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2611
“New Evagelicalism”
by John E. Ashbrook - New Neutralism   
July 1st, 2008

"Bible-believing Christians would do well to beware of the New Evangelicalism for four valid reasons.

  • First, it is a movement born of compromise.
  • Second, it is a movement nurtured in pride of intellect.
  • Third, it is a movement growing on appeasement of evil; and
  • Finally it is a movement doomed by the judgment of God's Holy Word.

I believe that the mainspring of new evangelicalism is found in three determinations of its founder which may be clearly traced in the state of things today.

  • First, new evangelicalism determined to reject Biblical separation.
  • Secondly, new evangelicalism determined to find acceptance by the world.
  • Thirdly, new evangelicalism determined to add the social gospel to the Scriptural gospel....

REJECTION OF BIBLE SEPARATION

New evangelicalism determined to reject Biblical separation. 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 was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civil 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."

[W]hat new evangelicalism has determined to repudiate is Biblical separatism. 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....

"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." [ 2 Corinthians 6:17,18]

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 2 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." ...

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.... 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.... The idea of preaching positively without contending for the faith is a compromise of Biblical truth

SEEKING ACCEPTANCE BY THE WORLD

Secondly, new evangelicalism determined to find acceptance by the world. I have seen boys and girls feverishly seek the acceptance of their peers. A new child comes to visit, and they rush to show him every toy in the effort to be accepted. [See also Isaiah 39:1-5]This is a note not to be ignored in the new evangelical profile. It shows itself in the desire to be accepted in the world of academia, and it also shows in the desire to make the gospel more palatable to the natural man. Let me begin by going back to Dr. Ockenga's foreword to The Battle for the Bible:

"It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separation and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day."

Reentering the theological dialogue with modernism was an important cause to new evangelicalism. Notice that it is described as "dialogue," not debate. A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position. (That may not be correct according to Webster, but it comes from observing theological dialogue.) Lest you think I am being picky with this matter, let me go further in the quotation from the foreword of The Battle for the Bible to show the specific items about which Dr. Ockenga desired to dialogue:

"Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the time, 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."

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? Paul spelled out for the believer the vanity of this world's wisdom in 1 Cor. 1:20,21: "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of the world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

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