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Update 1-4: The Manifesto of Evangelicalism, the Contemporary History of Neo-Evangelicalism, and Intellectual Assassination
by gonzodave coulon  
5/13/2008 / Christian Living

Update 1-4: The Manifesto of Evangelicalism, the Contemporary History of Neo-Evangelicalism, and Intellectual Assassination

by gonzodave



(Revised 5.24.08, latest update #4 - 5.24.08)

This is an update of my "gonzo journalism of grace" article/essay that will be developed over time. If you have read the previous UPDATES, please scroll down and find the beginning of the most recent posting.

Sadly, too many Christians have been lulled into the idea that Christianity is the same as "being nice." Quite to the contrary, Christianity is accepting and defending the truth of God's Word as revealed in NT Scripture, not personal opinions of how to impact the world. This is a complete reversal of priorities. Christians are the means whereby "the body of Christ" is self-developing until whatever proper number of those placed "in Christ" by the Holy Spirit is final. The focus, once again, is the completion of the kingdom, rather than a conversion of the world.

John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee, Holy Father keep through thine own name these whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are [implied - one]. (bold and brackets mine) KJV

Christianity and "the world" are polar opposites. God sees no shades of gray between them. We cannot see, but are told that Satan is the ruler of this age and the cosmos (KJV=world; Gk.=the organized world and its institutions controlled and executed by humankind. A different "world" underlies John 3:16 where the Greek specifies only unregenerate humanity, not the institutions of men controlled by Satan. In John 17:9 and Rev 13:8. Jesus did not pray to His "Holy Father" for the systems of the "world" which are anti-god and not theocratic as was the intention for OT Israel, which was chosen and unique.) This is according to the temporary permissive will of God until His kingdom comes in the blazing glory of our Savior and His will be done.

It required the writing of the NT to establish grace and salvation through the living, resurrected Jesus Christ. We learn from the Apostle Paul to be "quick to defend" God's gospel of grace against the pride of intellectualism (i.e., vain imaginations known in the primitive church as gnosticism). Much like Noah who "found grace" and preached for 120 years without the conversion of a single soul, it is the Christ-like effort and truth which we repeat that God accepts as credit to us for future rewards. And, as always, any success is to His credit and sovereignty.

Aside from the primary and serious difference in the salvation that is preached, today's Protestant Christianity properly falls into 3 current categories - fundamental, neo-evangelical, and liberal, or modernist. As can be easily discerned, a neo-evangelical view would be a middle-of-the-road compromise (viz., neutralism or religious humanism). Concerning contemporary neo-evangelicalism, Eerdman's Handbook to Christianity in America reads on page 319:

"The social gospel differed from evangelical reform movements like the Salvation Army in at least two respects. First, it tended to emphasize structural reforms, changes in law, government policy, and the formal institutions of society. Second, it was firmly rooted in Protestant liberal theology."


Dear Reader,

An Evangelical is commonly considered and explained as one who adheres to the historical gospel. This is more than a misrepresentation, it is a false claim and deliberate evasion of contemporary church history by those who because of their many advanced degrees and studies should know better.

A pro-comment concerning "The Manifesto of Evangelicalism" under the posting The Point of the Manifesto Put Simply May 08.08. reads:

Submitted by dopderbeck1 (not verified) on Wed, 2008-05-14 07:05.

As a law professor who self-identifies as an evangelical, I think the Manifesto is an excellent and much-needed document, and I signed it without hesitation. Could I find nuances in it that I might not agree with 100%? Sure. But its tone, its holistic approach, its bold affirmation of vibrant and historic Christian faith, represent the very best ideals we should want to pursue -- ideals, I think, that go right back to Jesus' teaching and the Apostles' instructions to the early church as reflected in scripture."

