on the chasm between evangelicalism and fundamentalism

In their own words…

UN Leader Woos Evangelicals | Liveblog | Christianity Today: “In a sense, last night’s banquet and today’s issue-oriented discussions are really less about evangelicals fighting disease and poverty and more about evangelicals working in partnerships–partnerships between Western evangelicals and those in the developing world and partnerships with non-evangelicals,

We cautiously engaged those of other shades of Christian faith and even other religions in the mid-90s when we threw tremendous weight behind the effort to pass the International Religious Freedom Act and the creation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. We then enlarged the circle of cooperation to work on legislation to fight sex trafficking and, later, human-rights abuses in North Korea. The circle has expanded yet again as many evangelical leaders are partnering on issues of climate change.

Partnerships give evangelicals a sense of participation and empowerment. It gives us the chance to take on really big issues. That’s a strange feeling for a movement whose consciousness is rooted in old-style fundamentalism. Fundamentalism was about being the few and the proud–I mean, the pure. The evangelicalism that emerged in the 1940s hoped for a new engagement with society while maintaining doctrinal and ethical integrity. Its leaders, like first CT editor Carl F. H. Henry and first CT board chair Harold John Ockenga preached a strong social justice message. But the old fundamentalist consciousness still lurks, and these partnerships stretch the evangelical sense of identity.”

This attitude is not all that dissimilar to that promoted by at least some of the so-called ‘conservative evangelicals. I recall Ben Wright posting a telling comment by Al Mohler about fundamentalism where he said something like “Fundamentalism is marginalized and has no influence.” [I am paraphrasing, it was from Mohler’s radio show and it was some time ago.] For many conservative evangelicals, I believe the reason they cannot admit the fundamental error of evangelicalism is that they cannot give up their addiction to “influence”. Whether they actually have any influence or not is another question.

Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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