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New Evangelicalism: brief history of compromise

Raymond L. Teachout draws the historical development of the all inclusive mentality in churches. “Finding its origins in German higher critical thinking, liberalism crept into the Protestant scene of North America toward the end of the 19th century. Battles were fought –and lost- over its acceptance within the Protestant denominations. The battles were particularly fierce in the Northern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church…. Beyond any other issue, it was the matter regarding inclusivism that determined the outcome of the denominational controversies.”1)Raymond L. Teachout, Breaking Down the Walls… and the Gospel: The Subversion Work of “Evangelical Inclusivism”, E-B-P-A, 1999, p. 17 David Cloud recounts:


The critical; onslaught against the Bible began in the late 18th century but did not begin to receive wide attention until the late 19th century. Modernism, with its unbelieving approach to Scripture, grew up together with Darwin’s theory of evolution and Marx’s theory of communism…. By the early part of the 20th century, Modernism, in its endless manifestations, had made deep inroads into the mainline Protestant and Baptist denominations. The Fundamentalist– Modernist controversy arose when Bible-believing men stood against modernistic unbelief and separated from the denominations that were committed to the same. New denominations and associations were formed by the militant Fundamentalists. Many of the children of these old-time Fundamentals, though, lacked the conviction of their fathers and rejected biblical separation and what they labeled as the unnecessary “negativism” of their fathers and formed the New Evangelical movement in the 1940s.

This was a spirit of neutrality. New Evangelicals claimed to love the truth, but they did not hate error. They practiced infiltration of the modernistic denominations and organizations rather than separation. New Evangelical men, in their enthusiasm for credentials and recognition, in their zeal to meet the Modernists on their own turf, trained at the feet of Modernists….It is no surprise, then, that the New Evangelical movement was soon influenced by Modernistic thought. New Evangelicalism, with its positive orientation, became immensely popular and spread throughout the old evangelical world. Large ecumenical parachurch evangelistic ministries, such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth for Christ, wielded massive influence and spread the New Evangelical philosophies far and wide.2)David W. Cloud, Things Hard to be Understood, Way of Life Literature, fourth edition, 2006, p. 6-7


Paul Smith spoke of Billy Graham’s actions which was a destructive compromise. “Billy Graham had decided that most churches in a city had to be united in their invitation to him to come and conduct an evangelistic crusade before he would go to that city and preach. So now representative clergy from nearly the full spectrum of Protestantism would sit behind the evangelist on the crusade platform. Some clergy could be members of the National and World Council of Churches denominations. Not infrequently some clergy would be present who did not believe in inerrancy, the virgin birth of Christ, and other core historic fundamentalist views.”3)Paul Smith, New Evangelicalism: The New World Order, Calvary Publishing, 2011, p. 90 Gary Kah recognizing the influence and financial source of the World Council of Churches,


Strongly influenced by the Masonic Lodge and with funding from major “old money” sources such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Council of Churches (WCC) aggressively embarked on its mission.4)Gary H. Kah, The New World Religion, Hope International Publishing, Inc., 1999, p. 207


Confusion concerning doctrine arose as perspectives were fused together under the guise of evangelism – a new evangelism. Thus, “this historical drift from inerrancy, as corrupt seed, was sown into the soil of evangelicalism. New evangelicalism sprouted.”5)Paul Smith, New Evangelicalism: The New World Order, Calvary Publishing, 2011, p. 77

Robert P. Lightner explained “Others who were originally stalwarts in the new evangelical camp now no longer wish even to be called new evangelical because of the extreme position which some of their brethren have taken regarding the Scriptures.”6)Robert P. Lightner, Neoevangelicalism Today, Regular Baptist Press, 1965, 1978, Fifth Edition, p. 15 Obviously, anything that is not established on the unchanging word of God will share in such a fate. Raymond Teachout wrote, “If the Scriptures declare that a doctrine is essential to the gospel, then anyone who claims belief in that doctrine, while denying that it is essential, in reality denies the doctrine. One cannot truly believe in the necessary atonement of Christ if he admits the possibility of someone being saved through some other means. Similarly, one cannot truly believe that salvation is by faith alone if he admits that someone can be saved through infant baptism or other sacraments.”7)Raymond L. Teachout, Breaking Down the Walls… and the Gospel: The Subversion Work of “Evangelical Inclusivism”, E-B-P-A, 1999, p. 152 Exemplifying this double standard approach to the gospel is Billy Graham who is quoted as saying:


