show me the silent majority

Kevin Bauder’s latest installment tells the history of separation from a point of view totally foreign to me. Essentially, he seems to be arguing that there has been a silent majority within evangelical Christendom that never was actually new-evangelical.

  • This silent majority was at first willing to be identified as fundamentalists but had little stomach for the fight the fundamentalists waged against the liberals.
  • This silent majority wasn’t new-evangelical, but it sided with the new evangelical forces on the left of the NAE against the fundamentalists. (??)
  • The silent majority didn’t approve of Billy Graham’s cooperative evangelicalism, but they didn’t break with Graham over it. (???)

You know, I’d really like to see some evidence of these last two points especially. I see many ‘attaboys’ on SI about it, but really, shouldn’t we demand some evidence and not just rely on Bauder’s say-so?

One bit of evidence he offers is with respect to Dallas Theological Seminary. The critical issue with DTS was Explo 72, an event involving new-evangelicals and, Bauder admits, non-evangelicals. What would ‘non-evangelicals’ be, we wonders? Would it be possible that these would be liberals (a.k.a., modernists)? How much more classically new evangelical can you get if you are cooperating with non-evangelicals? Yet Bauder calls DTS a ‘moderate institution’ and seems to dismiss William Ashbrook’s subsequent identification of them as neoevangelical.

Bauder goes on to say:

By the end of the 1970s, the evangelical majority had staked out a position midway between separatist fundamentalism and neoevangelicalism.

Man, when I hear this I wonder if we are living in parallel universes? In my universe, the evangelical churches were fully supportive of the Graham compromises. Maybe things were different in the USA, I don’t know. But in Canada, every evangelical church in our area bussed people in to hear Billy’s brother-in-law, Leighton Ford. As a high-schooler, I was there. In my own city, not more than 10 or 12 years ago, a member of Billy’s team held meetings in Victoria, BC. I think it was Ralph Bell. NOT ONE evangelical church stood aloof from these meetings. I ask, where is this silent majority?

I am really astonished at two things: I am astonished that Kevin Bauder seems to think there was some huge evangelical majority that really didn’t agree with Billy Graham but just didn’t ‘distance’ themselves from him and the rest of the new evangelicals. And I am astonished that credulous readers of Kevin Bauder seem to swallow this revisionism as if it were entirely accurate.

Kevin seems to be leading us to a conclusion that the conservative evangelicals are good fellows, really, and people whom we should cooperate with. Their heritage isn’t the heritage of compromisers and betrayers of the gospel, it is the noble heritage of the moderate middle.

The moderate middle cost the fundamentalists their denominations, schools, mission boards, etc., in the 1920s and 1930s.

The moderate middle cost the Christian church most of its impact on the culture of our day through the new-evangelical compromise.

What is the moderate middle going to cost us today?


[UPDATE: This post originally posted Oct 20, 2010 @ 14:18.]


  1. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Thanks Don,
    I agree with your incredulity over what Kevin Bauder has tried to foist upon us about the past.
    Hmmm…a “moderate middle?” Sounds a bit like the church at Laodicea, lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. God condemned them, saying they made Him sick. I would imagine there will be some who take issue with that statement, saying something about it being about “this” or “that” and therefore I shouldn’t say anything, or that I spend too much time on the internet. To you who are so inclined, sorry, to disappoint you.

    [Moderation notice: This note originally posted Oct 20, 2010 @ 16:22.]

  2. Don:

    There is no question about it and many agree that we are being subjected to revisionist history from the desk of Kevin Bauder.

    And I am astonished that credulous readers of Kevin Bauder seem to swallow this revisionism as if it were entirely accurate.”

    I might suggest that they want it to be true to legitimize their joining Bauder’s castigating Fundamentalism and ease their slide into evangelicalism.


    [Moderation notice: This note originally posted Oct 22, 2010 @ 9:04.]

  3. Keith says:

    He’s writing history. You’re writing polemic. Not surprisingly, your vocabularies don’t line up.

    Historically speaking we can use the term New-Evangelical to refer to a very specific group of people with a very specific set of objectives. Most of these people were institutional, media, or intellectual leaders. Most of the non-leaders in evangelicalism went along with things, that’s different from understanding, valuing and passionately pursuing them.

    Evangelicalism is still FULL of this silent majority type.

    I don’t think that the moderate middle is deserving of any special praise. On the other hand, the immoderate fundamentalists bear their own responsibility for what they lost.

