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Archive for the ‘New Evangelicalism’ Category

Your humble correspondent has long feared that some of the well known evangelical signatories to this document have at various times and to varying degrees pursued religion as a way to achieve political ends by other means.  It appears that my worst fears may be realized.

I make that statement not to necessarily call their genuine Christianity into question, but to question their judgment.  In recent decades, when there has been an opportunity for evangelicals to cooperate for some political end with those who confess another gospel, too often the gospel has received the short shrift.  After all, it’s much easier to attract large numbers for the sake of some political cause (however laudable) than it is to attract them with the gospel.

What is particularly ironic is that a number of evangelicals who have promoted the Manhattan Declaration and who are seeking to use their influence to persuade others to sign it have of late been calling for evangelicals to become more “Gospel Centered.”  Yet the Manhattan Declaration is a document that, like Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) of the 1990’s, affirms as Christian those who clearly do not confess the same gospel. It is particularly troubling to see those who have previously criticized such ecumenical initiatives sign on to this one.  Despite the claims of some prominent signatories to the contrary (claims which have been contradicted by at least one of the framers of the Manhattan Declaration, Chuck Colson, who was also one of the principals in ECT) I submit that the Manhattan Declaration is cut from the same cloth as ECT.

No compromise you say?  The Manhattan Declaration and ECT are apples and oranges?  Unfortunately, I cannot agree.  How can the following statements from the declaration (among others that could be cited) be anything but compromise, given that it is a joint declaration by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and evangelicals?

We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

we are compelled by our Christian faith

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences…

A truly prophetic Christian witness

It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.   May God help us not to fail in that duty.

May God help us indeed.  In what sense could the evangelical signatories to this document be said to have proclaimed the Gospel by this action?  How is this a “truly prophetic Christian witness?”  I submit that it can only be said to be such if what amounts to the Social Gospel is in view.  A conservative Social Gospel will no more save than the liberal one.  God forbid that the Gospel be exchanged for a mess of ecumenical pottage.

John MacArthur, James White, Frank Turk, among others, have posted responses delineating why they cannot sign the document.  I commend their responses to your reading.

All the above being said, the document does have many statements that are unobjectionable.  Furthermore, I have no quarrel with co-belligerence with those of any faith or no faith on issues of mutual concern.  What is at issue is yoking together with non-evangelicals under the banner of Christianity when we are in fundamental disagreement over what a Christian is.

Unfortunately (for the sake of discussion of this topic) the holidays are upon us and I am unable to post at length regarding this issue at this time.  I may unpack things a bit further in the near future.

For the uninitiated, here are articles on ECT by James White and Geoffrey Thomas.

I also recommend reading Erwin Lutzer’s Why The Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t and John MacArthur’s Why Government Can’t Save You.

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Phil has addressed this issue before,  but this short post is an excellent introduction, especially for those who are not familiar with the term.  What is the result of this movement that began in the middle of the last century?

The average American today thinks evangelicalism is a political position or a religious ghetto rather than a set of biblical beliefs.  The task for the remnant who still believe and teach classic evangelical doctrine is to remain faithful and remember that the gospel—not the combined clout of a large politically-driven movement—is the power of God unto salvation.

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I have been dealing with other priorities lately and haven’t been keeping up with the various blogs as I had been in the recent past.  But in case you haven’t seen them, here are some links to get you up to speed if so inclined:

Expository Thoughts links to several recent posts, including John MacArthur’s series “The Rape of Solomon’s Song.”  There were numerous comments on each of those posts that I haven’t begun to wade through yet.  For follow-up discussion on the Expository Thoughts site, see here.

For further discussion involving the TeamPyro bloggers, Tom Ascol and yours truly, see here.

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Given my views and the fact that I’ve had a little too much time on my hands lately to peruse various blogs, I suppose it was well nigh inevitable that I’d have the obligatory run in with the iMonk sooner or later.  In the comments to his latest post on the “ironies of evangelicalism” he has made it clear that he wants no interaction from the “other side” and I’m all too happy to oblige, especially since I have no time for yet another extended online debate.

The run in I spoke of was my protesting the incongruity of a man presuming to lecture the Southern Baptist Convention in calling for a “Great Commission Resurgence” while at the same time considering evangelism of Roman Catholics improper since he apparently considers them to be within the fold already.  Such a “resurgence” would be more appropriately termed a Down Grade.  I think that I assume correctly that those who have issued a call for a Great Commission Resurgence in the wake of the Conservative Resurgence that has regained the Convention (and the seminaries in particular) would not share iMonk’s views in this case, although the fact that a man with iMonk’s views on this issue would be drawing a paycheck from a SBC entity (or the Kentucky Baptist Convention in this case) might appear to suggest that the Conservative Resurgence is yet incomplete.

Then we have the latest post soliciting opinions on the “ironies of evangelicalism.”  My first thought was that what I’ve described above would appear to be an evangelical irony.  However, upon further reflection, I realized that there isn’t much ironic or even postmodern about Mr. Spencer’s position at all.  It is certainly not new.  It is merely the predictable end result of the “New Evangelicalism” exemplified by Fuller Theological Seminary, the career of Billy Graham and Christianity Today.

For more on the faulty strategy of compromise followed by the “New Evangelicalism,” I commend Dr. W. Robert Godfrey’s The Myth of Influence to your reading.

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