“I fully adhere to the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith for myself and my ministry,” said the Rev. Billy Graham. “But, as an American, I respect other paths to God – and, as a Christian, I am called on to love them.”8)Collin Greer, “’Our Task Is To Do All We Can – Not To Sit And Wait,’” Parade Magazine, October 20, 1996: 4-6, as cited by Raymond L. Teachout, Breaking Down the Walls… and the Gospel: The Subversion Work of “Evangelical Inclusivism”, E-B-P-A, 1999, p. 55


“Other paths” do lead to God – where He will judge all and separate the sheep from the goats. Respecting false religions does not show love to them, it withholds love from them by allowing them to go to hell respectfully.

Ernest Pickering relates, “In 1957 the tide began to turn with regard to large evangelistic crusades. Billy Graham, a rising star on the evangelistic horizon, decided to broaden his approach and conducted his first ecumenical crusade in New York City. Many of his friends warned against it, and many refused to cooperate, but he persisted in his course, and Graham’s course was set for the remainder of his ministry.”9)Ernest D. Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, 1994, p. 12 The following year is recognized as the date New Evangelicalism was born. “However, after World War II, a new movement was emerging which came to be called the new evangelical movement (some call it neo-evangelicalism). In 1948, Harold Ockenga coined the term Neo-Evangelicalism at a convocation of the newly formed Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.”10)David H. Sorenson, Broad Is The Way: Fundamentalist Merging into the Evangelical Mainstream, Northstar Ministries, 2013, p. 56 “One after another, institutions of learning that were built and nurtured by old-time fundamentalists began to fall prey to New Evangelical teaching.”11)Ernest D. Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, 1994, p. 120 The infiltration and compromising fall of these institutions has been documented by David Sorenson in Broad Is The Way.

Dean Gotcher expressing the dialectic ideology essential defines the spirit behind new evangelicalism. “Instead of instructing us to know, trust and obey the Word of God, today there is an emphasis on thinking and feeling about how we can modify or redefine the Word of God to further human relationships.”12)Dean Gotcher, The Dialectic & Praxis: Diaprax and the End of the Ages, Institution for Authority Research, Vol. 1, 1996, p. 9 Consider the popular movements and authors of the past decades that represent “Christian leaders” of the contemporary church. The Promise Keepers Statement of Faith says, “We believe that we have a God-given mission to unite Christian men… the biblical directive… compels us to break down the walls that have divided and polarized the body of Christ for too long.”13)What is a Promise Keeper?, Promise Keepers 1996, Breakdown the Walls, Magazine, p. 5 Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life: “For the sake of fellowship, do your best to compromise, adjust to others, and show preference to what they need.”14)Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan, 2002, p. 157 Again he states, “But for unity’s sake we must never let differences divide us.”15)Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan, 2002, p. 161 He propagates this further in another publication, citing Roman 14:19a from The Message “So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.”16)Rick Warren, General Editor, Better Together: What On Earth Are We Here For?, Purpose Driven Publishing, 2004, p. 72 Paraphrases become useful for heretics because “Ecumenism stops short of accepting the whole Bible upon which it bases its doctrine of unity.”17)Robert P. Lightner, Neoevangelicalism Today, Regular Baptist Press, 1965, 1978, Fifth Edition, p. 103 Either rewrite it or strip its words of any and all definitions with a postmodern philosophy. Representing the emergent church, Leonard Sweet says,


The creation of PALS may point the way home. Harvard’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter has coined the phrase “PALs” to describe how companies around the world are “pooling, allying, and linking.”…

The church needs to make PALs – with other denominations, with other faith traditions, and even with some unexpected entities, some of whom might have been adversaries in the past.18)Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, Sink or Swim in the New Millennium, Zondervan, Publishing, 1999, p. 395


