- Part I: New Evangelicalism - Its History
- Part II: New Evangelicalism - Its Chracteristics
- Part III: New Evangelicalism - Its Fruits
The following is part two of a three-part article, first published in 1995 under the title of Fundamentalism, Modernism, and New-Evangelicalism.
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.
a. New Evangelicalism is characterized by a repudiation of separation.
b. New Evangelicalism New Evangelicalism is characterized by replacing separation with dialogue.
c. 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.
d. New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting love and unity above doctrine.
e. New Evangelicalism is characterized by a pragmatic approach to the ministry.
f. New Evangelicalism is characterized by a desire for intellectual respectability, by pride of scholarship.
g. New Evangelicalism is characterized by an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
h. New Evangelicalism is characterized by an inconsistency, by contradiction.
i. New Evangelicalism is characterized by the division of biblical truth into categories of important and not important.
j. New Evangelicalism is characterized by exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
k. 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, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=13983&cf=13773270). 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).
(1) We are to judge righteous judgment (Jn. 7:24).
(2) We are to judge all things (1 Cor. 2:15-16).
(3) We are to judge sin in the church (1 Cor. 5:3, 12).
(4) We are to judge matters between the brethren (1 Cor. 6:5).
(5) We are to judge preaching (1 Cor. 14:29).
(6) We are to judge those who preach false gospels, false christs, and false spirits (2 Cor. 11:1-4).
(7) We are to judge the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).
(8) 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), speaking at the National Association of Evangelicals conference in March 1996, he 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 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 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?
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?
14. 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?
15. 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?
16. 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?
17. 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?
18. 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?
19. 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?
20. Does he recommend young people to go to New Evangelical schools like Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Liberty University?
21. 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.?
22. Does he warn plainly of the compromise of neo-fundamentalists such as Jerry Falwell?
23. 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?
- Part I: New Evangelicalism - Its History
- Part II: New Evangelicalism - Its Chracteristics
- Part III: New Evangelicalism - Its Fruits