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“New Neutralism Ch 10-11”
by John Ashbrook   
January 11th, 2009


THE NEW NEUTRALISM - Explo and Extravaganzas 

One of the favorite tactics of new evangelicalism has been the convening of what I have chosen to call, "explos and extravaganzas." The word "explo" does not appear in my dictionary, but I believe that it was coined by Dr. Bill Bright for Explo '72 in the Cotton Bowl, which was followed by Explo '74. In my father's booklet, he reviews extravaganzas such as the U.S. Congress on Evangelism in 1969, Key '73, and Lausanne '74. New evangelicalism has continued its explos and extravaganzas since that time. They are usually designated by a name and a date. It would be impossible, in a booklet of this size, to review them all. I have chosen several which are typical of the whole and important for one reason or another.

It almost seems to me that this item should go in a recipe section. The recipe would be for New Evangelical Fruit-Nut Cake. You take a large mixing bowl and stir in equal parts of (1) mainline Protestant denominations, (2) the Roman Catholic Church, (3) the charismatic movement, and (4) new evangelical churches and churchmen. Stir the mixture thoroughly and cook until half baked. Perhaps you think I am kidding, but this mixture was actually baked August 27-31, 1979 at Stanford University. It was called the National Convocation of Christian Leaders. True to new evangelical nomenclature, it was nicknamed, Stanford '79. The planning was done by David Hubbard, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, in conjunction with the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Diocese of Oakland and Dr. David duPlessis, "Mr. Pentecostal."

Funds for the convocation were provided by a wealthy retired industrialist, Mr. Lowell Berry a United Presbyterian layman. Berry has been an important financial supporter of Fuller Theological Seminary and the Billy Graham Schools of Evangelism.

The Catholic participation in the conference was no mistake. In a report titled, "The Most Ecumenical Conference Ever Held," by Dr. M. H. Reynolds, Dr. David Hubbard is quoted as saying the following:

"David du Plessis was the one who, more than anyone else, persuaded Lowell Berry that we could not have a significant convocation in 1979 on the Stanford Campus without the support of Archbishop Flynn and the archdiocese of San Francisco; without the support of the Catholic religious orders, Catholic speakers and workshop leaders. All of this is directly due to the vision of David du Plessis, and this convocation is what it is, not only because of Lowell Berry's vision, but because of David du Plessis' insistence that Christ has only one church - and that if we're going to meet as Christian leaders, we ought to be here together - right across those churchly lines."

New Evangelical Fruit-Nut Cake
The famous pie of nursery rhyme fame included, "four and twenty blackbirds to set before the king." This one was slightly larger, comprised of seven hundred fifty speckled birds. Speakers ran the gamut from the opening address by Jesuit Herbert Ryan of Loyola Marymount University to the closing address by Hollywood Presbyterian pastor Lloyd Ogilvie. In between were Catholics such as Notre Dame chaplain William Toohey, United Methodists such as Houston's Charles L. Allen, believers such as Oswald Hoffman of the Lutheran hour, the charismatic Episcopal Rector Dennis Bennett, and movie star Tony Orlando. Christianity Today for October 5, 1979 sums up the latter's part by saying, "Then to the delight of the conferees he put on a fast-paced nightclub type show with band, singers, and special effects." Obviously you don’t even have to be quiet when this New Evangelical Fruit-Nut Cake is in the oven. If you think I have stretched the story get the Christianity Today mentioned above and read the whole recipe in more detail.

The organizers of Stanford '79 were apparently pleased with the results, for it was followed by a Stanford '80, planned along the same lines. Pictures of featured speakers adorned the elaborate brochure advertising the latter conference. Among those advertised were Dr. Charles L. Allen, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Houston; Rector Dennis Bennett, the charismatic Episcopalian; Dr. Kenneth Chafin, a Southern Baptist from Houston who has served as dean of the Billy Graham Schools of Evangelism and a trustee of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary; Alvin Illig, Director of The Paulist Office for Evangelization; Dr. George Hunter III, Executive for Evangelism, United Methodist Church; Dr. John S. Cummins, Bishop of Oakland (Catholic); Dr. Guido Merkens, Second Vice President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; Dr. Robert H. Schuller of the Garden Grove Community Church; Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood and Thomas E. Zimmerman, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Among the workshop leaders were a host of priests and nuns with the designations of their orders after their names. Others were old new evangelical friends from Fuller Theological Seminary like Roberta Hestenes, Dr. Lewis B. Smedes and Dr. C. Peter Wagner.

This was a consummate conference of neutralism. It originated with Fuller Seminary. Some of the ground rules were drawn by "Mr. Pentecost." Catholic participation was by design and was by those well up in the hierarchy. Men from the National Council of Churches and the Southern Baptist Convention participated. The new evangelicals were willing to have it so.

AMSTERDAM '83 & '86
I have chosen to handle these two conferences as one. The conferences were similar, held in the same place, and the second was a sequel to the first. Both conferences were sponsored by Dr. Billy Graham and carried off by his Evangelistic Association. The first meeting was officially called The International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists. It was held July 12-21, 1983 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is commonly called Amsterdam '83. The second conference, held July 12-21, 1986, is commonly called Amsterdam '86. It is not really necessary to keep the two conferences separate. Their makeup, purpose and method of operation was the same.

An Impressionable Audience
Amsterdam '83 brought together 3,800 itinerant evangelists from 133 countries. Amsterdam '86 was much larger, totaling 8,160 evangelists from 174 countries. According to statistics released by Amsterdam '83, seventy percent of the evangelists were from third world countries, and ninety percent had never attended a major conference of any kind before. Amsterdam '86 said that seventy-eight percent were from third world countries. What this means is that this was a naive and impressionable audience, which would return home bearing the emphases of the conferences without critical evaluation. In this situation of great responsibility, three things stood out. The same three things stand out in any conference of new evangelicalism.

