a new-fundamentalist manifesto?

In a relatively recent (but undated) press release, Central Baptist Theological Seminary announced that discussions of a proposed merger between Central and Faith Baptist Theological Seminary have ceased. Instead, some kind of cooperation between the two institutions will be pursued “short of a merger”.

Below the press release, links are provided to several ‘ethos statements’, also undated. They provide an interesting glimpse into the state of mind CBTS considers to be its “distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs”. *

In reading these documents, some observations come to mind. First, comparing the “Ethos Statement on Salvation & Sanctification” and the “Ethos Statement on Hermeneutics & Eschatology” with the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism”, a curious difference is immediately noticeable. The first two documents are full of phrases like this: “Some of us believe that…” contrasted with “while others believe…” or “while others understand…” The third document contains no expressions like this at all. One has to wonder how much these first two documents really distinguish the character or guiding beliefs of the institution. Some believe one thing, others believe another. Doesn’t sound like a statement of certainty to me. It seems that the third document, the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism” is more definitive than the first two.

Second, regarding the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism” specifically, my first impression is that it represents something new. It isn’t the way fundamentalists have typically expressed themselves in the last 60 years, but it does seem to be a summary statement of new views of fundamentalism that some have been advocating in recent years. Yet, this statement is perhaps less definitive than it appears because there remain several important unanswered questions.

In with the new…

The ‘gospel’ as the grounds of separation

It has been pointed out elsewhere, but I think it is worth noting here that “the gospel” isn’t the central focus of fundamentalist separation. For example, consider a series of articles on the Bob Jones University website on separation. The introduction defines ecclesiastical separation this way:

Ecclesiastical separation involves, positively, identification with groups faithful to the truth of God’s Word. Negatively, it is the refusal to be identified with any teacher, church, denomination, or other religious organization that does not hold to and contend for those fundamentals of the Faith concerning the Bible, Christ, and salvation.

Note that this is much more comprehensive than simply separation over the ‘boundaries of the gospel’, the defining edge of the separation the Central ethos statement repeatedly asserts. For example, see it’s second sentence:

To be a Fundamentalist is, first, to believe that fundamental doctrines are definitive for Christian fellowship, second, to refuse Christian fellowship with all who deny fundamental doctrines (e.g., doctrines that are essential to the gospel), and third, to reject the leadership of Christians who form bonds of cooperation and fellowship with those who deny essential doctrines.

I would suggest that the statement from the BJU article represents a more accurate and more historic expression of the fundamentalist ethos than the Central statement. In this sense, then, the Central statement is a new approach.

Repudiation of ‘revivalistic Fundamentalism’

The Central article clearly repudiates what it calls ‘revivalistic Fundamentalism’. While the article acknowledges that this ‘version’ of Fundamentalism has ‘always been a significant aspect of the movement,’1 the Central article calls it a ‘threat to biblical Christianity’.

Another version of Fundamentalism that we repudiate is revivalistic and decisionistic. It typically rejects expository preaching in favor of manipulative exhortation. It bases spirituality upon crisis decisions rather than steady, incremental growth in grace. By design, its worship is shallow or non-existent. Its philosophy of leadership is highly authoritarian and its theology is vitriolic in its opposition to Calvinism. While this version of Fundamentalism has always been a significant aspect of the movement, we nevertheless see it as a threat to biblical Christianity.

“Significant aspect of the movement”??? One could make a case, I think, that the historic fundamentalists (those pre-1940 who were the ‘pure laine’ fundamentalists) were by and large ‘revivalistic’. Scan the authors of The Fundamentals. Consider the position of the general editor, R. A. Torrey. Examine the philosophy of many of those in the Northern Baptist Convention who went through the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. Fundamentalism owes an incredible debt to revivalism.