    [Moderation notice: This note originally posted Oct 26, 2010 @ 11:29.]

    • Hi Keith

      It’s not just a matter of vocabularies. It’s a matter of facts. Dallas Seminary (his only example) was not some ‘silent majority’, but a leading institution that acted consistently with new evangelicalism by Bauder’s own description.

      Your statement, “Most of the non-leaders in evangelicalism went along with things, that’s different from understanding, valuing and passionately pursuing them.” could be said of fundamentalism as well – fundamentalist churches are full of people who go along with things, not truly understanding all the issues or valuing the same things as leadership.

      But I don’t think it is the uninformed that Bauder is identifying as his silent majority, but rather leaders and institutions who weren’t particularly new evangelical or fundamentalist (according to him). He earlier cited Lewis Chafer and J Vernon McGee as examples – Chafer died before there was any New Evangelicalism to speak of. I don’t know much about McGee. His point seems to be that there have always been leaders who were neither in with the neos or the fundies. I just don’t buy it. And I certainly don’t buy it just on his say-so. It would be nice to have some evidence.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Keith says:

    Chafer is an example. Was he a fundy? If not, what was he? He sure wasn’t a neo, because he died before there was any such thing.

    The point is that there never was a time when there were only two “teams” — the fundies and the neos. Dr. Bauder doesn’t need to produce evidence that there WASN’t something. You need to produce evidence that there was.

    Strictly speaking the New Evangelicals were not at Dallas or Talbot. They were a group centered around Okenga who was in Boston and there academic instution was Fuller Seminary.

    There were pastors, colleges, churches, etc. who were not leaders of or even a part of New Evangelicalism — even though they did not actively oppose it. The not opposing it is what I meant by “went along with.”

    To argue that every leader was either a card carying fundy or a card carying neo is to force everyone in history into your categories. The evidence that this is not the case is written all over in the pages of 20th Century American church history. You could begin by reading everything that George Marsden has written. You could read Edith Schaeffer’s biography of Francis. You could read the history of the origins of the OPC and Westminster Seminary. And, there is plenty more.

    Fundies want to say you are one of us or you’re not and if you’re not it means you’re a Neo. That is plain ridiculous.

    • Hi Keith, I would say that Chafer was a fundy in the sense that the terms evangelical and fundamentalist were basically interchangeable in his era. He may not have been part of the fundamentalist/modernist fight of the earlier generation (not part of the groups that had the fight) but would likely be sympathetic to the fundamentalist position and may have accepted the term as generally understood. But Bauder cited him as an example of the “silent majority”. I don’t think that is accurate at all.

      Bauder certainly does need to support his assertion. He is saying that there has always been a ‘silent majority’, basically conservative evangelicals, who weren’t part of either camp. He only cites Dallas as an example and Dallas clearly embraced new evangelical philosophy by participating in Explo 72 (which Bauder himself openly admits). If this ‘silent majority’ existed, he needs to do a better job of proving it.

      I am not arguing that every leader in ‘broader evangelicalism’ was a card-carrying new evangelical. I am arguing instead that those self-designated as evangelicals basically from the mid 60s on did several things that identified them with the new evangelical philosophy: they repudiated fundamentalism (did not want the label) and the separatism that went along with it and they embraced the inclusivism of the new evangelicals. You can see that in Dever’s writings, in Mohler’s, and in many many others. They continue to perpetrate the same inclusivist philosophy and specifically reject fundamentalism. It is foolish to deny it.

      That doesn’t mean that all evangelicals equally embrace all the compromises of Billy Graham, for example. But they will all compromise towards inclusivism in some way. It is still the New Evangelical way, whatever you want to call it.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Don,

    Outstanding rebuttal to Bauder’s revisionism. Again, the facts simply are not on his side. Example: I personally attended Explo ’72 in Dallas. I was a student at SF Baptist Theological Seminary and went to observe for myself what was going on. I attended the great rally with 1000s of others and witnessed Billy Graham on stage with Kris Kristofferson…not exactly an evangelical or even a new evangelical. The whole thing was sickening.

    I also visited First Baptist of Dallas and Dallas Seminary on that trip and saw first-hand just how deeply involved with Campus Crusade and Explo ’72 they were. And neither Dallas Seminary nor Campus Crusade had their feet pointed in the right direction, and haven’t for decades.

    Kevin Bauder is simply erecting more historical straw men as he prepares his minions for the final sword thrust into Biblical Fundamentalism, as he continues to lay the groundwork for his move into full acceptance of the so-called Conservative Evangelical. He can call them “Conservative” until the cows come home, but the fact remains–they are still New Evangelical.

