NE is dead, long live NE

We are in a series of posts which serve as commentary on Kevin Bauder’s tenth lecture on the subject of Biblical Separation, delivered at International Baptist College September 15-17, 2008. This is post number 6. Earlier posts on the lecture series can be found here:

Posts specifically regarding Lecture 10:

  1. is separation a fundamental doctrine
  2. indifferentists defined
  3. not indifferent, but not allies
  4. how should we proceed
  5. the danger of theological drift

My last two posts (including this one) concern what may seem to be niggling points of difference.These differences are perhaps minor — only semantics? Nevertheless, they seem significant enough to me. They reflect what may well be deeper philosophical differences between the Dr. and me. Since Bauder holds the position he holds, and carries the amount of influence he does, his philosophy has the potential to have a fairly wide impact on the fundamentalist world at large. So the differences that may seem niggling may in fact speak to very serious issues concerning the future of fundamentalism.First, just one audio clip in this post:

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In this clip, [57:44] NE is dead, long live NE, Bauder is saying there is no more New Evangelicalism. It died out twenty years ago. There may still be one or two of the old New Evangelicals who are still alive. Nevertheless, he admits, what was the New Evangelicalism has become the Evangelical mainstream, and Indifferentism is the philosophy that dominates. What he means by that is Evangelical leaders (many or most) are willing to extend fellowship to people who are in ‘this camp’ – I assume he means apostates by ‘this camp’. He cites the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement as an example.


This statement is one that just mystifies me. It is often bandied about in the various discussions regarding Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, and the differing philosophies. If someone on the right uses the term “New Evangelical”, the comment is often dismissed with the statement, “There are no more New Evangelicals.”

Yet let’s listen to Bauder here.

  • New Evangelicalism is dead. It’s been dead for twenty years. (One or two “old New Evangelicals” might still be alive. I would assume he’s referring to Billy Graham. He might still be alive.)
  • New Evangelicalism has become mainstream Evangelicalism. (What? I thought NE was dead? How has it resurrected itself?)
  • The philosophy of mainstream Evangelicalism is Indifferentism. (Remember, Bauder says — in one of my earlier clips — that New Evangelicalism is a revival of the old Indifferentism of Machen’s day.)

From all of this, I have to conclude that the rumours of New Evangelicalism’s death are greatly exaggerated. The term has fallen into disuse because Evangelicalism is completely given over to the New Evangelical philosophy and after 60 plus years, it just isn’t New anymore.

Indifferentism = New Evangelicalism = present day mainstream Evangelicalism.

How can we say there is no such thing as New Evangelicalism anymore? The claim is just a convenient construct to shout down the criticisms of Fundamentalists.

I would like to take this a bit further. It isn’t simply the “Evangelicals” who are infected with Indifferentism. It is the Conservative Evangelicals as well, to one degree or another. That is why they can easily entertain blasphemers on their platforms, or why they can join in publishing books with supporters of the ECT, and so on. Indifferentism is alive and well and its name is Evangelical — no matter the adjective you put on the front of the name.

It also seems that Fundamentalism is increasingly infected with the Indifferentist disease as well. Consider the lack of outrage over the blaspheming Seattle preacher who is on the Conservative Evangelical’s BFF list. Fundamentalists who make an attempt to point out the outrageous taint of associating with him are swarmed with criticism, not from evangelicals, but from alleged Fundamentalists!

As I say in my subject line:

New Evangelicalism is dead; Long live New Evangelicalism.



  1. You’re right on with this, Don. Unfortunately, I don’t know many who care. I don’t see a long future for your branch of fundamentalism. Sorry. I see it eroding quickly. Bauder seems to be almost apologetic for it, definitely not strong. I believe the undoing of it is the acceptance of these conservative evangelicals, attending their conferences, blurring the differences. Those who do care are very old and don’t have much influence any more.

  2. hey, watch who you’re calling very old!

    But you are right. those with the most influence are either silent or co-opted.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Don,
    I am enjoying your series. I know your series focuses on Bauder’s lectures but will there be any information forthcoming that fundamentalism is just an “idea?”
    As far as those fundamentalist “with the most influence (who are) are either silent or co-opted”, why do you think that is?

  4. I somewhat agree with Bauder’s notion of an ‘idea of fundamentalism’, although I think the true idea may be (probably is) different than he envisions it.

    And an idea without actions (and actors) is just words.

    Why are influential fundamentalists silent? Well, Kent hints at it above. Some of them are just too old and their influence is not what it was. I know some of the major voices personally who feel they no longer can call the younger fellows into line. I suppose they are afraid their voice no longer carries as much weight and they would only be seen as a cranky old man.

    Some of them, I think, are unsure if they can rally sufficient support to make a difference. If they speak out (say in a fellowship like the FBF) they risk being the only one, or part of a minority, and will lose whatever influence they currently have. So they hesitate.

    As for those who are co-opted, it may be simply that the voices for a ‘kinder gentler’ fundamentalism have been so loud for so long that they have been intimidated into silence. Others may have joined with them because of lingering resentment over the errors of the past. (There always are errors, and there always is resentment.) So they won’t speak out because they don’t want to speak out. They are content to let the whole movement be redefined, without any interference from them.

    Of course there could be other reasons.

    I hope that some men will begin to see what is going on, begin to raise questions with others, and come to a place where they call on the fundamentalist institutions to take a fundamentalist stand against the easy drift towards evangelicalism.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. Don,
    I would like to hear some of the more seasoned fundamentalist not necessarily “call the younger fellows into line” but just give a voice…or an opinion…or a statement on their web sites or anything…as to what the “line” is, where is the “line” drawn, how can you tell if you are drifting away from the “line”.
    You are filling a gap that needs to be filled and have taken heat for it! I appreciate you raising these issues.
    I do not necessarily buy into the argument that our branch of fundamentalism is “eroding quickly.” Weeding out what is bad…..yes! But eroding? Only in their dreams!

  6. That’s good, Len, stated much better than I just did!

    I too would like to see some of our leaders taking the time to analyse what Bauder and others are saying and presenting a detailed response/distinction from it. Then let the chips fall where they may.

    I do think there is a position to be articulated. Likely my point of view could be much improved, but I don’t think we need to cede this ground just yet.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  7. Don,
    It would do Mr. Bauder well to watch (or rewatch) the BJU film “Sheffy.” The days of compromise and blurring the lines that “Robert Sheffy” warned about are upon us!
    To wait for someone to ride amongst us on a white horse called “Old Fashioned Biblical Fundamentalism” and define who we are and WHY we are right is not going to happen.
    Looks like its up to you and me Don! Lock and load!