Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Appeasement Policy of Convergent Evangelicalism

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Appeasement Policy of Convergent Evangelicalism

     Many in Fundamentalism today are having difficulty with the dialogue going on between professing Fundamentalists and obvious New Evangelicals and Convergent Evangelicals.  There are three reasons I believe why true Fundamentalists are having these problems with these professing Fundamentalists:

1. Those professing to be Fundamentalists are spending more time criticizing the Old Fundamentalists while praising New Evangelicals.
2. There is an increasing amount of toleration of certain Theological aberrations of which the Fundamentalists of just a decade ago warned about.  The New Fundamentalists are criticizing the Old Fundamentalist for separating over theological aberrations that the New Fundamentalists no longer see as important enough to separate over.
3. The professing New Fundamentalists are changing the way they practice separation from New Evangelicals even to the place they no longer consider them New Evangelicals any longer.  They are redefining Fundamentalism in terms that allows for more inclusive fellowship with those holding diverse doctrinal positions.  At the same time, the New Fundamentalists are separating from the Old Fundamentalist while accusing the Old Fundamentalists of being divisive. 

These dividing factors are very similar to the original issues of the birth of New Evangelicalism.  New Fundamentalism has a lot of the same characteristics of old New Evangelicalism.  Maybe a more appropriate term for these New Fundamentalists would simply be New-New Evangelicals.  Since the New or Young Fundamentalist movement seems to be coming from a few Baptist academic institutions, perhaps we should refer to them as the Nu Nu Fraternity. 
There are new terms being bantered around for these new Neo-evangelicals.  We hear terms like Young Fundamentalists, New Fundamentalism, Conservative Evangelicalism, and Convergent Evangelicals.  Although they started their movement by looking for a new name that would distinguish them from the Old Fundamentalism, they have not been able to settle on anything they like.  The reason I refer to them as New-New Evangelicals is because they really do not want to be identified with independent, Baptist Fundamentalism and its practices of militancy and separatism.  In fact, it is apparent that many of these people hate independent, fundamental Baptists.  In about 1967-68, Dr. Richard Clearwaters wrote regarding New Evangelicalism and the progressive development of New Evangelism’s theological Inclusivism:

“‘Third, it is a movement growing on appeasement of evil.’  We have here a progressive development and logical sequence of beginning with compromise.  God’s Word is ever full of warnings about appeasement of evil.  We are living in a day when men will declare themselves as believing in the virgin birth, deity of Christ, and plenary inspiration of the Word of God and at the same time argue and vote against a confession of faith that includes these things for fear it might offend some unbeliever.  There are many today who believe in the premillennial coming of our Lord but argue and vote against it because they want to appease the evil of unbelief in the same manner.  They are not convicted men.  Because of their intellectual pride they vote their appeasement policy instead of the convicted principles.
      The great Louis A. Banks is responsible for the following paragraph on ‘Destroying the Signal Light’: ‘The engineer of a fast train on the Pennsylvania Railroad discovered a man one night at the top of a signal-pole at an important junction where three railroads crossed.  With his fist he was destroying the signal lamps.  The poor man was insane, and was doing it simply to enjoy the excitement that he would experience in witnessing a wreck.  No man except an insane man, or a demon, would destroy the signal light that has kept generations from going to disaster and ruin, and leave no warning in its place.  God has put the signal lights of danger too surely in His Truth to have them destroyed by reckless hands.  The great truths of God’s Word are eternal verities that cannot be thrust aside by a sensationalist.’”[1]

          The toleration of Theological aberrations is an evil.  Like Evangelicalism and New Evangelicalism, New-New Evangelicalism is not a back-to-the Bible movement.[2]  It is a back to the Reformation movement.  For the New-New Evangelicals, any Theological issue that was not part of the Reformation discussion should not be an issue over which to separate.  Perhaps this is the greatest danger in the development of this New-New Evangelicalism. 
As these professing Fundamentalists praise the New Evangelicals and Convergent Evangelicals, they are carelessly and haphazardly destroying the old “signal lights” by criticizing the Old Fundamentalists.  The New Fundamentalists do not want to stand on the shoulders of the battle-scarred Old Fundamentalists who fought the fights.  Instead, they stand upon their graves and in their pulpits and criticize them to the next generation of the descendants that the Old Fundamentalist won to Christ and discipled.  What unmitigated arrogance? 
The New Fundamentalists capture.  They do not build.  The New-New Fundamentalists come out of Bible College and Seminary to take established churches.  They then steal those churches by contemporizing them.  They steal the real estate and they steal the sheep.  They look backward in history to what God did supernaturally 50 years ago, but have seen nothing like it in their lives.  They never will.  They try to copy the accomplishments of the Old Fundamentalists, but theirs is plastic, manufactured, and superficial rather than supernatural.  Everything produces after “its kind.” 
No fruit can grow on plastic trees.  When the torch of Fundamentalism was passed on to the next generation by the Old Fundamentalists, many of those receiving it thought that the fire from the Old Fundamentalists came with it.  Although the torch was provided by the Old Fundamentalists, the New Fundamentalists did not realize that they had to get their own fire.  Denying the supernatural issues of revivalism, the New Fundamentalists just attached artificial lights to the torches they received.  They redefined evangelism as leaving the lights on in the church house so the elect can find their way home. 

[1] Clearwaters, Richard V.: The Great Conservative Baptist Compromise (Minneapolis, MN) Central Seminary Press, page 112
[2] Ibid., page 88-89, quoting Bernard Ramm in his definition of Evangelicalism: “Evangelicalism as used in this book means the historic Christian faith as reflected in the great creeds of the ancient Church, and in the spirit and writings of the Reformers.”

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.


Gary said...

Brother Ketchum,

Kudos. Your evaluation of the current situation within Fundamentalism is right on target! These men who are so enamored with the so-called Conservative Evangelicals are dangerous, for they are giving aid and comfort to those who disdain Biblical separation. They give an uncertain sound in the hour when we need to hit every note straight on with Biblical precision. Thank you for exposing this compromise.

Steve Rogers said...

Bro. Ketchum,

Great article, you hit the bullseye! I spoke to our Wednesday night Bible study crowd last night, and warned them that they must develop the spiritual discernment to spot subtle compromise in these days. Many of these YF's are not church planters, they simply are stepping into pulpits of separatists that have for years paid the price of convictions, and with a subtle smile they exercise the same vocabulary, but redefine the meaning. They claim to be separatists, but redefine the bounds of separation. We must trumpet the message that the Word of God sets the boundaries of separation, nothing more, and certainly nothing less! BTW, I love the line about the elect and leaving the church lights on.