    Thanks for your willingness to challenge his rhetoric and expose it for what it really is.

  6. Keith says:

    You guys are too much. You really need to count to ten, take a deep breath, and remind yourselves that everything does not revolve around your religious party.

    Bauder has been clear that the folks in question were/are not fundamentalists. He is not at all trying to say that there is no difference or to lobby for a complete merger. He is just saying what most non-partisan historians would say.

    There are/were fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists. All non-fundamentalists were/are not “New Evangelicals”. It is not only historically untrue to claim otherwise it is also illogical.

    The illogic comes out in statements like these: “Did several things that identified them with the new evangelical philosophy,” and “Had their feet pointed in the right direction.” These statements prove about as much as my saying, “Fundamentalist women don’t wear pants just like Amish women don’t wear pants, so clearly Fundamentalists are identified with the Amish position. Clearly Fundamentalists have their feet pointed in an Amish direction.”

    It’s just like the old baptist trick of naming anything that overlaps with their position “baptistic”. Why on earth do you get to limit the categories and copyright them. It is ahistorical, illogical, and partisan.

    You all keep acusing Bauder of revisionism and suggesting that he’s got some nefarious motive of a compromising merger. But he obviously doesn’t (which I think is too bad). I agree with him that there are differences, but I do not think that there should be any fundamental (can I use the word) division between the groups.

    • Keith, I don’t think you understand what I am saying.

      First, Bauder is arguing that there was some kind of large ‘silent majority’ that was neither new evangelical or fundamentalist.

      Second, as evidence, he cites Dallas Theological Seminary (one of his alma maters). He then proceeds to describe their participation in an event. That participation is exactly like the strategy/approach/practice of the Henry/Ockenga/Graham new evangelicals.

      So what are we to conclude from that? That somehow DTS isn’t new evangelical even though their practice mirrors that of the “New Evangelicals”? Are we to suppose that only the Henry/Ockenga/Graham cabal constitute new evangelicalism? That those not directly connected with them are somehow not new evangelical even though their practice is the same as the new evangelicals?

      Perhaps you can enlighten me on what I am missing.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Keith says:

    “Bauder is arguing that there was some kind of large ‘silent majority’ that was neither new evangelical or fundamentalist.”

    And there was. They were not leading the charge but they were not militantly opposing either. What’s so hard to accept about that?

    As far as Bauder’s Dallas example goes — to me it reads like an example of exactly what he is talking about. Some organizations where somewhere other than fully fundie or fully neo. They might cooperate in a neo like event one year and not another. They might have some fundie and some neo like constituents. They might be trying to hold on to both but at different times lose one or the other.

    For goodness sake, Ernest Pickering himself was a Dallas grad. Was Dallas neo when he went there? Did it become neo in 72? Can an organization move one way or the other over time? Can an organization vacilate?

    Your construct allows for fundie and neo. What about the groups that didn’t want to be either but ended up being one or the other? While they were on the way, what were they?

    Since Canadians speak English and live in North America, I guess they’re really a part of the U.S. philosophy.

    • Hi Keith

      Well, I think your note betrays a basic misunderstanding of fundamentalism. It might be that it is one that Bauder shares.

      I am planning an article addressing the topic, but it will take me a little while.

      For now, let me illustrate this way… I happened to pick up a little booklet on Winston Churchill and read through it last night. In the period before America entered the war, the USA supported the war with the lend-lease program and made it clear that they sided with Britain against Germany. How well received do you think American support would have been if they “might cooperate in a nazi like event one year and not in another”? Do you think Britain would have thought they could rely on them? Do you think they might have wondered if there was something fundamentally wrong with America and its professed support for the ‘fundamentals’?

      Just so.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Keith says:

    Oh good grief. Now we’re comparing New Evangelicals to Nazis!

    Can’t imagine how anyone ever came to the conclusion that fundamentalists were schismatic.

  9. Keith says:

    One more thing. American principles go against both Naziism and Fascism. That doesn’t mean that Naziism and Facism are the same thing.

    • Hi Keith

      If you are just going to hyper-ventilate, I guess we can’t have a discussion.

      But first, no, I am not comparing Neos to Nazis. If I am comparing anyone to Nazis, it would be the liberals.

      Before we go further with this discussion, would you agree with this premise? The New Evangelical compromise with Liberals was absolutely wrong and unconscionable.