No Warning About Ecumenism
First, no warning was given about the dangers of ecumenism and false doctrine. Greetings at Amsterdam '83 were given by Dr. J. Verkuyl, an ecumenical liberal, personally chosen by Billy Graham for the task. He said: "I firmly believe it to be God's will that every real evangelical should be an ecumenical and that every real ecumenical should be an evangelical." Later at a closing news conference, Dr. Graham pointed out that most of the participants came from churches affiliated with the World Council of Churches. Since the conference was sponsored by the leading exponent of ecumenical evangelism, one would expect that to be the recognized bias of the meeting. It was. Among the speakers at Amsterdam '83 were Dr. Billy Graham; Dr. Robert Schuller; Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho, the Koran charismatic and Dr. Pat Robertson, an American one; Mrs. Becky Pippert of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; Dr. E. V Hill; Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz, a daughter of Billy Graham; and Rev. Kalevi Lehtinen, European director of Campus Crusade. Plenary addresses at Amsterdam '86 were given by Dr. Stephen Olford; Dr. Luis Palau; Dr. Ravi Zacharias; Dr. Billy Kim; Dr. Leighton Ford; Dr. Bill Bright; Dr. George Sweeting, then President of Moody Bible Institute, and Dr. E. V. Hill.

One of the plenary speakers was Rev. Kalevi Lehtinen, European director for Campus Crusade for Christ. (A plenary speaker at one of these conferences is one who speaks to the full audience.) Foundation magazine, Volume IV, Issue IV for 1983, quoted him as saying that God had given him a vision of

... a new movement in the Body of Christ, a movement of love and fellowship. It is a movement of Christians, disciples, from all denominations, churches, movements, and other Christian groups who by the grace of God commit themselves to love unconditionally every child of God in the world regardless of his denomination, race, nationality, doctrinal understanding, social standing, etc. These Christians would express their commitment by signing a pledge where this vision is verbalized. They will promise to love the whole church in the world in the same way; refrain from criticizing other Christians; and would consider all God's children as equal brothers and sisters.

When Paul wrote to the young believers at Philippi, he told them that he prayed for them in the area of Christian love. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." (Philippians 1:9) It is obvious that Lehtinen sees the "love" but is blind to the "knowledge and in all judgment." He minimized "doctrinal understanding," but in the context of his speech that difference ranged from the faith of Bible believers to the outspoken unbelief of the World Council of Churches. I can and have fellowshipped with those of different "doctrinal understanding;" however, when that difference becomes the difference between belief and unbelief, God forbids fellowship.

Word from Mother Teresa
To illustrate the vast span which was meant to be covered by that "doctrinal understanding," let me quote from Dr. Leighton Ford, Dr. Graham's brother-in-law, who spoke at Amsterdam '86, as quoted by Foundation magazine for July/August 1986:

Several weeks ago we had the privilege in Calcutta of visiting Mother Teresa... I asked her what we could pray for her I thought she might need money or staff She said, Pray that I may be humble like Mary and holy like Jesus.' I-asked her what she would tell you, the evangelists at Amsterdam '86 if she could speak here. She said, 'Tell them to be holy and love one another We need holy pastors and holy preachers.'

Only a man long steeped in the compromise of neutralism could quote Mother Teresa in an approving way without warning of her "doctrinal understanding," which is the standard Catholic understanding of faith plus the works of the church. In the same article Ford was quoted as saying, "Preach the Gospel, but don't be so negative as to refuse to endorse or work with those who belong to a group that proclaims a different Gospel!" Ford's words seem to be an open defiance of Paul's words: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." New evangelicalism may have not set out to defy God's Word, but the compromises of its system have brought it to that point.

According to the same reporter, Dr. Luis Palau was asked if he would cooperate with Roman Catholics. He replied, "If they should ask you, and invite you to preach without apology certainly! In many cities it's been done - it is being done."

Minimizing a Major Difference
The pollster, George Gallup, Jr., was a part of Amsterdam '86 by Graham's invitation. Foundation for July/August 1986 has the following quotation:

Gallup, himself a member of the Episcopal Church, said we must '...close ranks with our fellow Christians. One of the most worrisome developments in contemporary Christianity is the wide rift between liberal and conservative Christians. In a recent survey, conducted for Robert H. Schuller Ministries, we extensively probed the differences and similarities between Christians on the left and those on the right - in beliefs, practices, attitudes, outlook, and the like - and examined steps that might be taken to heal the rift and thus create a stronger and more vital church with a united witness to mankind... Probably the most solid ground for a coming together of left and right is, in the last analysis, the importance both groups place both on love of God and love of neighbor.'

It is devilishly clever to refer to "liberal and conservative" and "left and right" without pointing out that the essence of theological liberalism and the theological left is just plain unbelief. His plea is to come together on the basis of love. However, as men learned in the 1930's, the only true foundation for coming together would have to be a set of fundamentals of doctrine. This was the first great failure of these conferences. No warning was given about the dangers of ecumenism and false doctrine.

No Warning About Charismaticism
Secondly, no warning was given about the danger of the charismatic movement. This is the most dangerous cleavage within believing Christendom. The presence of outspoken charismatics such as Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho and Dr. Pat Robertson obviously meant that no criticism would be made of the charismatic movement. The Foundation report quotes a seminar on "Follow Up" for new converts. The evangelists were told the following:

Sometimes it's better for kids to go to a charismatic Catholic church than to a Brethren Assembly. We just have to put them where they'll grow... We make no judgment of churches - that’s the Holy Spirit's job. Young Christians can be more led into Bible reading and faith in a Catholic charismatic church than in some conservative evangelical churches.