While I am no defendant of the excesses of revivalism as such, I don’t look at it with scorn as the self-named ‘historic fundamentalists’ of today do. If one is to be an ‘historic fundamentalist’, it could be argued that you must be a revivalist.2

In any case, this disdain of the ‘revivalist aspect’ of fundamentalism is new. The early fundamentalists were largely revivalists. Many, if not most, of the institutions that remained in the fundamentalist camp after the new evangelical defection were built by revivalists and ministered through successful revivalist practices. The historical reality is that non-revivalists cooperated with revivalists as fundamentalists for the cause of a pure church (at least as pure as men can make it).

My point is that this disdain of revivalism is an innovation. It is new. Certainly some revivalist practices need correction. Some of its practices have been overdone and have caused spiritual harm. But there are godly men of a revivalist persuasion, preaching the true gospel, who ought to be encouraged and appreciated, not cast aside.

The new attitude towards a certain segment of evangelicalism

It is true that a certain segment of evangelicalism has made significant changes in their stance. They have tightened up their fellowship in some aspects of a generally open attitude towards aberration. The new-evangelicals swayed most of the Bible-believing church into a new attitude of cooperation and toleration of egregious spiritual error. This robbed the church of almost all of its moral authority in our society in the last 60 years. A certain segment of evangelicalism is now aware that the new evangelicalism went too far.

This segment is called the “Conservative Evangelicals”. They are indeed making strong statements about certain kinds of gospel-compromising errors. Talk, however, is cheap. I have noted many times in the past that these men will speak up against such things as Open Theism, but retain denominational bonds with them. They will speak out against such things as ECT3 yet maintain their cooperative relationships with its signatories. They will even, in some cases, sign on to such ecumenical efforts as the Manhattan Declaration, another vehicle of cooperation between evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox ‘Christians’. There is no need to go on listing their continued compromises, I have mentioned them many times in these pages.

The Central statement, in spite of these kinds of ecumenical errors, says:

Nevertheless, we find that we have much more in common with conservative evangelicals (who are slightly to our Left) than we do with hyper-Fundamentalists (who are considerably to our Right), or even with revivalistic Fundamentalists (who are often in our back yard). In conservative evangelicals we find allies who are willing to challenge not only the compromise of the gospel on the Left, but also the pragmatic approach to Christianity that typifies so many evangelicals and Fundamentalists. For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.4

By fellowship, let it be said, this new ethos means to say that some kind of cooperative efforts are now possible. That is to say, though the Conservative Evangelicals are still guilty of serious ecumenical errors, it is now suggested that fundamentalists can cooperate with them in some ways.

This is new. If we put a time-frame on the fundamentalist movement as such, one could argue that modern fundamentalism really began to form in the late 1890s. Fundamentalism was rocked in the late 1950s by the new evangelical compromise. One could argue that the fundamentalists of its first half-century were never really confronted with ecumenical error, but they were forced by the circumstances of the battle to part company with moderates in their old denominations, men who claimed to hold to the fundamentals but would not separate over them. The fundamentalists of its second half century were of course confronted with ecumenicalism amongst their erstwhile brethren and had to make a choice concerning them – and we all know which way that choice went.

Now we are being told something new. We have conservative men who have taken some strong stands against some errors, but continue to entangle themselves in ecumenical compromises. These men are still ‘anti-separatist’. Yet now we are told that ‘historic’ fundamentalists have ‘more in common’ with them than with other fundamentalists, even those ‘in our own backyard’. Incredible! Shall moderation win? Can anyone deny that this is a new position for fundamentalists to take?

Remaining questions…

Besides innovations, the Central ethos statement fails to define all that it is saying. Many questions remain and it is unclear exactly what is meant in all that it purports to advocate.

1. What is meant by terms like ‘subvert the Christian faith’ and ‘this is not Biblical Christianity’ as applied to ‘some fundamentalists’?

Do these terms mean that, say, men who hold to a King James Only position are not Christians? What about the ‘revivalist fundamentalist’? Is he subverting the Christian faith? Is he outside the bounds of the gospel?

This is very strong language. It should not be uttered loosely and the folks at Central who stand behind this ethos statement should very clearly define just who they are talking about and exactly what they mean. It isn’t sufficient to raise innuendos about ‘many versions of professing Fundamentalism’ and leave it at that. Fundamentalists who differ with Central’s innovations ought to demand an answer to this question.