The Apostle Paul writes to his "son in Christ" in 1 Tim 6:20: "O Timothy, guard {imperative-the gospel} and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination." {this writer} AMP

"All of us have been tempted to water down the gospel to make it palatable to a friend. We knew that we were wrong when we did it. New evangelicalism made it acceptable to water down the gospel. Campus Crusade's "Four Spiritual Laws" are a prime example. They give a diluted presentation of the gospel designed be non-offensive. Who could fail to be attracted to, "God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life:"? It is not false, but it is not the gospel as preached by Peter or Paul. It is an accommodation to the way the natural man thinks about himself. It produces an easy-believism in which every man is saved but lives just as he did before.

With this accommodation of the message to the natural man came an accommodation in the way of presenting the message. The historic method has always been what Scripture calls, "the foolishness of preaching." The new method became the selling of the gospel by the use of sports heroes, beauty queens and famous people."

John E. Ashbrook, New Neutralism II

"Not only is the new-brand Evangelicalism born of compromise, but in the second place, it is a movement nurtured on pride of intellect. The statements of its leading advocates indicate that these men are trying very, very hard to be accepted among `the upper four hundred' of the intelligentsia. This new crop of evangelical scholars has done graduate work at Harvard, Chicago University and Princeton, and they know a lot of answers that the common herd of fundamentalist preachers can't fathom. To speak very plainly, an attitude of intellectual snobbery is very typical of many of its leaders."

William E. Ashford, Evangelicalism: The New Neutralism (I)


The following citation is somewhat extended, but necessary to establish my contra-view of the claims of neo-evangelicalism. Dr. John Ashbrook writes in New Neutralism II (1991):

"In 1958 when my father finished his eight page tract on new evangelicalism, he gave it the title, The New Neutralism. His thesis was that new evangelicalism was a movement which determined to take its stand halfway between fundamentalism on the right and modernism on the left. From its beginning new evangelicalism took a position on the top wire of the fence between belief and unbelief, in the no man's land between irreconcilable armies, and on the white line in the middle of the road. Neutrality has always been a precarious position, and precarious becomes "impossible" when the truth is involved. The title of my book indicates that it is a sequel and that I share my father's analysis of the position.

... As my father pointed out in his book, there is a tremendous pride of intellect in new evangelicalism. Let me quote again from Dr. Ockengas December 8, 1957 news release:

'The New Evangelicalism differs from Fundamentalism in its willingness to handle the social problems which Fundamentalism evaded ... The New Evangelical is willing to face the intellectual problems and meet them in the framework of modern learning ... The evangelical believes that Christianity is intellectually defensible, but the Christian cannot be obscurantist in scientific questions pertaining to the creation, the age of man, the universality of the flood and other moot Biblical questions.'

It seems to me that as Dr. (John) Ockenga paints the portrait of the new evangelical with his right hand, he caricatures the fundamentalist with his left. Do you see the picture? The fundamentalist is unwilling to handle social problems, unable to face intellectual problems, not possessing modern learning and obscurantist in scientific questions. Intellectual pride is peer pressure on a scholarly level, and it doesn't look any better on scholars than it does on teenagers. Ho, ye new evangelicals, wisdom has arrived and will die with us! From its inception new evangelicalism has been determined to impress the world with its intellect. It has craved the respect of academia. It has determined to earn plaudits at the fountainheads of secular learning. Why should this be a goal for the Christian?

... A book could easily be written defending the thesis that Wheaton College is the educational parent of new evangelicalism. Dr. Ockenga, and a majority of the founding fathers of Fuller in particular and new evangelicalism in general, had roots at Wheaton.

... New evangelicalism has a vise-like grip on most of the Christian colleges and theological schools of our day. It has accomplished an almost complete takeover of the Bible institutes and colleges which sprang up after the fundamentalist-liberal battle in the early part of this century.

... To the new evangelical, the fundamentalist errs by lacking love, scholarship and a social program. The modernist errs by lacking Biblical faith. The two lacks are made to sound quite equal. As a fundamentalist I do not accept the new evangelical's charge. I would observe that to lack Biblical faith is far more serious than to lack love, scholarship and a social program.

