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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
E. L. Bynum
From the Plains Baptist Challenger, December 2009, Part 2
Many modern day pastors have shied away from being soldiers, and are more prone toward pacifism, when it comes to defending the faith. Political correctness is doing a lot of damage to our nation and its future. Political correctness has leaked into our pulpits so that some preachers can hardly say anything against Satan for fear that will offend someone.
Many have taken of the armor of God, and put on garments more fitting for a pink tea party hosted by the Ladies Aid Society. People Pleasing Preachers will not fight the good fight of faith, but will talk and talk about things that will not ruffle the feathers of worldly Christians. They remind me of some of the Old Testament Priests who said, “Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.” (1 Samuel 2:36) I guess if they had a right to exist then, they can still exercise the same rights today.
NEW EVANGELICALISM – NEW WAY TO COMPROMISE
The father of New Evangelicalism is the title that has been given to Dr. Harold John Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Church, Boston, and first President of Fuller Theological Seminary. I will quote at some length from a news release of Dr. Ockenga of December 8, 1957:
“The New Evangelicalism is the latest dress of orthodoxy, as Neo-Orthodoxy is the latest expression of theological liberalism. The New Evangelicalism differs from Fundamentalism in its willingness to handle the social problems which Fundamentalism evaded. There need be no dichotomy between the personal gospel and the social gospel.
“The true Christian faith is a supernatural personal experience of salvation and a social philosophy. Doctrine and social ethics are Christian disciplines. Fundamentalism abdicated leadership and responsibility in the societal realm and thus became impotent to change society or to solve social problems. The New Evangelicalism adheres to all the orthodox teachings of Fundamentalism but has evolved a social philosophy.” (“Evangelicalism, The New Neutralism” by Ashbrook)
Dr. Ockenga continues:
“The New Evangelicalism has changed its strategy from one of separation to one of infiltration. Instead of static front battles the new theological war is one of movement. Instead of attack upon error, the New Evangelicals proclaim the great historic doctrines of Christianity.
“The results have been phenomenal. The New Evangelical is willing to face the intellectual problems and meet them in the framework of modern learning. It stands doctrinally upon the creeds and confessions of the Church and grants liberty in minor areas when discussion is promoted on the basis of exegesis of Scripture.
“The strategy of the New Evangelicalism is the positive proclamation of the truth in distinction from all errors without delving in personalities which embrace the error. The evangelical believes that Christianity is intellectually defensible but the Christian cannot be obscurantist in scientific questions pertaining to the creation, the age of man, the universality of the flood and other moot Biblical questions. The evangelical attempts to apply Christian truth to every phase of life. Since I first coined the phrase `The New Evangelicalism’ at a convocation address at Fuller Theological Seminary ten years ago, the evangelical forces have been welded into an organizational front.
“First, there is the National Association of Evangelicals which provides articulation for the movement on the denominational level; second, there is World Evangelical Fellowship which binds together these individual national associations of some twenty-six countries into a world organization; third, there is the new apologetic literature stating this point of view which is now flowing from the presses of the great publishers, including Macmillans and Harpers; fourth, there is the existence of Fuller Theological Seminary and other evangelical seminaries which are fully committed to orthodox Christianity and a resultant social philosophy; fifth, there is the establishment of Christianity Today, a bi-weekly publication, to articulate the convictions of this movement; sixth, there is the appearance of an evangelist, Billy Graham, who on the mass level is the spokesman of the convictions and ideals of the New Evangelicalism.
“The strength of this movement is recognized by the Christian Century, America’s leading theologically liberal magazine, by its expression of fear that this movement may challenge the religious scene and change the religious climate in this nation. The New Evangelical believes that Christ is the answer; that He must be understood in a Biblical framework and He and His teachings must be applied to every realm of societal existence.” (Ibid)
OCKENGA LETS THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG
It is clear that the New Evangelicals had rather run than fight. The Fuller Theological Seminary followed this trend and it led them right into liberalism and compromise. Of course Ockenga felt right at home there as their first President. This seminary was founded by the famous radio preacher, Dr. Charles E. Fuller, who no doubt would have been shocked by the direction it soon took. Ockenga along with Fuller’s son and other assorted fence straddlers made it a citadel of compromise.
Of course Billy Graham was a new evangelical in his approach to evangelism. W. B. Riley a Baptist pastor of Minneapolis, MN, was a militant fighter against liberalism, but alas he never led his Church out of the Northern Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Convention). It has always been a mystery to me as to why he picked Billy Graham to be president of Northwestern Schools. Billy did not last a long time there till he went on to greener pastures. He placed his membership in the First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas where it remained for many years, even though he never lived in Dallas. Dr. W. A. Criswell was the pastor of First Baptist and was known as a conservative, but he did little to drive out the modernism in the Southern Baptist Convention while he was their President.
