What is a New Evangelical?

Early in twentieth century Christianity there arose what came to be known as the Modernist versus Fundamentalist Controversy.  The Modernists were those who forced their unbelieving views upon Christianity.  These men were unbelieving religious leaders, religious teachers and liberal theologians who accepted the evolutionary theories of the late 1800’s and rejected the claims Scripture made for itself.  Their thinking was fueled by German rationalism which attacked the Bible’s integrity by denying its miracles and historicity, and by declaring portions of the Scriptures to be mythological.  They found a way to make a living (vocation) off of Christian ministry even though they did not believe.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  Romans 16:17 & 18

The old Evangelicals believed the Bible and honored it for what it claimed to be, the very Word of God.  They defended the Bible and refused to dialogue and/or compromise with the unbelieving Modernists.  The old Evangelicals refused to give the Modernists Christian recognition.  The old Evangelical’s actions were anchored in Scripture.[1]

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.   II John 9-11

There were those in the Evangelical camp however, that wanted to practice toleration (in the name of love) towards false teachers and to extend Christian recognition to the unbelieving Modernists.  These men called themselves New Evangelicals.[2]  Dr. Harold Ockenga, the Boston pastor who coined the term New Evangelical, issued a formal statement that said; The New Evangelicalism has changed its strategy from one of separation to one of infiltration.[3]  Dr. Ockenga had a sermon entitled Fringe Friends.  His message lent itself to the idea that unbelieving (false) teachers of the liberal wing are not really enemies of the evangelical cause; they are borderline friends.[4]

Jesus speaking: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  John 15:14

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ                with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?                II Corinthians 6:14 & 15

…let the word of Christ dwell (take up its life) in you richly…

Note: Separation from doctrinal error, false teaching and false religion is commanded and taught throughout Scripture.  When this biblical truth is ignored and disobeyed, the result is apostasy. 

Apostasy – a falling away, a withdrawal, a defection.

  [1] The New Evangelicalism by Charles Woodbridge, p. 16 – copyright 1969, Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, S.C.

            [2] “(Ibid p. 15 & 23)”

            [3] “(Ibid p. 14)”

             [4] “(Ibid p. 24)”


Ashbrook, John E.   New Neutralism II    Here I Stand Books   1992.

Hordern, William   A Layman’s Guide to Protestant Theology    McMillan Publishing Co. Inc.  1955  Copyright 1968 by W.E. Hordern

Ramm, Bernard   A Handbook of Contemporary Theology   Grand Rapids:   Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 1966

Woodbridge, Charles   The New Evangelicalism   Greenville, S.C.  Bob Jones University Press   1969

Walton, Dennis M.   An Identification of New Evangelicalism   Minneapolis, MN  Central Press

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