael Card (Contemporary Christian musician). Roughly 7,000 attended the meeting, filling the Tabernacle to capacity. Fuller Seminary President Richard Mouw apologized to the Mormons, making the following amazing statements: “Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you. … We have demonized you.”
Evangelical dialogue is witnessed in the way the publishers and magazines print all sides of theological debates and attempt to remain “neutral.” InterVarsity Press, for example, has printed books defending the infallible inspiration of Scripture and books attacking it. Christianity Today has printed articles both opposing ecumenical relations with Rome and in support of it, articles (or letters) both warning of Karl Barth’s heresy and promoting Karl Barth, etc.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. The Bible does not instruct believers to dialogue with false teachers and apostates, but rather to separate from them. See Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:5; Titus 3:10-11.
b. It is not dialogue that we see in the New Testament, but preaching. The Bible does not instruct believers to dialogue with false teachers but to preach the truth to them and to rebuke their errors (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
c. Theological dialogue is built upon an unscriptural doctrine of Christian unity. See Point #4: “New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting love and unity above doctrine.”
d. Theological dialogue results in “toning down the rhetoric,” in softening the plain charges of heresy and apostasy and unbelief, in quieting down the warnings about judgment. It is impossible to dialogue without doing this, but this is contrary to the Scriptures.
Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries in Utah said that we must “cease throwing our theological rocks and start loving as Christ commanded us.” This is his definition of dialogue. Thus, speaking the truth about heresy is likened to “throwing rocks,” which is potentially very hurtful, even deadly. Actually, preaching plainly against false christs and false gospels is a very loving, compassionate thing. If a man is on his way to hell but is self-deceived into thinking that he is on his way to heaven, it is an act of the greatest Christian charity to tell him plainly that he is deceived.
“Toning down the rhetoric” and softening the plain charges of heresy and apostasy is precisely what the Bible does not do and what the apostles and prophets did not do and what Bible preachers today are not allowed to do.
Paul called false teachers “dogs” and “evil workers” (Phil. 3:2). Of those who pervert the gospel he said, “Let them be accursed” (Gal. 1:8, 9). He called them “evil men and seducers” (2 Tim. 3:13), “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8), “false apostles, deceitful workers” (2 Cor. 11:13). He named the names of false teachers and called their teaching “vain babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16, 17). He warned about “philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8). He plainly described their “cunning craftiness.” When Elymas tried to turn men away from the faith that Paul preached, Paul wasted no time with dialogue but said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). He warned about false teachers who would come into the churches, calling them “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29) and their teaching “perverse things” (Acts 20:30). Those who denied the bodily resurrection are called “fools” (1 Cor. 15:35-36). He warned about false christs, false spirits, false gospels (2 Cor. 11:1-4). He labeled false teaching “doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). In the Pastoral Epistles Paul warned of false teachers and compromisers by name 10 times, and this is the example that the Spirit of God has left for the churches.
And what sort of dialoguer was Peter? He wasn’t very good at it. He was much too plain spoken about heresy. Of the false prophets in his day and those he knew would come in the future, he labeled their heresies “damnable” and warned of their “swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1). That would end a good dialogue right there, but he wasn’t finished. He called their ways “pernicious” and their words “feigned” and boldly declared that “their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:3). He warned them of eternal hell (2 Pet. 2:4-9) and called them “presumptuous” and “selfwilled” (2 Pet. 2:10). He likened them to “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (2 Pet. 2:12) and exposed their deception (2 Pet. 2:13). Peter is in high gear now. Consider how he ended his little “dialogue” in 2 Peter 2:14-21. I don’t suppose that Peter would get invited to too many ministerial association meetings or World Council conferences or ecumenical dialogues today. He might be invited once, seeing that he is an apostle and the first pope and all, but I can assure you that he would not be invited back!
But what about John, the Apostle of Love? How was his dialoguing technique? Again, not too effective, because he was too often warning about antichrists (1 John 2:18-19), calling them liars (1 John 2:22) and seducers (1 John 2:26) and deceivers (2 John 7); saying that they denied the Son (1 John 2:23) and that they don’t have God (2 John 9). He put too much of an emphasis upon testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-3). He even made all sorts of exclusive claims, such as, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Just who did he think he was! John even forbade the believers to allow the false teachers into their houses or to bid them God speed (2 John 10-11). It is not possible to get along in a good dialogue when you do such things.
In this, the apostles were only following their Lord. Jesus Christ was not big on soft-spoken, “let me listen carefully and make sure I understand you,” give-and-take dialogue; but He was a great preacher. He scalded the Pharisees because they perverted the way of truth and corrupted the gospel of grace, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, fools and blind, serpents, generation of vipers. And that was just one sermon! Even when he visited in the homes of the Pharisees He didn’t try to be socially acceptable or avoid offending their self-esteem. He spoke the truth in love at all times and therefore offended them coming and going! They were so angry that they plotted his murder.
e. Dialogue calls for “mutual respect,” but this is not what we see in Scripture. Jesus did not show a lot of respect toward the Pharisees who were leading people to hell through their works gospel. Paul did not show a lot of respect toward the heretics who were bothering the early churches. How much respect did he show toward the following two fellows? “And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus” (2 Tim. 2:17). Didn’t Paul understand that such language would hurt these men’s feelings and might even injure their self-esteem? Today, the ecumenical crowd would say, “Paul, how do you think we are ever going to have a good dialogue if you persist in talking like that? Don’t you understand the need for Christian unity?”
f. Dialogue requires “listening, which at its best includes restating what the other is saying to his complete satisfaction.” This ignores the fact that heretics lie and try to hide and shade their error. The Bible repeatedly warns about the subtilty and deceit of false teachers. Jesus referred to them as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Mat. 7:15). Though they are wolves, they hide under the appearance of the truth. Paul warned of “deceitful workers” (2 Cor. 11:13), of “false brethren” who work “privily” (Gal. 2:4), of their “cunning craftiness” (Eph. 4:14), of their habit of “speaking lies in hypocrisy” (1 Tim. 4:2), of those who “who creep into houses” (2 Tim. 3:6), of “seducers … deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Peter warned of “feigned words” (2 Pet. 2:2). Jude warned of “certain men crept in unawares” (Jude 4). Consider some modern fulfillments of these warnings:
The example of Jehovah’s Witnesses
- The name of the organization has changed several times.
- Their many false prophecies have been swept under the rug.
- Its early history has been whitewashed to hide the deception, chicanery, and immorality of its leaders.
The example of Seventh-day Adventism
- It has modified its history, hiding the fact that early Adventists were anti-Trinitarian, hiding Ellen White’s nervous disorder, hiding White’s false prophecies, hiding her use of the “prophetic gift” to manipulate the everyday lives of her followers, even “prophesying” that Adventist women had to wear a certain type of dress, etc.
It hides its heresy under a re-definition of theological terms. I have an SDA pamphlet entitled “Saved by Grace,” but it actually teaches salvation by grace plus law.
It has tried to hide its identity when conducting evangelistic campaigns. I visited an SDA prophecy conference in Tennessee once, and the only way one would know that it was sponsored by the SDA was the presence of Ellen White’s literature.
It often downplays its stranger doctrines, such as “the spirit of prophecy” (Ellen White as a prophetess) and Investigative Judgment. In the 1970s I took some correspondence courses offered by the Adventists. In a course designed for the general public, these things were glossed over; whereas in courses designed for Adventists, these things were highlighted.
The example of the Mormons
- The Mormons have whitewashed their early history, hiding the true character of Joseph Smith, his conviction in a court of law for deceiving people with a “peek stone” that he claimed could locate hidden treasure, his adultery, his violence, his false claim that he could read ancient languages, etc.
- The Mormons have gotten rid of inconvenient doctrines –such as that pertaining to black people being inferior (they were not allowed into the Mormon priesthood) and polygamy –by means of new “prophecies.”
The example of the Roman Catholic Church
Rome has re-written its history so that most people today do not know the truth about such things as the brutality and extent of the inquisition, Rome’s persecution of the Jews, Rome’s curses against Bible believers, and the moral vileness and greed surrounding the papacy. It has also downplayed doctrines such as purgatory and indulgences and Mariolatry.
Rome adapts itself to any given situation. Today it is becoming more “evangelical” and more “charismatic” for ecumenical purposes.
Rome redefines terms, speaking of salvation by grace, for example, but meaning salvation through sacraments.
g. Dialogue results in weakening of biblical convictions. The Bible warns, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Close association with sin and error corrupts godly thinking and living. Just as a good apple cannot raise the standard of a barrel of bad apples, a true Christian cannot raise the standard of an apostate church or association. Contrariwise, it is the man of God who will always be corrupted.
Look at Billy Graham. When he first began his ecumenical ventures, he claimed that he wanted to use ecumenism to get the gospel to more people, that the liberals and Roman Catholics needed the Gospel. After a few decades, he had changed entirely and was saying that the liberals and Roman Catholics are fine like they are. In a May 30, 1997, interview with David Frost, Graham said: “I feel I belong to all the churches. I’M EQUALLY AT HOME IN AN ANGLICAN OR BAPTIST OR A BRETHREN ASSEMBLY OR A ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. … And the bishops and archbishops and the Pope are our friends” (David Frost, Billy Graham in Conversation, pp. 68, 143). It is Graham who has been converted by the dialogue process. He admitted, “The ecumenical movement has broadened my viewpoint” (Curtis Mitchell, Billy Graham Saint or Sinner, p. 272).
The same is true for Graham’s co-workers. When an evangelist said that he did not believe that Catholics are true Christians, Graham’s co-laborer “Grady” T.W. Wilson exclaimed that this is “absolutely wrong”; he continued, “…to say they are not Christians–man alive! Anybody that receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour is converted! They’re born again. I believe the Pope is a converted man. I believe a lot of these wonderful Catholics are Christians” (William Martin, A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story, p. 461). Obviously, Wilson is not asking any hard questions about what a person means by believing in Jesus as “Lord and Saviour,” and the same will eventually become true for those dialoguing with Mormons. Do not Mormons also believe on Jesus as Lord and Saviour? Of course they do, but only if we allow them to define these things by their own heretical dictionary
The ecumenical crowd, which has been busy dialoguing for half a century and more, has been so weakened that they can’t even speak out about salvation and say that pagans need to be converted. When the Southern Baptist Convention published a prayer guide in 2000 calling upon Baptists to pray for the conversion of Hindus, ecumenical leaders in India rose up in alarm. Ipe Joseph, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, condemned the prayer guide and said, “We should find ecumenical space for followers of other faiths in salvation. … Christians should stop thinking of Christianity as the religion among religions.” The general secretary of the Council of Baptist Churches in North-East India, Pastor Gulkhan Pau, also condemned the Southern Baptist prayer guide. Pau said, “You preach your faith, but don’t play down others. … I am not going to condemn the Hindu or the Muslim for his faith.”
For 11 years the Church of England conducted a formal dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church (the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission); the result was that the Church of England capitulated to Catholic doctrine, for “at no point was there any give in Roman doctrine” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 219). The dialogue concluded in 1981 and in 1986 the Final Report was approved by the General Synod of the Church of England. “The Vatican delayed its response until 1991 and then, instead of thankful consent, it required that the Catholic teaching–especially on the Eucharist (the Mass)–be spelt out specifically. It wanted assurance that there was agreement on ‘the propitiatory nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice’, applicable to the dead as well as the living; and ‘certitude that Christ is present … substantially when “under the species of bread and wine these earthly realities are changed into the reality of his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity”’. This confirmation was given from the Anglican side in Clarification of Certain Aspects of the Agreed Statements on Eucharist and Ministry (1994). The Anglicans assured the Vatican that the words of the Final Statement — already approved by Synod — did indeed conform to the sense required by the official Roman teaching” (Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 220).
3. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY A LOVE FOR POSITIVISM, BY A REPUDIATION OF THE MORE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY, BY A JUDGE-NOT PHILOSOPHY, BY A DISLIKE OF DOCTRINAL CONTROVERSY.
“The strategy of the New Evangelicalism is the positive proclamation of the truth in distinction from all errors without delving in personalities which embrace the error. … Instead of attack upon error, the New-Evangelicals proclaim the great historic doctrines of Christianity” (Harold Ockenga).
The chief danger of New Evangelicalism is not the error that is preached but the truth that is neglected.
The New Evangelical narrows down his message, focusing only on a portion of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
This means that much that the New Evangelical preaches and writes is scriptural and spiritually beneficial. The New Evangelical will say many good things about salvation, Christian living, love for the Lord, marriage, child training, sanctification, the deity of Christ, even the infallibility of Scripture. For example, when Ravi Zacharias spoke at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral in April 2004, his message was largely a blessing. (I read an online version of it.) He preached on such things as love for Jesus in the Christian walk and a godly marriage. The problem was not what he said but what he did not say and the context in which he said it. He failed to warn about Schuller’s self-esteem heresy. He failed to note that Schuller uses traditional theological terms while redefining them in a heretical sense. He failed to reprove and rebuke in a plain manner. He failed to separate from error. (In typical New Evangelical fashion, he also quoted a modernist, J.K. Chesterton, in an uncritical manner.)
A New Evangelical speaker will preach against sin and error in generalities, but not plainly. He will say that he is opposed to error and compromise, but he will not define this plainly. (The only exceptions are what I call “politically correct” or “safe” sins and errors, such as homosexuality and abortion. The New Evangelical will speak plainly against this type of thing because to do so is acceptable within evangelical circles today. Safe sins and errors are those that a preacher can warn about without offending most of his ordinary listeners.) When faced with a requirement of coming out plainly against error and naming the names of popular Christian leaders, he will refuse to take a stand and will, more likely, attack the one who is trying to force his hand or will lash out against “extreme fundamentalism” or some such thing.
Billy Graham is the king of positivism and non-judgmentalism.
His message has been described as “hard at the center but soft at the edges.” He says his job is merely to preach the gospel, that he is not called to get involved in doctrinal controversies.
In 1966 the United Church Observer, the official paper of the extremely liberal United Church of Canada, asked Graham a series of questions. His answers demonstrate his positive, non-judgmental style. Consider the following examples which were published in “Billy Graham Answers 26 Provocative Questions,” United Church Observer, July 1, 1966):
Q. Do you believe that we who teach that Christ is the word of God and that the Bible bears witness to God’s revelation in him — but that the Bible is full of parable, myth, allegory and is often quite unhistoric and inexact — are ‘false teachers’?
A. Refused to answer.
Q. In your book you speak of ‘false prophets’. You say it is the ‘full-time effort of many intellectuals to circumvent God’s plan’ and you make a quotation from Paul Tillich. Do you consider Paul Tillich a false prophet?
A. I HAVE MADE IT A PRACTICE NOT TO PASS JUDGMENT ON OTHER CLERGYMEN. I do not agree with many of Dr. Tillich’s interpretations. I heard one of the greatest liberal preachers of this century in an emotional moment say: ‘If Paul Tillich is a Christian then I am not.’ I would not go that far! However, Dr. Tillich confused and misled many young clergymen in his attempt to make religion relevant. His basic teaching was not in line with the New Testament Kerygma. I would have to know a man much more thoroughly than I knew Dr. Tillich to call him a “false prophet”. There is some evidence that would indicate that during his last few months of his life he was changing considerably.
Q. Do you think that churches such as The United Church of Canada and the great liberal churches of the United States that are active in the ecumenical movement and whose ministers study and respect the work of Paul Tillich and other great modern teachers are ‘apostate’?
A. I COULD NOT POSSIBLY PASS THIS TYPE OF JUDGMENT ON INDIVIDUAL CHURCHES AND CLERGYMEN WITHIN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA — my knowledge of The United Church of Canada is too inadequate, and my ability to make such discernment is too limited. My books and writings are public knowledge but I love fellowship and work with many Christians who don’t agree with me theologically in everything. As to my calling everyone ‘apostate’ who reads and gets help from Tillich — this is preposterous. There are too many shades of theological opinion in a large denomination to lump them all off as liberal, neo-orthodox, conservative, fundamentalist, or what have you!
Q. In Canada some of the most ardent supports of Billy Graham — Toronto’s Peoples Church and Dr. Paul Smith for example — are consistently hostile and carping critics of the United Church curriculum being taught in our homes, nearly 100% of church schools and Bible classes. Does your organization stand with us for a modern, enlightened, scholarly attempt to explain to our people what ‘The Bible says’? Or does it stand with those who describe us as ‘an apostate church spreading our unbelief’?
A. OUR EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION IS NOT CONCERNED TO PASS JUDGMENT — FAVORABLE OR ADVERSE — ON ANY PARTICULAR DENOMINATION. WE DO NOT INTEND TO GET INVOLVED IN THE VARIOUS DIVISIONS WITHIN THE CHURCH. We are simple Gospel preachers, not scholarly theologians — though several of our team members have their earned doctorates. We feel that our calling is that of specialists — winning people to a personal commitment to Jesus Christ! We do not intend to allow ourselves to become bogged down in the many religious crosscurrents.
Q. Do you think a literal belief in the Virgin birth — not just as a symbol of the incarnation or of Christ’s divinity — as an historic event is necessary for personal salvation?
A. While I most certainly believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, I do not find anywhere in the New Testament that this particular belief is necessary for personal salvation…
Q. Do you reject those theories of evolution that suggest man may have descended (or ascended) from lower forms of life?
A. Yes. As modern scientific research increasingly shows, variation and adaptation take place within the species which are genetically closed communities. However, I seriously doubt if differences at this point really make too much sense. If man came through a long evolutionary process, he really did not become a ‘man’ until God breathed into his nostrils and he became a living soul… The Bible does not tell us exactly how God created man. There is no use speculating any further…
Q. Do you accept the theories and evidence of the scientists that man has lived on earth for hundreds of thousands of years?
A. Since modern scientists vary in their estimates of the period of man’s existence on earth from ten thousand to hundreds of thousands of years, which ‘evidence’ is to be believed? I seriously doubt if any responsible thinker could satisfactorily answer this question. I don’t see that the age of the earth has a great bearing on one’s faith. For a Christian to agree or disagree with a scientist doesn’t make him any more or less a Christian.