2. What are these ‘careful, limited forms of fellowship’ that Central now thinks are possible?

How do you stop separating from anti-separatists and not get entangled in their anti-separatist errors? Why is the Central ethos so much couched in generalities, if an ethos is “the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution?” *

Until those espousing this new careful, limited form of fellowship are plain in their speech and open about what they mean, the rest of fundamentalism remains in an unsettled turmoil, uncertain what this means and undecided how it should respond. Fundamentalists deserve an answer to this question, one that does not equivocate with waffling weasel words, but one that is clear and straightforward.

3. What is intended by the terms ‘refine’ and ‘restate’ when it comes to Biblical fundamentalism?

If the Central ethos is the historic Fundamentalist position, what is left to refine and restate? If it is not the historic Fundamentalist position, what is it? Is it a new kind of Fundamentalism? Is it Fundamentalism at all?

These questions remain unclear. Fundamentalists deserve a much more clear answer to these questions than have so far been proffered. What do the men standing behind the Central ethos have in mind? Should the rest of us fall into step behind them? How can we make such decisions without clear answers to these questions?


I appreciate the arrival of this document. It does help to clarify some of the new direction that some want to take fundamentalism. Some objectives appear to be plainly stated.

Nevertheless, significant questions yet remain. Until they are answered, the rest of fundamentalism is restless. Agitators for similar positions (sometimes just as loosely and vaguely defined) continue to make noise for change. Some of us express alarm at these proposed changes. But so far, a lot remains unclear. And we wait for other leaders of Fundamentalism to stand up and answer the challenges being made to the whole movement. Still only the advocates of change are speaking, albeit not with an entirely certain sound.

I asked the question, in my subject line, “a new-fundamentalist manifesto?” How do we answer? A manifesto? Not yet. It is an uncertain sound, but getting clearer.


* “ethos”, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).


  1. hey, I thought the movement was dead? But I digress… []
  2. By the way, if the new fundamentalism is to eschew the ‘revivalist rump’, there won’t be much of anything left, even with the rise of ‘historic’ fellows who also are enamored of ‘reformed theology’. []
  3. Evangelicals and Catholics Together []
  4. Emphasis mine. []


  1. Don,
    You rang the bill with this one! Your points are well-made. I am particularly burdened with Bauder’s repudiation of revivalistic fundamentalism. Yes, there are certainly excesses, but Bauder’s mistake is broad-brushing.

  2. Joel says:

    You’re very funny Don, no wonder there are fundamentalists quite willing to sever ties.

    In your section on “Repudiation of ‘revivalistic Fundamentalism’” all you do is wax indignant over the use of the word revivalistic. I say that because you fail to define revivalism. Perhaps Central used the wrong term, but they make clear what it is they repudiate under that term. What if they’d used the term “abusive” and then followed it with the definition you quote. Would you have anything?

    I don’t think you mean to suggest that most of fundamentalism has historically been such that “It typically rejects expository preaching in favor of manipulative exhortation. It bases spirituality upon crisis decisions rather than steady, incremental growth in grace. By design, its worship is shallow or non-existent. Its philosophy of leadership is highly authoritarian and its theology is vitriolic in its opposition to Calvinism.” But you don’t even argue that, as if you think it really has been what they say in the definition.

    I doubt even you really think that. But if they have revivalism wrong, then why not argue for better nomenclature? suggest possibilities?

    If a disdain of those things listed, whatever term you put them under, is an innovation, don’t you think that is a shame for fundamentalism? Shouldn’t you be arguing that the document is misrepresenting revivalism by showing what the word really means? At least the document from Central is clear about what they repudiate, and it is clearly repudiable.

    It is probably inadvertent on your part, but I think it characterizes that which they want to move away from. Knee-jerk fundamentalism. You strain out the gnat of the term and to all appearances swallow the camel. Which is pretty classic fundamentalism, isn’t it? On that one though, I’m with you!

    • Joel, I don’t like my first reply to you, so I am revising it.