Billy Graham could not be much of a Baptist since he was married to a Presbyterian, and most of his children were sprinkled in the Presbyterian Church. He was clearly a New Evangelical and felt comfortable in bringing some of the leading liberals in America to the sponsoring committees of his crusades. He said on one occasion that “The great theologians of today are Rudolph Bultman, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Carl Henry.” All of them were some of the worst modernists of the 20th Century with the exception of Carl Henry who was a New Evangelical.
The Southern Baptist Convention is a kind of New Evangelical movement. Even though there have been some reforms in the SBC, they have not returned to the biblical doctrines which they once taught. That is another subject which we will not develop at this time.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS?
Independent Baptists are not immune from the possibility of compromise. All of us have to be on guard, lest we fall into the trap of compromise. We can easily compromise sound doctrine, and we are subject to moral or ethical failure. The Bible gives us adequate warning that we should pay attention to. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Failure to heed such warnings can lead to spiritual disaster.
A number of years ago Jim Higgs the president of the Independent Baptist College of Dallas did an unbelievable thing. This College was sponsored by the Trinity Temple Baptist Church and was housed in their facilities. We were lead to believe that he was a solid Independent Baptist. He later resigned and after a while became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of San Francisco, California.
This Church was a member of the liberal American Baptist Convention and under his leadership also joined the Southern Baptist Convention. He remained as pastor of the San Francisco Church for 18 years, before going on to the Chicago area to pastor another Church. One pastor in the Chicago area told me that he had seen him at a Church sporting event, and that he wore long hair like a hippy.
It would seem that this event would cause great consternation in the Dallas College, and they would be indignant of Higgs’ action, but I never heard a peep from any of the leaders who were there. I wrote a short article in the PBC exposing this compromise.
One faculty member (now deceased) of IBC, was reported as saying that Bynum did not understand that Higgs was simply trying to save a Church. All I can say is that it is a strange kind of “saving.” I do know that he had a bad influence with some of the students at IBC as they visited with him in San Francisco. Higgs is back in the San Francisco area, and his website says, “For two and one-half years I served as a church consultant to forty-five churches in the Bay Area of California.”
WE HAVE TO STAND READY TO FIGHT
I know that we live in a religious world where pacifism is more popular than taking a stand and fighting. Years ago, the hippies would cry out “make love not war.” Of course this was a snappy saying that was wicked in its intent. Some Bible believers had rather speak about love than to take a stand for truth. When a rattlesnake crosses your path you had better not talk about love to the snake, but it would be advisable to kill the snake as fast as you can. Christians should be told that this is not a love feast with the devil. It is an all out war with evil and we must fight or we will be led into compromise.
ARE THEY OUT OR ARE THEY IN?
I am well aware that some good Independent Baptists were once a member of one of the various Fellowships or Associations. I have never been unfriendly with those who may have gone to some unscriptural College. I have always tried to be helpful to those who come out of these Fellowships or Association, if indeed they have come out. I am not so interested in where a man has been, but where they are right now.
There are some who seemed to be coming out, but years later they still have not made a clean break with extra-biblical organizations. They struggle to make up their mind. Some evidently would like to come out, but are unwilling to pay the cost or stand the heat.
Some men said they were coming out of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, but they continue to support BBF missionaries and other projects. They use the excuse that they are also supporting Independent Baptist Church missionaries that are Church sent. Others said they were coming out, but they ended up going into the Heartland Baptist College and the Global Baptist Fellowship movement. It is up to every preacher and Church as to where they will stand, but they ought to be honest about which brand they are wearing. My question to you is, “Are you in or are you out?” Just fly your colors and let people know what you are.
BE PREPARED TO FIGHT AND DEFEND THE TRUTH
There are many ways that a servant of the Lord must be ready to fight, if he intends to please God. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (I Corinthians 9:26) Paul in this passage and its context is declaring that it is a fight to be temperate in all things. It is important that we keep our body in subjection to God if we would win the prize and finish the course with joy.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). It is clear that the faith is worth fighting for and that we are to be sure and do this in light of the coming of the Lord. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
It is clear that if we are going to “fight the fight of faith,” that we must endure hardness, and not be entangled with the affairs of this life. When you enlist in the army, you cannot take your farm with you or any other business. The Lord expects you to give him your best and to be willing to fight. There is no room for cowards and sissies.
In Ephesians 6:11-18 we find the uniform for the Christian soldier and every part of it was for battle in the day in which it was written. It is the armor that ever Christian should be willing to wear, and be ready to fight for God and truth. The conscientious objector has no defense or even an offensive weapon. In World War II there were quite a few conscientious objectors and they were generally scorned by most in that day. Now we have conscientious objectors in the ranks of the Christian faith. They will not take up the weapons of a soldier and fight for the faith once delivered unto the saints. Frankly, they had rather run than fight.
We are instructed by God to take up arms against the enemies of the cross of Christ.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11-13). Read Ephesians 6:10-18
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds).” (II Corinthians 10:3-4)
Let us fight the battle in such a manner that at the end of the course, we will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.