This is pure New Evangelicalism. The New Evangelical will preach against error in general terms but rarely will he do it plainly and specifically. When questioned directly by either side, he tends to fudge and dodge. He is not a prophet but a religious politician. No one is better at this than Graham. It is obvious to see why Mr. Graham has been called “Mr. Facing Both Ways.” He is for creation and he is for evolution, for a young earth and an old earth, for the virgin birth and against it, for the liberal position and for the evangelical position. He is for everything and therefore against nothing.
When Graham held a crusade in wicked Las Vegas, the infamous gambling haven of North America, he said: “I did not come here to condemn Las Vegas; I came here to preach the gospel” (Christianity Today, Feb. 24, 1978). But the gospel begins with the bad news of God’s condemnation of our sin before it gets to the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. “Graham would not condemn any of the practices of the gambling crowd at Las Vegas. Rather, one of the casino employees, Larry Trumber, age 37, a 21-card dealer at the Showboat Hotel, was a counselor in the Graham crusade. Trumber stayed on at his job in the gambling business and insists that God wants him there for now. While he is dealing the cards for the gaming tables, he says, he witnesses for Christ” (Billy Graham, Performer, Politician, Preacher, Prophet? The Church League of America, pp. 122).
Graham’s refusal to preach anything beyond the most basic aspects of the gospel (and even that much is questionable) is why he is acceptable to Roman Catholics and modernists. Charles Dullea, Superior of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, said: “Because he is preaching basic Christianity, he does not enter into matters which today divide Christians. He does not touch on Sacraments or Church in any detail. … The Catholic will hear no slighting of his Church’s teaching authority, nor of Papal or Episcopal Prerogatives, no word against the mass or sacraments or Catholic practices. GRAHAM HAS NO TIME FOR THAT; he is preaching only Christ and a personal commitment to Him. The Catholic, in my opinion will hear little, if anything, he cannot agree with” (Dullea, “A Catholic Looks at Billy Graham,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Jan. 1972).
The Church growth philosophy is another example of this.
The message must be non-controversial and upbeat. The preaching at Willow Creek Church pastored by Bill Hybels is described in this way: “There is no fire and brimstone here. No Bible-thumping. Just practical, witty messages.”
Consider this description of church growth guru C. Peter Wagner: “Wagner makes negative assessments about nobody; he has made a career out of finding what is good and affirming it without asking critical questions” (Christianity Today, Aug. 8, 1986).
Robert Schuller, who influences many through his Church Growth Institutes, epitomizes the New Evangelical positive-only philosophy. He says, “Essentially, if Christianity is to succeed in the next millennium, it must cease to be a negative religion and must become positive” (Schuller, Self-Esteem the New Reformation, p. 104).
Consider the example of letters I have received from Promise Keepers supporters:
“I would begin and end by asking you to not judge others.”
“I read, with great disgust, your narrow views and judgmental statements…”
“It is very important in these last days that we focus on what we have in common … rather than focus on our differences.”
This judge not philosophy permeates Contemporary Christian Music. Consider these statements against old-fashioned preaching:
Steven Curtis Chapman says he tries to communicate a Biblical world view in a way that WILL NOT BE “ABRASIVELY PREACHY” (Huntsville Times, Oct. 30, 1994). He says his quest for relevance has shown that the best way to communicate his faith is “not to preach fire and brimstone.”
An ad for “Fuel on the Fire” by Morgan Cryar says the song is “a good pop/rock sound for the teenage audience” because the “songs deal with youth issues and situations WITHOUT BEING PREACHY.”
The lyrics to Donna Summer’s music is described as being “UNPREACHILY AS POSSIBLE, the approach most likely to win the attention of an intelligent non-Christian audience” (Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, Oct. 1984, p. 40).
Randy Stonehill says: “I DON’T WANT TO PREACH AT PEOPLE. What I want to do is communicate the truth in the most compelling, fresh, and challenging way I can” (“Kicking Around with Uncle Rand,” Christian Music Review, April 1991).
Michael W. Smith, one of the most popular Contemporary Christian Musicians, plainly admits that he is not preachy. “MY SONGS ARE NOT PREACHY — at all . . .” (Michael McCall, Contemporary Christian, June 1986, p. 19). Smith described his non-judgmental philosophy in an interview in the May 1998 issue of CCM Magazine.
In reviewing Steve Taylor’s music, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that “THERE IS LITTLE PREACHING IN HIS SONGS” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 11, 1984). Taylor admits that people like his concerts because there is no preaching: “Our concerts attract people because THEY KNOW THEY WON’T BE PREACHY or insult their intelligence” (Peters Brothers, What About Christian Rock, p. 138). Taylor was quoted as saying: “I DON’T THINK PEOPLE REALLY LIKE TO BE PREACHED AT. One of the reasons Jesus was so effective is because he told parables. I THINK IT’S INSULTING TO PEOPLE’S INTELLIGENCE TO PREACH AT THEM. No one likes to be told what to believe” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 11, 1984). This unscriptural statement ignores two facts: (1) Jesus Christ was a preacher. At least 30 times the Gospels mention that Christ preached. Christ’s ministry began with preaching (Matt. 4:17), and He preached some of the hardest sermons recorded in the Bible (i.e., Mark 9; Matthew 23). (2) Christ’s parables were not given for the purpose of not preaching but for the purpose of hiding truth from the willfully blind (Matthew 13:10-11).
P.O.D. (Payable on Death), a hard rock group from California, also subscribes to the positive-only philosophy: An interviewer with Pollstar observed: “While THEY DON’T PREACH or try to ram their spirituality down anyone’s throat, they hope that their positive message will have an influence on rock fans” (Pollstar, March 20, 2000).
The Chinese CCM group For You advertises their music as “SPIRITUAL BUT NOT PREACHY” (The Straits Times, Singapore, May 18, 2001).
Jason Wade of Lifehouse says, “I think we have a positive message of hope. WE’RE NOT TRYING TO BLATANTLY PREACH. It all comes down to love” (David Wild, “The Rock & Roll Gospel according to Lifehouse,” Rolling Stone magazine, June 7, 2001, . Here we see that the ecumenist mis-defines Christian love as not preaching.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE POSITIVE APPROACH:
a. The prophets of old were not positive-focus New Evangelicals (i.e., Enoch in Jude 14-15). There is nothing New Evangelical about this sermon.
b. The Lord Jesus Christ was not a positive-focus New Evangelical. He preached more about hell than heaven (i.e., Mark 9:42-48) and strongly rebuked error (Mat. 23). He scalded the Pharisees because they perverted the way of the truth and corrupted the gospel of grace, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, fools and blind, serpents, generation of vipers. And that was just one sermon!
c. It is also obvious that the apostles were not positive-focus New Evangelicals.
Paul was constantly involved in doctrinal controversies and he was brutally plain about the danger of heresy. He called false teachers “dogs” and “evil workers” (Phil. 3:2). Of those who pervert the gospel he said, “Let them be accursed” (Gal. 1:8, 9). He called them “evil men and seducers” (2 Tim. 3:13), “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8), “false apostles, deceitful workers” (2 Cor. 11:13). He named the names of false teachers and called their teaching “vain babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16, 17). He warned about “philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8). He plainly described their “cunning craftiness.” When Elymas tried to turn men away from the faith that Paul preached, Paul wasted no time with dialogue. He said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). He warned about false teachers who would come into the churches and called them “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29) and their teaching “perverse things” (Acts 20:30). Those who denied the bodily resurrection were called “fools” (1 Cor. 15:35-36). He warned about false christs, false spirits, false gospels (2 Cor. 11:1-4). He labeled false teaching “doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). In the Pastoral Epistles Paul warned of false teachers and compromisers by name 10 times.
Peter was also plain spoken about heresy. Of the false prophets in his day and those who he knew would come in the future, he labeled their heresies “damnable” and warned of their “swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1). He called their ways “pernicious”; said their words were “feigned”; and boldly declared that “their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:3). He warned them of eternal hell (2 Pet. 2:4-9) and called them “presumptuous” and “selfwilled” (2 Pet. 2:10). He likened them to “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (2 Pet. 2:12) and exposed their deception (2 Pet. 2:13).
John, “the apostle of love,” was also busy warning about antichrists (1 John 2:18-19), calling them liars (1 John 2:22) and seducers (1 John 2:26) and deceivers (2 John 7); saying that they denied the Son (1 John 2:23) and that they don’t have God (2 John 9). He put too much of an emphasis upon testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-3). He even made all sorts of exclusive claims, such as, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). John even forbade the believers to allow the false teachers into their houses or to bid them God speed (2 John 10-11).
d. Biblical preaching is not positive-focus New Evangelicalism. There is both “negative” and positive in the Bible, and the preacher’s job is to preach it all (2 Timothy 4:2). We are to preach all things whatsoever Christ has taught (Mat. 28:20), the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Biblical preaching always has a strong element of plain correction and conviction.
e. Biblical Christianity is not positive-focus New Evangelicalism.
- God commands us to reprove (Eph. 5:11).
- God commands us to contend for the faith (Jude 3).
- God commands us to separate from error (Rom. 16:17).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT JUDGING
a. The Bible requires that we judge everything by the divine standard (1 Thess. 5:21).
- We are to judge righteous judgment (Jn. 7:24).
- We are to judge all things (1 Cor. 2:15-16).
- We are to judge sin in the church (1 Cor. 5:3, 12).
- We are to judge matters between the brethren (1 Cor. 6:5).
- We are to judge preaching (1 Cor. 14:29).
- We are to judge those who preach false gospels, false christs, and false spirits (2 Cor. 11:1-4).
- We are to judge the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
- We are to judge false prophets and false apostles (2 Pet. 2; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2).
b. We are not to judge hypocritically (Mat. 7:1-5).
Jesus is not condemning all judging; He is condemning hypocritical judging (Mat. 7:5).
That He is not condemning all judging is evident from the context. In the same sermon He warned about false teachers (Mat. 7:15-17) and false brethren (Mat. 7:21-23). It is impossible to beware of false prophets and false brethren without judging doctrine and practice by comparing it to God’s Word.
That He is not condemning all judging is also evident by comparing Scripture with Scripture. We have seen that other passages require judging.
c. We are not to judge in matters of liberty (Rom. 14).
The context is judging things such as diet (Rom. 14:2-3) and holy days (Rom. 14:5-6). Since there are no laws in the New Testament about diet or about holy days, these are therefore matters of liberty and the believer is not to judge others in such things.
Romans 14 is not saying that some things in the Bible are of “secondary” importance and therefore should not be matters of judgment. Paul is not speaking of things clearly taught in the Bible, but of things not taught in the Bible.
d. We are not to judge in an evil way (James 4:11-12). This is defined in the context.
It is to speak evil (Jam. 4:11). Proper judging is to speak the truth in love. The truth is not evil and speaking the truth in love is not evil. The type of judging condemned by James is judging in the sense of tearing down, tale bearing, and slander. It is judging with an evil intent. When one judges sin and error scripturally, it is never with a desire to hurt people. The Pharisees judged Jesus in this evil manner (Jn. 7:52). The false teachers at Galatia and Corinth judged Paul in this manner, trying to tear him down in the eyes of the churches (2 Cor. 10:10).
It is to judge in a way that is contrary to the law of God (Jam. 4:12). This refers to judging others by human standards rather than divine, thus setting oneself up as the lawgiver. The Pharisees did this when they judged Jesus by their traditions (Mat. 15:1-3). On the other hand, when a believer judges things by God’s Word in a godly and compassionate manner, he is not exercising his own judgment; he is judging God’s judgment. When, for example, I say that it is wrong for a woman to be a pastor, this is not my judgment; it is God’s (1 Tim. 2:12).
4. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY EXALTING LOVE AND UNITY ABOVE DOCTRINE.
Billy Graham said, “The one badge of Christian discipleship is not orthodoxy, but love” (quoted from Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 33).
Edward Carnell, second president of Fuller Seminary, said: “Jesus names love, not defense of doctrine, as the sign of a true disciple” (quoted from Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 33).
The book Three Sisters by Michael Harper (Tyndale House, 1979), called for unity between Evangelicals, Charismatics, and Roman Catholics. The author stated, “It is my own conviction that a growing unity between the three forces in the Christian world is both desirable and possible” (p. 41).
The example of Baskin-Robbins Christianity. In an article calling for ecumenical evangelism, Pastor Ted Haggard (New Life Church, Colorado Springs) likened doctrinal convictions to different flavors of ice cream. “I love all kinds of ice cream. Sometimes I want vanilla with caramel topping, whipped cream, lots of nuts and a cherry. Other times I want Rocky Road, banana or chocolate chip. That’s why I love Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores. … In Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I am a pastor, we enjoy 90 flavors of churches. … I am saying that we need to appreciate the respected interpretations of Scripture that exist in the many Christian denominations. … Have you erected any fences between your church and the congregation down the street? have you judged other Christian groups in your heart, or openly criticized them? I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to move our fences and demonstrate to a watching world that we are united” (Ted Haggard, “We Can Win Our Cities … Together,” Charisma, July 1995).
Jack Van Impe said: “The Holy Spirit declares in Eph. 4:3 we are to ‘endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ I wasn’t doing that. I was dividing the Christians. God comes into the heart of Catholics, and Lutherans, and Baptists, and Pentecostals, and with God in us, we can fellowship with one another” (Van Impe’s television program, July 23, 1995).
Joseph Stowell (president of Moody Bible Institute, right), speaking at the National Association of Evangelicals conference in March 1996, said: “God never intended that our differences would divide us. If you belong to Christ you are lifted above the differences, and all else becomes secondary. Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta showed the unity that is possible. We must repent of our attitudes as I did in Atlanta. I went to a man who held different doctrines than I held and apologized. … Revival happens when God’s people network together.”
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT DOCTRINE:
a. We are saved by believing from the heart the right doctrine of the gospel (Rom. 6:17). This shows why we cannot accept someone as a genuine Christian if they are committed to a false gospel, such as Rome’s sacramental gospel.
b. We are to separate from those who teach false doctrine (Rom. 16:17).
c. We must be careful of every wind of false doctrine (Eph. 4:14).
d. No false doctrine is to be allowed (1 Tim. 1:3).
e. The preacher is to take heed to the doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16).
f. The Bible is given for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16) and is to be preached with doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).
g. The preacher must be able to use doctrine to edify and protect the church (Tit. 1:9).
h. We abide in Christ by sound doctrine (1 Jn. 2:24-27).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT CHRISTIAN LOVE:
a. Ecumenists are confused about the definition of love (Jn. 14:23; Phil. 1:9-10; 1 Jn. 5:3).
Biblical love is associated with obedience to God (Jn. 14:23; 1 Jn. 5:3). Biblical love is obedience to God and His Word, not gushy emotion, not broadmindedness, not toleration of error.
Biblical love is associated with knowledge and judgment (Phi. 1:9-10). Biblical love is never divorced from strict application of God’s Word, from spiritual judgment based on God’s Word. Biblical love is not non-judgmentalism.
Biblical love is associated with rebuking sin and error. Jesus, who is Love Incarnate, “looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts (Mk. 3:5) and rebuked the Pharisees sharply, even fiercely (Mat. 23). Jesus called Peter a devil (Mat. 16:23) and upbraided the disciples “with their unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mk. 16:14). The apostle Paul called false teachers “dogs” and “evil workers” (Phil. 3:2). Of those who pervert the gospel he said, “Let them be accursed” (Gal. 1:8, 9). He called false teachers “evil men and seducers” (2 Tim. 3:13), “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8). He named the names of false teachers and called their teaching “vain babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16, 17). He plainly described their “cunning craftiness.” When Elymas tried to turn men away from the faith that Paul preached, Paul said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). None of this is contrary to Christian love.
b. Ecumenists are also confused about the direction of love.
The first direction of love must be toward God (Mat. 22:35-39). I need to love God enough to take a stand for His Word, to love and fear God more than I love and fear man.We agree with Charles Haddon Spurgeon when he said: “On all hands we hear cries for unity in this, and unity in that; but to our mind the main need of this age is not compromise, but conscientiousness. ‘First pure, then peaceable.’ It is easy to cry ‘a confederacy,’ but that union which is not based upon the truth of God is rather a conspiracy than a communion. Charity by all means; but honesty also. Love, of course, but love to God as well as love to men, and love of truth as well as love of union. It is exceedingly difficult in these times to preserve one’s fidelity before God and one’s fraternity among men. Should not the former be preferred to the latter if both cannot be maintained? We think so” (Spurgeon, “The Down Grade – Second Article,” The Sword and the Trowel, April 1887, Notes, p. 16).
The second direction of love must be toward those who are in spiritual danger (“feed my sheep” Jn. 21:16-17). I need to love the Lord’s sheep more than I love the wolves.
In conclusion of our study on love, we quote from the words of James Henley Thornwell, a staunch Old School Presbyterian preacher who fought against theological modernism in the 19th century. He was the sixth president of South Carolina College (today the University of South Carolina). He was weary with the New Evangelicals of his day, who said they loved the truth but were soft in their stance and refused to boldly withstand heresy. Note his powerful words and his understanding of true biblical love: “To employ soft words and honeyed phrases in discussing questions of everlasting importance; to deal with errors that strike at the foundations of all human hope as if they were harmless and venial mistakes; to bless where God disapproves, and to make apologies where He calls us to stand up like men and assert, though it may be the aptest method of securing popular applause in a sophistical age, is cruelty to man and treachery to Heaven. Those who on such subjects attach more importance to the rules of courtesy than they do to the measures of truth do not defend the citadel, but betray it into the hands of its enemies. LOVE FOR CHRIST, AND FOR THE SOULS FOR WHOM HE DIED, WILL BE THE EXACT MEASURE OF OUR ZEAL IN EXPOSING THE DANGERS BY WHICH MEN’S SOULS ARE ENSNARED” (quoted in a sermon by George Sayles Bishop, author of The Doctrines of Grace and Kindred Themes, 1910).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT CHRISTIAN UNITY:
JOHN 17:21 — The modern ecumenical movement has taken John 17:11 as one of its theme verses, claiming that the unity for which Christ prayed is an ecumenical unity of professing Christians that disregards or downplays biblical doctrine. The context of John 17 destroys this myth.
a. In John 17, Jesus is referring to those who are saved (Jn. 17:3). John 17 is not a unity of true regenerate believers with those who are false or nominal.
b. In John 17, Jesus is referring to those who keep His Word; it is a unity in truth (Jn. 17:6, 17). It is not a unity that ignores doctrinal differences for the sake of an enlarged fellowship. It is not an ecumenical “unity in diversity.” Nowhere does the New Testament teach that doctrine is to be sacrificed, or even downplayed, for the sake of unity.
c. In John 17, Jesus is referring to those who not of the world (Jn. 17:14, 16). By contrast, the ecumenical movement is not separated from the world. Billy Graham is praised by the world and frequently voted the most favorite man in America. In 1989, Graham was even awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! His star is near those honoring Wayne Newton and John Travolta. The ecumenical movement today is characterized by a rock & roll type of Christianity that does not believe in strict separation from the world, and the world responds with awards rather than persecutions.
d. In John 17, Jesus is referring to a unity of the Spirit not a man-made unity (Jn. 17:1). John 17 is a prayer directed to God the Father, not a commandment directed to men.