      Bauder, I think, would agree with that premise. That is essentially the reason Fundamentalism refused to go along with Graham et al. They were willing to make common cause with the enemies of Christ.

      Back to DTS, Bauder said that ‘non-evangelicals’ were participants in Explo 72. Who would those ‘non-evangelicals’ be? Would they be professing Christians who were liberal, Catholic, or new orthodox? I would suspect so. Would that not make Explo 72 an absolutely wrong and unconscionable event for faithful Christians to participate in? Of course, I think so.

      Would I, as one opposed to new evangelical compromises, not see DTS’ participation in Explo 72 as a very serious error and at least question whether I would want to have any further relationship with them? I think so. And so did the fundamentalists who left Dallas because of that event, as Bauder said.

      So you can quibble about whether DTS is new evangelical or not, but that (and other actions) seem so like the new evangelicals that I can see no other label to attach to them.

      Why would we as fundamentalists want to work with people we can’t trust?

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Keith says:


    I’m not hyperventilating, I’m out of breath because I’m laughing too hard.

    You have been all over Bauder because he claims that there was a large group of people who were neither intentionally and consisitently on the fundamentalist side OR the new evangelical side of your version of WWII. The fact that you would disagree with DTS’s involvment in the Explo is really irrelevant.

    I’m not surprised you disagree with DTS’s involvement in Explo. I expect that Bauder disagrees with that decision too. I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion myself — but I will admit that I don’t think reality lines up with “New Evangelicals bad guys, Fundamentalists good guys.” Reality is way more complex than that.

    Anyway, the point is that DTS was not clearly “Neo” before the Explo and involvement in one such conference is not enough to place them solidly in that camp. If you want to argue that DTS went on to become fully “New Evangelical” with all that was intended by that term — go ahead. But I don’t think that undermines Bauder’s point at all. (And by the way the New Evangelicals were pretty consistent in wanting to abandon dispensationalism. I don’t think DTS was on board with that plank in the neo party platform in 72).

    Back to your example of WWII . . . Did the Allies’ inclusion of Russia make Britain and the U.S. communists?

    • Keith, our conversations usually come to a close about this point. You really don’t want a serious discussion, you just want to mock and deliberately misunderstand and misconstrue what is said. So this will be about it if you aren’t willing to discuss the subject seriously. A few final points:

      1. Bauder is not saying that there is/was a large group of people “who were neither intentionally and consistently on the fundamentalist side OR the new evangelical side”, but that this large group never was either. There is a big difference between what he is saying and what you are trying to make him say.

      2. It is quite clear that you don’t view the New Evangelicalism as wrong. That is the fundamental issue between fundamentalists and new evangelicals like yourself. That is why I keep saying you don’t understand what fundamentalism is.

      3. According to Bauder, the fundamentalists at Dallas left over Explo 72. That looks like they thought it was the straw that broke the camels back. It would confirm misgivings they must have had for some time.

      4. Any issue with NE vs. dispensationalism was clearly not a major issue around which NE was organized. See Ockenga’s summary of NE philosophy, only four or five points … I don’t recall an objection to dispensationalism being much of an issue in that list.

      Finally… unless you are prepared to have a serious discussion and actually address what I am actually saying, I think we will end it at this point.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  11. Keith says:


    You say that I “really don’t want a serious discussion, you just want to mock and deliberately misunderstand and misconstrue what is said.”

    That is not at all what I am trying to do. I think you are misunderstanding me. Furthermore, I bet that if Bauder were to join our conversation, he’d say that you are doing to his article what you accuse me of doing in this conversation.

    You don’t like it that Bauder won’t simply label “Neo” all those who didn’t do fundamentalism the way you think they should. You are not engaging his definitions, explanations, arguments at all. You just dismiss it by disallowing any definitions or labels than your own.

    I have not been trying to mock. I have been trying to point out that there was and is a large group that didn’t and doesn’t really identify (or appreciate) what either the card-carrying fundamentalists or neos did/do. I work with huge numbers of these people every day.

    Now, I’ll try to engage your points with as little humor as possible so that you think I’m discussing seriously:

    1. I don’t see the difference between what I’ve said and what Bauder is saying. If you “never were either” then you’re not on either side — no? I guess you’ll have to either write me off, or find a way to explain the difference.

