Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation
past chapters we have referred to Evangelicalism
or the New Evangelicalism with only passing reference
to what those terms mean. Although the word evangelical
has a long history, it has come in the twentieth century
to have a distinct meaning. Fundamentalists are technically
Evangelicals, but the more precise use of that term identifies
a position that consciously rejects part of the Fundamentalist
What's in a
word evangelical derives from euangelion,
the Greek word for "good news" or "gospel."
It is from this root that we derive other words such as
evangelize. During the Reformation the Protestant
churches were often called "evangelical." Even
today in Germany the "Evangelical Church" refers
to the state Lutheran Church.1
Britain and America, the term Evangelical took on
a new meaning in the 1700s as a result of Britain's Evangelical
Awakening (led by John Wesley and George Whitefield) and
America's Great Awakening. In English-speaking countries
and some other parts of the world, Evangelical now
refers to a Protestant with specific beliefs. Although there
is no set definition of what an Evangelical believes, the
following are among the most common tenets: the authority
of Scripture alone in religious matters, the importance
of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, a stress on
the experience of the new birth and individual conversion,
an emphasis on good works and holy living after conversion,
and the evangelization of non-Christians.2
obviously fall into this category. But since the 1950s the
term Evangelical has come to denote something even
more specific. As John Sanderson notes, "If anything,
'Evangelical' is a more Biblical word than 'Fundamentalist'
since the former is derived from the word we translate 'Gospel.'
But words take on new meanings and different emotional colorings."3
Today the term Evangelical is a catch-all for "any
non-Fundamentalist conservative who does not accept or practice
the principle of ecclesiastical separation."4
The reason for this narrow use of the term is the
influence of a movement beginning in the 1940s called "the
New Evangelicalism." That movement, and its influence,
is the subject of this chapter.
we discuss this movement, however, we should mention a point
concerning the term New Evangelical. Fundamentalists
are virtually the only group that uses the term today. Most
people who belong to what Fundamentalists call "New
Evangelicalism" would see themselves as simply "Evangelical"
without anything "New" about it. Fundamentalists,
however, are loath to surrender the term Evangelical
completely, and they want to note the disagreement over
separation marked by the terms Fundamentalist and
New Evangelical. Fundamentalists need to realize, however,
that most of the people they call "New Evangelical"
do not recognize the term. David Beale has suggested the
aptly descriptive term Broad Evangelicalism, as distinguished
from Fundamentalist Evangelicalism, but the term has not
yet caught on.5
Bowing to common usage, we will use the terms Evangelical
and New Evangelical for the most part interchangeably
in this chapter.
The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation. By
Mark Sidwell. ©1998. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available
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