The Birth of New Evangelicalism
In the book, The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell published in 1976 by Zondervan. Dr. Harold Ockenga, former pastor of Park Street Church in Boston and president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, describes in his Foreword to the book, how New Evangelicalism was born.
Here are his words in that Foreword.
“Neo-Evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. (Emphasis mine) The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals.
The name caught on and many spokesmen such as Drs. Harold Lindsell, Carl F.H. Henry and Gleason Archer supported this viewpoint. We had no intention of launching a movement, but found that the emphasis attracted widespread support and exercised great influence.
Neo-Evangelicalism differed from modernism in its acceptance of the supernatural and its emphasis on the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. It differed from neo-orthodoxy in its emphasis upon the written Word as inerrant, over against the Word of God which was above and different from the Scripture, but was manifest in Scripture.
It differed from Fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and in its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological,
political and economic area of life.”
The Foreword goes on for several more paragraphs, but I want to focus in one thing- the negative, embarrassed attitude of New Evangelicals to the Biblical teaching of Biblical separation. I encourage you to read through this series on Separation on this Hidden Treasure’s web site, following along with what the Bible teaches about Separation and then decide for yourself whether New Evangelicalism was in line with the Bible on this issue.
You may ask, “What does it matter? That issue was over sixty years ago. The term New Evangelicalism isn’t even used today.” I agree that term is no longer used. But other terms are being used today. The Emergent Church, for one.
Regardless of how you would describe your church, the inclusive principle of Christians joining in doing God’s work with people who deny the Bible matters. I’ll tell you why it matters. This Biblical issue of separation has affected the church ever since. It has changed and weakened the church and many Christian colleges and seminaries over the past sixty years, just as Balaamism affected God’s people in Bible times.
Let me explain Balaamism. Follow along by reading the following scriptures and see how New Evangelicalism is modern day Balaamism.
Read Numbers 22, 23:4, 30 & 31. In these passages you will learn that Balaam preached the truth, but used his influence to cause Israel to compromise with God’s enemies in order to be popular and make more money.
Read II Peter 2 to learn that Balaamism was a way.
Read Jude 11 to learn that Balaamism was an error.
Read 2:14-15 to learn that Balaamism was a doctrine which Christ hates.
I encourage you to read this series on Separation and then settle where you stand on this vital issue. It’s not going to go away. It’s only going to bring more confusion to Christians and to churches. Everyone of us as Christians MUST study the Biblical doctrine of Separation and then get on one side of the issue or the other. Your decision is of eternal consequence on you, your family and your church.
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