EPHESIANS 4:3 — This is another pet verse of the ecumenical movement, but when we examine it in context we see that it actually condemns ecumenism.
a. Ephesians 4:3 is a unity of the Spirit (v. 3). It is not a manmade unity. It is a unity of those who are regenerated by and led by the Spirit. There is no unity between those who are true born again Christians and those who are nominal.
b. Ephesians 4:3 is a unity of the one faith (v. 5). This refers to the faith delivered to the apostles and prophets and enscripturated in the New Testament.
It is a unity requiring “one mind” rather than an ecumenical “unity in diversity” (Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 1:27).
Note that “the faith” is not divided into cardinal and secondary issues after the ecumenical fashion.
In Matt. 23:23 Jesus taught that while not everything in Scripture is of equal importance, everything has some importance. Nothing clearly taught in Scripture is to be despised and set aside for the purpose of unity.
In 1 Tim. 6:14, Paul taught Timothy to keep all of the apostolic doctrine “without spot” until the return of Christ. Spots are small, seemingly insignificant things. Thus, Paul was teaching Timothy to value everything in Scripture. The theme of 1 Timothy is practical church truth (1 Tim. 3:15), church government (1 Tim. 3), the woman’s role in church work (1 Tim. 2), the widows (1 Tim. 5), etc. These are the types of things that are typically ignored in ecumenical ventures, because they are considered of secondary importance; yet, Paul taught Timothy to keep all of these things without spot.
c. Ephesians 4:3 is a unity that has as its basic unit the local church (Eph. 1:1). The command in Ephesians 4:3 is addressed to the church at Ephesus (Eph. 1:1). It was not addressed to some worldwide body of believers. It is possible to practice biblical unity within the local church because doctrine and righteousness can be preserved in the church. Outside of the church, there is no biblical discipline or authority. When Christians attempt to practice interdenominational and parachurch unity, there is always compromise and disobedience. I am not responsible to maintain a unity of spirit with every professing believer in the world, but with the believers in my assembly, in my local body. The Bible says we are to glorify God “with one mind and one mouth” (Rom. 15:6). That certainly is not a description of ecumenism! This is only possible in the assembly, where believers can be united together in doctrine and spirit and purpose in a way that is impossible apart from the assembly.
PHILIPPIANS 1:27 — This is another verse that is misused as a platform for the ecumenical movement, but notice the following observations from the context:
a. Biblical unity is in the local church. This instruction was addressed to the church at Philippi. True Christian unity is not a parachurch or interdenominational matter.
b. Biblical unity means having one mind, not “unity in diversity.” Compare Rom. 15:5-6; 1 Cor. 1:10.
c. Biblical unity means total commitment to the one faith. The N.T. faith is not many separate doctrines but one unified body of truth into which all doctrines fit. There are no “secondary” doctrines that we can ignore for the sake of Christian unity. The choice is between a “limited fellowship or a limited message.” If one is faithful to the New Testament faith, it is impossible to have a wide fellowship, and if one is committed to a wide fellowship he must limit his message to something less than the whole counsel of God.
5. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY A PRAGMATIC APPROACH TO THE MINISTRY.
“We want to retrieve Christianity from a mere eddy of the main stream into the full current of modern life” (Harold Ockenga).
Pragmatism is to aim at achieving some stated human objective rather than simply being faithful to God’s Word and “let the chips fall where they may.” Following are some examples:
Aiming to influence the world for Christ. This is the goal of Graham’s ecumenical crusades. It is the aim of the Christian rockers and rappers. It is the aim of the church growth principles. A world of compromise and disobedience to Scripture is excused today for evangelism’s sake.
Aiming to influence denominations. This was one of the original goals of New Evangelicalism. Ockenga said he wanted to recapture the denominational leadership. This is why evangelicals say they want to stay within liberal denominations rather than separate from them.
Aiming to influence the nation. This is the goal of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and his new organization called The Faith and Values Coalition. It is the goal of the BBFI in the Philippines and of a new ecumenical political movement in Australia led by the Hills Christian Life Centre in Sydney.
Aiming to build a big church. In 1986, Carl Henry warned, “Numerical bigness has become an infectious epidemic” (Confessions of a Theologian, p. 387). This explains the amazing popularity of visibly successful pastors such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.This type of pragmatism has also characterized a large segment of the fundamental Baptist church movement. In the 1970s, the goal was achieved by creating an exciting atmosphere with “special days,” aggressive promotional campaigns, large bus ministries, stirring but typically shallow motivational preaching, and such. This was what I was taught at Tennessee Temple in the mid-1970s, and it was what was modeled at Highland Park Baptist Church. The men that were exalted were men that had built big churches, men who were “successful” by the standard of big numbers. Things that did not fit into the goal — such as strong Bible teaching, plain refutation of error that includes naming the names of influential false teachers, an emphasis on ecclesiastical separation — were omitted or downplayed, because “it didn’t build a church.” It is not a dramatic shift to move from this type of pragmatism to that of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels in the 1990s. The goal remains the same, which is a big church and impressive numbers, but the methods have changed. Instead of promotionalism, we use contemporary worship music and the lowering of standards to draw the crowd. In neither case is the preeminent goal to obey the Scriptures and be committed to the whole counsel of God at all cost, whether the church is big or small.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. We are commanded to have only one goal, and that is to obey God’s Word (Ecc. 12:13).
b. We are to keep all things that Christ has commanded (Mat. 28:20).
c. We are to respect the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and to keep God’s Word “without spot,” which refers to seemingly small and inconsequential things (1 Tim. 6:13-14).
d. When King Saul obeyed only part of God’s command, he was severely rebuked (1 Sam. 15:22-23).
e. What about 1 Corinthians 9:22? The “rock & roll Christian” crowd uses this verse to support its philosophy of being a rapper to reach the rappers and a beach bum to reach the beach bums. However, when one compares Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean anything like this. Let’s look at the immediate context and then the more remote context:
In 1 Cor. 9:21, for example, Paul says, “To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.” Thus, he explains that he was always under the law to Christ and he was never free to do things that would be contrary to the Scriptures. For example, Paul would not adopt long hair in order to reach the heathen, because Christ’s law forbids long hair on a man (1 Cor. 11:14).
And in 1 Cor. 9:27 Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Thus, Paul was always strict in regard to sin and he did not allow anything that would result in spiritual carelessness.
And in Galatians 5:13 Paul says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Thus, Paul’s liberty was not the liberty to serve the flesh. Paul taught that believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). That is the strictest form of separation, and Paul would not have done anything contrary to this in his own life and ministry. “The Christian faith is rather at its strongest when its antagonism to unbelief is most definite, when its spirit is other-worldly, and when its whole trust is not ‘in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (1 Cor. 2:5)” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 2000, p. 212).
6. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY THE DESIRE FOR INTELLECTUAL RESPECTABILITY, BY PRIDE OF SCHOLARSHIP.
Billy Graham, speaking at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1971, said: “I believe that Christianity Today has played a major role in giving evangelicals that intellectual respectability and initiative that was so drastically needed 29 years ago.”
Fuller Theological Seminary was at the forefront of “the bid to capture the theological leadership in America” (letter from Edward Carnell to Harold Ockenga, unpublished, Dec. 30, 1957; cited by Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 174).
John R.W. Stott: “For 50 years and more, I have urged that authentic evangelical Christians are not fundamentalists. Fundamentalists tend to be anti-intellectual…” (Stott, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, 1988, p. 90). The younger evangelicals in the Church of England, who have been influenced deeply by John Stott, are on a “quest for respectable theology” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 175).
In 1994 Wheaton College professor Mark Noll published The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, criticizing the fundamentalist for the “scandal” of “anti-intellectualism.”
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. God warns against intellectual pride (Prov. 11:2; 1 Cor. 1:25-30). Apostasy usually begins among the intellectuals. This is what brought the downfall of Harvard University in the early 19th century; in their zeal for intellectual respectability, they brought in a Unitarian renowned for his scholarship to head up the school. The Bible believer is not anti-intellectual in the sense of being anti-learning and education; but he understands the dangers inherent in human scholarship because of man’s fallen nature; and he is opposed to humanistic scholarship that is divorced from and antagonistic to God’s Word.
b. Consider how Jesus was treated by the religious intellectuals (Jn. 7:15) and consider His warning (Lk. 6:26).
c. Consider how the apostles were treated by these same religious intellectuals (Acts 4:13).
d. Consider the requirement for church leaders. God does not require intellectualism and degrees in higher learning (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). God’s people are, for the most part, common; they don’t need intellectualism; they need simple and practical Bible truth (1 Cor. 1:26-29). The truth is not complex; it has a basic simplicity that the common man can understand (Mat. 11:25). It is the devil who makes things complex (2 Cor. 11:3).
e. Paul refused to preach the truth in an “intellectual” manner (1 Cor. 2:4).
f. The truth is narrow and unacceptable to the unsaved (“narrow is the way” Mat. 7:14; Jn. 15:19; 1 Jn. 4:5-6; 5:19). It can never be made acceptable in this present world. To gain intellectual respectability requires deep spiritual compromise.
g. The New Evangelical approach to scholarship has corrupted those who have pursued it (1 Cor. 15:33).
The example of New Evangelicals in the USA. Within ten short years from its inception, New Evangelicalism was deeply infiltrated with skepticism in regard to biblical infallibility.
Forty years ago the term evangelical represented those who were theologically orthodox and who held to biblical inerrancy as one of the distinctives. … WITHIN A DECADE OR SO NEOEVANGELICALISM . . . WAS BEING ASSAULTED FROM WITHIN BY INCREASING SKEPTICISM WITH REGARD TO BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY OR INERRANCY” (Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 1979, p. 319)
“In or about 1962 it became apparent that there were already some at Fuller Theological Seminary who no longer believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, among both the faculty and the board members” (Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, p. 106). David Hubbard, who became president of the seminary in 1963, mockingly referred to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture as “the gas-balloon theory of theology; one leak and the whole Bible comes down.”
The example of New Evangelicals in England. The intellectual approach was taken by InterVarsity Fellowship (IVF) within the Church of England beginning in the late 1950s. By the 1980s, they boasted that there were “fully thirty competent theologians who were from the evangelical stable” (John Wenham, Autobiography, p. 217). The problem is that these “competent evangelical theologians” were not true believers when judged by biblical standards. The definition of “evangelical” had changed greatly. Consider three examples:
F.F. Bruce led the way for IVF when he was appointed to the Rylands Chair of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester in 1959. Bruce continued to sign the IVF doctrinal statement, accepting “the Divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.” But Bruce did not believe this. In his autobiography he testified: “Occasionally, when I have expounded the meaning of some biblical passage in a particular way, I have been asked, ‘But how does that square with inspiration?’ But inspiration is not a concept of which I have a clear understanding before I come to the study of the text, so that I know in advance what limits are placed on the meaning of the text by the requirement of inspiration” (In Retrospect, p. 311). Iain Murray observes: “There has to be real doubt over his position on Scripture in view of statements in his autobiography. He regrets evangelical intolerance of the Barthian position. Of his continued assent to the IVF’s doctrinal basis he writes: ‘I have been signing the latter basis annually as a Vice-President of the IVF/UCCF for a long time now, but no one imposes its terms on me as a test of orthodoxy’ (In Retrospect, pp. 187-8, 310)” (Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 181).
James Dunn is another New Evangelical who attained scholarly notoriety in Britain. But as he sat at the feet of skeptics and affiliated closely with them for the years required to become a “scholar,” his evangelicalism had become liberalism. Consider this summary of his speech before the Anglican Evangelical Assembly in London in 1981. “He argued that because some of its [the Bible’s] teaching was once true does not necessarily follow that it is true for all time. Further, the Holy Spirit may give a text a meaning for us now which was not the original meaning … Simply to be found by ‘the letter’ is ‘Pharisaic legalism’, and when evangelicals attribute to Scripture the authority which belongs only to God they are guilty of ‘bibliolatry’” (Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 182).
The Tyndale Fellowship in England was founded as an association of evangelicals committed to the infallible Scriptures. The name “evangelical” is still used, but it has lost its original meaning and has expanded to include theological liberalism. “In the early days of the Tyndale Fellowship, the lines seemed fairly clearly drawn between those who might be regarded as evangelicals and those who might not. … A survey of the contemporary situation shows that matters have for some time stood otherwise. … Members of the Tyndale Fellowship will in fact divide over many, perhaps all, of the issues which were once regarded as touchstones of orthodoxy. Evangelical theological colleges, too, embrace the same diversity” (R.T. France, Evangelical Anglicans, p. 38).
7. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY AN ATTITUDE OF ANTI-FUNDAMENTALISM. IN PRACTICE, IT FOCUSES MORE ON THE ALLEGED PROBLEMS OF FUNDAMENTALISM THAN THE ERRORS OF MODERNISM AND ROMANISM AND ECUMENISM.
The New Evangelical speaks of the error of theological modernists and Romanists in gentle terms. He gets truly agitated, though, when the subject turns to fundamentalism. For the fundamentalist he reserves choice terms such as legalist, Pharisee, obscurantist, mean-spirited hatemonger, ignoramus, and extremist.
Edward Carnell, the second president of Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote in defense of the inerrancy of Scripture and other cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, but he aimed his biggest guns not at the modernists who denied these doctrines but at the fundamentalists who called for separation. He wrote articles for the liberal Christian Century magazine entitled “Beyond Fundamentalist Theology” and “Orthodoxy: Cultic vs. Classical.” It was fundamentalism, not modernism that was labeled cultic. Even Carl Henry criticized Carnell for this, saying, “I nevertheless feel that you are making a mistake in waging a running battle against the fundamentalists when our real enemy is the modernist” (unpublished letter of May 6, 1960, cited by Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 189). This was almost the “pot calling the kettle black,” because Henry was also guilty of being anti-fundamentalist, though not perhaps to the extent of Carnell.
When Billy Graham looked back on the founding of Christianity Today, he said, “We were convinced that the magazine would be useless if it had the old, extreme fundamentalist stamp on it” (“In the Beginning: Billy Graham Recounts the Origins of Christianity Today,” Christianity Today, July 17, 1981).
Note how John Stott (right) defines fundamentalism:
“…anti-intellectualism; a naïve, almost superstitious reverence for the KJV; a cultural imprisonment; racial prejudice; extreme right wing political concerns” (Stott, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, 1988, pp. 90-91).
In looking back upon old-time evangelicals within the Church of England, who sought in a Puritan sense to bring the entire denomination up to the standard of doctrinal purity, J.I. Packer charged them with “an unlovely intellectual perfectionism and self-sufficiency” (Packer, Identity Problem, cited by Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 116). When many Bible believers reacted strongly in opposition to the March 1994 “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document (ECT), Packer spewed out his anti-fundamentalist rhetoric. “I was surprised at the violence of initial negative Protestant reaction. … fear clouds the mind and generates defensive responses that drive wisdom out of the window. … I ought to have anticipated that some Protestants would say bleak, skewed, fearful, and fear-driven things about this document” (“Why I Signed It,” Christianity Today, Dec. 12, 1994). There was no violence, of course, against Packer or the other signers of ECT; and Packer had no evidence that those who spoke out against ECT were driven by fear; he could not see into their hearts, so it was not possible to make such a judgment. It is much more likely that they were concerned for the truth and motivated by their love for God and His Word and cause.
Francis Schaeffer spoke of “the unattractiveness of ‘cold fundamentalism” (Letters of Francis Schaeffer, 1985, p. 72).
Monroe Parker gave the following testimony about Dr. John Walvoord and Dallas Seminary. “Some years ago a friend of mine told me that he had gone up to Dr. Walvoord, the president of Dallas Seminary, after a meeting where Walvoord had spoken. He asked, ‘Where does Dallas Seminary stand in the warfare between the Fundamentalists and the New Evangelicals?’ According to my friend, Dr. Walvoord’s reply was, ‘We are definitely in the conservative camp at Dallas, but we are not Fighting Fundamentalists” (Parker, Through Sunshine and Shadows, 1987, p. 108).
Consider a few quotes from the choice letters and e-mails I have received because of my fundamentalist preaching:
“You are like the hypocrites that Jesus said he would vomit out of his mouth because you take comfort in hate instead of love, negativism instead of positive commentary, fascism instead of freedom.”
“Fundamentalist are the most vindictive and judgmental and nasty people in the world … to people of my belief! AND YOU KNOW IT!!!”
“YOU need to repent and change your ways buddy. You should try reading the WORD sometime. It will change your life. Your website is full of arrogance and ignorance.”
“The ‘fundamentalist’ movement is slowly dying largely because of asinine ideas such as this. [He is referring to a warning about the strong Roman Catholic element at Regent University.] … Another reason ‘fundamentalism’ is dying is because of anti-intellectualism.”
“How about you stop criticising and pull the log out of your own eye before you try and find the speck in someone elses. Division is the Devil’s biggest tool and he would be happy you are fueling his mission.”
“Just because people do not have your narrow minded legalistic view on Scripture does not mean that people are not Christians. … I write contemporary praise music, music that is used in churches in worship of God. It’s not for your approval or anyone else no matter what denomination or off the wall sect of a denomination they are.”
“The reason I am writing to you is because I would like to caution you (though I doubt you ever listen to anyone other than yourself) against the type of extremism that I constantly see on your web site. I do not disagree with most of what you say; however, I believe that you have become so blinded by your self-righteousness that you are being used of the devil for his own purposes.”
“You, sir, are a legalist that the Pharisees would have been mighty proud of.”
