Wednesday, May 21, 2008

DEBATE OR DIALOGUE?
...a conversation with the culture and compromise of faith positions may go hand in hand


John E. Ashbrook from his book, The New Neutralism II, "A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position."




"New Evangelicalism" is comprised of three key components:

  • First, new evangelicalism determines to reject Biblical separation.
  • Secondly, new evangelicalism determines to find acceptance by the world.
  • Thirdly, new evangelicalism determines to add the social gospel to the Scriptural gospel....

HT: Sheri, from the meta of "waawaawaa..."

11 comments:

The Spokesman said...

"New Evangelicalism" is comprised of three key components:
First, new evangelicalism determines to reject Biblical separation.
Secondly, new evangelicalism determines to find acceptance by the world.
Thirdly, new evangelicalism determines to add the social gospel to the Scriptural gospel....


Maybe that's why some preachers' kids are emergent!

wheat and chaff said...

Steve:
I agree with the spokesman here. That is some link you posted brother!

What a day we live in. My goodness.

William

Joseph Gould said...

And how did we decide to define new evangelicalism by these three components?

SJ Camp said...

Joseph
Good question.

It was the opinion of the author John Ashbrook which I believe has some merit to it. No question it is a narrow corridor he is addressing on the cultural issue. And most surely evangelicalism has more turmoil than these three things.

I think it would be fair as well to see some of the foundational erosions behind these three things:

1. an abandoning of the biblical gospel
2. an abandoning of the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God
3. an abandoning of the nature and character of the One Triune God
4. and an abandoning of the nature, person and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ

Satan never attacks the trivial, but always the crucial; and he hasn't changed his strategery since being thrown out of heaven.

When those things are sacrificed for either methodological concerns, pragmatic ideals, cultural relevancy, the contextualization of the gospel, and an unbiblical redefining of the purpose and function of the local church - then we find ourselves in the state of things we are today.

I would be very interested in your thoughts on this. I also believe that Dr. Mohler has an excellent read on the state of evangelicalism today as well.

Steve

Joseph Gould said...

Steve,

I haven't read John Ashbrook, so I can't really comment on his argument. I have read multiple historical works on fundamentalism and evangelicalism, however, and I would make a distinction between "new" evangelicals and "progressive " evangelicals.

I'm not sure if you are familiar with George Marsden's Reforming Fundamentalism, but it tracks the history of Fuller Theological Seminary. FTS started as a response to anti-intellectual and cultural-isolationist fundamentalism, and the founders of the institution, including John Ockenga and Carl F. H. Henry, came to promote what Marsden calls "new evangelicalism." These men did not abandon the four foundations you mentioned or hold to the three components which Ashbrook writes of.

Of course, many of the evangelicals in the generation following Henry and Ockenga did reject the foundations you mention, or at least rejected some of them and held onto others inconsistenty. Marsden calls these men "progressive evangelicals."

Anyways, this has likely not been helpful or very clear as a comment on a blog, but my main point is that there are two streams of evangelicalism, those who follow the thought of Carl F. H. Henry and those who consider themselves "progressive" evangelicals. When Henry emerged his evangelicalism was "new," but since it's not really new anymore the "new" has dropped off.

Of course, all this points to the fluidity of the term "evangelical," why no one has been able to guard the term, and why there are differing opinions on whether the term is even helpful today with all the variations of progressive evangelicals.

I'll have to check out Ashbrook myself when I have time. I've read Dr. Mohler's article, but the details of it escape me right now.

Blessings,
Joseph

born4battle said...

Ashbrook's book can be read here:
http://www.americanpresbyterianchurch.org/foreword.htm
If the link doesn't work, just google 'new neutralism' and it will come up. The author makes some really valid points, but I found him a tad overly critical at times.

SJ Camp said...

Joseph
I'm not sure if you are familiar with George Marsden's Reforming Fundamentalism, but it tracks the history of Fuller Theological Seminary. FTS started as a response to anti-intellectual and cultural-isolationist fundamentalism, and the founders of the institution, including John Ockenga and Carl F. H. Henry, came to promote what Marsden calls "new evangelicalism." These men did not abandon the four foundations you mentioned or hold to the three components which Ashbrook writes of.

I think that is more than fair - agreed.

Fuller Seminary continues to be a melting pot of theological ideas so vast and more pragmatic than biblical, that it's current doctrinal essentials seem to be constantly shifting and drifting beyond the pale of orthodox, historical, biblical Christianity. Case in point: the C. Peter Wagner embracement of the Third Wave, dominion theology, and the liberal fallacies of the emergent church.

