The New Evangelism - The New Neutralism -- By: William A. Ashbrook

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:2 (Summer 1959)
Article: The New Evangelism - The New Neutralism
Author: William A. Ashbrook

The New Evangelism - The New Neutralism

Wm. A. Ashbrook

Pastor, Calvary Bible Church, Columbus, Ohio


This is the age of “isms,” some good, mostly bad! The youngest member of Christendom’s numerous fold is called the New Evangelicalism. It might be more properly labeled the New Neutralism. It boasts too much pride and has imbibed too much culture to share the reproach of Fundamentalism. It still has too much faith and too much understanding of the Bible to appear in the togs of Modernism. It is seeking neutral ground, being neither fish nor fowl, neither right nor left, neither for nor against—it stands between!

Lest there be any doubt as to the direction of its sympathies one only needs to evaluate the barbs which it levels at the fundamentalists. “Fundamentalism,” say its traducers, “has degenerated into a cat and dog fight.” Fundamentalism is held up “as an ignorant, contentious approach to the Christian Faith as outdated as high button shoes.” It could well discard “a lot of unnecessary traditional baggage in the forms of customs, practices and lingo beloved through the generations but now obstacles to preaching the gospel to the unsaved.”

By way of contrast the New Neutralism throws these sweetened morsels to some of the most extreme liberals of our day. They are “repentant liberals. .. not far from what evangelicals believe to be orthodox Christianity.” “Commitment to Christ,” (to use a favorite phrase of the repentant liberal), “is absolutely necessary.” “Liberalism then is undeniably changing.” Thus from the speech of its own apologists this Neutralism reduces Fundamentalism to the level of a cat and dog fight, and exalts Liberalism to a noble quest of earnest truth-seekers coming ever nearer and nearer to the light.

Neutralism is a position difficult to maintain in any age, but in a day like ours when the battle is pitched between Christ and anti-Christ it is an impossible position. In the sphere of things moral and spiritual a man must be either right or wrong. The showdown will come in realms of black or white, not in the fog of immaterial grey. There is no middle ground on which the neutralist can complacently stand for long and pronounce his anathemas or his benedictions as the case may be upon both of the conflicting sides. He is bound to wind up in one camp or other and in a day when God is judging compromise in no uncertain terms, he is very likely to wind up in the wrong camp.

There can be no middle ground for Bible-believing Christians. One of the Scottish evangelists of a former day used to say, “Joshua had trouble with the Amorites and the Hittites outside Israel,, but he had far more trouble with the Betweenites ins...

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