Chapter 13

A View from the Top of the Hill

My grandfather, on whose farm I spent my summers, used to drill corn with a one row corn planter. One spring he had a young mare called Nellie pulling his planter. Nellie panicked and ran away with the planter. When she had finished her fling, she ended up where she began, and Grandfather finished the job. After the corn came up, we could stand on the hill overlooking the field and trace Nellie’s adventure. A great circle of corn was imposed on the orderly rows. When my father began his Evangelicalism: The New Neutralism in 1958, new evangelicalism was ten years old. As I write these lines in 1992, it is forty-four years old. After ten years it may be hard to see where a movement is going. After forty-four years it is easy to see where it has been.

Early in this book I stated that the mainspring of new evangelicalism is to be found in three determinations of its founder. First, new evangelicalism determined to reject Biblical separation. This determination removed the fences God had ordained to protect the church. From the hilltop of history it is easy to see that new evangelicalism, like Nellie, has traced a great circle back to the fellowship of apostasy The heroes of the 1930’s led their followers to separate from apostasy New evangelicalism has led back into the apostasy their forefathers left. Worse still, the reformation has been vitiated, and the Pope is ready to welcome the wanderers home. The doctrinal fence which kept the charismatic movement in another pasture has been rolled up. New evangelicalism is moving toward one flock, no matter what men believe.

As I have studied the personalities of new evangelicalism I have observed that many new evangelicals were once fundamentalists or had fundamentalist training. Offended by one of the strong leaders of fundamentalism or galled by the restraints which Biblical obedience seemed to place on them, they moved into the fenceless plains of new evangelicalism. Apostasy is that departure from spiritual truth by individuals, churches, or organizations which once possessed the truth. A true apostate is one who once understood the truth. I am not saying that new evangelicals are apostates, but I do see a parallel. Many of the strongest leaders of neutralism are those who once stood for fundamentalism. They understood and deliberately rejected it.

Satan is building the one-world church of the end time. The separatists of the 1930’s and 1940’s removed a portion of the church from the progress of that program. The effect of new evangelicalism has been to deliver much of this portion back to the devil’s program. Neutralism is an attack on Biblical obedience. When Biblical obedience is destroyed, it eventually destroys Biblical faith.

Secondly, new evangelicalism determined to find acceptance by the world. At first this was a craving for acceptance in scholarship and intellectual esteem. Soon that desire for acceptance moved on to culture, music and life style. The desire for acceptance has led to absorption into the world.

One of the key thoughts of new evangelicalism is toleration. That thought has led to the toleration of almost anything in the name of Christianity. Scripture does not say that God is tolerant, but it does say that God is holy. God said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” A craving for the world’s acceptance, even in scholarship, will displace love for the Lord. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).

Is the new evangelical a brother in Christ? It has been difficult to write this book, because I recognize that many of the men I have written about are brethren. I feel that they are brethren disobedient to Scripture, but brethren nonetheless. However, I have had another observation. Let me illustrate. When you start a trip, you fill your gas tank and the gauge on your dashboard reads full. As you drive, it progresses to the other extreme and says empty On the journey of neutralism, write “believer” at the right hand side of your gas tank and “unbeliever” at the left. At the beginning of the journey the new evangelicals were liberal believers, brethren. At the end of the journey the new evangelicals begin to look more like unbelieving liberals. There is a place about the middle of the gauge where one asks, “Am I dealing with believer or unbeliever?” As I studied some of the figures of new evangelicalism I found myself saying, “He’s a brother.” Concerning others I had to say, “I don’t believe he is a brother.” On some I said, “I’m not sure.”

The third determination of new evangelicalism was to add the social gospel to the scriptural gospel. When anything is added to the gospel, the addition always becomes more important than the gospel. Dr. Carl F. H. Henry tried to avoid that by denying the social gospel and saying that there was a social dimension of the gospel. Contemporary new evangelicalism has forgotten that distinction and set the saving gospel and the social gospel side by side as equally important. Since man is a fallen creature, the social gospel will win the day. Man is always more concerned with the needs of his body than with the needs of his soul. The New Testament method of helping mankind was by preaching. The neutralist method is protesting or politicking to gain the victory by government effort or changing the social order. This is not, and never was, the gospel.

I do not expect this book to be a great help to new evangelicals. Neutralists will think I am a critical, curmudgeonly old man who hates everyone. When anyone is critical in this tolerant world, he risks that reputation. Remember, friend, the message of this book does not depend on what you think of me. You must get back to your Bible. What does the Bible say about our fellowship? What does the Bible say about the world? What does the Bible say about the social gospel? New evangelicalism has trained men to follow scholars, books, evangelists and heroes. God wants us to follow His book, the Bible. Neutralism is popular. Is it Biblical? If it is Biblical, it is right. If it is not Biblical, it is wrong. Judge it from your Bible.

It is hard to be critical without developing a critical spirit. I have tried to do that. Some who read the book will feel that I have failed. I am given to humor and sometimes, sarcasm. Both have occasionally shown up in the book. I believe that they are proper arrows to use against a philosophy which I believe is wrong. I hope my readers will not be offended.

I hope that this book will help fundamental pastors. I hope it will strengthen their convictions. I hope it will help their people understand those convictions. The people of fundamental churches listen to the “popularizers.” They read the books of the “intellectuals in residence.” They get literature from historic schools which once stood true. They cannot understand their pastor’s position. Pastors, I hope this book will help you.