The Present Status Of The New Evangelicalism -- By: Ernest Pickering

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:1 (Spring 1959)
Article: The Present Status Of The New Evangelicalism
Author: Ernest Pickering

The Present Status Of The New Evangelicalism

Ernest Pickering

    One of the most significant theological movements of this generation is exercising an increasingly large influence in American church life. It has arisen out of the soil of American fundamentalism. The distinguished character and ability of its leaders and the wide-spread exposition of its principles are combining to assure it a ready hearing among many conservative ministers and laymen today. By common usage this movement has come to be known as the “new evangelicalism.” Basically, it is an attempt to find a meeting place between liberalism (with its more modern expression, new-orthodoxy) and fundamentalism. It is unwilling to espouse all the tenets of liberalism, but is anxious to escape some of the reproach attached to fundamentalism.

    Probably several factors have contributed to the rise of this new approach. Apparently one of the most basic of such factors is a long-cherished desire to exert more influence and receive more recognition from the contemporary secular and religious society. A hint of this is given in this statement by one of its advocates: “And we have not always been granted even that measure of civilized respect which our competitors seem willing to accord each other in the world of scholarship and learning. Too often our best reception has been an amused indulgence. . .” (Christianity Today, March 4, 1957). Some evangelicals have for years chafed at the bit because their classification as fundamentalist precluded any serious consideration of their thought and writings by the masses of our country. The bitter pill of reproach, isolation, and derision because of their theological position

    has been a difficult one to swallow. They have longed for acceptance as bona fide religious leaders among the recognized religious groups of the day. This driving motive has compelled them to change their approach in order to better conform to the pattern of the day, and so seek to make themselves acceptable.

    Coupled with this has been an unwillingness to continue in a constant, vigorous defense of the faith. New evangelicals express impatience and disdain with those who expose the sin and error of apostasy and long to forget the whole fundamentalist-modernist controversy and move on to something more “constructive.” They have grown weary in the battle, and have decided that the advice of the old frontiersman is wise, “If you can’t lick ‘em, jine ‘em.”

    I. The Principles Of The New Evangelicalism

    The new evangelicalism is a very recent movement, an emerging movement, and hence it does not as yet present itself in any highly organized form nor have its principles been all thoroughly crystallized. However, it is not too di...

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