      You’re right, I don’t suggest that historic fundamentalism “typically rejects expository preaching in favor of manipulative exhortation. It bases spirituality upon crisis decisions rather than steady, incremental growth in grace. By design, its worship is shallow or non-existent. Its philosophy of leadership is highly authoritarian and its theology is vitriolic in its opposition to Calvinism.”

      However, in this long conversation we have been having, some, including Kevin Bauder, have been criticising the influence of revivalism on fundamentalism from the get-go. I don’t think revivalism is always as bad as they suggest, and that is what I am objecting to. The fact is that fundamentalism is heavily indebted to revivalism and revivalism as such should not be disparaged.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. T. Pennock says:

    Well, Don, undoubtedly you echo the concerns of many.

    I’m watching Bauder, Doran, and Jordan play their hands, and it’s not looking good. In so many words, they are saying they are accepting CEs in such a way that they aren’t accepting CEs!

    They need to come clean.

    Have a good one!


  4. Keith says:


    If I get some free time in the next week or two, I may try to interact more. For now, I’ll just say that way more than you may realize, or is justified, you are equating “historic fundamentalism” with the BJU strand. That’s a significant strand, but it is not the whole tapestry.

    • Keith, I am not equating ‘historic fundamentalism’ with the BJU strand. I am saying that historic fundamentalism included a LOT of revivalists.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. I think you get it right, Don. I think you prove that this is indeed an innovation of historic fundamentalism.

    I don’t think I will be demanding to know if they think I’m subverting biblical Christianity. How does one subvert biblical Christianity? I think I know what does that. But from what I read, what they think subverts is more ambiguous, not based on any kind of consistent standard, but on the theological du jour.

    When I’ve tried to find out directly whether I’m the subversive one, they can’t seem to say what it is. They do better writing an article with a certain intrigue. Wink, wink, the ones in the know will be sure who he is talking about.

  6. Keith says:


    Again missing the point(s). I don’t think anyone including Central will argue that “fundamentalism” didn’t include a lot of revivalists through the course of history.

    My point was/is that funamentalism was never a single strand movement and there were always strands that were not revivalistic in the sense clearly indicated by the Central paper.

    Central’s point appears to include a different stipulated definition for “historic fundamentalist” than yours.

    Joel is right you aren’t arguing about the substance of anything.

    • Well, Keith, that would be a matter of opinion, wouldn’t it?

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Good article. You bring some questions to the fore that do need to be definitively answered. I will not hold my breath for them though.
    It is my understanding that Dr. Bauder was the author of the Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism ethos statement. Having read it and reading his current series, the common author does come through. His latest installment though, puts a different sounding note to the Fundy/CE fellowship thing than he espouses in the ethos statement. He continues to give an “uncertain sound” as far as the Fundy/CE cooperation. He has on repeated occasions sought to redefine terms, distort history, malign dead Fundamentalist leaders, all for what? To be seen as a new Fundy leader to gather around? One thing is certain in all his fuzziness, he has taken a moderate, soft view of militant separatism. For the most part, the current CE men are where the original flock of New Evangelicals were Biblically speaking (believing the Fundamentals but not exercising separation), when the split came between Fundys and the New Evangelicals in the 40’s-50’s. If it was right to separate from them (the New Evangelicals) back then (and it was), then it is right to separate from the CE men now (and it is).

  8. I’m still thinking through this article but did want to mention a couple things:

    “In some instances, they have involved the creation of doctrines nowhere taught in Scripture, such as the doctrine that salvation could not be secured until Jesus presented His material blood in the heavenly tabernacle.”

    This is probably a reference to Rod Bell, and I have heard this before, but I have never seen any documentation that shows he really beleived this. I’m not saying he didn’t but I’d like to see the evidence if someone can point me to it.