... Mass evangelism is the exclusive province of new evangelicalism. New evangelicals such as Billy Graham and Luis Palau are the household names of evangelism. Publishers whose materials once helped establish fundamental churches now train a generation of new evangelicals. New evangelicalism owns the music publishers. The churches which once thrilled to the wholesome songs of great Christians now are satisfied with the trash of contemporary Christian music drawn from the rhythm of the same world the Lord commanded us not to love. The new neutralism is not logical; it is not Scriptural; but it is overwhelmingly popular.

... It is no mistake to call him the father of new evangelicalism. Dr. Harold John Ockenga coined the name, "Neo-evangelicalism". When the National Association of Evangelicals was born in 1942, its first President was Harold John Ockenga. As a pastor he occupied the pulpit of Park Street Congregational Church on the edge of Boston Common. When Fuller Theological Seminary was founded in 1947 its first President was Dr. Harold John Ockenga. Christianity Today, the daily racing form of new evangelicalism, had its birth in 1956 as the brainchild of Billy Graham and his father-in-law, Dr. L. Nelson Bell.

... Dr. Ockenga's third "re" is the recapture of denominational leadership. I cannot see from the Bible that either men or denominations are ever recaptured from apostasy. New evangelicalism has been on the scene recapturing denominational leadership for over forty years. What denominational leadership has been reclaimed? Has the United Presbyterian Church been recaptured for Biblical Christianity? Has the Methodist Church been recaptured for the doctrine of the Wesleys? Has the leadership of the United Church of Christ been triumphantly recaptured? Men from these denominations have talked in theological dialogue with the scholars of new evangelicalism and have sat on the platforms of great crusades with Billy Graham, but the leadership of not one denomination has been reclaimed. The policy has failed, for it is a policy of horrible, hideous, compromise. God's program for apostasy is to separate from it, expose it and contend against it.

... Dr. Ockenga wrote the foreword to Dr. Harold Lindsell's book, The Battle for the Bible, published in 1976. In that foreword he said:

'Neo-evangelicalism [i.e., as opposed to Karl Barth's Neo-Orthodoxy] 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... It differed 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.'

Separation is God's prescription for treating the disease of apostasy. It is not ours to repudiate, for it is a divine command, not a human idea. The doctrine of separatism gets its name from 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.

'Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.'

The same doctrine is taught in passages such as Ephesians 5:11 which says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." It is the theme of II John, culminating in verses 10 and 11:

'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.'

It is taught throughout the Scriptures, but it is very plain in passages such as I Kings 13, II Chronicles 19:2, Romans 16:17. II Thessalonians 3:6 and I Timothy 6:3-5. It is not my purpose to expound the doctrine of separation in this book. I have sought to do that in another booklet. Repudiation of separatism may sound acceptable until you realize that it is a repudiation of God's command about how to treat apostasy. In a much earlier press release dated December 8, 1957, Dr. Ockenga made the following statements:

'The New Evangelicalism has changed its strategy from one of separation to one of infiltration. Instead of static front battles, the new theological war is one of movement. Instead of attack upon error, the New Evangelicals proclaim the great historic doctrines of Christianity ...The strategy of the New Evangelicalism is the positive proclamation of truth in distinction from all errors without delving in personalities which embrace error.'

In a war, generals may change strategy, but that is not the prerogative of the Christian when God has given a command. Obviously separation is God's command, and infiltration is man's idea. The irenic statement above sounds rather noble in man's eyes. One can picture the new evangelical standing peacefully with hands folded far above the din of battle. But how does that square with Jude 3 and 4?

'Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.'

What do you think of the new evangelical suggestion that we can proclaim truth "without delving in personalities which embrace error"? Throughout church history, heresies have always been identified with the men who perpetrated them. Almost every heresy of the past has been associated with a personality You cannot erase nineteen centuries of church history with a cute phrase. Certainly Dr. Ockenga was aware that the battle for the faith in the 1920's was between a Baptist unbeliever, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, and Presbyterian believers. Did he believe that his brilliant teacher, Dr. J. Gresham Machen, should not have delved into the blasphemous statements of Dr. Fosdick in the First Presbyterian Church of New York City? The idea of preaching positively without contending for the faith is a compromise of Biblical truth."