Consider the following example of how the New Evangelical looks at things. After Stephen Olford delivered a strong sermon on the authority of Scriptures at Amsterdam ’86, Dennis Costella of Foundation magazine had an opportunity to interview him. Costella asked, “You emphasized in your message the dangers of liberalism and how it could ruin the evangelist and his ministry. What is this conference doing to instruct the evangelist as to how to identify liberalism and the liberal so that upon his return home he will be able to avoid the same?” Olford replied: “That’s the wrong spirit—avoid the liberal! I love to be with liberals, especially if they are willing to be taught, much more than with hard-boiled fundamentalists who have all the answers. … Evangelicals should seek to build bridges” (Costella, “Amsterdam ’86: Using Evangelism to Promote Ecumenism,” Foundation magazine, Jul.-Aug. 1986). This is pure New Evangelicalism. It appears to be zealous for the truth and bold against error, but in practice, it turns its fiercest guns upon the fundamentalists.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. Even the very strongest believer is but a sinner saved by grace (Rom. 7:18). We hold the treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). All men, including those who are zealous for the faith and for separation, are weak and have foibles. The believer’s stand for the truth will always be imperfect. Consider Noah, who stood boldly for righteousness in his generation, but who also got drunk and brought shame upon his family. Consider David, who esteemed all of God’s precepts concerning all things to be right and hated every false way (Ps. 119:128), which is certainly a fundamentalist’s testimony, but who also committed adultery and murder and proudly numbered Israel. Consider Peter, who stood for righteousness in his generation and was zealous for the truth and warned boldly of damnable heresies (2 Pet. 2), but who also cursed and denied the Lord and played the hypocrite (Gal. 2:11-14). Consider Paul, who was such a warrior for the faith; certainly he could be described as a fundamentalist; but he also split apart from Barnabas over a purely personal matter (Acts 15:36-40).
b. Spirituality and carnality is a personal matter, not a positional one. There are carnal and ungracious New Evangelicals and carnal and ungracious fundamentalists. Of the hundreds of New Evangelicals who have written to me through the years, most have treated me with a complete lack of Christian grace.
c. It is not wise to judge an entire movement by the failures of individuals. “It is true that some Fundamentalists have said unkind things, but Fundamentalism is not unkind. It is true that some Fundamentalists were intemperate, but Fundamentalism is not a free-for-all. Some Fundamentalists may have been vindictive, but Fundamentalism is not vengeful” (Rolland McCune, Fundamentalism in the 1980s and 1990s).
d. New Evangelicals who treat fundamentalists so sharply, do not level the same criticisms at true heretics. In a letter to the Sword of the Lord in July 27, 1956, Chester Tulga, who had often born the brunt of the New Evangelical’s barbed tongue, “brilliantly exposed the evangelicals’ duplicity of ‘condemning fundamentalism by the disreputable device of caricature’ while handling the liberals ‘very respectfully and objectively–no wisecracks, no sneers, no generalizations that reflect upon the men in any way’” (Bob Whitmore, The Enigma of Chester Tulga, 1997).
d. New Evangelicals constantly judge the motives of the fundamentalist. He labels the fundamentalist mean-spirited, ungracious, fear-driven, jealous, and unloving, yet it is impossible to know the motives of another man’s heart. In this, the New Evangelical is more truly “judgmental” than the fundamentalist he criticizes.
e. Correction and strong preaching against sin and error always seem to be harsh and unkind to those who refuse to repent. We see this from the beginning to the end of the Bible. One preacher wisely advised, “If Bible preaching rubs your fur the wrong way, turn the cat around!”
Cain was lovingly warned by God, but he ignored the warning and murdered his brother (Gen. 4:6-7). When God pronounced judgment, Cain complained bitterly (Gen. 4:13-14).
Israel constantly complained about her prophets and demanded that they preach “smooth things” (Is. 30:10).
The Jews of Jesus’ day rejected His preaching, saying He was preaching “hard sayings” (Jn. 6:60, 66).
If the following words from the Bible were preached today in a New Evangelical setting, the speakers would be doubtless be judged as hateful and mean-spirited.
Enoch: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).
Samuel: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam. 15:22-23).
Isaiah: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:4-6).
Jeremiah: “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD” (Jer. 23:9-11).
Almighty God: “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. … Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek. 1:3-4; 7:3-4).
Jesus: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Mat. 23:15).
Paul: “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10).
Peter: “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (2 Pet. 2:12).
John: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).
8. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY AN INCONSISTENCY, BY CONTRADICTION.
New Evangelicals say that they love the truth and will make bold statements for the truth at times, but they undermine this profession by their actions and by their contradictory statements. Consider some examples:
Billy Graham is the king of inconsistency and contradiction. This is why he has been called “Mr. Facing Both Ways.”
Billy Graham says that he loves the gospel of the grace of Christ and he preaches the gospel, but he turns his converts over to churches that preach a false gospel.
Graham says that to be a true Christian one must be born again, but he fellowships closely with modernists and Roman Catholics who are not born again and who do not believe in the new birth as Graham preaches it; yet he accepts them as genuine brethren in Christ.
Graham says that he loves the old doctrines such as the virgin birth of Christ, but he has often praised men who boldly deny these doctrines.
At the preparation for the 1978 Crusade in Toronto, Graham spoke at the Royal York Hotel on March 16, 1978. On one hand, he said we need to call the churches back to “biblical authority,” but in the same message, he said, “Lutherans, Anglicans and Catholics are members of the body of Christ” and “we communicate the Bible by our unity; I believe in ecumenicity.” It is blatant inconsistently and contradiction to speak of biblical authority while also accepting heresy and heretics as expressions of genuine Christianity.
James I. Packer is an example of this.
He has displayed New Evangelical contradiction in regard to modernism. Packer wrote the preface to a reprint of W.H. Griffith Thomas’ The Principles of Theology (1977) and praised Thomas for treating liberal and Romanized Anglicans as “benighted” and for calling them to “true Christianity identity.” Thus, on the one hand Packer praises the old style of evangelicalism that kept itself separate from and refused to accept the modernism within the Church of England. On the other hand, Packer was at the forefront of redefining the evangelical’s role within Anglicanism, moving it out of the “ghetto mentality,” and accepting the modernists and Anglo-Catholics as true fellow Christians in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1976 Packer, for example, was a signatory to Christian Believing, a publication of the Church of England’s Commission on Christian Doctrine, which said in the introductory statement that competing and conflicting theologies are desirable and that to attempt to force all Anglicans to believe the same thing would “be disastrous to the health of the church.” Like Graham, Packer is “Mr. Facing Both Ways.” In 1981, Packer wrote “A Kind of Noah’s Ark? The Anglican Commitment to Comprehensiveness,” in which he said sees real benefit in “accepting Anglicanism’s present doctrinal plurality” (p. 217).
He had displayed New Evangelical contradiction in regard to Romanism. On the one hand, he makes strong statements about justification by faith alone and other Protestant doctrines and has said he could never join the Catholic Church, but on the other hand, he is at the forefront of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement, both in the United States and in Ireland. If he sees no contradiction in this, many others do.
John Stott is another example of the contradiction and inconsistency that is integral to New Evangelicalism. Stott, an Anglican leader in England, told the Amsterdam 2000 conference that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” and he lamented that “there is growth without depth” and “superficiality is everywhere.” At the same time, he said, “We evangelicals tend to be overly dogmatic.” This is the inconsistent and contradictory ecumenical position exemplified in one sermon. It is impossible to take Bible doctrine seriously without being dogmatic! Stott knows, of course, that ecumenism requires less doctrinal dogmaticism, and he is at the forefront of this compromise. Therefore, out of one side of his mouth, he speaks about being strong for the Scriptures, but out of the other side, he warns against dogmatism.
The previously given example of Stephen Olford exemplifies this. Olford delivered a strong sermon on the authority of Scriptures at Amsterdam ’86, but when Dennis Costella of Foundation magazine had an opportunity to interview him the next day and asked him what the conference was doing to instruct evangelists on how to avoid liberalism, Olford made an 180 degree about face and said, “That’s the wrong spirit—avoid the liberal! I love to be with liberals, especially if they are willing to be taught, much more than with hard-boiled fundamentalists who have all the answers. … Evangelicals should seek to build bridges” (Costella, “Amsterdam ’86: Using Evangelism to Promote Ecumenism,” Foundation magazine, Jul.-Aug. 1986). To preach that liberals are dangerous and to turn right around and say that we should build bridges to them is a gross contradiction.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. We are taught to judge men by what they do and not only by what they say (Mat. 7:21-23; Jn. 2:23-25).
b. Two cannot walk together unless they agree (Amos 3:3). When the New Evangelical says he loves the truth but walks in fellowship with those who deny the truth, he is telling us that he is in agreement with such men.
9. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY THE DIVISION OF BIBLICAL TRUTH INTO CATEGORIES OF IMPORTANT AND NOT IMPORTANT.
New Evangelicals divide doctrine into “cardinal” and “secondary” categories and the “secondary” can be overlooked for the sake of unity.
In Grace Awaking, Chuck Swindoll says, “My encouragement for you today is that each one of us pursue what unites us with others rather than the few things that separate us. … There was a time in my life when I had answers to questions no one was asking. I had a position that life was so rigid I would fight for every jot and tittle. I mean, I couldn’t list enough things that I’d die for. The older I get, the shorter that list gets, frankly” (Grace Awakening, p. 189).
Even Iain Murray, who understands the errors of New Evangelicalism in general, falls into this trap. Condemning fundamentalism in America he stated, “In its tendency to add stipulations not foundational to Christian believing, fundamentalism was prone to make the boundaries of Christ’s kingdom too small” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 298).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. This is refuted by Christ’s teaching.
It is refuted in Matt. 23:23. Here Christ taught that while not everything in the Bible is of equal importance, everything has some importance and nothing is to be despised or neglected.
It is refuted in Matt. 28:20, where Christ taught that the churches are to teach ALL THINGS whatsoever He has commanded.
b. This is refuted by Paul’s example and teaching.
He preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
He taught Timothy to value all doctrine and not to allow ANY false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3).
He further taught Timothy to keep all doctrine “without spot” (1 Tim. 6:13-14). Spots refer to the small things, the seemingly insignificant things. The context of Paul’s instruction in 1 Tim. 6:14 is the an epistle that has as its theme church truth (1 Tim. 3:15). In this epistle, we find instruction about church order, involving such things as pastoral standards (1 Tim. 3), deacons (1 Tim. 3), the woman’s work in the church, including the ban against teaching and holding authority over men (1 Tim. 2); care for widows (1 Tim. 5), and discipline (1 Tim. 5). These are the very kinds of things that are typically despised by New Evangelicals.
c. We must understand that not all heresies are of equal weight as far as destructiveness, but all heresies are to be opposed. A heresy is to follow an unscriptural error instead of the pure Word of God. The word describes the self-will that characterizes such sin. A “heretic” is one who exercises his own will over the Word of God and chooses an error over the truth. The error can be as serious as denying the deity of Christ or as seemingly slight as wearing allowing a woman to usurp authority over men.
There are “damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1). A damnable heresy is one that affects eternal salvation. To accept a damnable heresy is to bring upon oneself eternal damnation. The damnable heresy described by Peter was that of denying the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John also described the doctrine of Christ as crucial (2 John 9). We see in other passages that damnable heresies are particularly related to the person of Christ, to the gospel, and to the Holy Spirit and thus the person and nature of God, including such doctrines as the Trinity (2 Cor. 11:4).
There are also less destructive heresies (1 Cor. 11:19-21). Here Paul was referring to errors in the church at Corinth, and in the immediate context, he describes errors relating to the Lord’s Supper.
That not all heresies have the same consequence does not mean that some heresies are to be ignored. Every wind of false doctrine is to be refused (Eph. 4:14).
d. David Nettleton wrote “A Limited Message or a Limited Fellowship” to describe his experiences in an interdenominational youth ministry in the 1950s. Consider an excerpt from this message:
“This message, like many, is born out of an experience. It may be some others are going through similar experiences. Therefore, let me recount the one which brought this message to light. I was brought up as a Presbyterian. I was saved at a college which was interdenominational in student body, but was managed by the Church of the Brethren. From there I went to a seminary which was not a denominational school, and from there to another seminary which was United Presbyterian. I entered the Baptist pastorate with no Baptist training except that which came from reading of the Scriptures.
“A few years later I was drawn into an interdenominational youth movement and was given the leadership of a local Saturday night rally. I cooperated with any who were evangelical, regardless of their associations. I was advised by top leaders in the movement to seek the names of outstanding modernists for my advisory committee. I didn’t do that. But I did follow advice which led me to send to all converts back to the churches of their choice, churches I knew to be liberal in some cases. This greatly troubled my conscience and I prayed and thought about it.
“Another problem connected with this work was the failure on my part to instruct any converts on the matter of Christian baptism, which in the Scriptures is the first test of obedience. I felt that I should do this inasmuch as Peter and Paul did it. But how could it be done when on the committee of the work there were close friends who did not believe it? By such an association I had definitely stripped my message and my ministry of important Bible truths which many called ‘nonessentials.’
“In the follow-up work it was not convenient to speak of eternal security in the presence of Christian workers who hated the name of the doctrine. Thus the ministry was pared down to the gospel, just as if there was nothing in the Great Commission about baptizing converts and indoctrinating them. I had found the least common denominator and I was staying by it. But my conscience had no rest.
“Then it was that Acts 20:27 came to mean something to me. The great apostle had never allowed himself to be drawn into anything which would limit his message. He could say with a clean conscience, ‘I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’ Why cannot many say that today? In my case, and in many other cases, it was due to a desire to teach a larger audience and to work with a larger group of Christians.
“Many have been carried away from full obedience by a noble-sounding motto which has been applied to Christian work. ‘In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.’ Some things are not essential to salvation but they are essential to full obedience, and the Christian has no liberty under God to sort out the Scriptures into essentials and nonessentials! It is our duty to declare the whole counsel of God, and to do it wherever we are.
“Today we are choosing between two alternatives. A LIMITED MESSAGE OR A LIMITED FELLOWSHIP. If we preach all of the Bible truths, there are many places where we will never be invited. If we join hands with the crowds, there will be limiting of the message of the Bible. Bear this in mind–it is the Baptist who lays aside the most! It is the fundamental Baptist who makes the concessions! Think this through and you will find it to be true. We believe in believer’s baptism. We believe in separation. We preach eternal security. We believe in the imminent coming of Christ. We consider it an act of obedience to reprove unbelief in religious circles. The Sadduccee and the Pharisee are to be labeled. But according to a present philosophy we must lay these things aside for the sake of a larger sphere of service.
“Which is more important, full obedience or a larger sphere of service? And yet I do not fully believe these are the only two alternatives. It is our first duty to be fully obedient to God in all things, and then to wait upon Him for the places of service. It may be that we will be limited, and it may be that we will not. Charles Haddon Spurgeon did not travel as widely as some men of his day, but his sermons have traveled as far as the sermons of most men” (David Nettleton, “A Limited Message or a Limited Fellowship,” GARBC).
10. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY EXALTING SOCIAL-POLITICAL ACTIVITY TO THE SAME LEVEL AS THE GREAT COMMISSION.
“THE SUMMONS TO SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT received a hearty response from many evangelicals. … IT HAD A NEW EMPHASIS UPON THE APPLICATION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE SOCIOLOGICAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMIC AREAS OF LIFE.” (Harold Ockenga).
New Evangelicals begin by trying to emphasize BOTH gospel work and social-political work.
“Both the gospel and its social implications, both personal conversion and social action, are involved in the mission of the church” (David Hubbard, President, Fuller Seminary, AP, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, May 15, 1971).
“…we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty” (International Congress on World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1974).
This deteriorates until the social-political work takes a life of its own and becomes legitimate even without gospel preaching.
In 1966 the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (an arm of the NAE) adopted a statement on social action: “…evangelical social action will include, whenever possible, a verbal witness to Jesus Christ . . . we urge all evangelicals to stand openly and firmly for racial equality, human freedom and all forms of social justice throughout the world.”
“In all World Vision projects, staff are ready to give a reason for their hope … whenever appropriate and desired by the community. In many countries where we work, formal public evangelism is forbidden by government policy and we respect this” (World Vision web site).
“We know it’s not a Christian area, and we are sensitive not to spread the gospel” (Nurse Glenda Moore, Church of the Nazarene, describing their work with earthquake victims in India, Christianity Today, April 23, 2001).
The Moral Majority and the more recent Faith and Values Coalition, founded by Jerry Falwell, are socio-political endeavors that do not include the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Falwell and those who have joined hands with him accept that it is perfectly legitimate to try to bring about social-political change in America apart from Gospel preaching and church planting, and in association with Romanists and Judaizers who preach a different gospel.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. The Great Commission mentions nothing about social-political action (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:44-48; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:8). The Great Commission is preaching the Gospel to every individual in every nation, baptizing those who believe, and establishing churches to disciple them.
b. We can see how the apostles interpreted Christ’s commission by examining their ministries in Acts and the Epistles. There we see that the apostles did not involve themselves in social-political action, but gave themselves exclusively to the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 8:4). The book of Acts is a record of gospel preaching and church planting, and the only social work that was carried out was that of taking care of needy believers during a famine (Acts 11:27-30). The apostles and early churches did not try to change the moral character of the Roman Empire through political activity or carry on grand social projects. Instead they dedicated their earthly lives to getting at the heart of man’s problem, and that is his estrangement from God and his need of regeneration.
c. If the churches turn aside to socio-political endeavors, the crucial work of the Great Commission is neglected. Unsaved men have established grand social endeavors such as the International Red Cross, and founded grand political schemes such as the democratic republican form of government; but only the saved can preach the gospel of spiritual redemption. For churches to turn aside from the crucial work of the Great Commission to endeavor in socio-political projects is like a man sent by the governor to deliver a pardon to a condemned prisoner, who is stricken with compassion at the man’s physical needs and sets about to make his prison room more comfortable, while forgetting to deliver the pardon which will deliver the man out of the prison.
d. The reason that the apostles and first churches were so diligent in preaching the gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission was their conviction that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent (Matt. 25:1-13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh”). This same motivation keeps churches today committed to the Great Commission instead of turning aside to worldly projects. It is unregenerate false teachers who “mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-21), because they look at life from a natural perspective rather than a biblical one.