    I don’t know much about Faith but I appreciated the expression of fundamentalism that they expressed in point 6 of this document:


    • Hi Andy, I think you are right about the Rod Bell reference. He apparently said things like this in at least one sermon – not sure where or when. Certain people keep bringing this up, as if it is a systemic problem in Fundamentalism. When challenged on it, they say that it is a serious heresy and no one in the FBF of the day challenged him on it. Well… It is an error at least, but it isn’t like it was sweeping the church into the grips of false teaching as, say Arianism or Pelaganism did in years gone by. Most people viewed it as an oddity, but as inconsequential. At least that’s my take.

      It seems that the reason people keep bringing it up is because it is sort of an “Ahah!” moment they think they can use to club fundamentalism with. It is a little tiresome.

      I, too, appreciate the Faith statement. One of their profs went to BJU about the same time I did, but I have had no contact with him since those days. I’d like to get to know more about the school. There are a lot of things there to like, viewing from a distance.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Don:

    I only just now learned of this article here and commend you for it. I and others have been posting articles at my blog along the same lines of concern you have raised here.

    Under your heading, The ‘gospel’ as the grounds of separation you link to Gordon Philips outstanding article, Is Ecclesiastical Separation about a Pure Church or a Pure Gospel? At my blog he wrote another related item titled, A Pure Church or a Pure Gospel: Does it Really Matter?

    Dr. Ernest Pickering (one of Bauder’s predecessors) position in his classic Biblical Separation taught us that separation is the struggle for a pure church. I think it is beyond debate that Kevin Bauder is pushing aside “the struggle for a pure church” for his new paradigm, of fellowship with evangelicals around his so-called “pure gospel.”

    I may have more later, but thanks again for this excellent article.


  10. Roger Carlson says:


    A couple of things.

    1. Certainly there were revivalists in early fundamentalism that made great contributions. But there were also many non-revivalists that made great contributions. It seems to me that you want to downplay the Calvinists contributions as much (or more ) than the otherside does. From my perspective, I believe that revivalism has done alot of damage in recent fundamentalism and it is a great concern to me.

    2. The Blood in heaven issue is not as marginal as you seem to think. I heard that growing up in a GARB church. Also, I have many associated with Tabernacle Baptist College in Greenville. I have heard it from many churches where their men pastor. I think it actually originated with M.R. Dehann if memory serves correctly.

    • Hi Roger

      I don’t mean to ‘brush aside’ the contribution of non-revivalists. My point, however, is that by expelling the revivalists, the ethos statement is doing something new in fundamentalism. It used to be that non-revivalists and revivalists worked together as fundamentalists, allied against the compromises of modernism and more lately new evangelicalism.

      Regarding the blood in heaven issue, I think you are right about M.R. Dehaan. But what effect has this horrible heresy brought us? Have we seen some new cult arise out of it? Have we seen hundreds of churches fall under its pernicious sway and lead men astray from salvation by faith alone? Hardly. It just isn’t that big an issue. It’s just a convenient whipping boy for those who hate the FBF, which by and large doesn’t hold to it at all.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  11. Don:

    You wrote, “By fellowship, let it be said, this new ethos means to say that some kind of cooperative efforts are now possible. That is to say, though the Conservative Evangelicals are still guilty of serious ecumenical errors, it is now suggested that fundamentalists can cooperate with them in some ways.”

    This is absolutely what is going on. Kevin Bauder has already brushed aside the signing of the Manhattan Declaration (MD) by Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan. In a public forum, which I can document and link to if you like, Kevin Bauder dismissed signing the MD as nothing more than an “occasional inconsistency…single episode.”

    He has swept ecumenical compromise of the evangelicals aside for the sake of fostering cooperation with them. This is not the Fundamentalist commitment to biblical separatism that I have known of for the last 30+ years.


  12. Keith says:


    The question of whether or not you are arguing about substance is not a matter of opinion. I might be wrong in my statement, but it is a matter of fact to be established by honest discussion/analysis

    You say: “It used to be that non-revivalists and revivalists worked together as fundamentalists, allied against the compromises of modernism and more lately new evangelicalism.”

    Which is true. However, none of this is possible any longer — since we’re long past that modernism and that new evangelicalism.

    Further, if we’re really supposed to be working for a pure church. If that’s the end all be all of fundamentalism. Then I’d think you all would be seeking to rid it of the excesses and abuses of revivalism.