    2. Even if you were right that I am a “New Evangelical,” it does not follow that I don’t understand what fundamentalism is. There is almost no serious way to interact with such a statement. It is illogical in the extreme. Furthermore, it eliminates all possibility of meaningful discussion. I can just say, “Well, you’re not a New Evangelical, so you don’t understand what it is,” and then we’re stuck. Plus, the part of Bauder’s article that we are discussing really has nothing to do with “understanding fundamentalism,” it has to do with whether or not there was/is a group of people who were/are neither fundamentalists or new evangelicals. I don’t have to understand fundamentalists too well to understand a third group — unless of course every group’s identity is contingent upon and relative to fundamentalism.

    3. Of course the fundamentalists didn’t like what happened with the explo. Clearly DTS was no longer going to pass muster with the fundamentalist true believers. Neither I nor Bauder argued otherwise. But, once again, NOT being fundamentalist is NOT equal with being neo.

    4. You reveal again that you are using a limited, polemic understanding of history. Bauder is bringing in quite a bit more of what went on. The reality of history messes up your clean categories and you don’t like it, but that doesn’t change reality. Read the history of the professors at Fuller Seminary (Okenga was the first president). Their theological project included a rejection of dispensationalism (rightly so in my opinion). They just weren’t willing to be nasty and separatist about it (another part of their project).

    If you want to argue that everyone who is not a fundamentalist is a new evangelical, have at it. Prove it. If all you are saying is that those who did not side with the fundamentalists were not fundamentalists, well then we don’t have anything to argue about. I tend not to argue against tautologies, and “non-fundamentalists are not fundamentalists” is a tautology.

    • Hi Keith,

      So let’s start this again by seeing if you will answer this question:

      Would you agree with this premise? The New Evangelical compromise with Liberals was absolutely wrong and unconscionable.

      We can work from there.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  12. Keith says:

    In order to answer with any kind of integrity, you would need to ask a more specific question. Which compromise?

    Did the New Evangelicals do things that were wrong — yes.

    Was everything they did wrong — no.

    Did their compromise cost the Christian church much of its impact — no. The fundamentalists’ mistakes had already accomplished that. The New Evangelicals were trying to remedy some of the fundamentalists’ damage.

    Did the fundamentalists do things that were wrong — yes.

    Was everything they did wrong — no.

    If I must give you a label to place on me in this discussion, you can put me with Francis Schaeffer. Opposed much of what Billy Graham did and opposed much of what fundamentalists like Carl Macintire did. You may call him a neo — because he broke with the fundamentalits. But that would just be partisanship. He broke with fundamentalists and neos depending on the issue.

    Of course all of this (except maybe the example of Schaeffer) has nothing to do with what we have been discussing.

    The question of the New Evanglicals error is totally irrelevant as to whether or not all Christians who did not side with the fundamentalists were New Evangelicals.

    I really can’t see what is do difficult to understand about that premise.

    • When I say “compromise with Liberals”, I mean the policy of dialogue, cooperation rather than confrontation, and so on. Ockenga stated in the introduction to Lindsell’s Battle for the Bible that new evangelicalism was “different from Fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day” and that “Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the times, the reengagement in the theological debate, the recapture of denominational leadership, and the reexamination of theological problems such as the antiquity of man, the universality of the flood, god’s method of creation, and others.”

      Was this change of strategy right or wrong? Was it laudable or unconscionable?

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Keith says:

    What does it matter in regards to our present discussion?

    • If it doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t matter if you answer it.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Keith says:

    I already did in the previous post. Further, “reengagement in the theological debate, the recapture of denominational leadership, and the reexamination of theological problems,” would all be good – no? Would it be good to abandon debate? Would it be bad to have the denominations return to fidelity? Is it wrong to reexamine anything? Don’t really know what to add.

    And, still don’t know what it has to do with whether or not “there has been a silent majority within evangelical Christendom that never was actually new-evangelical” — which was what the discussion was about.

    • I’ll take that as a “No”, then.

      What this illustrates is that your thinking just can’t wrap itself around what we are saying. Broader evangelicalism is no silent majority, it is almost completely fine with new evangelicalism and its philosophy. You concede that they “didn’t do everything right”, but that is a far cry from “their compromise with the liberals was absolutely wrong and unconscionable”. Your position is where the ‘silent’ majority is. They don’t see the new evangelicalism as the betrayal that it was and find merit in its philosophy’s and goals.

      Bauder contends that the Conservative Evangelicals are simply the same old ‘silent majority’ that wasn’t so bad after all. However, the CEs are really a new phenomenon in evangelicalism. They are at least willing to say that the compromises with liberals were wrong or at least largely mistaken, but they insist that nevertheless, they see new evangelicalism as a necessary and helpful corrective to the fundamentalism of the day.