11. NEW EVANGELICALISM IS CHARACTERIZED BY A MOOD OF SOFTNESS, A DESIRE FOR A LESS STRICT CHRISTIANITY, A WEARINESS WITH FIGHTING, A NEUTRALITY TOWARD SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
New Evangelicalism is a subtle thing. At its heart it is a mood, an attitude, a tendency, a direction.
In 1958, William Ashbrook wrote Evangelicalism: The New Neutralism, which began with the following warning: “One of the youngest members of Christendom’s fold is called The New Evangelicalism. It might more properly be labeled THE NEW NEUTRALISM. This new ‘Evangelicalism’ boasts too much pride, and has imbibed too much of the world’s culture to share the reproach of fundamentalism. It still has enough faith and too much understanding of the Bible to appear in the togs of modernism. IT SEEKS NEUTRAL GROUND, being neither fish nor fowl, neither right nor left, neither for nor against–it stands between!”
In A History of Fundamentalism in America, Dr. George Dollar observes: “It has become a favorite pastime of new-evangelical writers, who know so little of historic fundamentalism, to call it offensive names, as if to bury it by opprobrium. The real danger is not strong fundamentalism but A SOFT AND EFFEMINATE CHRISTIANITY–exotic but cowardly. It is sad that these men would not heed the warning of W.B Riley about the menace of ‘MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROADISM’” (Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America, 1973, p. 208).
At its inception, especially, New Evangelicalism can be difficult to detect. It does not necessarily start with a zeal for dialogue or some of the other things we have looked at. New Evangelicalism starts more with a changing mood, a new attitude that dislikes a strict approach to the things of God. Since this is the tendency of any church or movement, to grow weaker and softer rather than stronger, it is necessary to guard carefully against this “new mood.” As Evangelist John Van Gelderen observed, “If you compare modern fundamentalism to modern new-evangelicalism, there is still a gap. But if you compare modern fundamentalism to early new-evangelicalism, the similarities are alarming” (Preach the Word, Jan.-Mar. 1998).
Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr., wrote about “A NEW SOFTNESS WITHIN FUNDAMENTALISM.” He said: “In the 50s and 60s, the Conservative Baptists were the Fundamentalists–the Separatists among Baptists in the North. They had fought a noble battle, but finally had to come out of the old Northern Baptist Convention in the 60s. Soon after the separation and the formation of the CBA, there began to emerge a strange spirit. Many began to feel that we needed to be more ‘Christian,’ more practical, more communicative, MORE GENTLE in our stand for God. The terms ‘SOFT CORE’ and ‘hard core’ were used to describe the two camps that emerged. The soft policy was to be practical at the expense of being righteous. The results sought for were more important than the means. These compromisers believed that part of the movement was too hard. Over 400 churches left in a division in the 60s. These real fundamentalist churches blossomed and multiplied in the 70s. Now, in the 90s, some of us see a reenactment of the past. There is a new emphasis on methodology and P.R. to grow churches. This new methodology is market-oriented and geared to please the people. NOT OFFENDING IS THE CARDINAL VIRTUE. Personal separation and holiness are pushed back into the dark ages. In spite of greatly increased open sin, THE CONDEMNATION IS SOFTENED. … In every generation our battles must be refought. The generation that does not follow the old paths will die as did evangelicalism in England” (Calvary Contender, May 1, 1995).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
a. Christianity that is not strict is not biblical. It is strict in doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3) and strict in Christian living (Eph. 5:11). It contends earnestly for the faith (Jude 3) and is unmoving and uncompromising, dogmatic and resolute. Simply open the New Testament to any page and begin reading, and it will not be long before this will be evident.
b. Strictness and zeal for the truth does not mean unloving and uncompassionate. Jesus was strictness Personified and was also love and compassion Personified. To the woman caught in adultery He said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). What great mercy and yet what great strictness, as well! Paul demonstrated the same combination. He was strict and unbending about doctrine and practice, but he was tender “even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thess. 2:7).
FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO DETERMINE IF A PREACHER IS A NEW EVANGELICAL:
1. Does he preach plainly against the Roman Catholic Church, applying Galatians 1 to its false gospel and warning people to come out of it?
2. Does he believe it is proper to refer to the Roman Catholic Church as the Harlot as most Protestants and Baptists have done in times past (Rev. 17)? Does he agree with John Calvin, for example, who said, “Popery is nothing else than a monster formed out of the innumerable deceptions of Satan, and that which they call the Church is more confused than Babylon”?
3. Does he believe Pope John Paul II is a dangerous heretic who preaches a false gospel and is leading people to Hell?
4. Does he believe Mother Teresa led people to Hell because of her commitment to Rome’s false gospel?
5. Does he warn about Billy Graham’s unscriptural relationship with the Roman Catholic Church and with theological modernists? Graham has turned thousands of seekers over to Roman Catholic and modernistic Protestant churches. Does he warn his people of this?
6. Does he identify Robert Schuller, who is so prominent and influential in American Christianity, as a dangerous false teacher for his “self-esteem” theology?
7. Does he warn about James Dobson for intermingling psychology with Bible truth and for his close, non-critical affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church?
8. Does he warn plainly about the heresy of church growth gurus such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, who use humanistic, pragmatic, and worldly methods, and who replace the pure Word of God with a simplified, pabulum approach to the things of God?
9. Does he believe it is wrong to name the names of false teachers in order to warn people about them?
10. Does he warn his people about the ecumenical error of movements such as Promise Keepers and Contemporary Christian Music that seek to break down denominational walls?
11. Does he warn about the dangerous charismatic doctrines and practices held by the prominent Contemporary Christian Music artists such as Graham Kendrick and Darlene Zschech?
12. Does he plainly identify flesh-revealing, flesh-tight, and flirtatious clothing styles as immodest and warn against them?
13. Does he warn people against using entertainment that promotes or favorably portrays violence, foul-language, and sexual immorality and identify movies, video rentals, video games, role-playing games, paintball/combat activities, certain board-games, and novels?
14. Does he warn people against seeking fun at the expense of righteousness, warning them that such a pleasure-seeking, worldly mentality makes an idol out of the quest for personal enjoyment and debases personal holiness, fulfilling God-given responsibilities, obedience to God’s Word, and serving God?
15. Does he name and warn against rock, blues, rap, metal, country, techno-pop and other styles of ungodly music that have polluted society and encouraged rebellion against God’s holy laws?
16. Does he take a stand against “The Passion of the Christ,” with its Roman Catholic director and star and its borrowing from the deluded visions of a Catholic mystic, as moving even evangelicals and some fundamentalists toward the Roman Catholic Church compromise and Mariolatry?
17. Does he make use of the Contemporary Worship, which syncretizes worldly party music with the holy things of God and which is built upon the myth that music is neutral or a-moral?
18. Does he subscribe to modern textual criticism, which was developed by modernists and Unitarians who treated the Bible as a mere book and who ignored divine inspiration and preservation?
19. Does he warn about the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, which was edited by modernists Bruce Metzger, Matthew Black, and Kurt Aland, and Catholic Cardinal Carlo Martini?
20. Does he speak out against the new Bible versions, which are founded upon the heretical theories of modern textual criticism and which weaken key doctrines such as the deity of Christ and biblical fasting, or is he silent on such issues?
21. Does he recommend young people to go to New Evangelical schools like Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Liberty University?
22. Does he speak out against the compromise of once fundamentalist mission agencies like ABWE and once fundamentalist schools such as Cedarville University, BBC Clarks Summit, Cornerstone College, Liberty University, etc.?
23. Does he warn plainly of the compromise of neo-fundamentalists such as Jerry Falwell?
24. Is the doctrine of separation clearly taught and defended in his church? Is it a part of the statement of faith? Is it something that is emphasized?
IV. THE APOSTATE FRUIT OF NEW EVANGELICALISM
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6).
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
“The New Evangelicalism advocates TOLERATION of error. It is following the downward path of ACCOMMODATION to error, COOPERATION with error, CONTAMINATION by error, and ultimate CAPITULATION to error!” (Charles Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism, 1969, pp. 9, 15; Dr. Woodbridge was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in its early days, a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and a friend of men such as Harold Ockenga and Carl Henry, but he rejected the New Evangelicalism and spent the rest of his life warning of its dangers.).
New Evangelicals have refused to separate from error, and it is no surprise that doctrinal corruption has permeated the movement.
Note that the downward path does not begin with ecumenical associations or with denying the infallibility of Scripture. It begins with a simple attitude of toleration toward error. It begins with the preacher deciding he doesn’t want to do a lot of fighting against false doctrine; he is opposed to false doctrine, but he simply wants to have a more positive emphasis in his ministry.
That “little” compromise with the truth; that “little” disobedience toward his preaching commission (e.g., 2 Tim. 4:1-4; Titus 2:11-15; Eph. 5:11) leads to some very large changes as he follows this path to its ultimate conclusion. This downward path is true both for individuals, for churches, and for organizations, associations, and denominations. Each passing decade witnesses more plainly to the truth of Dr. Woodbridge’s observations. Toleration of error leads to accommodation, cooperation, contamination, and ultimate capitulation. This describes the history of New Evangelicalism precisely.
THE WITNESS OF EVANGELICALS THEMSELVES AS TO THE APOSTASY OF EVANGELICALISM IN GENERAL
Harold Lindsell, who was vice-president of Fuller Seminary and editor of Christianity Today:
“Evangelicalism today is in a sad state of disarray. … It is clear that evangelicalism is now broader and shallower, and is becoming more so. Evangelicalism’s children are in the process of forsaking the faith of their fathers” (Lindsell, Christian News, Dec. 2, 1985).
Francis Schaeffer, speaking at the 1976 National Association of Evangelicals convention:
“What is the use of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger in number if significant numbers of those under the name of ‘evangelical’ no longer hold to that which makes evangelicalism evangelical?” (Schaeffer, “The Watershed of the Evangelical World: Biblical Inspiration”).
A 1996 Moody Press book entitled The Coming Evangelical Crisis documented the apostasy of Evangelicalism.
“… evangelicalism in the 1990s is an amalgam of diverse and often theologically ill-defined groups, institutions, and traditions. … THE THEOLOGICAL UNITY THAT ONCE MARKED THE MOVEMENT HAS GIVEN WAY TO A THEOLOGICAL PLURALISM THAT WAS PRECISELY WHAT MANY OF THE FOUNDERS OF MODERN EVANGELICALISM HAD REJECTED IN MAINLINE PROTESTANTISM. … Evangelicalism is not healthy in conviction or spiritual discipline. Our theological defenses have been let down, and the infusion of revisionist theologies has affected large segments of evangelicalism. Much damage has already been done, but a greater crisis yet threatens” (R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Evangelical What’s in a Name?” The Coming Evangelical Crisis, 1996, pp. 32, 33, 36).
SPECIFIC AREAS OF APOSTASY WITHIN NEW EVANGELICALISM:
1. EVANGELICALISM’S APOSTASY IS SEEN IN DOCTRINE: QUESTIONING BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY
JESUS CHRIST: “…the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)
APOSTLE PAUL: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
APOSTLE PETER: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
GENERAL STATEMENTS OF THIS APOSTASY IN DOCTRINE:
The testimony of Frank Gaebelein in 1960:
“…we must not blink at the evidence that there is a strong current among some evangelicals, a subtle erosion of the doctrine of the infallibility of the Scripture that is highly illogical as well as dangerous” (Christianity Today, May 9, 1960, p. 647).
Testimony of Carl Henry, 1976:
“A GROWING VANGUARD OF YOUNG GRADUATES OF EVANGELICAL COLLEGES WHO HOLD DOCTORATES FROM NON-EVANGELICAL DIVINITY CENTERS NOW QUESTION OR DISOWN INERRANCY and the doctrine is held less consistently by evangelical faculties. … Some retain the term and reassure supportive constituencies but nonetheless stretch the term’s meaning” (Carl F.H. Henry, pastor senior editor of Christianity Today, “Conflict Over Biblical Inerrancy,” Christianity Today, May 7, 1976).
Also in 1976 Richard Quebedeaux, author of The Young Evangelicals and The Worldly Evangelicals, added the following details:
“Most people outside the evangelical community itself are totally unaware of the profound changes that have occurred within evangelicalism during the last several years–in the movement’s understanding of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, in its social concerns, cultural attitudes and ecumenical posture, and in the nature of its emerging leadership. … evangelical theologians have begun looking at the Bible with a scrutiny reflecting THEIR WIDESPREAD ACCEPTANCE OF THE PRINCIPLES OF HISTORICAL AND LITERARY CRITICISM … The position–affirming that Scripture is inerrant or infallible in its teaching on matters of faith and conduct but not necessarily in all its assertions concerning history and the cosmos–IS GRADUALLY BECOMING ASCENDANT AMONG THE MOST HIGHLY RESPECTED EVANGELICAL THEOLOGIANS. … these new trends … indicate that evangelical theology is becoming more centrist, more open to biblical criticism and more accepting of science and broad cultural analysis. ONE MIGHT EVEN SUGGEST THAT THE NEW GENERATION OF EVANGELICALS IS CLOSER TO BONHOEFFER, BARTH AND BRUNNER THAN TO HODGE AND WARFIELD ON THE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE” (Richard Quebedeaux, “The Evangelicals: New Trends and Tensions,” Christianity and Crisis, Sept. 20, 1976, pp. 197-202).
In 1976 and 1979 Harold Lindsell published two volumes on the downgrade of the Bible in Evangelicalism, with particular focus on Fuller Seminary, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Battle for the Bible appeared in 1976, and the sequel, The Bible in the Balance, came out in 1979. This careful documentation by a man who was in the inner circle of evangelicalism’s leadership for many decades leaves no doubt that the evangelical world of the last half of the twentieth century is leavened with apostasy.
“MORE AND MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS HISTORICALLY COMMITTED TO AN INFALLIBLE SCRIPTURE HAVE BEEN EMBRACING AND PROPAGATING THE VIEW THAT THE BIBLE HAS ERRORS IN IT. This movement away from the historic standpoint has been most noticeable among those often labeled neo-evangelicals. This change of position with respect to the infallibility of the Bible is widespread and has occurred in evangelical denominations, Christian colleges, theological seminaries, publishing houses, and learned societies” (Harold Lindsell, former vice-president and professor Fuller Theological Seminary and Editor Emeritus of Christianity Today, The Battle for the Bible, 1976, p. 20).
“I must regretfully conclude that the term evangelical has been so debased that it has lost its usefulness. … Forty years ago the term evangelical represented those who were theologically orthodox and who held to biblical inerrancy as one of the distinctives. … WITHIN A DECADE OR SO NEOEVANGELICALISM . . . WAS BEING ASSAULTED FROM WITHIN BY INCREASING SKEPTICISM WITH REGARD TO BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY OR INERRANCY” (Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 1979, p. 319).
In his 1978 book, The Worldly Evangelicals, Richard Quebedeaux warned that many evangelical scholars are deceitful about their doctrinal heresies: “Prior to the 60s, virtually all the seminaries and colleges associated with the neo-evangelicals and their descendants adhered to the total inerrancy understanding of biblical authority (at least they did not vocally express opposition to it). But it is a well-known fact that A LARGE NUMBER, IF NOT MOST, OF THE COLLEGES AND SEMINARIES IN QUESTION NOW HAVE FACULTY WHO NO LONGER BELIEVE IN TOTAL INERRANCY, even in situations where their employers still require them to sign the traditional declaration that the Bible is ‘verbally inspired,’ ‘inerrant,’ ‘infallible in the whole and in the part,’ or to affirm in other clearly defined words the doctrine of inerrancy that was formulated by the Old Princeton school of theology and passed on to fundamentalism. SOME OF THESE FACULTY INTERPRET THE CRUCIAL CREEDAL CLAUSES IN A MANNER THE ORIGINAL FRAMERS WOULD NEVER HAVE ALLOWED, OTHERS SIMPLY SIGN THE AFFIRMATION WITH TONGUE IN CHEEK” (Quebedeaux, The Worldly Evangelicals, p. 30).
Testimony of Francis Schaeffer (right), 1983:
“WITHIN EVANGELICALISM THERE ARE A GROWING NUMBER WHO ARE MODIFYING THEIR VIEWS ON THE INERRANCY OF THE BIBLE SO THAT THE FULL AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE IS COMPLETELY UNDERCUT. … Accommodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands. . . . With tears we must say that largely it is not there and that A LARGE SEGMENT OF THE EVANGELICAL WORLD HAS BECOME SEDUCED BY THE WORLD SPIRIT OF THIS PRESENT AGE” (Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1983, pp. 44,141).
In 1985 the following summary of the downgrade of the doctrine of inspiration by today’s evangelical leaders was given by Herman Hanko: “My main concern is with those who profess to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and yet by, what I can only call surreptitious and devious means, deny it. This is, surprisingly enough, a position that is taken widely in the evangelical world. Almost all of the literature which is produced in the evangelical world today falls into this category. In the October 1985 issue of Christianity Today, (the very popular and probably most influential voice of evangelicals in America), a symposium on Bible criticism was featured. The articles were written by scholars from several evangelical seminaries. Not one of the participants in that symposium in Christianity Today was prepared to reject higher criticism. All came to its defense. IT BECAME EVIDENT THAT ALL THE SCHOLARS FROM THE LEADING SEMINARIES IN THIS COUNTRY HELD TO A FORM OF HIGHER CRITICISM. These men claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. At the same time they adopt higher critical methods in the explanation of the Scriptures. This has become so common in evangelical circles that IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AN EVANGELICAL PROFESSOR IN THE THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS OF OUR LAND AND ABROAD WHO STILL HOLDS UNCOMPROMISINGLY TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE INFALLIBLE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. The insidious danger is that higher criticism is promoted by those who claim to believe in infallible inspiration” (Herman Hanko, The Battle for the Bible, pp. 2, 3; Hanko’s book should not be confused with Harold Lindsell’s book by that same name; Hanko is a professor at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, Grandville, Michigan).
An exposure of the corruption of doctrine in the evangelical world appeared in 1993 in No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? by David F. Wells, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Time magazine described Well’s book as “a stinging indictment of evangelicalism’s theological corruption.” Though Wells is himself a committed New Evangelical, he properly identifies evangelicalism’s chief problem as its repudiation of biblical separation and its accommodation with the world:
“Fundamentalism always had an air of embattlement about it, of being an island in a sea of unremitting hostility. Evangelicalism has reacted against this sense of psychological isolation. It has lowered the barricades. It is open to the world. The great sin of fundamentalism is to compromise; the great sin in evangelicalism is to be narrow” (emphasis added) (David Wells, No Place for Truth, p. 129).
