on the Sand?
by David O. Beale
Origin and Definition
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).
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:
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).
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.
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.).
New Evangelicalism's Evangelist
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).
House on the Sand? ©1985. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited.
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