      You may fit in the CE point of view described above. But the notion that there was somehow a long term majority that was basically ambivalent to both new evangelicalism and fundamentalism is just not true. Bauder hasn’t proved it and I don’t think he can prove it.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  15. Keith says:

    I can totally wrap my thinking around what you are saying — it does NOT take much stretching to make that wrap. I just don’t agree with what you are saying — two different things.

    You say, “Bauder contends that the Conservative Evangelicals are simply the same old ‘silent majority’ that wasn’t so bad after all.”

    I don’t think I saw Bauder ever say anything like “wasn’t so bad after all.” I may not be remembering well, but if I am, you are just adding that bit in. There is a difference between saying a tiger is not a lion and saying a tiger is a house cat.

    You say, “The CEs are really a new phenomenon in evangelicalism. They are at least willing to say that the compromises with liberals were wrong or at least largely mistaken, but they insist that nevertheless, they see new evangelicalism as a necessary and helpful corrective to the fundamentalism of the day.”

    Show me one of the CEs who will say categorically and without qualification (within the simplistic restraints you seek to impose) that the “compromises” with the liberal were wrong. I’m sure that they would say something like, “Compromise X was wrong, but what you call compromise Y was not wrong.” And, that is exactly what I am saying — not to mention my agreement on the “necessary corrective” bit.

    As far as Bauder not being able to prove his point to you, I think you’re probably right. That doesn’t mean his point is untrue.

    • I will grant that Bauder doesn’t say the silent majority ‘wasn’t so bad after all’, that is my editorial comment and, I think, the implication of his remarks. In particular, it is these two paragraphs I am objecting to:

      In the meanwhile, the bulk of evangelicalism was neither fundamentalist nor neo-evangelical. The large center of the evangelical movement agreed with the fundamentalist rejection of liberalism, but those evangelicals could not bring themselves to offer a public repudiation of neo-evangelical figures. They might be pressured to participate in a Graham crusade, but they never approved of his cooperative evangelism.

      In The Young Evangelicals, Richard Quebedeaux referred to this position as “Open Fundamentalism,” but these people generally preferred not to be known as fundamentalists at all. Their moderate evangelicalism included organizations like Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, and the Radio Bible Class, and names like Lehman Strauss and J. Vernon McGee. These are the direct ecclesiastical ancestors of today’s conservative evangelicals—indeed, in some cases, they are the same people.

      The error here is implying that these figures/institutions were somehow reluctantly in support of the new evangelical compromises. I think it can be shown that they were regularly involved, that such involvement meant a deliberate rejection of fundamentalist separatism, and that as such it cannot be said that this group was not largely dominated by new evangelical philosophy and practice. Is it possible that they did not whole-heartedly embrace every deed or thought promoted by the central figures of new evangelical thinking? I suppose, but the general trends of these ministries was in support of new evangelical philosophy and practice, not in opposition to it. As such, I think it is legitimate to label them as new evangelical.

      In Bauder’s presentation, it seems that these figures/institutions are worthy of some sympathy, if not respect. But given the reprehensible nature of the new evangelical compromise, their unwillingness to reject it (and their participation in its support) is itself reprehensible and gutless.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. Keith says:

    I think you are reading into Bauder that he thinks these groups worthy of respect — at least in regards to their stance toward new evangelical practices.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen him write anything sympathetic toward say cooperating in a Graham crusade. He might say that some other thing or things they did are worthy of respect, but that’s a very different thing from saying the cooperation was worthy of respect. BJU and other places may not like to admit it, but they do the same thing everytime they use a textbook written by one of these folks — even with the little disclaimer in the front cover.

    For discussion’s sake, if I temporarily allow that there really are only two choices — fundamentalist and new evangelical — where do you place Francis Schaeffer? Lindsel? McGee? Wiersbe? Macarthur? Strauss? etc.

    Schaeffer, at least, was clearly opposed to cooperative evangelism. Macarthur appears so as well.

    Seems to me you’ve got a system akin to the redneck who thinks everyone who lives south of the border is a Mexican.

    • Actually, everyone who lives south of the border is a Yankee.

      I agree that Bauder wouldn’t be sympathetic to cooperating with BG. But that is not what I am arguing with. I am arguing with the notion that the ‘silent majority’ was actually distinct from New Evangelicalism. While there may have been some aspects of new evangelicalism that various members of this group did not embrace as enthusiastically as others, I don’t think it is correct to make it out that they are an identifiable group distinct from New Evangelicalism. It can be demonstrated, I think, that they largely embraced new evangelical philosophy and practices and therefore fit the category.