Wells also made a telling statement that acknowledges precisely where the New Evangelical world is today:
“But in between these far shores [Anglo-Catholicism and fundamentalism] lie the choppy waters that most evangelicals now ply with their boats, and here the winds of modernity blow with disconcerting force, fragmenting what it means to be evangelical. This is because evangelicals have allowed their confessional center to dissipate” (p. 128).
1995, theology conference sponsored jointly with Inter-Varsity at Wheaton College:
“NOT A SINGLE REPRESENTATIVE OF HISTORIC EVANGELICAL ORTHODOXY COMMITTED TO THE UNBROKEN AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE WAS FEATURED…” (Calvary Contender, July 1, 1995).
In 1995, Dr. Carl Henry was continuing to warn about unbelief within evangelical circles:
“Much of the same revolt against truth emerged during the recent theology conference of postliberal speakers sponsored jointly with Inter-Varsity at Wheaton College. NOT A SINGLE REPRESENTATIVE OF HISTORIC EVANGELICAL ORTHODOXY COMMITTED TO THE UNBROKEN AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE WAS FEATURED…” (Calvary Contender, July 1, 1995).
In 1997 Oliver Barclay in England wrote:
“University theology in the twentieth century has been both highly reductionist and also very rationalistic. … Theological study has been high rationalist, and this has produced a tradition of believing only what can be rationally justified. Evangelicals working in this milieu have followed the tradition and argued for a conservative position on exclusively ration grounds. … No university in Britain would now boast that for them ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. … We cannot continue to teach theology through a rationalist methodology and expect to produce anything other than liberal evangelicals” (Barclay, Evangelicalism in Britain: 1935-1995: A Personal Sketch, pp. 128-9, 131).
Carl Trueman of the University of Aberdeen wrote in 1998:
“One need only look at many of the works emerging from contemporary evangelical scholars to find that the notion of scriptural authority as understood in any of its classical, orthodox ways has in general been replaced either by the concepts of neo-orthodoxy or simply by silence on the most prickly issues. The enemies are too often Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield and Carl Henry” (“The Impending Evangelical Crisis,” Evangelicals Now, Feb. 1998).
In 1999 John Wenham, one of the founders of the Tyndale Fellowship which had the objective of launching evangelicals into the theological departments of liberal British universities, admitted that “conservatives had largely abandoned their role as an opposition to the current liberal criticism of the Bible and had become part of the establishment” (Wenham, Facing Hell: An Autobiography 1913-1996, p. 140).
In 2000, Iain Murray, a founding trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust in Scotland, published a stinging indictment of the downgrade of evangelical theology in Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000. Murray demonstrates that “the new policy involved concessions which seriously weakened biblical Christianity.” He traces the changes within evangelicalism in Britain since the emergence of the Billy Graham approach and documents the downward theological spiral that has resulted by the takeover of New Evangelicalism.
BERNARD RAMM (1916-1992) was Director of Graduate Studies in Religion at Baylor University and later was Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Apologetics at California Baptist Theological Seminary. Ramm’s 1955 book The Christian View of Science and Scripture was reprinted by Moody Press and approved by Fuller Seminary professors Edward J. Carnell and Wilbur Smith, as well as by Elving Anderson of Bethel College. Ramm claimed that the Bible was only inerrantly inspired in some matters and that it contains mistakes in areas such as science and history. He said, “Whatever in the Scripture is in direct reference to natural things is most likely in terms of the prevailing cultural concepts.” He accepted theistic evolution, denied that the Noahic flood was worldwide, explained many of the Exodus miracles in a naturalistic manner, denied that the sun stood still in Joshua’s day, etc.
HAROLD BASS, BETHEL SEMINARY. “Many of us admit that the bible unquestionably contains factual errors … but we still maintain that it is inerrant in divine purpose. The secret is to try to understand the context of the language and the logic used in writing the Bible” (Dr. Harold Bass of Bethel Seminary, quoted by Jim Huffman, “Conservative View of Theology Is Changing,” Minneapolis Tribune, Jan. 22, 1966).
PAUL JEWETT of Fuller Seminary, in Man as Male and Female (Eerdmans, 1975), said: “Genesis 1 is not a literal piece of scientific reporting, but a narrative which illumines the ultimate meaning of Man’s existence. … religious myth or saga, biblical allegory” (pp. 122,123).
DONALD BLOESCH, in the book Holy Scripture (InterVarsity Press, 1994), said: “The Fundamentalists idea that inspiration entails inerrancy in history and science as well as in doctrine is not claimed by the Bible. … Fundamentalism espouses a static theory of inspiration. God’s Word cannot be encapsulated in either legal codes or clerical pronouncements. Inspiration is an event in which God acts and speaks” (p. 97).
CHARLES SCALISE is affiliated with Fuller Seminary. He is associate professor of church history and academic director of Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle’s M. Div. program. In his book From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics (InterVarsity Press, 1996), Scalise argues for the schizophrenic position of accepting the conclusions of biblical criticism while at the same time holding the Bible as the “canonical Word of God.” He proposes the “canonical approach” of Yale Professor Brevard Childs who follows Karl Barth. Scalise uncritically describes how “the ‘postcritical’ hermeneutics of Karl Barth assists Childs in charting his way across ‘the desert of criticism’“ (p. 44). It is true that modern biblical criticism is a desert, but instead of rejecting biblical criticism as the unbelieving heresy that it is, the modern Evangelical scholar tries to reconcile it with a way to allow the Bible to remain authoritative in some sense. In the first chapter of his book, Scalise plainly and unhesitatingly rejects the “facts-of-revelation” approach to Scripture that accepts the Bible as the historically accurate record of God’s infallible revelation (pp. 28-31). Scalise does not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch under divine inspiration or that the Old Testament record of miracles is accurate. He believes the Pentateuch was written by unknown editors centuries later (p. 56). He believes the Bible’s accounts of miraculous events are exaggerated. For example, he believes that the Egyptian chariots pursuing Israel got “stuck in the mud” (p. 39) rather than being overwhelmed by God’s miraculous dividing and undividing of the waters. He agrees with Karl Barth that the book of Numbers contains both “history” and “storylike saga” (p. 49). He believes portions of Amos were added by an unknown editor (p. 56). He believes that to view the Bible as historical is dangerous (p. 79). He does not believe the Psalms are historical writings (p. 78). He does not believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians nor that it was originally addressed to the church at Ephesus, and he doesn’t believe it matters (p. 58). Scalise wants to allow the Catholic apocrpyhal books to be accepted as canonical (pp. 60,61). He commends an approach to biblical canon which has “a firm center and blurred edges” (p. 60). Scalise says, “The Bible is the Word of God because God speaks through it” (p. 22). That is a false, subjective Barthian view of Scripture. In fact, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Word of God, regardless of whether man feels that God is speaking through it. Scalise claims that comparisons of the Trinity to the self by theologians like Karl Rahner and comparisons of the Trinity to community by theologians like Leonard Hodgson and Jurgen Moltmann “are within the channel of orthodoxy” (p. 103). He does not like the “negative view of tradition” that comes from the Protestant Reformation, and he believes the Protestants and Catholics simply misunderstood one another (p. 73). He believes it is possible to reconcile the differences by requiring that the Bible be interpreted within the context of church tradition (p. 74). In fact, if the Bible must be interpreted by tradition, the tradition becomes the superior authority. In the preface to his book, Scalise notes that he was guided into his critical views of the Bible during studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Tubingen in Germany.
WAYS IN WHICH NEW EVANGELICALS UNDERMINE THE DOCTRINE OF INSPIRATION:
1. Inspiration is undermined by distinguishing between its divine and human aspects.
Note: This is a distinction that Jesus and the apostles did not make. Jesus used “the law of Moses” and “the law of God” as synonyms. Paul said the Scriptures were written by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). He did not focus on the human element in Scripture, only on the divine. Peter said it was the Holy Spirit who spake through the prophets (1 Pet. 1:10-11), who moved them as they spoke (2 Pet. 1:21).
2. Inspiration is undermined by dividing the cultural and scientific aspect of Scripture from the theological.
Note: “If the Bible is only partly inspired and partly trustworthy, who is to determine which part is the authentic Word of God? … no one has ever shown where a line can be safely drawn. The imagined line is constantly moving and that because, in the end, no such divisions are tenable …The only alternatives are an acceptance of the truthfulness of all Scripture or a questioning of the whole” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, pp. 200, 201).
3. Inspiration is undermined by claiming that God’s thoughts are too great to be contained infallibly in a book written in human words.
Note: Human language was created by God and the individual words of Scripture were chosen by God; the Scripture therefore contains the deep things of God and the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:9-16).
4. Inspiration is undermined by claiming that to be bound by the letter of the Scripture is legalism and bibliolatry.
Note: Jesus taught us to revere the very words and letters of the Scripture (Mat. 4:4; 5:18). The Bible believer does not worship the Scriptures; he worships the God of the Scriptures; but he understands that God has revealed Himself infallibly in the Scriptures. It is God who has exalted the Scriptures, having magnified His word above his name (Psalm 138:2). It is the devil who has always questioned God’s Word (Gen. 3:1), and those who question the inerrancy of the Bible today are of the devil.
What about 2 Corinthians 3:6? What does Paul mean when he says that “the letter killeth”? The ecumenical crowd uses this verse to support their principle that we should not be too strict in biblical matters, but this is not what Paul is saying.
Elsewhere Paul teaches that we should be very strict and should believe and obey everything in the New Testament faith (i.e., Eph. 5:11; 1 Thess. 5:22; 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:13-14; Titus 2:11-15).
When Paul says the “letter killeth” he is referring to the law of Moses. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul is contrasting the law of Moses with the New Testament faith and is saying that we are not ministers of the old law but of the new; we are not preaching the Law of Moses but the Gospel of Christ; we are not following the Law of Moses but the new law of the Spirit. The reason the law of Moses kills is that its purpose is to reveal man’s sin and guilt (Rom. 3:19-20). In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul was warning against the Judaizers who tried to mingle the grace of Christ with the Law. See Acts 15 and Galatians 1:6-9; 2:16-21; 3:1-3, 19-26.
5. Inspiration is undermined by claiming that the Bible can be inspired in whole but still contain error. This strange position was taken by Fuller Theological Seminary when it changed its doctrinal statement in 1972. The original statement said that the Bible is “plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part.” The new statement eliminated “free from all error in the whole and in the part,” thus leaving room for the heretical view that the Bible contains errors, a view held by the dean of the Seminary, Daniel Fuller, and the President, David Hubbard, and many Fuller professors.
Note: Jesus taught that Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35). It stands or falls together.
6. Inspiration is undermined by distinguishing between “infallible” and “inerrant.” David Bebbington of Stirling University proposes that IVF’s statement on Scripture “affirmed not the inerrancy of the Bible but the infallibility of Holy Scripture, as originally given” (Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, p. 259).
Note: An infallible Bible is an inerrant Bible!
7. Inspiration is undermined by exalting the authority of Christ above the authority of the Bible.
Note: We know nothing of Christ except that which is taught in the Bible. The authority of the Bible and the authority of Christ stand or fall together. Jesus pointed to the Scripture as the authoritative witness to Himself (Jn. 5:39; Lk. 24:44); He never as much as hinted that the Scripture is less than 100% authoritative. He upheld the authority of every word (Mat. 4:4; Lk. 4:4) and even of the jots and tittles (Mat. 5:18). He said the “Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35), meaning that it is all authoritative and cannot be divided. It stands or falls together. The apostles taught the same thing (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). For them, the very gospel itself stood or fell on the authority of the Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
8. Inspiration is undermined by exalting intellectualism above the infallibility of Scripture. Mark Noll claims that “keen preoccupation with the doctrine of biblical inerrancy” must be given up “so the life of the mind may have a chance” (Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, pp. 243-4).
Note: The infallibility of Scripture is the truth as taught by Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life; and the truth is never in contradiction to true intellectualism, only to phony humanistic intellectualism.
9. Inspiration is undermined by claiming that the doctrine of verbal inspiration was a product of 19th century Presbyterians, especially Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield.
Note: The doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture was taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles in the first century and it has been held by God’s people throughout the church age. The Doctrinal Confessions of the 16th to 18th centuries demonstrate this. Richard Hooker, in the late 16th century, wrote that he authors of Scripture “neither spoke nor wrote one word of their own: but uttered syllable by syllable as the Spirit put it into their mouths” (cited from Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 194). The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1648, stated: “The Old Testament in Hebrew . . . and the New Testament in Greek . . . being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.” John Owen, English Puritan leader, stated in about 1670: “But yet we affirm, that the whole Word of God, in every letter and tittle, as given from him by inspiration, is preserved without corruption” (Works, XVI, p. 301). Francis Turretin, professor of theology at Geneva and prominent Reformed Protestant leader, stated in 1674: “Nor can we readily believe that God, who dictated and inspired each and every word to these inspired men, would not take care of their entire preservation” (Francis Turretin, Institutio Theologicae Elencticae). The Protestant Confession of Faith, London, 1679, which was a Baptist confession, stated: “And by the holy scriptures we understand, the canonical books of the old and new testament, as they are now translated into our English mother-tongue, of which there hath never been any doubt of their verity and authority, in the protestant churches of Christ to this day.” These quotes could be multiplied greatly, because this represented the consensus of Protestant and Baptist churches until they were weakened by theological modernism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The New Evangelicals who are questioning the inerrant inspiration of Scripture are only imitating their modernist associates.
10. Inspiration is undermined by retaining the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture while allowing this doctrine to be undermined by historic criticism. For example, D.A. Carson co-edited the book Scripture and Truth with John Woodbridge, calling for a strong doctrine of inspiration; yet Carson encourages the use of form criticism of the Gospels and claims that we only have the “ideas” of Jesus and not His very words (An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson, Douglas Moo, Leon Morris, p. 44). Carson buys into the liberal idea that “there was indeed a period of mainly oral transmission of the gospel materials; much of it was probably in small units; there probably was a tendency for this material to take on certain standard forms; and the early church has undoubtedly influenced the way in which this material was handed down” (An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 23, 24). These ideas were developed by men who do not believe in divine inspiration and are a blatant denial of inspiration and upon their very face these theories are a denial of inspiration, yet Carson is accepted as an evangelical scholar who defends inspiration!
2. EVANGELICALISM’S APOSTASY IS SEEN IN ITS ECUMENISM.
The prime example of this is Billy Graham and other evangelists and organizations who yoke together with Roman Catholicism, modernistic Protestant denominations, etc.
Billy Graham and Rome
“It would be difficult to overestimate Billy Graham’s importance in the last 50 years of evangelicalism. … Graham personally embodied most of the characteristics of resurgent evangelicalism. … de-emphasizing doctrinal and denominational differences that often divided Christians” (Christianity Today, “Can Evangelicalism Survive Its Success?” Oct. 5, 1992).
1944 – Graham’s uncritical relationship with Rome began very early in his ministry. In his 1997 autobiography, Graham gives an account of how he first met the influential Catholic bishop Fulton Sheen when he was still a relatively unknown evangelist with Youth for Christ. In 1944 Graham was traveling on a train from Washington to New York and was just drifting off to sleep when Sheen knocked on the sleeping compartment and asked to “come in for a chat and a prayer” (Graham, Just As I Am, p. 692). Graham says: “We talked about our ministries and our common commitment to evangelism, and I told him how grateful I was for his ministry and his focus on Christ. … We talked further and we prayed; and by the time he left, I felt as if I had known him all my life.” The fact is that Sheen had no commitment to biblical evangelism. He preached Rome’s false sacramental gospel, and in his autobiography, which was dedicated to Mary, he stated that he had put his trust in Mary to get him into heaven. “When I was ordained, I took a resolution to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist every Saturday to the Blessed Mother … All this makes me very certain that when I go before the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will say to me in His Mercy: ‘I heard My Mother speak of you’” (Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay, p. 317).
1952 – “Many of the people who have reached a decision on Christ at our meetings have joined the Catholic church and we have received commendations from Catholic publications for the revived interest in their church following one of our campaigns. This happened both in Boston and Washington.” (Sept. 6, 1952, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph).
1956 — Graham said: “We’ll send them to their own churches–Roman Catholic, Protestant or Jewish” New York Evening Journal on Sept. 18, 1956).
1958 – A follow-up of Graham’s San Francisco crusade reported that of the 1300 Catholics who came forward, “practically all remained Catholic, continued to pray to Mary, go to Mass, and confess to a priest” (Oakland Tribune, Dec. 17, 1958)
1962 – Sao Paulo Brazil, a Catholic bishop stood beside Graham and blessed inquirers who came forward in response to his preaching.
1963 – Upon the death of Pope John XXIII, Graham said: “I admire Pope John tremendously. I felt he brought a new era to the world. It is my hope that the Cardinals elect a new Pope who will follow the same line as John. It would be a great tragedy if they chose a man who reacted against John, who re-erected the walls.”
1967 – Graham was awarded an honorary degree from Roman Catholic Belmont Abbey College. In his acceptance speech, he said: “The gospel that built this school and the gospel that brings me here tonight is still the way to salvation” (Gastonia Gazette, Gastonia, NC, Nov. 22, 1967).
1973 — In Milwaukee on October 21, 1973, Graham said, “This past week I preached in a great Catholic Cathedral a funeral sermon for a close friend of mind who was a Catholic [publisher James Strohn Copley], and they had several bishops and archbishops to participate, and as I sat there going through THE FUNERAL MASS THAT WAS A VERY BEAUTIFUL THING AND CERTAINLY STRAIGHT AND CLEAR IN THE GOSPEL, I believe, there was a wonderful little priest that would tell me when to stand and when to kneel and what to do.” (Billy Graham, Church League of America, p. 84).