I would agree that the judgment of churches is the Holy Spirit's job. However, in this age the Holy Spirit gives discernment to spiritual men who are responsible to exercise that discernment for the benefit of their converts. I do not believe in leaving babes on doorsteps, nor do I believe in leaving spiritual babes on the doorstep of apostate or charismatic churches. This was a conference on evangelism recommending a sure way to destroy the fruits of evangelism. Strange! No warning was given about the danger of the charismatic movement. The principles of neutralism have struck dumb the warning tongue.

No Warning About Communism
Thirdly no warning was given about the danger of communist deceit. Both Amsterdam Conferences proved to be sounding boards for communist delegates. Amsterdam '83 boasted of 108 participants from Eastern Europe, and Amsterdam '86 released the figure of 97. Of course, these delegates were all people trusted by their Marxist governments to leave their countries. Some of the speakers were Metropolitan Vladimir Rostov of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pastor V. E. Logvinenko of the famous Baptist Church in Moscow, Baptist Pastor Sergei Nikolaev and Bishop Nifon of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The orthodox representatives were treated as evangelical, which is a far cry from the truth. All of the Russian speakers did what visiting communists always do. They spoke about the great religious freedom in Russia. They spoke negatively of the unregistered church. They talked about world peace and disarmament. Is this evangelism? In the desire to have representatives from communist nations, their hosts ignored the fact that the guests had a completely different agenda - the familiar tune from Moscow.

One of the features of the 1983 conference was the showing of Billy Graham's film of his visit to Moscow in 1982 for the conference titled, "Religious Workers for Saving the Sacred Gift of Life from Nuclear Catastrophe." The film, all positive toward Russian communism, was better press than if it had been released by Pravda. According to Foundation, a Finnish journalist termed it, "The best propaganda the communists could want."

Here was a group of naive young evangelists from all over the world. The average age of the delegates was 31. Ninety percent had never been to any such conference. If ever a group needed warning about the dangerous unbelief of liberalism, the doctrinal problem of charismaticism and the deception of communism, this was the group. No warnings were given. Many good and helpful things were said and done, but the dangers far outweighed the benefits.

Death In Small Doses
Our family used to have a Sheltie dog called Cherry. One afternoon my wife called in anxiety to tell me that the dog had had a seizure. The veterinarian diagnosed the condition as some type of poisoning. It was strychnine poisoning. We were having trouble with moles in the yard. I had treated the mole runs with a commercial preparation, which was dog food with an infinitesimal percentage of strychnine. Because the preparation was mainly dog food, the dog had smelled it, dug up the runs and been poisoned. (So my readers do not write to me to inquire, I will tell you that the doctor knew what to do and the dog lived.) My point in telling you the story is to say that the poison of Amsterdam '83 and '86 may have been the smaller part; but it made the conference exceedingly dangerous for impressionable young evangelists. I once heard my friend, Dr. Dayton Hobbs, say "Evaluate something, not by how much good is in it, but by how much error is in it." He was right.

A Prayer Request
I have not mentioned the fact that most of the delegates were brought to the conferences at the expense of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The average allotment per participant for Amsterdam '86 came to approximately $2,500. Shortly before the '86 conference I had a letter from one of our veteran missionaries in South America. He asked us to pray for their young evangelists that they would be able to resist the offer of a free trip to Amsterdam. He knew that they would be unable to cope with the compromises of new evangelicalism and would surely be swayed by the training. They would come home dissatisfied with those who had led them to the Lord. The conferences at Amsterdam were helpful to the cause of ecumenism, charismaticism and communism. They were harmful to the cause of faithful fundamental missions.

The year was 1974. The place was Lausanne, Switzerland. The International Congress on World Evangelization met for the first time. Three million, three hundred thousand dollars were spent to bring 2,425 participants. Theologian Dr. Francis Schaeffer and non-theologian Malcom Muggeridge shared the platform. A document called The Lausanne Covenant was produced, with Dr. John R. W Stott as chief author.

The year was 1989. The place was Manila, Philippines. The International Congress on World Evangelization met for the second time. Ten million, five hundred thousand dollars were spent to bring 3,586 participants. Other staff, press, observers and speakers swelled the total to 4,336. The participants were termed, "world religious leaders," and came as individuals, not as representatives of churches, denominations or para-church groups. The gathering was known as Lausanne II.

New Evangelical Fence
As a boy I was frequently sent to fix a fence. With old Nellie to pull my sled of supplies I would patrol the fence, replace staples, pull wire tight and add a strand of barbed wire where necessary Special attention was always given to the top and the bottom of the fence. Draft horses loved to lean on the fence until they rode it down and could step over into greener pasture. Sheep were specialists in crawling under. A doctrinal statement is supposed to be a tight fence which puts those of a definite belief on the inside and those of another belief on the outside. However, it was plain at Manila that the Lausanne Covenant was not that kind of fence. Rather, it was a barrier designed to be not too high and not too low. It was meant to allow the free and easy movement of all theological positions.

If any man should bear the title, Mr. Lausanne II, it would be Dr. Billy Graham's brother-in-law, Evangelist Leighton Ford. I have already identified Billy Graham as listing strongly to the left in the theological and ecumenical sea. I would have to observe that Evangelist Ford has a few more degrees of tilt than his famous brother-in-law. Foundation Magazine for May-July 1989 carried an excellent report on this meeting, and my quotations in this section are from that article. In the opening day's press conference. Dr. Ford commented on the presence of representatives from the Vatican by saying, "Our policy is to build bridges instead of walls; we want to be friends." He stated that Lausanne's purpose was "not to draw as narrow a circle, but as wide a circle as possible." That makes one think of "... wide is the gate, and broad is the way..."

