stages in the history of visible church unity

I’d like to resume my notes from Church History class. I am taking a break from my break from blogging – largely related to working out my taxes… I hate doing taxes. Reality is so depressing! Far better to live in the imprecise haze of not knowing exactly where one stands! In Canada, our tax day is Apr 30, so we have a bit longer to dither than our USA friends. (Of course, if you don’t have to pay, they are in no hurry for you to get your refund!)

So a little R & R… blogging!

The lecture I am entering today comes under a header entitled:

The Ecumenical Movement

Next comes a quote – may not be exact words, but something was said that struck me:

Be aware of the difference between my will, Satan’s wiles, and the Spirit’s wooing.

Now for the main lecture:

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discerning and eschewing new evangelicalism

In my Church History notes folder I have the reprint of an article written by Dr. Panosian in 1963 for the Nov/Dec issue of Voice of the Alumni, the news-magazine for BJU alumni. The article has a picture of a very young Dr. P. It was written a bare six or seven years from the Billy Graham 1957 New York crusade, the moment when lines were starkly drawn and personal decisions for or against the new evangelicalism had to be made.

Dr. P summarizes the definitions of other men for the (then) new movement. Among those cited are William E. Ashbrook, Harold J. Ockenga, Charles Woodbridge, Bob Jones, Jr., and Robert C. Brien. From these, Dr. P distills this definition:

So Neo-Evangelicalism is a movement, an approach, a group, a theological position, a practice, an attitude, a method and a mood. It prefers positivism without negativism, liberalism to fundamentalism, infiltration to separation, results to principles, scholarship to Revelation, ‘Preaching the Gospel’ without contending for the faith, ‘love’ to Truth, and ‘unity’ to loyalty to the Word of God. Ignoring the injunctions of the Epistles, concerning the believers’ reaction to error, infidelity, and apostasy — mark them, avoid them, rebuke them, have no fellowship with them, reprove, exhort, receive not, try them, from such turn away — the Neo-Evangelical has already been judged by God’s Word. He needs no other judgement.

A few thoughts flow from this…

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new evangelicalism – course and consequences

I’ve been blogging my old Church History class notes [minus the doodles] for a little while now. The next two sections concern new evangelicalism:

The Course of Neo-Evangelicalism

  1. Sellout of schools: Fuller Theological Seminary and Wheaton College [as examples]
  2. Emergence of honoured leaders:
    Harold Ockenga
    Carl Henry
    Edward Carnell
    Donald Ray Barnhouse
    Vernon Grounds
    Bernard Ramm
    Alan Redpath
  3. Emergence of Propaganda Vehicles
    Christianity Today (an answer to the liberal Christian Century)
    Christian Life

As I think about this section, I must not have fully understood the lecture, or else ‘sellout’ is my term. Fuller was created for the purpose of advancing the neo-evangelical cause. It has always been committed to a course of compromise, whereas Wheaton turned away from a more militant beginning to the position it holds today.

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the rise of neo-evangelicalism

Continuing my church history notes from 28 years ago…

Two of the prominent men of the neo-evangelical movement were John Carnell and Carl Henry. My notes at this point say “both from fundamental background.”

Henry was the first editor of Christianity Today, and was

at the time trying to make conservative evangelical orthodox Christianity rationally acceptable.

AIn 1947, Henry articulated something I have headed in my notes as the “NEEDS OF CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICALISM”

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abpnews takes a turn at defining fundamentalism

The Associated Baptist Press attempts to define the allegedly undefinable! Read all about it in “Fundamentalism & militancy: Defining ‘fundamentalism’

“They were trying to find the boundaries of authentic Christianity,”

says one commentator.

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an outline of classic liberalism

More from my 1980 Church History class notes:

The old modernist movement came to be known as ‘classic liberalism’ (as opposed to a lesser known ‘new liberalism’ that emerged after WWI). The following is a brief outline describing them.

1850-1914 Classic Liberalism

Result of:

  • Darwinism
  • Higher Criticism
  • Immanental subjectivism of Schleiermacher, Hegel, & Kant

[The roots in Darwinism and Higher Criticism are, I think, fairly well known. The philosophical background in immanental subjectivism is probably less known and understood. To understand modernism, I think one would do well to grasp especially the influence of the three men mentioned here.]

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the ongoing pattern of deception

Dipping again into my Church History notes, I come to a section headed “History of Neo-Evangelicalism & the Ecumenical Movement”

The section starts with this:

Satan’s method is to counterfeit the truth, not contend with it. Therefore he produces deceptive bodies.

  1. Neo-Orthodoxy – deception in theology in the 1920s
  2. Neo-Evangelicalism – deception in practice in the 1950s


It is interesting to consider these two notes that go with the quotation/note I made under the title to the lecture. Liberalism/Modernism was, if I may call it, honest unbelief. While it propagated many lies, it propagated honest lies. Out and out lies. Bald-faced lies. In my next note in the church history series, I’ll cover it more specifically.

But liberalism (now sometimes called ‘classic liberalism’) became much less of a thread to Bible-believing Christianity than these two subsequent challenges. These two were greater deceptions.

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two random quotes from CH class

Here are two quotes from my 1980 Church History class. The section I am dealing with in recent posts are basically preliminary to a discussion of new evangelicalism vs. fundamentalism. Here are the quotes:

A schismatic spirit is one that insists upon total agreement on non-essentials as well as on the essentials.


Fundamentalist creeds do not include denominational distinctives.

Is there any correlation between these two ideas?

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signs of the death of denominations

My next set of Church History notes is entitled ‘Denominations go bad when these appear’. I have in brackets [or people, or whatever] beside the title.

This list is a series of observations concerning marks of deterioration to the point of virtual death in denominations. As we look back through church history, the landscape is littered with failed churches and movements that often started well. One could say the grand-daddy of them all is the Catholic church. What could have started better? What could have failed so miserably? Likewise, the churches of the reformation have evidenced decline unto death [in their original forms], spawning reform movements of their own. The Anabaptist and independent traditions also have their share of decline and failure… an all too familiar theme. The Church is not so superior to Old Testament Israel, though with much better advantages.

Denominations, then, go bad when these appear…

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the declension of good movements

More notes from my 1980 Church History class with Dr Panosian. This one is a series of steps a nation or a denomination might take in devolving downward. It sounds a lot like the Judges cycle, but it is more complicated than what you usually hear on that one.

The cycle begins with Bondage, which is broken by Spiritual Faith…

The whole list follows below:

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