SJ Camp said...

born4battle
Thanks for the link and information on his book.

You said: The author makes some really valid points, but I found him a tad overly critical at times.

I think that is true of anyone, including myself, who is so passionate about an issue that a measured, circumspect view takes a back seat sometimes when driving home a certain point of deep conviction.

Steve

Bryan Riley said...

Thirdly, new evangelicalism determines to add the social gospel to the Scriptural gospel....

I'm confused by this point. What is the gospel if it isn't grace? And, when we receive that grace we then are called to give the same? Isn't that then saying that the gospel is both/and, not either or?

Why was Abraham blessed? To be a blessing to the Nations. What were the disciples called? To go and make more disciples. What was the very thing Paul desired to do? To feed the hungry and take care of the widows and orphans. What is God's heart for? Righteousness AND justice. Truth and love. Jesus preached truth and grace. Fire and water. Loving God and loving others.

So, adding to the gospel would be false, but I'm not sure that being the hands and feet of Jesus is adding to the gospel. It is preaching and living out the gospel.

SJ Camp said...

bryan riley
I'm confused by this point. What is the gospel if it isn't grace? And, when we receive that grace we then are called to give the same? Isn't that then saying that the gospel is both/and, not either or?

Good questions.

Here is my attempt to bring a bit more clarity.

The social gospel doesn't refer to the fruit of living a holy life and doing good works in community as a sign of our salvation (which I agree we should be doing and is what I think your post goes to).

The social gospel wants to only focus on the more general issues within society by amputating the heart and soul of the genuine gospel to do so and enjoy the widest appeal Example, if I say to a group of nonbelievers "we are all God's children called to love each other. therefore may we do so by caring for the poor, helping people with HIV infection, and being better stewards of our environment. and making global warming the great unitor for people of all faiths..." Etc. etc. etc. Now some of those things we can agree with are important needs today; but in doing them and making Jesus out to be just another concerned liberal for peoples welfare based needs is not the gospel nor the point of the gospel. It is another gospel when it replaces the gospel of sola fide.

The "gospel" itself isn't even preached in that above, only hinted at by the general phrases of love, brotherhood, and the references of coming together to help cure the social ills of a society in decay.

However, where the real gospel is proclaimed, lives will be changed by God's sovereign grace and electing love. We will be "salt and light" to a dying world; we will do good deeds to all men; we will love our neighbor as ourselves; and we will give evidence in our lives by and of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to His salvific work in us. But not absent of the gospel being proclaimed, believed and followed.

Unity on the gospel itself with the fruit of; good works to our neighbor is the issue. But when unity is only on social issues under the most thin veneer of religious language, then there is dangerous ground one stands upon.

Jim Black said...

Hi all,
I'm new to this blog, so thanks for the thouoght provoking discussion!
Just to add a thought...I don't think Evangelicals have lately been accused of doing too much to "bless the world", as Brian Riley pointed out in his comments.
My wife has been sick and has had 9 major surgeries...I can't tell you how mwny people told us they would pray for us, but I can count on one hand how many were actually there when we really needed help!
I guess the old saying "Don't only tell me what you believe...show me" (my own translation!) may apply here...
I wrote a little song to the tune of "We Are One in the Spirit" - it may cause some thoughts...
Here are the words:

“Fish on our Cars”
words and music by Jim Black
© 2006 lauriejomusic

We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord
And we’ll tell everybody from our Chevy and our Ford

They will know we are Christians
By the fish on our cars
They will know we are Christians by our cars

We will sit with each other in a pew or a chair
We will sit with each other in a pew or a chair
And we’ll pray that non-believers will discover us there

They will know we are Christians
By the fish on our cars
They will know we are Christians by our cars

We will work on committees, We will work side by side
We will work on committees, We will work side by side
And we’ll study together Robert’s Rules as our guide

They will know we are Christians
By the fish on our cars
They will know we are Christians by our cars

We will walk with each other, We will walk for a cause
We will walk with each other, We will walk for a cause
And we’ll raise up new leadership to change all the laws

They will know we are Christians
By the fish on our cars
They will know we are Christians by our cars

All praise to the makers of the t-shirts we wear
And all praise to the sloganeers who help us boldly share
And all praise to the retailers who sell them to us there

They will know we are Christians
By the fish on our cars
They will know we are Christians…honk if you agree
And they’ll know we are Christians…they have eyes, Why can’t they see?
And they’ll know we are Christians…what more do they want from me?!
They will know we are Christians by our cars…
(spoken) What would Jesus drive?