Source of this featured article:

Darrell Bock's Blog

Dr. Darrell Bock is Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an Editor at Large for Christianity Today and is a Past President of the Evangelical Theological Society (2000-2001). He is the author of over...
Billy Graham is an Alumni of Wheaton (see my article The Scales of Justice which illustrates in a simple, brief essay the religious humanism of neo-evangelicals). Please do not be taken in by the ambiguous term and the umbrella of contemporary, ecumenical EVANGELICAL tolerance (viz., NEUTRALISM/HUMANISM). I've never identified myself by this term, nor have I used it in any of my articles aside from this one. Jesus Christ did not carry around the contemporary baggage of an evangelical. He was an evangelist, which is a world apart from today's evangelicalism. The word evangelist only appears 3 times within the NT. The major occurance is Ephesians 4:11 which bears the meaning of a pioneer missionary who takes the message of God's saving grace to new regions. Scripture knows nothing of evangelicalism as defined in "The Manifesto of Evangelicalism" under discussion. More on this later.

Am I suggesting some type of retrogression? Of course not, eternal truth neither progresses beyond and outside of Scripture (as some would suggest; i.e., the Holy Trinity was always revealed in NT writing), nor does it fall out of fashion and develop new priorities.

Evangelicalism, without doubt, has control of the Christian forum in America. If someone suggests to you a gospel of self-improvement that does not have the living Jesus Christ as the central focus and means, run don't walk away from them.

If you haven't heard about Dr. Darrell Bock's blog articles at and concerning a "Manifesto of Evangelicalism" and an open invitation to sign-up with those who drafted this document, you will soon. It is destined to be the flavor of the month on all the Clear Channel Christian Radio stations.

The original posting that I followed was by Dr. Darrell Bock, titled "The Point of the Manifesto Put Simply May 08.08." It may be viewed @

I first began to follow comments concerning this MANIFESTO at many blog sites on Pentecost Sunday.

In the spirit of a well rounded "gonzo journalism of grace" (an oxymoron, perhaps?) I direct the interested reader to 4 pre-dated "contrary view" articles.

Firstly, "Please Don't Call me an Evangelical" by Dr. C. Matthew MacMahon, @

Secondly: "The Pelagian Captivity of the Church" by Dr. C. Matthew MacMahon @

Thirdly, a chapter from, " New Neutralism II," titled "Institutions" by Dr. John Ashbrook. @

And lastly, an excerpt from "New Neutralism II" @

You will not be disappointed in the new perspective that will be gained through these articles.

More later and my regards in Christ Jesus,



UPDATE 2 (5.15.08)

Dear Reader,

I posted the following comments at Bock's Blog "The Point of the Manifesto Put Simply May 8. 08" ( and received a courteous response from Dr. Bock each time. I don't agree with his take on the articles I suggested he read, but if you have read this article from the beginning you can see the background argument that I am making.

1) Definitions of "evangelical"
Submitted by gonzodave (not verified) on Sun, 2008-05-11 21:17.

Dear Dr. Bock,

I've followed with interest the many comments around the "blogosphere" concerning this MANIFESTO of Evangelicalism. Definitions about "isms" come and go.

I invite you and any interested party to take a look beyond the "in speak" of evangelicalism and read a fascinating and timely piece written by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon @

Regards in Christ Jesus,


1) Definition dlb
Submitted by bock on Mon, 2008-05-12 14:02.


Thanks for the post. Just a note. Anyone who writes that Carl Henry was against the evangelical movment does not understand its history at all. Henry edited the journal that has represetnted the movment for years. Its name: Chrsitianity Today. So I am not at all sure how accurate the post is.


2) More history of evangelicalism
Submitted by gonzodave (not verified) on Sun, 2008-05-11 22:14.