How Wide is the Circle?
At Manila the Rev. Tom Houston succeeded the Rev. Thomas Wang as International Director of the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. He spelled out my point rather specifically by saying: 'All kinds of Christians with all kinds of emphases make up the Lausanne movement. Their diverse interpretations and styles often create tensions as they grapple with how far they can go in cooperation without compromise." One would have to presume that "all kinds of Christians" would include World Council of Churches kinds, Roman Catholic kinds, social gospel kinds, Pentecostal kinds, radical charismatic kinds and neo-orthodox kinds. The fence is low enough to include all and high enough to exclude none.

Houston went on, in one of his major messages, to state that, "There are six saving acts of God in Christ." Then, he identified each of these acts with some religious group. He mentioned the incarnation as the specialty of Anglicans and Roman Catholics, the atonement as the province of Lutheran and evangelical churches, the resurrection as the turf of the Orthodox churches, the ascension as the truth of Presbyterian and Reformed churches, Pentecost as the territory of Pentecostals and charismatics and the second coming as belonging to the Seventh Day and other Adventists. He summed up this strange statement by saying, "So God gives us each a torch to carry, but it is one procession." It is obvious that the true believer holds all six things and is not about to surrender any to the Roman Catholic or the Seventh Day Adventist. Then, stirring the ecumenical pot a few more licks, he said the following:

Let's be a force for fusion, and not send out sparks that ignite inflammatory division. Lets make our unflinching goal to stay together under the banner of the Word of God as reflected in the Lausanne Covenant and show the world the fullness, together, of the saving acts of God! Amen.

That statement has the familiar "togetherness" ring of the Babylonian Covenant in Genesis 11. I don't believe that God was any more pleased with this one than He was with that one.

I have frequently observed that the most virulent new evangelicals are those who came out of a separatist background and clearly rejected it. Consider this strange statement of Rev. Tom Houston:

Indeed, I was a separatist as a young pastor And when there were two poles of emphasis, I wanted to destroy or exclude the other pole... And then I learned...that God usually works with two poles, the north and the south; they create a field of tension within which things can be done.

That is the reasoning which the communists call dialectic - that the truth lies somewhere between two extremes, and we ride the pendulum. Is Bible doctrine to be arrived at by such a method? The creeds of Christendom have always been definite and specific. They define where the fence should be and how high. This is strange reasoning, but this is the neutralism of today.

The WCC at Lausanne II
A prominent presence at Manila was Dr. Eugene Stockwell, a leader of the World Council of Churches. He had just come from the World Council's Conference on World Mission and Evangelism at San Antonio, Texas. He brought with him a letter from "evangelically minded ecumenists" who were at San Antonio. He stated then, "in a way, that letter seemed to us to echo an open letter from the evangelicals that was written in 1983 at the Vancouver Assembly and one that we tried to build on." You will recall that we already referred to that letter when discussing its author, Dr. Arthur Glasser. Stockwell and Glasser are busy building the same bridge from opposite ends. Stockwell went on to say as follows:

Also, we are specifically arranging to have persons related to Lausanne present at some of the World Council meetings. I heard just yesterday that Ron Sider will be at the meeting in March on the Convocation on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, and we hope there will be others. We are grateful to have been invited here...

Do you see that last statement? A leader of the World Council of Churches, official purveyor of world apostasy was invited to Manila. He did not climb over, or crawl under, the fence. Someone let him in at the gate.

The Mixture at Manila
One of the groups swarming over and under the Lausanne Covenant was the charismatic segment. Dr. Vinson Syrian is assistant general superintendent of the Pentecostal Holiness Church. In his book, In the Latter Days, (1984:83) he tells us the first acceptance of pentecostalism:

The historic invitation to join the National Association of Evangelicals extended to several American Pentecostal denominations in 1943 marked a turning point in ecclesiastical history. It has been suggested that the admission of the Pentecostal churches into the N.A.E. was the first time in all the history of the church that a charismatic movement was accepted into the mainstream of Christianity.

What a change from the first acceptance in 1943 to Lausanne in 1989. One of the seminar series at Lausanne was a charismatic conference. It included Vinson Synan. Power evangelism was touted by the Fuller tandem, Peter Wagner and John Wimber. Other speakers were Jack Hayford, William Kumuyi and Paul Yonggi Cho.

Were the leaders worried by this charismatic concentration? Dr. Ford boasted of the synthesis:

Perhaps one of the historic marks of Lausanne II in Manila will be that it was where, in a new way, Pentecostal and Charismatic Evangelicals, and non-Charismatic Evangelicals came together in Christ and covenanted together to advance His Gospel as never before. If that happens it would be a major justification for holding the Congress.

The mixture at Manila was not by chance, but by choice.

I have chosen not to dwell on it in this section, but the social gospel played a large part in Manila. When the old-time modernists left the gospel, they had to have a message to preach. They called their new message the social gospel. New evangelicals first pacified the liberals by saying that the gospel had two thrusts - the saving gospel and the social gospel. Now, the social gospel has had a second baptism which makes it an official part of the gospel. Foundation quotes a reporter who covered both Lausanne I and II as saying: "At Lausanne I, we had to sneak in the concept of social action; now, here in Manila, that's all we're hearing." It has always been true, in the growth of heresy, that whenever anything is added to the gospel it soon becomes the major emphasis. Dr. Ockenga said that the first premise of new evangelicalism was a rejection of separatism. The extravaganza of Lausanne II was a pitched battle to destroy the fence of Biblical separation.

During 1944 and 1945 I was a trainee in the Navy V-12 program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. My Sunday afternoons were spent at meetings or InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Our advisor was a young professor by the name of Kenneth Taylor, later to become a well-known name in new evangelicalism. The greatest accomplishment of my term as IVCF president was a weekend retreat with Dr. Wilbur M. Smith as speaker. I rather think that both Taylor and Smith would have considered themselves fundamentalists in 1945. InterVarsity was an oasis to me. There I found an emphasis on Bible study There I found the fellowship of other Christians. There I found the answers for some of the blasphemy I heard in class. It is hard to point out the decline of something which has been a blessing in your own life.

