What is the problem? Why don’t we jump on their bandwagon, join hands, and do these wonderful works together? (I am not saying that we won’t use some of their materials; I am talking about joining hands together for ministry.)
The difference comes back to the issue of separation. They don’t believe in it, and we do. The rejection of separatism has been the heart of New Evangelicalism for more than half a century. Harold Ockenga, one of the fathers of the movement, said, “We repudiate separatism.” (For documentation see my book “New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit.” It is also available for free in the Topical Database at the Way of Life web site.) Billy Graham epitomized and popularized this philosophy.
If they believe in separation at all, they believe that it only has to do with the “cardinal doctrines.” When I visited the Creation Museum, Ken Ham told me that since Answers in Genesis is “not a church,” they don’t have to concern themselves with other issues. Thus such organizations typically do not take a clear stand against unscriptural modes of baptism (e.g., infant baptism, pouring, sprinkling), women pastors, allegorical interpretation of prophecy (rejection of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture), the heresy that a born-again believer can lose his salvation, errors pertaining to Holy Spirit baptism, sealing, and filling, Franklin Graham-style ecumenical evangelism, the errors of the church growth movement (e.g., Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bill Hybels), the error of Christian psychology, and the heresy of modern textual criticism.
The representatives of these ministries speak in churches that represent a wide variety of doctrine. They will be in a Methodist church one Sunday and a Pentecostal the next. The reason they can be invited to such a wide variety of forums and even be invited back is that they narrow down their message and focus only on creation science or basic apologetics or evangelism or the family or some other single-issue orientation.
Actually they might have more than one issue. They might have ten or twenty. The problem is that they refuse to make an issue of the WHOLE counsel of God. In contrast, Paul exemplified exactly what they neglect to do (Acts 20:27), and in this, he was merely following in His Master’s footsteps. Jesus commanded His disciples to teach converts “to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:20). Paul instructed Timothy to keep the truth “without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14). A spot is a small, seemingly insignificant thing. Jude instructed every believer to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As Jude didn’t delineate what part of the faith is to be defended, the obvious meaning is that whatever aspect of the faith is under attack, God’s people should rally to its defense rather than pretending that it is a “non-essential.”
I challenge anyone to show me where the Scripture encourages the believer to “stand for the cardinal truth and downplay the peripherals.”
The New Evangelical philosophy is often stated by the dictum, “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity,” (commonly attributed to Augustine, but actually first spoken by a 17th-century Lutheran named Rupertus Meldenius). This became the rallying cry of the Moravians, who did many good things but refused to reject the heresy of infant baptism and promoted unity above the absolute truth of God’s Word. The same dictum has been heartily adopted by modern New Evangelicals.
The rejection of biblical separation by these New Evangelical ministries is also evident in their refusal to take a stand against the worldliness and compromise that characterizes the contemporary church growth philosophy, with its love for rock music, sensual fashions, Hollywood entertainment, and pretty much everything the pop culture produces.
The failure to preach and practice separation has very real consequences. For example, Ken Ham admits that the churches he is associated with lose most of their young people. There is a reason for that, and the reason is not just because they are weak on defending literal creation. It is far deeper. It has to do with an overall weak approach to the Word of God and Christian living and discipleship. The preachers in these churches don’t boldly proclaim the WHOLE counsel of God and reprove the pop culture and other forms of worldliness and preach sold-out discipleship, and as a consequence the people tend to live much like the world. This is a foundational error that is not addressed clearly in any of the books I have ready by Ham, because he has determined just to focus on creation-science and basic apologetics. He doesn’t even deal clearly with the salvation issue. His book “Already Gone,” about the departure of youth from evangelical churches, though excellent in some ways, doesn’t deal sufficiently with this most important and foundational issue, which is the fact that a vast number of the young people in these churches aren’t born again.
If someone argues that these ministries aren’t New Evangelical and that they do not actually reject separatism, I would like for them to send me the documented answers to the following questions:
First, when has that ministry issued a statement delineating and supporting the doctrine of biblical separation as applies both to ecclesiology and to the world?
Second, when has that ministry renounced the popular but unscriptural philosophy “In essential unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity”?
Third, when has that ministry supported and promoted a fundamentalist, separatist ministry?
Fourth, when has that ministry taken a stand against Billy Graham and all of the evil he has done through his New Evangelical philosophy?
Please send me the published statements or the sermons and lectures in which they have taken such stands.
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