Dear Dr. Bock,

Post Note to my previous comment:

In the spirit of "ecumenicalism" and a well rounded view of of the ambiguous word - evangelicalism, I additional invite any interested person to read the article posted @

Regards in Christ,


2) More History dlb
Submitted by bock on Mon, 2008-05-12 14:07.


More of the same, thanks. Anyone who complains of Billy Graham today, suggesting he is liberal, really has an imbalanced spectrum. No one has presented the gospel clearly to more people in our time.


This writer:

Of course when the word gospel is used the language-game falls into play and what the speaker means by gospel is not necessarily that perceived by the listener. It just happens that I have a great article from my unpublished manuscript detailing "the gospel" in its varied aspects. I will post it first here in for my readers.

The latest posting for 5.13.08 concerning this topic at Dr. Darrell Bock's blog site may be found @

For 5.14.08 see
Beliefnet Manifesto Feedback and the Under 30s May 14.08 (Revised May 15.08) @

and the referenced weblog article at Beliefnet @

The document under discussion, The Manifesto of Evangelicalism, may be viewed @

The full book "New Neutralism II" may be viewed chapter by chapter beginning @

More later.

Regards in Christ Jesus,


UPDATE 3 (5.16.08)

Dear Reader,

Straight from the official history of the National Association of Evangelicals which credits its origins to a Reverend J. Elvin Wright that associated with Dr. John Ockenga in Boston.

"When the younger Wright succeeded his father in 1929, he transformed First Fruits Harvesters into the New England Fellowship. Rather than continuing a ministry devoted to Pentecostal distinctives, the new fellowship would serve a broader constituency by operating a summer conference to inspire and bring together evangelicals of all stripes throughout New England. This was not his only change. In 1934 Wright became a Congregationalist, being received on profession of faith into the membership of Park Street Church in Boston. The new ecclesiastical commitment proved beneficial to the New England Fellowship, enhancing Wright's relationship with a number of emerging evangelical leaders, including one who would play a role in NAE, the Reverend Harold John Ockenga."

The NAE gives 1942 as its founding date. The above and other previous citations are to establish the contemporary aspect of neo-evangelicalism which was a spin-off from fundamentalist groups. Evangelicalism denies the biblical doctrine of separation from apostasy, yet, that was the origin of its beginnings and fundamentalist bear the brunt of their condemnation of sin - the sin of being unloving. This is illustrated in a recent comment concerning "The Manifesto of Evangelicalism" that reads:

"Fundamentalism not a part?
Submitted by MIKE (not verified) on Thu, 2008-05-15 20:19.

Upon reading the manifesto, I was delighted to see Evangelicals seeking to define themselves theologically. I believe too, the list of sins mentioned are extremely accurate too (ie. the entertainment, materialism, etc). One thing I do not understand is the stance against Fundamentalism. If Evangelicals are seeking to define themselves theologically, and Fundamentalists agree theologically with the manifesto's definition, would Fundamentalists not then be under the umbrella of "Evangelicals" too? The "liberals" were distinguished from Evangelicals based on theology yet the Fundamentalists were distinguished based on their practice (or sins). The manifesto mentioned the Fundamentalists' lack of forgiveness and love (p.9). These are horrible sins to be sure! Yet these are sins no greater than the ones listed by the Evangelicals themselves! Without doubt, Fundamentalists are in dire need of reforming and repenting themselves in these areas just as Evangelicals need to reform and repent of the areas they mentioned. It is my hope, that Evangelicals will accept their Fundamentalist brothers and sisters, even if the acceptance is not returned."

A broad spectrum of comments regarding the question: "Evangelical Christians: who exactly are they?" (posted by Aris) may be read @

In the following citation of my comment at Bock's Blog, "me thinks I've been assassinated" by some very quick dance steps that were executed to leave me lagging behind. See what you think.

Response to my comment:

"More History dlb
Submitted by bock on Mon, 2008-05-12 14:07.