The Influence of Urbana
When you write about the explos and extravaganzas of new evangelicalism you cannot ignore the triennial missions conferences of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. They are held at Christmas break time on the campus of the University of Illinois. They have come to be known by the name of the host town and the year of the conference. My father, in The New Neutralism, wrote about Urbana '73. I will confine my remarks to Urbana '90. It is impossible to overestimate the effect that these conferences have had on the world missionary movement. CHARISMA for October 1990 said, "Billy Graham, who has spoken at 12 Urbana meetings, lauds the conference as 'one of the most powerful, stimulating forces in missions for nearly 50 years." Moody for February 2, 1991 said, "The Urbana movement, which began in 1946 may be the most influential force shaping modern attitudes on world evangelism."

You get some feeling of the importance of this conference when you read the published attendance of 19,262 for the Urbana '90 conference. Delegates came from 76 denominations. Most new evangelical missions have made the Urbana conferences the cornerstone of their recruiting effort. The same issue of Moody quoted above said, "The missions divisions of the Presbyterian Church in America set up appointments with interested students before Urbana. Four representatives carried out in-depth interviews while 10 others distributed introductory literature to passers-by" The Baptist General Conference, the Evangelical Free Church and the Presbyterian Church in America each tried to sign up 1,000 of their members to be present at Urbana. Herb Skoglund, world missions director of the Baptist General Conference, was quoted by WORLD as saying that, "85 to 90 percent of all people appointed to full-time career mission service with BGC in the past 10 years have had an Urbana experience." What type of experience did the delegates to Urbana '90 have?

Rocking with "Full Armour"
Let's begin with the music. In most worship services the music precedes the message. A June 28, 1990 press release from Urbana '90 (six months prior to the conference itself) promised, "Music will be more contemporary than in the past, with about 70 percent contemporary hymnology... Music is a powerful means of communication for this generation of students." Of course, the music which communicates on today's campus is rock music or the near-rock style of contemporary Christian music. The advance announcement did not disappoint. Christianity Today, which is not exactly fundamentalist in its taste, reported in its February 11, 1991 issue:

Call Urbana 90 the Urbana with a beat. Gone from the platform of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's sixteen triennial missions conferences were the traditional Urbana hymnal, piano, organ, and songleader In their place were contemporary worship choruses led by an 11-member band, which was greeted with handclapping enthusiasm by the 19,000 delegates whenever it picked up the tempo and turned up the volume.

InterVarsity's publication, URBANA Update, for Spring, 1991 had a picture of the band, "Full Armour." The electronic instruments and amplifiers obvious in the picture identify it as a typical rock band. CHARISMA for March 1991 indicated that the band was composed of singers and musicians recruited from Vineyard churches in Southern California. What a change from 1945 when we spent time learning historic hymns which taught us doctrine!

A Notable Absence
At a missionary conference of this size and scope one would expect to hear from the platform a group of veteran missionaries who had earned their stripes in jungles, deserts and heathen cities. CHARISMA FOR October 1990 gave advance warning that the schedule of speakers would be different:

This year's speaker lineup will reflect the changing missions scene in the world, as well as the changing political arena. Major addresses will come from Caesar Molebatsi, who directs a ministry to teens in the black South African township of Soweto, and Peter Kuzmic who heads the Evangelical Theological College in Osijek, Yugoslavia.

In looking over the speaker profiles given in the official, "Your Guide to Urbana '90," I could not identify one veteran missionary or mission executive of the traditional type. The program would appear to be youth bringing new ideas instead of veterans bringing a holy Gospel and a tested faith.

Gender Neutral
The speakers were instructed to be gender neutral. This is foolishness from the women's liberation movement and the ecumenical crowd. The National Council of Churches is sponsoring a gender neutral translation of the Revised Standard Version. Bible believers have never joined that nonsense. New Testament Greek has a very clear system of masculine, feminine and neuter case endings. If a person believes in the inspiration of the text he believes that God knew which endings He was using. God made us male and female, not gender neutral.

Mission, Not Missions
A large part of the program consisted of sixteen seminar tracks which participants could follow through the week. In reading the program I observed that the word "mission" was used instead of "missions." This is another ecumenical innovation. Christians have historically talked about "missions." The ecumenical movement talks about "mission" (without the "s"). It includes in "mission" a much broader definition than giving the gospel to every creature. "Mission" is a worldwide social action program. InterVarsity has adopted "mission."

The seminar program, as laid out in these tracks, was surprising by what it included and by what it did not include. What was included reads like a social gospel convention instead of a missionary program. What was not included was the historic content of a missions conference. Some speakers must have dealt with the Biblical basis for missions, the call of the missionary, surrender to the Lord's will, the prayer life of the missionary and seeking the Lord's guidance about a field and a board. However, those themes were strangely absent from the printed program. On the other hand, there was no lack of subjects such as "Racial Reconciliation and Partnership," "Cultural Diversity in Worship," "Plain Talk about Sex and Intimacy" "Urban Trends: Consequence for Mission," "Seeing the Corporation as a Tribe," "Community Health," "Integrating a Thirst for Justice and World Evangelism," "Mission and Contextualization" (contextualization means to see how Moslem we can be in a Moslem country), and "The Use of Drama in World Mission." I will not say that there was conscious copying, but the program reads like a National Council of Churches conference on world mission.

Psycho Christianity
Track 4 was titled "The Gospel - Healing Our Brokenness." The seminar description reads:

No person is exempt from experiencing painful relationships or broken self esteem, but as we recognize our pain and brokenness, God starts to heal. This track helps Christians understand how God, in the midst and through our brokenness, enables us to be redemptive and reconciling people amid the pain of a broken world.

