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S.B.C. House on the Sand?

by David O. Beale

Appendix One
New Evangelicalism

Origin and Definition

The New Evangelical movement constitutes a major segment of the Southern Baptist Convention. New Evangelicalism is the religious mood or attitude which advocates dialogue with apostates and infiltration into apostate institutions. Harold J. Ockenga (1905-1985) coined the term in his 1948 presidential convocation speech for Fuller Theological Seminary. On that occasion, Dr. Ockenga stated that the New Evangelicals are a "new breed." He expressed three areas of dissatisfaction with Fundamentalism. The first area was Fundamentalism's "wrong attitude" of suspicion toward those who do not hold to every doctrine of orthodoxy. The second area of dissatisfaction was Fundamentalism's "wrong strategy" of separating from religious liberalism. He proposed, as a "correct strategy," infiltration; that is, forgetting doctrinal differences and looking for areas of agreement and cooperation. Now, after almost forty years, the clear evidence is that Dr. Ockenga's "right strategy" has not and will not succeed, because it violates the biblical principle of separation from apostasy. The Word of God is crystal clear on this point. When a church, institution, or denomination becomes theologically unclean, we are to shun it: "Touch not the unclean thing" (II Corinthians 6:17). Dr. Ockenga's third area of dissatisfaction was Fundamentalism's "wrong results" of having lost nearly every battle with Liberalism. Liberalism had taken over virtually all of the schools of the mainline denominations, including the SBC, and the New Evangelicals aimed to "recapture denominational leadership" (Christianity Today, October 10, 1960, p. 11f.; Park Street Spire, February 1958; "Dr. Ockenga Release"Śmimeographed sheet dated December 8, 1957).

In the Foreword to The Battle for the Bible, a book by conservative Southern Baptist spokesman Harold Linsell which was published in 1976, Dr. Ockenga offers a firsthand, definitive reminiscence of New Evangelicalism's origins:

New-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from . . . spokesmen such as Drs. Harold Lindsell, Carl F. H. Henry, Edward Carnell, and Gleason Archer . . . . It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day (Foreword).

Therefore, according to Dr. Ockenga's own definition, New Evangelicalism differs from Fundamentalism in three major areas: (1) a repudiation of the doctrine of separation; (2) a summons to greater social involvement; and (3) a determination to engage in theological dialogue with Modernism.

Dr. Ockenga listed four major agencies of the New Evangelical movement: (1) the National Association of Evangelicals, which conservative SBC leaders at every level enthusiastically support, (2) Fuller Theological Seminary, (3) the journal Christianity Today, and (4) Billy Graham's ecumenical evangelism (Battle for the Bible [Foreword]; also Christianity Today, October 10, 1960, p. 11f.).

Billy Graham: New Evangelicalism's Evangelist

Billy Graham, a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has given great impetus to New Evangelicalism's infiltration and accommodation to Liberalism. For example, he had liberal spokesman Henry P. Van Dusen on his New York crusade committee in 1957 and Bishop Gerald Kennedy in his Los Angeles crusade in 1963. Mr. Graham has spoken at Belmont Abbey, a Roman Catholic school which awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 1966 Mr. Graham addressed the National Council of Churches meeting in Miami and likened it to a "second Pentecost." Recently, Mr. Graham described Pope John Paul II as the "Builder of Bridges"—"the greatest religious leader of the modern world, and one of the greatest moral and spiritual leaders of this century" (Saturday Evening Post, January/February, 1980, p. 72).

S.B.C. House on the Sand? ©1985. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is currently out of print and is not available for purchase.

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