1978 — In October Graham held a crusade in Catholic Poland. Upon being met at the airport by Bishop Wladyslaw Miziolek, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenism of the Polish Catholic Church, Graham said that this adventure represented a new spirit of cooperation that was a constructive example for Christians in other nations (John Pollock, Billy Graham, p. 308). Four of the rallies were held in Catholic churches, with priests participating on the platform with Graham. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, soon to be Pope John Paul II, had offered his 700-year-old St. Anne’s Church in Cracow, but just before Graham’s arrival in Poland, Wojtyla was unexpectedly called away to the conclave in Rome to meet with the College of Cardinals, and a few days later he was elected Pope. While in Poland Graham visited the Marian shrine of Jasna Gora (featuring an icon of the Black Madonna) in Czestochowa. A picture in Decision magazine for February 1979 shows Graham welcoming pilgrims to the shrine. In the minds of his Catholic observers, this ill-advised visit put Graham’s stamp of approval upon the idolatrous Catholic Mary veneration that is featured at this influential shrine. In his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II testifies that his personal devotion to Mary was developed at Marian sites “at Jasna Gora” (p. 220).
1979 – A special Catholic mass was conducted following Graham’s crusade in Milwaukee as part of the follow-up for 3500 Catholics who came forward during the meetings and whose names were turned over to Catholic churches.
1979 – Upon Bishop Fulton Sheen’s death Graham said: “He broke down walls of prejudice between Catholics and Protestants … I mourn his death and look forward to our reunion in heaven.” Sheen had stated that his hope for eternity was in Mary.
1982 – 100 priests and Catholic laity were trained to follow-up Graham’s crusade in Boston.
1984 – Vancouver, British Columbia, crusade vice-chairman David Cline stated: “If Catholics step forward there will be no attempt to convert them and their names will be given to the Catholic church nearest their homes” (Vancouver Sun, Oct. 5, 1984).
1987 – A priest and a nun were among the supervisors of the counselors for the Denver crusade; from one service alone 500 cards of individuals were referred to St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church.
1989 – 2,100 Catholics who came forward during Graham’s London crusades were referred to Catholic churches.
1992 – Catholics supplied 6,000 of the 10,000 counselors for the Portland, Oregon, crusade.
1997 — Graham was so corrupted by his ecumenical alliances that he stated in an interview with David Frost: “I feel I belong to all the churches. I’m equally at home in an Anglican or Baptist or a Brethren assembly or a Roman Catholic church. … Today we have almost 100 percent Catholic support in this country. That was not true twenty years ago. And the bishops and archbishops and the Pope are our friends” (David Frost, Billy Graham in Conversation, May 30, 1997, pp. 68, 143).
- EVANGELICALS AND CATHOLICS TOGETHER
In March 1994 a 25-page document was published entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. The document is called ECT for short. While this document does not represent the official position of any denomination, it does represent the ecumenical climate created by the New Evangelicalism.
The document was prepared by 15 evangelicals and Catholics and signed by 25 others, including Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, J.I. Packer, John White (president of Geneva College and former president of the NAE), Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade), Kent Hill (Eastern Nazarene College), Os Guiness, Mark Noll (Wheaton College), Thomas Oden (Drew University). ECT was also signed by two Catholic archbishops, William Murphy of Boston and Francis Stafford of Denver, and a Catholic cardinal, John O’Connor.
Richard Land and Larry Lewis of the Southern Baptist Convention signed the document; in fact, they where involved in its development from the inception of the project. In 1995, they were forced to retract their signatures. They expressed regrets to Chuck Colson for having to withdraw their signatures, but saw this as the only way to eliminate the confusion and persistent perception that their agencies had endorsed ECT (Indiana Baptist, April 18, 1995). “Much of the criticism of ECT came from Hispanic So. Baptist leaders who feared Catholic leaders would use it to thwart mission efforts among Catholics” (Calvary Contender, May 15, 1995).
Some statements from the document:
Pope John Paul II is quoted two times in the document. The first time appears in the second paragraph, citing the Pope’s belief that the Third Millennium could be “a springtime of world missions.” There is no warning that the Pope preaches a false gospel and that his mission therefore is not the same as that of Bible-believing churches.
“We together pray for the fulfillment of the prayer of Our Lord: ‘May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the one, may believe that you sent me.’ (John 17) We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples.”
“The one Christ and one mission includes many other Christians, notably the Eastern Orthodox and those Protestants not commonly identified as Evangelical. All Christians are encompassed in the prayer, ‘May they all be one.’”
“As Evangelicals and Catholics, we dare not by needless and loveless conflict between ourselves give aid and comfort to the enemies of the cause of Christ.”
“All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. … There is one church because there is one Christ and the church is his body. However difficult the way, we recognize that we are called by God to a fuller realization of our unity in the body of Christ.”
“In the exercise of these public responsibilities there has been in recent years a growing convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and Catholics. We thank God for the discovery of one another in contending for a common cause. Much more important, we thank God for the discovery of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“We condemn the practice of recruiting people from another community for purposes of denominational or institutional aggrandizement. … in view of the large number of non-Christians in the world and the enormous challenge of our common evangelistic task, it is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community.”
“As is evident in the two thousand year history of the church, and in our contemporary experience, there are different ways of being Christian…”
“As evangelicals and Catholics, we dare not by needless and loveless conflict between ourselves give aid and comfort to the enemies of the cause of Christ.”
Though some evangelicals disagreed with the ECT and some even made public statements renouncing it, they refused to separate from the signers.
For example, Dallas Seminary released the following statement in January 1995: “Though Dallas Seminary affirms areas of agreement in the moral and social arenas, we strongly question whether Evangelicals and Catholics can ever ‘unite on the great truths of the faith.’ However, we will maintain fellowship with those Evangelicals who did sign the document” (Dallas Morning News, May 20, 1995).
That same month John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and D. James Kennedy criticized ECT in a televised program called “Irreconcilable Differences,” but they “took care to present the motives of Packer and Colson in the best possible light and to express their distress over the division which had emerged among them” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 224).
This illustrates the weak New Evangelical mindset that does not allow for clear separation from compromise. To the contrary, when evangelicals of his day were compromising the truth by remaining in fellowship with modernists in the Baptist Union, Charles Spurgeon understood that he needed to separate not only from the modernists but from the fence-straddlers as well. He said, “That I might not stultify my testimony, I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.” This is not some sort of “second degree separation”; it is wisdom and obedience, for the Scripture warns that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33) and “a little leaven leaventh the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).
In October 1997 a follow-up document was prepared called “Evangelicals and Catholics Together II: The Gift of Salvation.” It was published for the first time in Christianity Today, Dec. 8, 1997. It is called ECT II for short.
Signers included Chuck Colson, J.I. Packer, Max Lucado, Bob Seiple (World Vision), and Bill Bright.
Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at the Southern Baptist-supported Samford University, wrote the introduction that accompanied the publication of the document in Christianity Today. He said: “The Gift of Salvation has been made possible by a major realignment in ecumenical discourse: the coalescence of believing Roman Catholics and faithful evangelicals who both affirm the substance of historic Christian orthodoxy against the ideology of theological pluralism that marks much mainline Protestant thought as well as avant-garde Catholic theology. Thus, for all our differences, Bible-believing evangelicals stand much closer to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger than to Bishop John Spong!” (George, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: A New Initiative,” Christianity Today, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 34). In response, we say that a true Bible believer does not stand close either to a Catholic cardinal or to a modernist. Neither are friends of the gospel. To pretend that a Roman Catholic can be faithful to his “church” while at the same time affirming the biblical doctrine of justification, that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone by the atonement of Christ alone without works or sacraments, is unbelievable blindness.
Consider some excerpts from ECT II.
“…we affirm the binding authority of Holy Scripture, God’s inspired word; and we acknowledge the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as faithful witnesses to that Word.”
“We agree that justification is not earned by any good works or merits of our won; it is entirely God’s gift, conferred through the Father’s sheer graciousness, out of the love that he bears us in his Son, who suffered on our behalf and rose from the dead for our justification. Jesus was ‘put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification’ (Romans 4:25). In justification, God, on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, declares us to be no longer his rebellious enemies but his forgiven friends, and by virtue of his declaration it is so.”
“The New Testament makes it clear that the gift of justification is received through faith.”
“We understand that what we here affirm is in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by justification by faith alone (sola fide).”
“Sanctification is not fully accomplished at the beginning of our life in Christ, but is progressively furthered as we struggle, with God’s grace and help, against adversity and temptation. In this struggle we are assured that Christ’s grace will be sufficient for us, enabling us to persevere to the end. When we fail, we can still turn to God in humble repentance and confidently ask for, and receive, his forgiveness. We may therefore have assured hope for the eternal life promised to us in Christ. As we have shared in his sufferings, we will share in his final glory. ‘We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2). While we dare not presume upon the grace of God, the promise of God in Christ is utterly reliable, and faith in that promise overcomes anxiety about our eternal future.”
“In obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord, we commit ourselves to evangelizing everyone. We must share the fullness of God’s saving truth with all, including members of our several communities. Evangelicals must speak the gospel to Catholics and Catholics to Evangelicals.”
A refutation of ECT II —
(1) It is an INSUFFICIENT statement. Rome has always admitted that salvation is a gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, that it comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ, that it comes through faith, that God’s grace is sufficient for salvation. Rome agrees with all of that. It has brought God’s curse upon itself, though (Galatians 1:7), by going beyond this and claiming that salvation is distributed through its sacraments and priesthood.
It is insufficient because it fails to state that the salvation of the soul has nothing whatsoever to do with sacraments. To have been meaningful, the statement would have said that justification is by God’s grace alone through the atonement of Christ alone through faith alone, WITHOUT WORKS OR BAPTISM OR OTHER SACRAMENTS OR CHURCH OR PRIESTHOOD.
It is insufficient because it fails to expose the manifold ways in which Rome has denied the gospel. To have been meaningful, the statement would have noted without hesitation that Rome has perverted and denied the Gospel of the grace of Christ not only through its definition of the gospel but also by its sacramental system; by its doctrine of baptismal regeneration; by exalting its priests, popes, saints, and Mary as alleged mediators between Christ and men; by its doctrine of purgatory, etc.
(2) It is a MEANINGLESS statement. The Roman Catholic signers cannot speak for Rome, and they admit that they do not do so. Roman Catholic doctrine is formally defined by its popes, doctors, and councils. It is not for individual Catholics to decide what they will believe and what they will not believe. The signing of such a statement by 15 Catholic theologians, even if it were a truly sound and sufficient statement of biblical justification, means absolutely nothing other than to cloud the issue of the gospel in the minds of gullible people.
(3) It is a DECEPTIVE statement. The concluding paragraph claims that the Catholic signers are “conscientiously faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church.” That is a blatant lie, and I will not hedge my terms. Rome unequivocally denies that justification is by grace alone through faith alone without works or sacraments. Rome unequivocally condemns those who teach that justification is by grace alone through faith alone without works or sacraments. The Catholic signers are well aware of this. Therefore it is patently impossible for a faithful Catholic to understand justification “in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by faith alone (sola fide).” If these Catholic theologians really believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone without works or sacraments, if they really believe that justification was defined properly by the Reformation, they should publicly repudiate Rome’s false gospel. They should expose the Council of Trent and the Vatican II Council as false. They should separate themselves from an institution which is committed to a false gospel and which has cursed and tormented and murdered humble Bible-believing saints through the centuries.
Rome denies salvation by grace alone by the pronouncements of its official councils.
(1) It is denied by the Council of Trent. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the declarations of which are still in force, the Roman Catholic Church formally condemned the biblical doctrine of faith alone and grace alone. Consider the following declarations of Trent:
“If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA” (Sixth Session, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 12).
“If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA” (Sixth Session, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 24).
(2) It is denied by the Second Vatican Council. In its most formal and authoritative statements since Trent, Rome has continued to deny that salvation is by grace alone through Christ’s atonement alone through faith alone without works or sacraments. Consider the following statements of the authoritative Vatican II Council of the mid-1960s, called by Pope John Paul XXIII and attended by more than 2,400 Catholic bishops–
“For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished,’ and it is through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Introduction, para. 2).
“As often as the sacrifice of the cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch is sacrificed’ (1 Cor. 5:7) is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter 1, 3, p. 324).
“… [Christ] also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical [ritualistic] life revolves. Thus by Baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ. … They receive the spirit of adoption as sons” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Chap. 1, I, 5,6, pp. 23-24).
“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners, particularly the works which human weakness finds hard. Because the sufferings of the martyrs for the faith and for God’s law were thought to be very valuable, penitents used to turn to the martyrs to be helped by their merits to obtain a more speedy reconciliation from the bishops. Indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, chap. 3, 6, pp. 78,79).
Rome denies salvation by grace alone in many other ways:
(1) Rome denies justification by grace alone by its doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The New Catholic Catechism (1994) dogmatically declares: “The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism…” (1257).
(2) Rome denies justification by grace alone by its doctrine of the mass, by claiming that in the mass “the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated” and “the work of our redemption is carried out” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).
(3) Rome denies justification by grace alone by its doctrine of the sacraments: “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. … The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Saviour” (New Catholic Catechism, 1129).
(4) Rome denies justification by grace alone by its doctrine of purgatory, claiming that “the doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).
(5) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its doctrine of confession. “One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience” (New Catholic Catechism, 1493). “Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church” (New Catholic Catechism, 1497). “The sacrament of Penance restores and strengthens in members of the Church who have sinned the fundamental gift of … conversion to the kingdom of Christ, which is first received in Baptism” (Vatican II, Decree on Confession for Religious).
(6) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its doctrine of the papacy: “For ‘God’s only-begotten Son … has won a treasure for the militant Church … he has entrusted it to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of heaven, and to his successors who are Christ’s vicars on earth, so that they may distribute it to the faithful for their salvation'” (ellipsis are in the original) (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, Chap. 4, 7, p. 80).
(7) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its priesthood: “The purpose then for which priests are consecrated by God through the ministry of the bishop is that they should be made sharers in a special way in Christ’s priesthood and, by carrying out sacred functions, act as his ministers who through his Spirit continually exercises his priestly function for our benefit in the liturgy. By Baptism priests introduce men into the People of God; by the sacrament of Penance they reconcile sinners with God and the Church; by the Anointing of the sick they relieve those who are ill; and especially by the celebration of Mass they offer Christ’s sacrifice sacramentally” (Vatican II, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, chap. 2, I, 5, p. 781).
(8) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its doctrine of Mary: “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace” (New Catholic Catechism, 968). “… Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us gifts of eternal salvation. … Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (New Catholic Catechism, 969).
(9) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its doctrine of the saints: “Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin” (New Catholic Catechism, 1475).
(10) Rome denies justification by grace alone and the sole Mediatorship of Christ by its doctrine of forgiveness through the church: “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. … Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin” (New Catholic Catechism, 982).
(11) Rome denies justification by grace alone by its doctrine of indulgences: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. … Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead” (New Catholic Catechism, 1471).
In 1998 a revision of ECT literature was published in Ireland as a booklet and signed by 130 Catholics and Protestants. It was entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together in Ireland: A Call to Christians in Ireland.
It stated: “…a billion Roman Catholics and more than 300 million evangelical Protestants represent world-wide the two most rapidly growing Christian communities. Yet in many countries, including our own, the scandal of conflict between them obscures the scandal of the cross (1 Cor. 1:23), thus crippling the one mission of the one Christ.”
The publication of ECT in Ireland was on the occasion of a visit by J.I. Packer. Joining Packer in speaking at the launch of the booklet was Catholic priest Pat Collins.
- EVANGELICAL PUBLISHERS AND ROME
1971 – A Prejudiced Protestant Takes a New Look at the Catholic Church by James Hefley (Fleming H. Revell). The author is a graduate of the Southern Baptist Seminary in New Orleans and pastored a Baptist church for eight years. He describes how his prejudice against the Roman Catholic Church has dissolved in recent years because of the alleged changes in Catholicism since Vatican II.
1977 – Handbook to the History of Christianity (Eerdman’s) used two Roman Catholic historians as contributing editors. Rome’s persecution against Bible believers is slighted while Pope John XXIII is praised as having “a deep but traditional piety.”
1979 – Three Sisters by Michael Harper (Tyndale House Publishers). This book called for ecumenical unity between Evangelicals, Charismatics, and Roman Catholics (Evangeline, Charisma, Roma). The author stated, “It is my own conviction that a growing unity between the three forces in the Christian world is both desirable and possible”
1984 – Evangelical Is Not Enough by Thomas Howard (Thomas Nelson Publisher). Howard called for a movement toward liturgical, Catholic-style worship among Evangelicals. Howard, who was a professor at Gordon College for 15 years, is from a family of prominent Evangelicals. His father, Philip, was editor of the Sunday School Times; his brother David Howard was head of the World Evangelical Fellowship; and his sister Elizabeth married the famous missionary Jim Elliot, who was martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecuador. The year after the publication of Evangelical Is Not Enough, Thomas Howard converted to the Roman Catholic Church and left Gordon College to teach at Catholic seminaries in Boston. Other converts to Rome in recent years have testified that Howard’s book assisted them in taking their journey.
1985 – A Tale of Two Churches by George Carey (InterVarsity Press). Carey (who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury) called for the “eventual reunion of the two streams [Protestantism and Roman Catholicism] of Western Christendom.” The foreword to this book, subtitled Can Protestants & Catholics Get Together, was written by J.I. Packer.
1990 – Evangelical Catholics: A Call for Christian Cooperation to Penetrate the Darkness with the Light of the Gospel by Keith Fournier (Thomas Nelson). The foreword was written by Charles Colson. “But at root, those who are called of God, whether Catholic or Protestant, are part of the same Body. … It’s high time that all of us who are Christians come together regardless of the difference of our confessions and our traditions and make common cause to bring Christian values to bear in our society.”
1994 – Handbook of Christian Apologetics by two Roman Catholic authors, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli (InterVarsity Press). Kreeft is a Catholic apologist who believes that Mary will ultimately conquer Satan and who believes that even Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists will probably go to Heaven. Tacelli is a Jesuit priest and a professor at Boston College.
1994 – Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us (Moody Press). The editor is John Armstrong (Wheaton graduate, Reformed pastor), and twelve other Evangelical leaders are contributors. Though far more cautious than the other books we have mentioned, the Moody Press volume completely ignores the Bible’s command to mark and avoid doctrinal error. It ignores separation, which is the only sure hedge against the leaven of heresy. For example, Michael Horton concludes his chapter, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?” with these words: “I do not suggest that we should give up trying to seek visible unity, nor that we refuse to dialogue with Roman Catholic laypeople and theologians, many of whom may be our brothers and sisters” (p. 264).
