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: Dealing with Conservative Evangelicalism Part III

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dealing with Conservative Evangelicalism Part III

Illusion: Replacing Unity in Doctrine with Unity in Devotion

Inclusivism comes in many forms and degrees. However the subtle shift in Conservative Evangelism’s issues in separation seems to me to be based upon the same problem we saw originally in the early development of New Evangelicalism and which has now moved most of New Evangelicals into varying degrees of Emergent Church philosophy. This is the desire for cultural relevancy. This desire for cultural relevancy is carried forward by a deeper undercurrent of philosophy that I believe is even more subtle. This undercurrent is the erroneous basis for Christian fellowship through unity in devotion rather than unity in doctrine. I believe this undercurrent is also the practical foundation of the pseudo-unity of Conservative Evangelicalism. Unity in devotion is really non-definitive for devotion becomes ambiguous if what devotion is centered upon is not defined doctrinally. Perhaps this ambiguity is the very essence of the Fundamentalist Movement, New Evangelicalism, and now Conservative Evangelicalism. This is contrasted with fundamental Christianity (New Testament Christianity) that is doctrinally definitive and intent upon removing this ambiguity. Certainly this is the substance of all the New Covenant epistles.

These varying degrees of this doctrinal ambiguity led to various denominations (heresies or sects) within Christianity. Therefore, the promotion of unity in devotion over unity in doctrine is essentially interdenominational. This is the essence of various levels of Ecumenicism within Evangelical Christianity. We must then understand that this cooperation within this new interdenominationalism is really nothing more than various heresies agreeing to ignore their doctrinal differences in order to cooperate based upon some ambiguous unity in devotion. Of course, there is nothing definitive in the purpose of this pseudo-unity or what the outcome of this pseudo-unity might accomplish.

As I listen to the arguments being postulated in order to justify a departure from fundamental Christianity, or more appropriately to redefine what fundamental Christianity really is, it would appear that doctrinal inconsistencies among the constituency of Conservative Evangelicals (Young Fundamentalist) is really not important to them. What seems to be important to them is that they believe that they are formulating a new historical paradigm of interdenominationalism that will return Evangelical Christianity to cultural relevancy. My simple response to this postulation is: GET REAL!

What has been the history of the inclusivistic philosophy of unity in devotion within New Evangelicalism? The history of unity in devotion within New Evangelicalism has been an ever broadening Inclusivism. This is really just another form of Positivism. This Positivism of New Evangelicalism manifests itself in two forms of unscriptural acceptance: being TOLERANT and NON-JUDGEMENTAL. The word of God condemns both of these two compromising vices of pseudo-spirituality. Billy Graham became the spokesperson for this unity in devotion in its opposition to unity in doctrine.

“I am far more tolerant of other kinds of Christians than I once was. My contact with Catholic, Lutheran and other leaders, people far removed from my own Southern Baptist tradition; has helped me, hopefully, to move in the right direction” (Billy Graham, “I Can’t Play God Any More,” McCall’s magazine, Jan. 1978).

“I’m not a charismatic. However, I don’t feel it’s my calling to shoot great volleys of theological artillery at my charismatic brothers and sisters. . . More than ever we need grace-awakened ministers who free rather than bind: Life beyond the letter of Scripture. . . absence of dogmatic Bible-bashing” (Charles Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, pp. 188, 233).

“At Fuller we are characterized by balance in that we are an institution of ‘both-and’ rather than ‘either-or.’ We seek to be both Evangelical and ecumenical. . .” (David Allan Hubbard, President, Fuller Theological Seminary (Christianity Today, Feb. 3, 1989, p. 71).

Notice the terminology that we find common between the unity in devotion philosophy of the ever increasing Inclusivism of New Evangelicalism and the lanquage of the Conservative Evangelicals (New Neo-evangelicals):

1.tolerant of other kinds of Christians,” Graham; let me translate, “tolerant of divisive heresies”

2. Life beyond the letter of Scripture . . . absence of dogmatic Bible-bashing,” Swindoll; let me translate, “Christian life beyond doctrinal unity by abrogating doctrinal dogmatism”

3. characterized by balance in . . . ‘both-and’ rather than ‘either-or,’” Hubbard; let me translate, “characterized by theological Centrism rather than divisive theological dogmatism”

Harold Ockenga is reputed to be the man that coined the term New Evangelical. He defined it further in his forward to the book The Battle for the Bible by Dr. Harold Lindsell.

“Neo-evangelicalism 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 many Evangelicals. . . . It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and 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 areas of life.”

There exists some major contradictions in his statement; “While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory.” The “theological view” of Fundamentalism CANNOT be separated from Biblical separation from apostasy or from Fundamentalism’s “social theory.” Fundamentalism did not invent these two commands. Yet, these two commands are part of what defines a Fundamentalist. To repudiate either of these Biblical commands is to reject both Biblical absolutism (dogmatism) and the “theological view of fundamentalism.” Notice the clear demarcation from Biblical commands in four areas.

  • Repudiation of Biblical ecclesiology (local churches are exchanged for the Universal Church; “body of Christ”). This distortion demands unity within Christendom. It demands unity among various local churches and denominations, rather than within the formal membership of a local church (Ephesians 4:1-7).
  • Repudiation of fundamentalism’s “social theory” (i.e., evangelism/discipleship is God’s intended methodology to change any society or culture)
  • Repudiation of Biblical ecclesiastical separatism (from apostasy and apostates) to gender theological dialogue
  • Adaptation of the “social gospel” and political activism as means to impact cultures and societies

It has been said that New Evangelicalism is the bastard child produced by a union between ecumenical Liberalism and compromising Evangelicalism. If that is true, and I believe that it is, Conservative Evangelicalism is the bastard child of the union of compromising Evangelicalism, known as New Evangelicalism, with compromising Fundamentalism from within the interdenominational Fundamentalist Movement. This is nothing more than New Neo-evangelicalism.

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.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.

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