Subjects in this track map out the agenda of psychological Christianity Some of the titles were, "Self Acceptance," "Holiness & Healing of Broken Sexuality" "Ministry to Homosexuals," and "Manipulation: Managing the Manipulator." Where does all of this fit into missions? It doesn't. Obviously it fits into "mission."

The Social Gospel
Track 15 was titled, "Global Issues." It was the social action agenda, beginning with "Ecological Stewardship," and ending with "Urbanization." Whenever something is added to the gospel, the addition always takes over the field. A reading of this program reveals that, as far as InterVarsity is concerned, "mission" has taken over "missions" and social action has replaced preaching.

A Peace Treaty
This was the conference at which InterVarsity made peace with pentecostalism. CHARISMA for October 1990, in an article titled, "Graham Praises Urbana' stated as follows:

Pentecostals have traditionally been a minority at Urbana. This year the conference will remain largely non-Pentecostal, but Urbana spokesperson David Harriman says charismatic and Pentecostal missions agencies have been welcomed as full participants. In fact, 'speaker Kuzmic is Pentecostal. He said that the lines of communication and understanding opened between non-Pentecostals and Pentecostals at the Lausanne Conference in the Philippines last year will be extended at Urbana.'

Notice the interlocking of Lausanne II and Urbana. InterVarsity kept its promise, and learned that the door does not have to be open very wide for the charismatic influence to possess center stage. CHARISMA for March 1991 reported the following:

On the first day of the conference, Urbana missions director Dan Harrison invited people struggling with unforgiveness, low self-esteem or homosexuality to come to the arena's stage for a time of healing prayer. A 70 member prayer team led by charismatic Episcopalian priest Mike Flynn of Burbank, California, ministered to 2.000 people during the session. Flynn and his team also prayed for 700 additional delegates each remaining day of the convention in special seminars on self-acceptance, forgiveness and sexual purity.

Moody for February 1991, in reporting on Urbana said as follows:

Even though relatively few delegates came from charismatic churches the conference displayed some of the charismatic worship expressions that are spreading through evangelical circles. Delegates and leaders freely raised their hands in prayer and swayed and clapped to the beat of the music.

The essence of the charismatic movement is to surrender to the flesh in the name of the Spirit. Since all men are fleshly, fleshly displays catch on quickly in large crowds. In the last mentioned CHARISMA article, InterVarsity spokesman David Harriman is quoted as saying, "the charismatic worship experience does not belong exclusively to charismatics." Harriman also said he hopes that the next Urbana conference, to be held in 1993, will attract more students from charismatic churches. In my judgment Harriman will not have to hope for that result. Now that the door has been opened by Urbana '90, the charismatics will rush in like a flood to both platform and pew.

The Prayer Lady
Another rather strange aspect of the program was the presence of prayer leader Mary Anne Voelkel. The program showed nine plenary sessions. Voelkel was listed as prayer leader at the conclusion of seven of the nine sessions. The program guide identified her as a "Missionary with Latin America Mission, teaching at a seminary in Medellin, Columbia and with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students." The feminists will disagree, but it is strangely unbiblical to have a woman as prayer leader of a mixed audience of 19,000. Secondly I do not know if Mary Anne Voelkel is charismatic. However, her style of leading in prayer seems to partake plentifully of the charismatic style of visualization and guided imagery. Several press reports which crossed my desk quoted her as visualizing, following the New Year's Eve communion service, in these words:

Imagine yourself in the upper room. There you see Jesus and His disciples... Now see Jesus stand to His feet, strip down until He is naked, just a towel, and imagine this naked Jesus touching you in your broken sexuality.

I have read John 13 and profited from Jesus' lesson in humility as He washed the disciples' feet. I fail to see anything in the chapter about His touching their "broken sexuality" whatever that is. In URBANA Update for Spring 1991, Dan Harrison quotes a delegate as saying, "I appreciated Mary Anne Voelkel, as she led in prayer. She was so open to the Spirit, used the Scriptures well, and was very inclusive." The charismatics boast of being open to all kind of fleshly feelings to which the Bible is closed. The world loves for us to be inclusive. The Scriptures are exclusive. My study of Urbana '90 would lead me to say that it was quite open to the flesh and inclusive of the world.

Would Dr. Smith Have Stayed?
As I read about Urbana '90 my mind went back to that InterVarsity conference I experienced in 1945 with Dr. Wilbur M. Smith. He was a crusty, unsmiling teacher, but he riveted our attention on our Bibles, laid a foundation for our faith in the imminent rapture, and challenged us to purity and service in the light of it. I tried to picture him at Urbana '90. His exclusive Bible teaching would not have been welcome, but he would not have been there anyhow. He would have walked out. What a change 45 years of new evangelicalism have made in an organization!

New Evangelical Healing
I have been writing about the explos and extravaganzas of new evangelicalism. We have glanced at four of them - Stanford '79, Amsterdam '83 and '86, Lausanne II and Urbana '90. There have been others, but these are important and typical. Each one has moved the new evangelical movement closer to ecumenism, closer to Roman Catholicism, closer to the social gospel and closer to charismaticism. Back in the 1930's the founding fathers of fundamentalism made a Scriptural separation between belief and unbelief. They left apostasy to follow obedience to their Bibles. The devil has never been satisfied with that breach. He has been determined to heal the division and to reunite belief and unbelief in his one-world church. It seems to me that Dr. Ockenga’s new evangelical formula of repudiating separatism, reestablishing rapport with the world, dialoguing with unbelief and espousing social action has proven to be the emollient to heal the breach God commanded His servants to make.


Chapter 11

Jerry Falwell and the Gnu Evangelicalism

If one of our modern psychologists were to examine a gnu I think he might describe it as an animal with an identity crisis. Viewed from the front, it looks like a cow. Viewed from the rear, it appears to be a horse. However, carefully classified, it is an antelope.