    No one is talking revival. No one is talking messages that engage the emotions as well as the intellect. What is being critiqued is an “ism”. “Revivalism”. The abuses of this “ism” surely aren’t pure.

    • Keith, we disagree that we are long past modernism and new evangelicalism. They are still present and are still dangerous and evangelicals has chosen to be entangled with these dangers, including those among the so-called ‘conservative evangelicals’.

      With respect to revivalism, there are certainly some who have abused its principles and taken them to extremes. But there are many whom the new-fundamentalists would look down their noses at with disdain who are not party to manipulative spiritual abuse but are building disciples and faithfully preaching the true gospel. The new-fundamentalists would exorcise these along with the abusers. This isn’t a fundamentalist approach.

      So as I say, our disagreement is a matter of opinion. You are welcome to yours.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Roger Carlson says:


    I have actually been told that the belief that you and I share about the blood was heretical by those who hold to DeHaan’s view. Those in our movement who hold to it consider it a fundamental of the faith.
    I should have pointed out earlier that I don’t think that Bauder is going after the FBF on this, at least not directly. The problem is that now with the new FBF alliance with Sexton is that alliance gives credibility to that aberrent doctrine. So, while the FBF does not necessarily hold to this, they are now alligning themselves with those who hold it (among other concerning things). So this goes back to an earlier question that we do not have an answer to: “What is the difference between YF’s going to TG4 and FBF leaders speaking with Schaap and Fugate?” IMO, not much.

    I think the other thing that is missed here is this. When i was younger, the implication was the NE do not apply the Scriptures. Well now, we have seen that many of them do. We cannot say they don’t. They may not apply them the way we like and they may not name all of the sins they should. But neither do we. If we do not clean our own house, we have no right cleaning other houses

    • Roger

      Well, I don’t know about this blood thing. I think we’ll just go round and round about it. I just don’t see it impacting the world and shaking institutions. I think it is a slap at the FBF because Rod Bell apparently preached it. I don’t see it as a threat.

      I agree that I don’t like entanglement with Schaap/Fugate. I hope that such things will not be an issue in the future, but of course we are a movement of independent people, so there are no guarantees.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Keith says:

    Please name five currently living “Modernists”

    Please name five currently living “New Evangelicals”

    • Keith, you can’t be serious…

      Here’s a thought experiment. Go to the website of the World Council of Churches and note the member organizations. See which of them are represented by churches in your town. See if your local ministerial association cooperates with any of these churches. Then you’ll have your list. It isn’t hard.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  15. I want to pick up on one glaring error. Central states, “During recent years, the most notorious manifestation of this aberrant version of Fundamentalism is embodied in a movement that insists that only the King James version of the Bible (or, in some cases, its underlying Greek or Hebrew texts) ought be recognized as the perfectly preserved Word of God.”

    BJU Board Member, Dr Ian Paisley has written extensively on this subject – his book is even in the BJU bookstore:


    As the Chairman of the World Congress of Fundamentalists and one of the few remaining leaders from the historic era that Central is referring to, his views should not count a little more than Bauder and friends. Paisley says of Westcott and Hort’s methods, “Their high claims rest upon the infidel textual theories of the leaders of religious apostasy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Like produces like and one has only to glance at the unfolding of the unbelieving “Higher Textual Criticism” to be struck by the unbelief of the textual theorists, the textual editors and the textual transmitters. Overwhelmingly they are found in the camp of the enemy who rejects that God ever gave to the world an Infallible Bible. No Bible believer should be deceived by the parading of great names in the field of Biblical “scholarship,” when these very men are but the parrots of the rationalists of another century. The case they present is not their own but a modem presentation of an ancient heresy. By lowering the Bible from the heaven of its divinity to depraved earth they declare it to be but an ordinary book of mere human production.”

    I could cite the views of the founder of the ICCC Dr Carl McIntire to demonstrate the KJVO position is historic amongst the leaders of Fundamentalism. In addition other Fundamentalist leaders such as Myron Cedarholm, O Talmadge Spence etc have nailed their colours to the mast on the TR/KJVO side.

