New Evangelicalism Rests On Philosophy -- By: Robert C. Brien

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 03:3 (Fall 1960)
Article: New Evangelicalism Rests On Philosophy
Author: Robert C. Brien


New Evangelicalism Rests On Philosophy

Robert C. Brien

First Baptist Church, Bronson, Michigan

New Evangelicalism is a recent theological movement which has arisen since World War II. It emerged from Fundamentalism in such a gradual and insidious way so as to have the sympathy of many unsuspecting Fundamentalists. It is difficult to find a point in history where a decisive break with Fundamentalism can be marked. The emergence of New Evangelicalism is a striking parallel to that of Liberalism.

Background Causes

New Evangelicalism is the result of several different factors, the knowledge of which is necessary to an understanding of it.

1. The cooling-off of the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy. The Fundamentalist giants of former days had reached their goal of proving that Modernism and Biblical Christianity were incompatible. Younger men did not have to enter the arena of battle but merely received from the “older giants” the many priceless volumes of apologetic material. As the last of the Fundamentalist warriors were passing from the scene of battle, younger men naively imagined that the Modernists were having a change of heart. It is true that World War II dealt a shattering blow to the Liberal’s view of man as being “inherently good. “And it is true that Neo-Orthodoxy was a violent reaction to the immanentalism of Liberalism, but there was no indication of a

forsaking of the “method of modernism.” Biblical authority continued to be rejected and full confidence remained in the philosophical presuppositions of man.

2. The current emphasis upon intellectualism. Nominal Fundamentalists working for higher degrees found themselves sitting at the feet of rank infidels in the study of philosophy, science, psychology, and sociology. Some were spiritually and theologically unprepared for the conflict of thought which they faced. It is doubtful that these students had an adequate understanding of the essential nature of Liberalism or of the many factors which contributed to its rise. A study of the educational backgrounds of some of the New Evangelical spokesmen reveals that much more has been learned at the feet of unbelievers than from believers. The views expressed by them show that they have imbibed too much from these unbelievers. Satan has not been sitting idly by but has encouraged in these men a “pride of intellect” which has resulted in their thinking of the Fundamentalists as obscurantists.

3. The apparent success of Ecumenical Evangelism. It is very doubtful that New Evangelicalism would have become so influential had it not been for the prestige given it by the support of Evangelist Billy ...

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