The title of this chapter is not an awful typographical error, nor a horrible pun. Rather, it is an editorial comment on the ecclesiastical position of Dr. Jerry Falwell. The proper religious taxonomy of Dr. Falwell has been a subject of considerable debate. He loudly proclaims himself a fundamentalist, yet his actions are those of a new evangelical. Like the gnu, he has an identity crisis. This has led some to classify him as a new fundamentalist. Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. designated him a "pseudo fundamentalist." This title has caught on more than any other. I choose to resolve this religious identity crisis by terming him a gnu evangelical. I doubt if the title will become popular, but neither will this book.

Let's back up to identify Dr. Jerry Falwell. He was born again as a college freshman at Lynchburg College, while listening to Dr. Charles Fuller of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour. After his salvation he transferred to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri to complete his education. He has honorary doctorates from Tennessee Temple University and the California Graduate School of Theology - and probably several more of which I am not aware.

Dr. Falwell is an impressive achiever. He is pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. I have driven around the parking lot of that monstrous facility and tried to count the endless rows of busses which are like the sand on the seashore. The last membership estimate I saw was in the 20,000 vicinity He is the founder, and now chancellor, of Liberty University, which he seeks to develop into a 50,000 student school which will challenge Harvard in academics and Notre Dame in athletics. He is the speaker for the "Old Time Gospel Hour" on radio and television. In his spare time he has founded and led the Moral Majority and its successor Liberty Federation. His executive gifts are amazing. He is one of those men who would be a success in whatever professional field he entered.

In 1991 Dr. Falwell declared his position on fundamentalism and new evangelicalism in a book titled, The Fundamentalist Phenomenon. Actually the book was written by two of Falwell's compatriots whose names do not even appear on the book jacket, Ed Dobson and Ed Hindson. Falwell, whose name gets the major billing, wrote the concluding chapter titled, "Future-Word: An Agenda for the Eighties." This chapter is twofold. It spells out the social action platform of the Moral Majority. It makes a twin appeal - to the fundamentalist and to the new evangelical. The gist of these appeals, the main thesis of the book, is spelled out in these words:

As the English theologian James Barr has already pointed out, non-evangelicals view Evangelicals and Fundamentalists alike anyhow. We have so much in common. Only the radicals among us (to the left and to the right) divide us. I say it is time we denied the 'lunatic fringe' of our movements and worked for a great conservative crusade to turn America back to God (1981:222).

In 1982 1 wrote a review of Falwell's book for the International Committee for the Propagation and Defense of Biblical Fundamentalism. The title was, "An Analysis by a Fundamentalist of Falwell's Book The Fundamentalist Phenomenon." (The title was as long as the review.) I quote two paragraphs from that review:

By the 'lunatic fringe' of the New Evangelical movement Falwell means those whom he designates as 'the young evangelicals' and 'the worldly evangelicals.' This is the segment of New Evangelicalism which has dialogued with the liberals so fervently that it has decided to join them. They have followed the divergent path of New Evangelicalism to the end of the road. Falwell correctly says that obedient Fundamentalists could not join with them. This seems to be one of the unique places where Falwell would separate from anyone.

By the 'lunatic fringe' of the Fundamentalist movement he means any Fundamentalist who still believes in scriptural separation. Like the New Evangelicals, he seems to shed vicarious tears of repentance for the great warriors of the past who wrote 'Ichabod' over the doors of apostate denominations and walked out to begin anew with a pure church. Those who fearlessly left apostasy as true fundamental separatists, leading their churches with them, come off the battlefield wounded by the book, while the New Evangelical fathers like Harold Ockenga, Edward John Carnell, and Carl F. H. Henry retire from their dialogues with heroes' medals. Moral Majority Inc., cannot hold together if godly men practice separation, so those who do must be sacrificed to facilitate the merger.

Falwell's open courtship of new evangelicalism in this book did not fall on deaf ears among the courted. Dr. Clark Pinnock, a card-carrying new evangelical, wrote a review of The Fundamentalist Phenomenon in the March-April 1982 issue of the Theological Students Fellowship Bulletin. Referring to Dobson, Hindson and Falwell he wrote, "These men are right wing evangelicals, not what we would call fundamentalists at all...They are already part of the evangelical coalition as it now unsteadily exists." If the dictum, "it takes one to know one" is true, here is clear identification. Further, Pinnock wrote, "either Schaeffer and Ockenga are fundamentalists or else these men are evangelicals. The point is, they are well-nigh identical if this book is correct." Incidentally, this is the same Dr. Ed Dobson who now pastors the Calvary Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan in the fellowship of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. His church was host to a recent IFCA National Convention. Not many years ago that was the fundamentalist pulpit of Dr. M. R. DeHaan.

Newsweek for April 26, 1982 reported on the gathering of a new evangelical search committee in Washington. The purpose of the search was expressed in a sentence Newsweek highlighted as its theme: "The Billy Graham era is drawing to a close, and there is no one who can replace him." The article stated as follows:

Search Committee: The most conspicuous would-be heir is the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist firebrand and leader of 'the Moral Majority'. Earlier this year Falwell flew in his private jet to Washington for a secret meeting with the closest thing in evangelical circles to an official search committee. A dozen of evangelicalism's most prominent interpreters - including theologian Carl Henry, philosopher Francis Schaeffer, Christianity Today editor Kenneth Kantzer and several evangelical college presidents - quizzed Falwell on his views and promised to meet with him again.

In the Newsweek article Falwell's co-author, Ed Hindson, is quoted as saying: "Jerry is the only person to come along to appeal to both groups. There's no question that he is the leader of conservative Christians in America today." However, I rather think that the fathers of new evangelicalism who interviewed him in Washington felt that Falwell's journey from fundamentalism was a bit quick and that he should be detained at Ellis Island awhile longer before being accepted into new evangelicalism's upper echelon.