1994 – A House United? Evangelicals and Catholics Together: A Winning Alliance for the 21st Century (Navigators’ NavPress). The authors are Roman Catholic Keith Fournier and Evangelical William Watkins, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. The foreword is written by Pat Robertson. In 1991, Robertson invited Fournier to become executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice at Regent University. In the foreword to Fournier’s book, Pat Robertson said that Catholics and Protestants “have a moral imperative to join together” to oppose cultural evils such as abortion, and he praised Fournier for his “deep dedication to helping to heal the divide” that “separated the Body of Christ.”
1995 – Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences by Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie (Baker Books). Though the authors acknowledge vast differences between Evangelicals and Catholics, they conclude that these should not be a cause for separation. This statement from the book’s foreword sets the tone for the whole: “Nevertheless, when all is said and done, evangelical Protestants and traditionalists, believing Roman Catholics have so many convictions and commitments in common that it would be foolish as well as wrong in the sight of the One whom we all claim as our Lord Jesus Christ to wrangle with each other in the face of the common enemy” (Foreword by Harold O.J. Brown, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, p. 12).
1995 – Evangelicals & Catholics Toward a Common Mission Together, edited by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus (Word Publishing). Contributors to the book include J.I. Packer (Regent College), Mark Noll (Wheaton College), and Avery Dulles (Jesuit priest and professor at Catholic University).
1997 – Reclaiming the Great Tradition: Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue (InterVarsity Press).
While most of these books acknowledge that there is doctrinal error in the Roman Catholic Church, they claim that Rome has changed for the better, that Roman Catholicism is not a cult, is not total apostasy. They speak of Rome’s heresies in gentle, “understanding,” scholarly tones rather than labeling them the blasphemies they really are. There is no call for separation.
3. EVANGELICALISM’S APOSTASY IS SEEN IN CHRISTIAN LIVING.
Testimony of Francis Schaeffer. Describing the moral apostasy of Evangelicalism in The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer said: “How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands. The last sixty years have given birth to a moral disaster, and what have we done? Sadly we must say that the evangelical world has been part of the disaster. … WITH TEARS WE MUST SAY THAT … A LARGE SEGMENT OF THE EVANGELICAL WORLD HAS BECOME SEDUCED BY THE WORLD SPIRIT OF THIS PRESENT AGE” (Schaeffer, 1983, p. 141).
Testimony of David F. Wells, professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary: “Evangelicalism has … lowered the barricades. It is open to the world” (Wells, No Place for the Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? 1994, p. 128).
Evangelical music groups look and sound exactly like the world.
Many Evangelical Bible College campuses have the look and feel of secular colleges: the same lack of modesty, drinking, rock music, dancing, etc.
Testimony of Richard Quebedeaux: “The Gallup Poll is correct in asserting that born-again Christians ‘believe in a strict moral code.’ BUT THAT STRICTNESS HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLY MODIFIED DURING THE LAST FEW YEARS … DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE are becoming more frequent and acceptable among evangelicals of all ages, even in some of their more conservative churches. … Some evangelical women are taking advantage of ABORTION on demand. Many younger evangelicals occasionally use PROFANITY in their speech and writing . . . Some of the recent evangelical sex-technique books assume that their readers peruse and view PORNOGRAPHY on occasion, and they do. Finally, in 1976 there emerged a fellowship and information organization for practicing evangelical LESBIANS AND GAY MEN and their sympathizers. There is probably just as high a percentage of gays in the evangelical movement as in the wider society. Some of them are now coming out of the closet, distributing well-articulated literature, and demanding to be recognized and affirmed by the evangelical community at large” (Quebedeaux, The Worldly Evangelicals, 1978, pp. 16,17).
4. EVANGELICALISM’S APOSTASY IS SEEN IN ITS ACCEPTANCE OF HERETICS
We will give three examples of this:
C. S. LEWIS:
Lewis’s Acceptance by Evangelicals
- According to a Christianity Today reader’s poll in 1998, Lewis was rated the most influential writer.
- Though Lewis died in 1963, sales of his books have risen to two million a year.
- In an article commemorating the 100th anniversary of Lewis’s birth, J.I. Packer called him “our patron saint.”
- Christianity Today said Lewis “has come to be the Aquinas, the Augustine, and the Aesop of contemporary Evangelicalism” (“Still Surprised by Lewis,” Christianity Today, Sept. 7, 1998).
- Wheaton College sponsored a lecture series on C.S. Lewis, and Eerdmans published “The Pilgrim’s Guide” to C.S. Lewis.
- Christianity Today noted that he was “a man whose theology had decidedly unevangelical elements” (CT, Sept. 7, 1998).
- He believed in purgatory, confessed his sins to a priest, and had the last rites performed by a Catholic priest (C.S. Lewis: A Biography, pp. 198, 301). He received the Catholic sacrament of last rites on July 16, 1963.
- Lewis rejected the doctrine of bodily resurrection (Biblical Discernment Ministries Letter, Sept.-Oct. 1996).
- He believed there is salvation in pagan religions.
- Lewis denied the total depravity of man and the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
- He believed in theistic evolution and rejected the Bible as the infallible Word of God.
- He denied the biblical doctrine of an eternal fiery hell, claiming, instead, that hell is a state of mind: “And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind—is, in the end, Hell” (Lewis, The Great Divorce, p. 65).
- Metzger is considered the preeminent textual authority alive and is continually quoted by evangelicals.
- The February 8, 1999, issue of Christianity Today contains an editorial by Michael Maudlin, Managing Editor, entitled “Inside CT.” Maudlin’s editorial boasts that “never before in the twentieth century has the church amassed so many highly skilled, believing scholars to illumine our Scriptures, our theology, our traditions, our church work.” Who are these “believing scholars”? He mentions five of them: Craig Blomberg, Bruce Metzger, Edwin Yamauchi, Ben Witherington III, and D.A. Carson.
Metzger’s heresy is evident in the notes to the NEW OXFORD ANNOTATED BIBLE RSV (1973). Metzger co-edited this volume with Herbert May. Metzger wrote many of the rationalistic notes in this volume and put his editorial stamp of approval on the rest. Following are some examples of the heresies:
a. The Pentateuch is “a matrix of myth, legend, and history” that “took shape over a long period of time” and is “not to be read as history.”
b. Moses didn’t write most of the Pentateuch.
c. The worldwide flood of Noah’s day is a mere “tradition” based on “heightened versions of local inundations.”
d. The book of Job is an “ancient folktale.”
e. The book of Isaiah was written by at least three men.
f. The stories of Elijah and Elisha contain “legendary elements.”
g. Jonah is a “popular legend.”
h. The Gospels gradually took shape after the deaths of the Apostles.
i. Peter probably did not write the book of 2 Peter.
These statements are unbelieving lies. The Pentateuch was written by the hand of God and Moses and completed during the 40 years of wilderness wandering hundreds of years before Samuel and the kings. The Old Testament did not arise gradually from a matrix of myth and history, but is inspired revelation delivered to holy men of old by Almighty God. The Jews were a “people of the book” from the beginning. The Jewish nation did not form the Bible; the Bible formed the Jewish nation! Jesus Christ affirmed the historicity of Jonah. The historicity of Job is affirmed by Ezekiel (14:14,20) and James (5:11).
1. Schuller’s television program was the most popular religious broadcast in America for many years and might still be. His books sell by the millions. His self-esteem Christianity has been adopted by multitudes.
2. Billy Graham has frequently appeared with and praised Schuller. In 1983, Schuller sat in the front row of distinguished guests invited to honor Graham’s 65th birthday. In 1986, Schuller was invited by Graham to speak at the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam. Schuller was featured on the platform of Graham’s Atlanta Crusade in 1994.
3. Southern Baptist leader W.A. Criswell endorsed Schuller’s ministry in 1981 in an ad in Christianity Today’s Leadership magazine. He said, “I know Dr. Schuller personally. He’s my good friend. I’ve spoken on his platform. I’m well acquainted with his ministry. If you want to develop fruitful evangelism in your church; if you want your laity to experience positive motivation and ministry fulfilling training, then I know, without a doubt, that you will greatly benefit from the Robert Schuller Film Workshop.”
4. On April 29, 1980, Robert Schuller appeared at the Washington for Jesus Rally with popular evangelical and charismatic leaders Bill Bright, D. James Kennedy, James Robison, Jim Bakker, Rex Humbard, Pat Robertson, Pat Boone, Nicky Cruz, David du Plessis, Demos Shakarian, Thomas Zimmerman (Assemblies of God), and Jerry Falwell.
5. Popular author and teacher R. C. Sproul, president of Ligonier Ministries, has spoken at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral on numerous occasions. He spoke at Schuller’s church in September 21, 1984. Again, Sproul spoke at Schuller’s church in October 26, 1986.
6. In October 1986, Schuller was on the council to host the Fourth Triennial Convention of the Asia Missions Association. Other men involved in this were evangelical leaders Donald McGavran, Ralph Winter, David Howard, Dale Kietzman of the World Literature Crusade, Edward Dayton of World Vision, Peter Deyneka of the Slavic Gospel Mission, Jack Frizen of the IFMA, and Wade Coggins of the EFMA.
7. A wide range of evangelical leaders joined hands with Robert Schuller and other heretics at Congress ‘88, August 4-7, 1988, in Chicago. Catholic priest Alvin Illig was one of the leaders, and the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Bernardin, brought the opening address. At the piano for the opening night services was Larry Shakley, minister of music at Willow Creek Community Church and band director for Moody Bible Institute’s Friday Night Sing. Speakers included Charles Colson, Bill Bright, Jack Wyrtzen, Jay Kessler, and Southern Baptist Robert Hamblin. Representatives from the Navigators, Jews for Jesus, Pioneer Clubs, Moody Monthly magazine, and General Baptists delivered workshops.
8. In August 1991, World Vision co-sponsored an Interfaith Rally in St. Louis, Missouri, which was addressed by Robert Schuller.
9. Tony Campolo has frequently recommended Robert Schuller and has spoken with him on various platforms. In his book Partly Right, Campolo said: “Schuller affirms our divinity, yet does not deny our humanity … isn’t that what the gospel is? Isn’t God’s message to sinful humanity that He sees in each of us a divine nature of such worth that He sacrificed His own Son.”
10. Christianity Today has frequently carried advertisements promoting Robert Schuller. Each year CT publishes ads for Schuller’s Institute for Successful Church Leadership. In 1984, the editors of Christianity Today examined Schuller and concluded that he is “not a heretic.”
“He believes all the ‘fundamental’ doctrines of traditional fundamentalism. He adheres to every line of the Apostles’ Creed with a tenacity born of deep conviction. … he avowed belief in a literal hell. He was not sure about its location, and the fire is to be understood figuratively…” (Christianity Today, Aug. 10, 1984).
11. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship president Stephen Hayner joined Schuller in January 1994, to participate in the Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership.
12. In December 1994, Schuller joined hands with a wide range of popular evangelical leaders at Bill Bright’s (Campus Crusade for Christ) Fast for Revival conference. Among those attending were Charles Colson, E.V. Hill, Jack Hayford, James Dobson, W.A. Criswell, Charles Stanley, Paul Crouch, Luis Palau, Bill Gothard, Pat Robertson, Jay Arthur, and Larry Burkett.
13. In February 1996, Robert Schuller was featured at Jerusalem Celebration 2000. Joining him for this meeting was Paul Yonggi Cho, Jack Hayford, C. Peter Wagner, among others.
14. In September 1996, Beverly LaHaye and Ralph Reed joined Robert Schuller for a Christian Coalition conference in Washington D.C., sponsored by cult-leader “Rev.” Sun Myung Moon.
15. Many of the Promise Keepers speakers and leaders are connected with Schuller. For example, John Maxwell, Jack Hayford, and Randy Phillips were among the keynote speakers at the Men’s Conference ‘95 (March 2-4, 1995) held at Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. Schuller also spoke at the conference.
16. Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago credits Schuller as an inspiration for his work, has promoted Schuller in various ads in Christianity Today, and is a frequent speaker at meetings organized by Schuller. For example, in 1996 Hybels was on the staff of Schuller’s annual Institute for Successful Church Leadership. Hybels is one of the chief promoters of churches that cater to the desires of the people. He started his church by taking a survey of the community and building a “church” which would satisfy what the people wanted. A Chicago sociologist said Hybels preaches a very upbeat message—”salvationist message, but the idea is not so much being saved from the fires of hell. Rather, it’s being saved from meaninglessness and aimlessness in this life. It’s more of a soft-sell.” Hybels’ church does not have conventional worship. It has no altar, no choir, organ, hymnals, or songbooks. Its music ranges from rock to jazz to country to classical. It is no wonder that Hybels would love Robert Schuller and his self-esteem message. The stranger fact is that Hybels is frequently recommended by and speaks with those who claim to be Bible based. He spoke at Dallas Seminary’s 1989 Pastors Conference, for example. Hybels has also spoken at Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week and has taught his philosophy of church growth as a faculty member of MBI’s graduate school.
17. Schuller’s 1996 autobiography, My Soul’s Adventure with God, was endorsed by Paul Crouch, Jack Hayford, John Wimber, and popular Southern Baptist leader W.A. Criswell.
18. Schuller’s book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation was endorsed by men such as Clark Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College, David Hubbard, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, and Kenneth Chafin of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Consider some excerpts from Schuller’s writings:
“BUT DO NOT SAY THAT THE CENTRAL CORE OF THE HUMAN SOUL IS WICKEDNESS. … POSITIVE CHRISTIANITY DOES NOT HOLD TO HUMAN DEPRAVITY, BUT TO HUMAN INABILITY” (Schuller, Self-Esteem: the New Reformation, Word Books, 1982, p. 67).
“TO BE BORN AGAIN MEANS THAT WE MUST BE CHANGED FROM A NEGATIVE TO A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE—from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 68).
“Essentially, if Christianity is to succeed in the next millennium, IT MUST CEASE TO BE A NEGATIVE RELIGION AND MUST BECOME POSITIVE” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 104).
“‘SIN IS ANY ACT OR THOUGHT THAT ROBS MYSELF OR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING OF HIS OR HER SELF-ESTEEM’” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 14).
“A PERSON IS IN HELL WHEN HE HAS LOST HIS SELF-ESTEEM. Can you imagine any condition more tragic than to live life and eternity in shame?” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, pp. 14-15,93).
“The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For THE CROSS PROTECTED OUR LORD’S PERFECT SELF-ESTEEM FROM TURNING INTO SINFUL PRIDE” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 75).
“CHRIST is the Ideal One, for he WAS SELF-ESTEEM INCARNATE” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 135).
“JESUS NEVER CALLED A PERSON A SINNER. … Rather he reserved his righteous rebuke for those who used their religious authority to generate guilt and caused people to lose their ability to taste and enjoy their right to dignity…” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, pp. 100,126).
“I FOUND MYSELF IMMEDIATELY ATTRACTED TO POPE JOHN PAUL II when, upon his election to the Papacy, his published speeches invariably called attention to the need for recognizing the dignity of the human being as a child of God” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 17).
“In a theology that starts with an uncompromising respect for each person’s pride and dignity, I HAVE NO RIGHT TO EVER PREACH A SERMON OR WRITE AN ARTICLE THAT WOULD OFFEND THE SELF-RESPECT AND VIOLATE THE SELF-DIGNITY OF A LISTENER OR READER” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 153).
“I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition” (Schuller, Christianity Today, October 5, 1984).
1. New Evangelicalism is a fulfillment of 2 Timothy 4:3-4. The New Evangelical generation has “itching ears” for a new type of Christianity than the old somber, strict, separatist one. And the New Evangelical preacher is ready and willing to scratch itching ears with a new doctrine and a new way.
2. New Evangelicalism is not a denomination or a group. IT IS A MOOD OF COMPROMISE. It is a rejection of many of the negative aspects of New Testament Christianity. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF POSITIVISM.
3. Beware of the danger of gradualism or incrementalism. Compromise is a slippery slope. It is a downward path. “A little leaven leaventh the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). Once we start to compromise the truth, we begin a slide that has no end.
Let us take heed to the wise warning given by Dr. Charles Woodbridge, former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals: “The New Evangelicalism is a theological and moral compromise of the deadliest sort. It is an insidious attack upon the Word of God. … The New Evangelicalism advocates TOLERATION of error. It is following the downward path of ACCOMMODATION to error, COOPERATION with error, CONTAMINATION by error, and ultimate CAPITULATION to error!” (Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism, 1969, p. 15).
God says, “Walk ye in the old paths,” but the New Evangelical reassesses the old paths. God says, “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set,” but the New Evangelical has removed them one by one. God says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” but the New Evangelical reasons that such fellowship is necessary. God says, “A little leaven leaventh the whole lump,” but the New Evangelical thinks he can reform the already leavened lump. God says, “Evil communications corrupt good manners,” but the New Evangelical thinks good manners can uplift evil communications. God says, “I resist the proud but give grace to the humble,” but the New Evangelical thinks the way to reach the world is by meeting them on their own proud territory, matching them scholarly degree with degree. God says, “the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Proverbs 14:15), but the New Evangelical believes instead of asking critical questions we should accept our fellow Christians as brethren regardless of the definition of their gospel or the details of their doctrine.
4. The road from New Evangelicalism to apostasy is rapid. Let us not forget the testimony of Harold Lindsell, one of the founding fathers of New Evangelicalism: “I must regretfully conclude that the term evangelical has been so debased that it has lost its usefulness. … Forty years ago the term evangelical represented those who were theologically orthodox and who held to biblical inerrancy as one of the distinctives. … WITHIN A DECADE OR SO NEOEVANGELICALISM . . . WAS BEING ASSAULTED FROM WITHIN BY INCREASING SKEPTICISM WITH REGARD TO BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY OR INERRANCY” (Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 1979, p. 319).
5. This philosophy is now permeating today’s fundamentalists and it will produce the same apostasy.
Fundamentalists are renouncing separation: A leader of the GARBC in recent years said separation is not a wall but a picket fence.
Fundamentalists are adopting a new mood of POSITIVISM and NEUTRALISM. The preaching is becoming less forthright with each passing decade. Plain preaching AGAINST things seems increasingly strange and wrong.
Dear Christian friends, beware of New Evangelicalism!