    I am not trying to turn this into a KJVO debate (so that Don does not delete my post). But the wilful ignorance or deliberate perversion of truth on this point by Central should not go unchallenged also. May be if Kevin Bauder had studied at some Fundamentalist institutions instead of earning his degrees at places like Trinity and Dallas he would have actually known what Fundamentalism stood for!

    • To PS Ferguson:

      Your post somehow got buried in the others, I thought I had seen all of them, but missed yours. I changed the date so that it would “appear” newer than it is. Sorry about the delay.

      I don’t want this to become a KJO debate as Paul notes. But I am willing to allow this point to be made. As far as I am concerned, the KJO position is NOT the mark of the beast, there are reasonable arguments to be made for some aspects of those views. I think the arguments on the other side are superior, but I don’t condemn those who hold them nor do I call for separation from them.

      I do call for separation from Ruckmanism, which is a separate category.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. Keith says:


    Interesting that you don’t quickly name anyone — be careful or you’ll lose street cred with the other fightin fundies. I thought you’d at least name Billy Graham — which would be acurate for the New Evangelicals.

    My point is that the specifics of things have changed significantly since the 30s and the 50s. Continuing to work to preserve old alliances to oppose other old alliances is counterproductive.

    Modernist groups and Fundamentalist groups aren’t battling over any denominations — one group or the other has already won in the old mainline denominations. Fundamentalists may throw stones at the mainline, but they aren’t really attempting to take it back (now that would be interesting).

    New Evangelicals and Fundamentalists aren’t battling over the churches an parachurch organizations that left the denominations which were lost to the modernists. The two groups wrote each other off long ago and created separate worlds. Again, Fundamentalists aren’t really trying to take back any of those institutions.

    The groups that could clearly be itentified in the way that you want to identify them: Modernist, New Evangelical, and Fundamentalist do not exist in that way.

    Therefore, it should not be surprising that those who continue to maintain those old designations are frustrated.

    • Keith,

      Of course things have changed. No one is denying that. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t modernists today. It also doesn’t mean there aren’t any new evangelicals.

      The battlefront has changed, no doubt.

      The battle we are engaged in amongst fundamentalists today is whether we will cooperate with new evangelicals or not. We aren’t battling with new evangelicals per se, we are battling about new evangelicals. Some don’t see any dangers. They are blind to the history.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  17. T. Pennock says:


    I am wondering what your take is on Minnick and Bauder yoking up for the “Preserving the Truth Conference.” Doesn’t Minnick’s presence there pretty much put him in the same camp as Bauder, Doran, and Jordan?

    Have a good one!


    • Well Tracy, I don’t know what to make of all that. I think that matters are somewhat in a state of flux. I wish we could get a somewhat more definitive statement out of some of these fellows, but so far a lot of questions remain. Until they are clearly answered, you are going to see a lot of uncertainty as people attempt to come up with answers.

      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  18. Keith says:

    Ok Don,

    But I’d still be interested in the name of a single person of signficance who identifies himself as a modernist or a single institution or movement that is openly modernist — with all that term originally meant.

    Even those closest to the original modernism are normally called “Liberal” today. And, there’s a reason for that.

    Basically the same can be said about “New Evangelicals”. The closest thing today are usually called simply “Evangelicals” — but that’s such a large tent that the two terms can not usefully be used interchangeably.

    I’m glad to concede that there is a battle “amongst funamentalists” — at least amongst those who want to own the label. Most of those who want the label spend inordinate amounts of time battling something or other.

    I’m also no unqualified admirer of Bauder. His article about the differences between evangelicals and fundamentalists that dealt with alcohol consumption was awefully bad. Nevertheless, I’ll tip my hat to a guy who doesn’t want to fight shadows. And, I really can see no reason why, as president of an institution, he can’t say — without hassle — what his institution stands for.