      Of your list, I don’t know much about Strauss (and I think he died before there really was a new evangelicalism), but all of the others would tend to exhibit new evangelical characteristics. MacArthur may be one whom most would think not so new evangelical, but he recently spoke at Billy Graham’s Cove and also wrote an article in Billy Graham’s Decision magazine. He is inconsistent, at best.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  17. Keith says:

    What about Schaeffer? He outright opposed Graham’s cooperative evangelism but he did so privately. How is that not different from either enthusiatically supporting it or publicly and militantly opposing it?

    I think we need to move on soon. So, let me just say, I have much more personal understanding of fundamentalism than you think. That understanding leads to disagreement with the position not anathematizing of the people.

    It also does not bother me or trouble me in the least if someone wants to label me or people I respect (like Schaeffer) “Neo” (with scare quotes and all). In this respect I think that I am coming from an entirely differnent place than Bauder. He is a committed fundamentalist — just from a different circle than some other committed fundamentalists. And, if there’s one thing committed fundamentalists have done a lot of in the last 40 years it’s fight between circles.

    If you want to call Graham NEX (New Evangelical Extreme) and Francis Schaeffer a NEM (New Evangelical Moderate), it really is no skin off my back.

    My only point is that Bauder is not out to lunch to attempt to describe a category of Christians who are neither militant fundamentalists NOR cutting edge progressive neos. Outside the various fundamentalist inner-circles this group is huge.

    • As you describe Schaeffer, I wouldn’t put much stock in his private opposition to cooperative evangelism. So he said something privately to Graham (presumably), so what? Ultimately what effect would that have? And as I understand his life and ministry, he nevertheless firmly identified with the new evangelical reshaping of evangelicalism while perhaps finally realizing some of his and evangelicalism’s errors near the end of his life.

      Alright, if you want to distinguish ‘cutting edge progressive neos’ from the rest of evangelicalism, go ahead. But I wouldn’t say that Carl Henry, Ockenga, and even Graham (in perhaps earlier years) would be described that way either. Some of them, and some who embraced them, went much further than the founders ever intended (that is what Lindsell’s book was all about) but evangelicalism largely embraced neo evangelical philosophy as originally conceived by Henry, Ockenga, Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today, et al. The fact that some elements of evangelicalism (including CT and Fuller) went much farther than originally intended doesn’t mean that those who weren’t ‘cutting edge progressives’ are somehow not new evangelicals.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  18. Keith says:

    Last attempt, then you can have the last word:

    You call yourself a fundamentalist. You identify with a certain flavor of fundamentalism.

    How appropriate is it for me to say, “Well call yourself what you will, and point out the nit picky differences between yourself and Jack Hyles all you want, it doesn’t mean that you are somehow not an anti-intellectual, schismatic.”

    • Well, people call fundamentalists all kinds of things. Does it really matter?

      There is a sense in which the Hylots are fundamentalists. They have not gone along with the compromises associated with evangelicalism. So it doesn’t bother me that in some senses we are in the same category. (However, please note that Jack Schaap, the heir to Hyles’ crown, has linked himself with some kind of emergent ‘biker-preacher’ dude. Some things are too bizarre to make up.)

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  19. d4v34x says:

    Don, I put you in the fairly quiet majority of those who refuse to fully embrace or entirely distance themselves from the Hyles crowd. :^)

    Seriously, though. From this discussion it appears to me you have two categories. Fundamentalists more or less like you, and all the compromisers and apostates.

    • Hi Dave

      Well, there are broad categories encompassed by the terms ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘evangelical’. There are obviously distinctions within those categories, but there are general characteristics of each category that are true of everyone in the category. That doesn’t make them all allied or cooperative with one another, there are many fellows who fit the category of fundamentalist, generally speaking, with whom I would have no ministry cooperation whatsoever.

      But by definition, there is a wide difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals that precludes any real cooperation between the two, regardless of areas of commonality between them. That is what I am getting at with the question, “was the new evangelical policy of cooperation with liberals absolutely wrong and unconscionable?” The answer to that question will determine whether one can really have ministry cooperation with another brother. Fundamentalists find the new evangelical compromise so wrong that it demands withdrawal of fellowship. Evangelicals may admit there were some mistakes made, some errors along the way, but on the whole was a necessary corrective to fundamentalist separation. As long as such evangelical attitudes are held, the possibility of ministry cooperation doesn’t really exist with fundamentalists. And as professing fundamentalists start answering the new evangelical question with evangelical lingo, they can be seen to be sliding out of fundamentalism into an increasingly compromised position.