The purpose of the postmodern approach to the Bible and church is to reexamine the truth of the Scriptures by “continuing dialogues between world views and interpretive strategies.”19)Edgar V. McKnight, Post-Modern Use of the Bible: The Emergence of Reader – Oriented Criticism, Abingdon Press, 1988, p. 21 Kenneth Copeland claims, “When you begin to operate in these things, when you begin to act on the righteousness which Jesus has given you, then you will realize that many of the differences which have separated the Body of Christ for years are actually foolish and unimportant. We have bickered and fought with one another over the most ridiculous issues.”20)Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Righteousness, Kenneth Copeland Publications,1983, p. 41 By “ridiculous issues” he apparently means doctrines.


What they don’t realize is this: scriptural unity isn’t on doctrine.

Winds of doctrine, according to Ephesians 4:14, are childish. Winds of doctrine don’t unify. They divide and blow people in every direction. The Word doesn’t say anything about us coming into the unity of our doctrines. It says we’ll come into the unity of the faith.21)Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, From Faith To Faith: A Daily Guide to Victory, Kenneth Copeland Publications1992, March 23


Ephesians 4:14 actually warns us about heretics who deceive immature Christians with false doctrines. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” This is a warning of men like Kenneth Copeland!

Ankerberg and Weldon point out the true cause of division in Christianity is false teachers. “If biblical doctrine is not the final standard, then where does one draw the line between what is or isn’t Christian? In the end, what remains is only a false or shallow comprehension of Christianity – and it is this (and wrong theology) which promotes division among Christians.”22)John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts On The Faith Movement, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 14 Harold Brown rightly observed, “If we are not happy with heresy, then it will be necessary to accept a fairly substantial dose of doctrinal theology.”23)Harold O. J. Brown, Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., fourth printing 2007, originally published under the title Heresies: the Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy by Baker Books, 1984, p. 78 To be a true Christian is to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10) we should hate heresy. It is Satan who “blinds the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4) “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). “In [John 16] verses 17-19, He [Jesus] prays that we may be kept in the truth – His truth. Unity for the believer is full in Christ rather than something to be obtained by consensus of opinion. This unity is to be kept, not established. It is unity that is separated from the world, and maintained in the truth of Christ and His Word.”24)Ken Ham & Greg Hall with Britt Beemer, Already Compromised, Master Book, 2011, p. 165 A small compromise can cause one to fall on the side of great evil.


In 1987, Soviet Leader Gorachev met with a large group of U.S. celebrities in Moscow. He outlined to them his new worldview and asked them to help him propagate the new Soviet “gospel.”… Regrettably, also at the gala was evangelist Billy Graham, who once upon a time bravely condemned globalism, communism, and ecumenism, but has recently softened his views considerably.25)Texe Marrs, Millennium, Peace, Promises, and the Day They Take Our Money Away, Living Truth Publishers, 1990, p. 112


How far will compromise take one? “Dr. Billy Graham in his old age has become so ecumenized that he thinks the Mormon Church is a great Christian organization, and the late pope was the foremost ecclesiastical leader in the world.”26)Noah W. Hutchings, The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church, Expanded Edition, Bible Belt Publishing, 2005, 2007, p. 117-118 Separation is an imperative biblical doctrine. “Doctrine divides believers from unbelievers. Without doctrine there will be no division.”27)Mike Genrdon, Preparing Catholics for Eternity, 21st century Press, 2008, p. 25 Terullian implied the mark of a heretic was their willingness to ignore doctrinal differences for the sake of unity. He described Gnostics with these words: “Simplicity they will have to consist in the overthrow of discipline, attention to which on our part they call brotherly. Peace also they huddle up anyhow with all comers; for it matters not to them, however different be their treatment of subjects, provided only they can conspire together to storm the citadel of the one only Truth.”28)Tertullian, On Prescription Against Heretics, chap. XLI; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, vol. 3, p. 263 Evangelicalism is contrasted to fundamentalism as much as the dialectic is opposed to the didactic – it is a synthesis versus the separatists.


If you liked this article, you may also be interested in Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.



Heath Henning
Heath Henning
Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children. Read Heath Henning's Testimony

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