As I have pointed out before, the first hallmark of new evangelicalism is a repudiation of separatism. Dr. Falwell's personal contempt for separation is demonstrated very clearly in his cooperation with unbelievers in the organization of the Moral Majority Inc. and his willing involvement with charismatics in the PTL episode.

I have often referred to the "good cause syndrome." This is the feeling that it is proper to join hands with unbelievers if the cause is good enough. In the formation of the Moral Majority the cause was good enough. It was described as being pro-life, pro-moral, pro-family, pro-American and pro-Israel. (Some of us might want to argue the last point, but we will ignore that here.) In the name of these good causes men like Dr. D. James Kennedy Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Tim La Haye and Dr. Greg Dixon joined with Falwell in organizing a crusading group. In The Fundamentalist Phenomenon Falwell said the following:

Today Moral Majority, Inc., is made up of millions of Americans, including 72,000 ministers, priests, and rabbis, who are deeply concerned about the moral decline of our nation, the traditional family, and the moral values on which our nation was built. We are Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Mormons, Fundamentalists, blacks and whites - farmers, housewives, businessmen, and business women. (1991:188)

The problem of separation is obvious here. Christians have been and always will be, a minority. Men always think they need a majority to do the job. If a majority is to be built, it must be much broader than the circle of brethren. Falwell recognizes this and answers, "Moral Majority is a political organization and is not based on theological considerations" (1981:188). However, one needs only to read the Old Testament to see that it was never necessary for God to form a coalition with the Philistines, the Egyptians and the Babylonians to win His battles. That is still true today and it is what 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is all about. The Moral Majority has now been succeeded by the Liberty Federation which is supposed to provide a larger platform for international issues.

1 Corinthians 15:33 warns: "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Have Dr. Falwell's associations with unbelievers affected his personal convictions? The Washington Post Magazine for July 24, 1988 carried a long story on Dr. Falwell and stated the following:

He has changed his mind about pants on women. He has decided that God isn't a segregationist. He has changed his mind about attending parties where booze is served, about sharing the stage with Catholics or Jews or people who speak in tongues. He now says God answers the prayers of all people, no matter their faith. For this, hardened fundamentalists have attacked him. He has even changed his mind about who can go to Heaven - with not only fundamentalists but Catholics and other Christians of all faiths now having a chance.

Truly, "evil communications (companions) corrupt good manners."

Perhaps Dr. Falwell's greatest deviation from fundamentalism has to do with his part in the PTL Network Scandal. On March 20, 1987, following the shocking revelations of immorality and financial sleaze, Dr. Falwell announced that the reins of the charismatic PTL conglomerate had been turned over to him by the Rev. Jim Bakker. In the days of amazement which followed, the daily papers quoted Falwell as saying that Bakker's resignation was a "blow to the cause of Christ," that "God would not want me to allow the collapse of this ministry," that he was "trying to save a sister ministry," that his goal was to "rebuild the credibility and guarantee the ongoing testimony of Jesus Christ," and that "the entire cause of Christ is at stake." All of these statements gave credibility to an enterprise which had been a spacey combination of tongues, healing, prosperity Gospel, success testimonies and unabashed deceit. Later revelations exposed all types of immorality, drug addiction, high living, and misappropriation of funds. In the takeover which ensued, Falwell personally chose new board members including new evangelicals such as Ben Armstrong of the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, Southern Baptists such as Sam Moore of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Dr. Baily Smith and Rev. Richard Lee Common, and charismatics Richard Dortch, Rex Humbard and James Watt. Most of these appointments were not long-lived, as men resigned for a variety of reasons. Falwell himself forsook the task in due time, and recognized that even he could not handle the mixture produced. Methinks he must have felt somewhat like David did in 1 Samuel 29 when he was expelled from his ill advised cooperation with Achish and the Philistines.

I have already commented on the situation in the Southern Baptist Convention. Although not a member of that abomination, Falwell has always had a strong tie to it. In the September 15, 1989 issue of the Sword of the Lord he is quoted as saying: "Forty percent of the Liberty University student body comes from SBC churches. Scores of SBC pastors send their children here. More SBC pastors speak here at Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University than from any other fellowship of churches, and I personally speak for more SBC churches than any other one movement." Other new evangelical visitors to Falwell's pulpit have included Josh McDowell, Dr. Harold Lindsell, Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Evie Tornquist, Robert Walker, Dr. E. V Hill, Dr. Billy Kim, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Clyde Narramore, Eldridge Cleaver, Charles Colson, Dr. Larry Ward of World Vision and Dr. Jack Wyrtzen. The Biblical Evangelist for June 1, 1987 reported that Wyrtzen was on campus at the time of the PTL takeover. Mrs. Falwell's advice was, "Don't do it." Jack Wyrtzen advised, "Do it! Do it!" This is not a great surprise to those who have followed Word of Life's increasing new evangelicalism.

Contemporary Christian musicians and musical groups appearing on the Liberty Campus have included Gary McSpadden, Sandi Patti, Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Vernard Johnson, Squire Parsons, The Talleys, Carman and Truth. Most of these freely appear at charismatic gatherings.

The low point of Falwell's guest list came in 1983 when he wined, dined and dialogued with Senator Edward Kennedy and featured him in an address to the student body of Liberty Baptist College. Shades of Jehosaphat sitting down with Ahab! (Perhaps I should apologize to Jehoshaphat. At least he did not issue the invitation.)

The time has come to end this little essay on "Jerry Falwell and the Gnu Evangelicalism." Let us send the gnu back to the zoo and admit that the evidence shows that Dr. Jerry Falwell is a new evangelical, no matter which end of the beast does the talking.


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