      That is not to say that there are no distinctions among evangelicals, with some taking better stands than others. But they all tend to see the new evangelical compromise as generally positive and a worthwhile contribution. To one extent or another, they embrace those philosophies as their own. Until they begin to see the new evangelical error for what it was, they will not be able to embrace fundamentalists in ministry cooperation (or vice versa).

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  20. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Your last post (#34) is the most concise, succinct statement of the problem that I have yet to read. How one answers that question is indeed the key.

  21. d4v34x says:

    Hi Don, That’s alot of pixels just to say “yes.”

    To put it another way, separation philosophy is the basis of cooperation, in your opinion?

    Beyond that, I can’t come close to engaging you on this issue in the way that Keith already has, so I’ll let you answer, if you want, and be done for now.


  22. Keith says:

    “there are many fellows who fit the category of fundamentalist, generally speaking, with whom I would have no ministry cooperation whatsoever.”

    Then of what use is the category?

    • @Dave

      You said

      To put it another way, separation philosophy is the basis of cooperation, in your opinion?

      Obviously not, since there are fundamentalists I won’t cooperate with. Separation philosophy is one of the key means of distinguishing evangelicals from fundamentalists. Probably it is the major factor, but I think there may be some others, see Ockenga’s distinguishing marks for the new evangelicalism.

      @ Keith

      The category describes a certain set of characteristics and a stance towards the wider world of Christendom and is useful in distinguishing a general stance towards the culture of the world.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  23. Very interesting conversation. Not sure I have time to digest it all right now.


    You asked:

    “Then of what use is the category?”

    I think part of it depends upon how you are using the category. If you are using the categories as the end-all be-all of identity, then I would agree that the broadness of the category (commonly understood) is useless. However, if it is understood as one aspect of identity – in particular, a person or ministries disposition towards separation/ecumenism, etc., then there is some limited value in the using of the terms – even though fuller identification is needed.

    Off the top of my head, I wonder if a helpful parallel might be the issue of political conservatism. In the last election, a significant number of people (in the 40%, I believe) identified themselves as “conservative”. However, within that group would be Republicans, Tea Partiers, Libertarians, etc. Surely this would include some strange people with whom we would have significant disagreement and even embarrassment that they would also be identified as “conservatives”, but it would be disingenuous to say, “No, they are not conservatives.” It would be more accurate to say, “Yes, they qualify as conservatives – but I would have nothing to do with them because they are off on X and Y, etc.”

    Anyway, I hope that helps, some.


    • Thanks, Frank.

      I think you are getting what I am saying.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  24. Keith says:

    Thanks Frank,

    Yes, I understand what you are saying, and I don’t have any problem with that understanding — it’s why I don’t object to being labeled “evangelical”, or even by some folks, “fundamentalist.”

    However, what I can’t understand at all, is why some think it is acceptable to be identified with, and share a label with, some errors but not others (that are equally or more egregious).

    What on earth makes the errors of the “Neo Evangelicals” worse than the errors of the “Hylots” (Don’s term)? Why would one be ok sharing a title with one, but not the other — especially if one will not fellowship with either?

    Again, if all one is saying is that “those who don’t cooperate with liberals or those who cooperate with liberals are fundamentalists, and those who do aren’t” then there is really no discussion. I agree with the law of non-contradition — A is not non-A. I just thought that the discussion was about more than that — are there more non-A options than B.

    • Hi Keith

      Well, I stole ‘Hylot’ from someone else, so no credit to me on that one.

      It isn’t a matter of acceptable or unacceptable. The label is descriptive. It’s not a club you join, its descriptive of what you are based on certain characteristics. I bear the label “Canadian” even though there are a lot of Canadians with whom I have very little in common and would really rather have nothing to do with (including a few blood relatives, alas).

      In comparing errors, I am not sure we are saying the errors of Neos are worse than the errors of Hylots. We are just saying that evangelicalism as such has almost completely embraced most of the Neo errors, especially including the error of being soft on dialogue/cooperation/acceptance of liberals and hard on the separatism of the fundamentalists. As such we are denying there is any such thing as a ‘silent majority’ that is not quite new evangelical but not fundamentalist.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3