    • Keith, the only comment I have wrt your last is that I don’t deny Central has the right to say what they stand for. I am glad they have, they are making their position plainer. All I am saying is that in three respects, this is a new position for a fundamentalist institution to take. Bauder is saying on SI that this is the same as Clearwaters position of days gone by. Some others are backing him up, but I’d like to see some documentation on that. Actually, don’t see how the attitude towards the conservative evangelicals can be said to be Clearwaters position, they weren’t invented in his day… but…

      And I am also saying there are still lots of imprecision and lack of clarity in this statement. It would be nice to have a little more specific language, as I pointed out in my article.

      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  19. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Am interested in your thoughts here with what you said in posting #29, “Even those closest to the original modernism are normally called “Liberal” today. And, there’s a reason for that.”
    First, every book that have on the subject treat “modernism” and “liberalism” as being synonymous. Second, a book for you to get your hands on would be, Neo-Liberalism, by Dr. Robert Lightner (published 1959 by RBP, so it may be difficult to get). Your question concerning institutions, University of Chicago, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, Brown University, Princeton, Duke Divinity School, Dartmouth.

  20. Keith says:


    In the past, modernism and liberalism were interchangeable terms — back when modernism was the new kid on the block. But, what happens when modernism falls out of favor and pre-modernistic orthodoxy is still rejected? What happens when you want to be liberal (free from the chains of historic orthodoxy), but you don’t want to be modern?

    Well, all sorts of things happen — neo-orthodoxy, postmodernism, etc. etc.

    The institutions you mention are not officially committed to modernism. They are institutionally liberal in what they permit in relation to historic orthodoxy.

    • Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition # 2:

      often capitalized : a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements

      Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

      Hmm… and that’s not happening now? Wow!

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  21. Keith says:

    Oh sorry Don, I thought we were actually trying to have a discussion. Didn’t realize we were just needed to pull out the dictionary. Why does anyone bother going to college or graduate school? We can just check with Webster’s book. How silly of me.

    Find me one significant theologian who identifies himself as a “Modernist” as part of a “Modernist Movement.” Then you might have a gotcha for me.

    In the meantime, what you’ve got is nothing — since by that definition there were modernists in the ancient world.

    • Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the notion that usage determines meaning. And perhaps you should become a little more familiar with dictionaries. I realize they may be a little too elementary for some, but still and all, one would think they have some value.

      And modernists in the ancient world? Of course. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  22. Keith says:

    “Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the notion that usage determines meaning.”

    Not at all. That is exactly my point. No one uses “modernism” the way you do.

    Usage of a linguistic group — not of an individual or tiny subgroup — determines meaning.

    And, the usage of “Modernism” determines that it refers to a particular philosophy and movement — not to whomever it is that you disagree with.

    If you want to maintain that there were modernists in the ancient world — then you aren’t letting usage dictate meaning. You are eliminating meaning from words.

    • No one uses ‘modernism’ the way I do? Really? Is the Merriam-Webster dictionary so out of touch then? It is the # 2 definition. If it were #9 or something, you would have more of a point. But it is #2, so… really, it is you who are out of touch with reality on that one.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  23. Keith says:

    Oh good grief Don. Of course Webster’s definition is accurate — when applied accurately.

    When I say that no one uses the term the way you do, I did not mean that Webster’s definition is faulty. I meant that you are applying the definition (using it) to a wider group of people than specified in the definition. You aren’t using the definition in a way that is very common today. Very few people talk about “those modernists.”

    Also, are neo-pagans modernists? Are they liberals? Could they be one and not the other? Same questions for contemporary mystics? What about postmodernists? Do you really think that all the contemporary “liberals” devalue supernatural elements (as per Webster)?

    My original point — what started all this debate about the term — was that the specific movements which were originally identified as “modernist” and “fundamentalist” no longer exist. Is that really debatable?

    The original modernists were an identifiable movement who were very concerned with devaluing supernatural elements and being scientific. They were trying to live up to the enlightenment. They were the “in” thing. That movement fell apart. There are some who continue to maintain its priorities. However, today’s liberals are just as often disenchanted with the enlightenment as they are orthodoxy.

    • There are some who continue to maintain its priorities.

      Case closed.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3