More of the same, thanks. Anyone who complains of Billy Graham today, suggesting he is liberal, really has an imbalanced spectrum. No one has presented the gospel clearly to more people in our time.


My new comment to dlb's response:

"Your response to "More History
Submitted by gonzodave (not verified) on Thu, 2008-05-15 19:27.

Dear Dr. Bock,

Thank you for your courteous responses. However, concerning an "imbalanced spectrum" held by John E. Ashford in his book "Evangelicalism: The New Neutralism II" that he updated and revised in 1991 from his father's work of 1958 and 1975, I read in Eerdman's Handbook to Christianity in America on page 319:

"The social gospel differed from evangelical reform movements like the Salvation Army in at least two respects. First, it tended to emphasize structural reforms, changes in law, government policy, and the formal institutions of society. Second, it was firmly rooted in Protestant liberal theology."

Regards in Christ Jesus,


dlb's response to the comment above:

"More History dlb
Submitted by bock on Fri, 2008-05-16 07:27.


I think you missed my point. There is no social gospel when the work being affirmed is a reflection of spiritual commitments that grow out of the gospel. This is not merely an ethic we are discussing in that context (as the social gospel was and liberal theology often is), but a responses tied to the concept of being faithful to Jesus' call to live in a manner that honors God. In other words in this issue, the point does not remove the centrality or role of Jesus (In contrast to the social gosple which made his role one only of ethical guide). So this is precisely why we are not discussing the social gospel here but the living out of values rooted in Jesus' teaching and the call to be faithful to the gospel in terms of how we engage others. This is why the quote you give does not apply to what I am saying.


Now bear in mind, the above is in context with Dr. Bock's posting titled "The Point of the Manifesto Put Simply" in which he provides the following summary in 4 points:

"Jesus has much more to say about a whole host of issues than the ones that have been targeted over the last few decades, INCLUDING the ones that have been discussed and defended (sometimes very well, sometimes not so well). Does tone matter as well as content? I think so. To these questions the Manifesto also calls for reflection. What variety of factors are at stake in such an assessment? Among them are: (1) the well being of our society, (2) the authenticity of believers' claims to love God and one's neighbor, (3) the integration of those calls to love, as well as (4) the central importance evangelicals give to the need for spiritual transformation to really grow into human maturity, as individuals and as a society."

Maybe I'm slow to follow a highly regarded Professor of Spiritual Development and Culture at Dallas Theological Seminary who is a New York Times best selling author, but I read 2 of the 4 points addressing societal issues, as in a "social gospel" which is most assuredly a platform of evangelicalism that can be verified by many sources.

A short Bio of AW Tozer at reads:

"In 1950 Tozer was elected editor of the Alliance Weekly now called Alliance Life. The circulation doubled almost immediately. In the first editorial dated June 3, 1950, he set the tone: "It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that.""

I have read very carefully the MANIFESTO several times. If I am to take what Dr. Bock is asserting in his response, which is echoed in his many responses to comments about the MANIFESTO adding to the "culture war" and adding more mud to the water, I could be encouraged that this document is a turn toward a more fundamental view and away from a societal focus in Neo-Evangelicalism. I'll need to survey new comments and follow a few more articles before I am convinced.

In closing I offer a fine "classic" sermon presented by the highly regarded A. W. Tozer concerning the denial of the diety of the Holy Spirit by neo-evangelicals. It is a free to listen MP3 @

More later and my regards in Christ Jesus,


UPDATE 4 (5:24.08)

Dear Reader,

In an article at includes this citation from secttion 1 of 3:
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse and Neo-Evangelicalism

Miles J. Stanford
"By both conviction and experience, Charles H. Spurgeon valued separation.

Numbers of our good brethren remain in fellowship with those who are undermining the Gospel, and they talk of their conduct as if it were a loving course which the Lord will approve in the day of His appearing. We cannot understand them.

The duty of a true believer towards men who profess to be Christians, and yet deny the Word of God and reject the Fundamentals of the Gospel, is to come out from among them. Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. When will Christians learn that separation from evil is not only our privilege, but our bounden duty?

NEO-EVANGELICALISM SPAWNED -- During the 1940s there was a vast evacuation of believers from the ranks of the already separated Fundamentalist movement. There was a joining of minds and mood with Christians who had remained within the Liberal denominations, a "union" which finally resulted in the formation and growth of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Thus we have the emergence of the ecclesiastical hybrid, self-identified as Neo-evangelicalism. Initially Fundamental in its beliefs, but ecumenical in its bent--the anomaly of the separated inclusivists. Its strategy is to penetrate the Liberal denominations in the hope of regaining control for orthodoxy. It seeks to infiltrate with love, without making an issue of doctrinal error or attacking personalities who hold those errors. It has love for the Liberal; but it has very little love for the separated Fundamentalist brother in Christ.

FUNDAMENTAL "FAILURE" -- We should look for a moment at some of the basic characteristics of Neo-evangelicalism. The movement asserts that it separated from Fundamentalism because the latter is separatist, and therefore divisive. It also accuses Fundamentalism of being "obscurantist," "hypocritical," "anti-intellectual," "unloving,' "anti-science," etc.

The Neo-evangelical admits to being Fundamental in doctrine, but not fundamentalist in name. Call him anything but that! "There are thousands of Neo-evangelicals who would bristle at being termed Liberal. But they would bristle even more at being tagged Fundamentalists." "Do not call me a Fundamentalist. While I really do believe the great Fundamental truths of the Bible; still, I do not wish to be known as a Fundamentalist because the 'intellectuals' hate the term. I wish to be accredited."

LIBERAL LOATHING -- The Neo-evangelical also accuses the Fundamentalist of failure to win the Liberal and reclaim the denominations because of his "ill-reasoned" and "poorly-presented" Gospel. Conversely, Neo-evangelicalism would win the campaign by means of infiltration, intellectual approach, accommodation, and love.

It is true that naught can be accomplished apart from the Savior's love. But what Neo-evangelicalism fails to comprehend is that Liberalism does not reject the claims of Christianity because it is ill-reasoned or poorly presented, but because it is Christianity! Neither does it accept Christianity when it is intellectually reasoned and proudly presented.

THE CROSSLESS CHRISTIAN -- Even if all of his accusations were true of the Fundamentalist--and some of them are--the truth is that the Neo-evangelical cannot bear to be looked down upon. He will avoid stigma at any cost, and he will seek recognition at any price. His thinking is that if he can gain the respect and approbation of the religious and secular worlds, he will thereby gain a hearing.

However, fear of the stigma of being known as a Fundamentalist, plus fearlessness of acceptance by the Liberal, add up to Neo-evangelicalism's avoidance of the Cross concerning intellect and reputation, if nothing more. What we should all realize is that "the world's frown is comparatively powerless; it is its favor that we have most to fear." Dr. Vance Havner once observed, "The devil goes about as a roaring lion, but he does far more harm as an angel of light."

LEADERS LEACHED -- The Neo-evangelical movement was originally marshaled and directed, mainly under the aegis of the National Association of Evangelicals, by such well-known leaders as Dr. Harold Ockenga, Dr. Carl Henry, Dr. Billy Graham, and Dr. Donald Barnhouse, to mention but a few. If Dr. Ockenga is considered to be the father of the movement, Dr. Barnhouse could certainly be considered its "mother."

The shame is that while Liberal denominations made great gain of Dr. Barnhouse, the same penetrated combine manages to make immeasurable gain by means of manipulating one Dr. Billy Graham. A leader of the World Council of Churches has boasted, "We are using him to build our churches."

Yes, infiltrate, accommodate, stay in--and be won instead of win! This is exactly what happened to Dr. Barnhouse, to name but one among all too many. The penetrator is himself penetrated. Let the would-be infiltrator beware! If it can happen to these giants, what makes you impervious? "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Peter 2:19)."

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Copyright 2007-2008 by David Coulon. Registered and released under CC license 3.0 2007-2008.

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