Another Father’s Lack of Wisdom About a Son’s Education
January 2, 2020
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
Arno Clemens Gaebelein (1861-1945) was a fundamentalist leader who separated from the liberal Methodist denomination and promoted dispensational theology. He was the founder of Our Hope, an influential fundamentalist magazine, and assisted C.I. Scofield with the editing of the Old Scofield Bible. Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible was published in nine volumes in 1913 by Van Kempen Press of Wheaton, Illinois.

In key passages, the
Annotated Bible avoided giving credence to modern textual criticism. For example, concerning the so-called “longer ending of Mark,” Gaebelein said, “Higher criticism declares that the proper ending of the Gospel of Mark is verse 8. They disputed the genuineness of verses 9-20. Another hand, they claim, added later these verses. That spurious translation, which goes under the name of ‘The Twentieth Century New Testament’ (wholly unsatisfactory) also gives this portion as ‘a late appendix.’ It is not. Mark wrote it and some of the best scholars have declared that it is genuine. How foolish to assume that the blessed document, which begins with the sublime statement ‘The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ could end with ‘they were afraid!’ The trouble with these critics is that they approach the Word of God with doubt and reject its inspiration” (The Annotated Bible).

To this we say, Amen!

Arno’s youngest son, Frank Gaebelein (1899-1983), rejected fundamentalism and moved into the mainstream of deeply compromised New Evangelicalism. He was an editor of
Christianity Today, the most prominent voice of New Evangelicalism, and was a member of the National Association of Evangelicals. In the 1940s, as head of Stony Brook Academy, Frank broke with the fundamentalists of his father’s generation and aligned with the likes of Harold Ockenga and Billy Graham. He turned his father’s outspoken fundamentalist publication Our Hope into a wishy-washy publication that eventually merged with Eternity magazine, which had long promoted ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church and other heresies. In the 1980s, Eternity was edited by James M. Boice, who was educated at Frank Gaebelein’s Stony Brook Academy. When Eternity was taken over by heretic Norman Vincent Peale’s Foundation for Christian Living in 1988, Boice wrote a glowing report of the merger which he entitled “An Exciting Milestone.” Boice gave no warning about Peale’s modernistic theology or his New Age practices.

But Frank’s renunciation of biblical separatism began in his youth.

The old fundamentalist Arno Gaebelein facilitated his son’s path to compromise by the unwise and over promotion of classical music, literature, the arts, and sports. “Arno and Emma Gaebelein embraced and enjoyed sophisticated culture. Their home was filled with a collection of fine art and furniture. Family visits to the theatre and classical concerts were frequent. It is no surprise that much of Frank’s adult life was given to promoting excellence in the arts” (Cherul Fawcett & Jamie Thompson, “Frank Ely Gaebelein,” Biola University).

In frequent attendance to the theater, Arno Gaebelein was going against his own teaching. Consider the
Annotated Bible’s comment on 2 Corinthians 6:14: “‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ is often quoted as a prohibition of a mixed marriage. That is no doubt included, but the exhortation means more and includes every form of alliance with the world and ungodly principles. It also includes the so-called ‘religious world’ with its unscriptural practices and denials of the truth. The apostle shows that the believer going along with unbelievers and the world, is indeed in an unequal, a strange. yoke. What fellowship can there be between righteousness and unrighteousness? What fellowship hath light with darkness? Each has a different head; Christ is over His people. they belong to Him; Belial is the head of those who believe not. What could there be for a believer to enjoy with an unbeliever?”

Arno Gaebelein would have had better fruit in the lives of his sons had he been consistent with his own teaching about separation from the world.

The “theater,” even in the early 20th century when Frank Gaebelein was growing up, was far from innocent, being filled with spiritual and moral danger. And as for the field of classical music, while there are some wholesome and innocent things, it is filled with danger, as well. The majority of classical composers, as well as the conductors and the players, are not born again and do not have a Christ-centered, biblicist worldview. They are darkness rather than light. They are at enmity with God. They “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).

The child of God can wisely and safely associate with such people and their arts only with great circumspection which comes of a strong knowledge of God’s Word, constant and effectual meditation therein, and by testing everything by it, but Frank was not well grounded in Scripture. He read the Bible growing up, and heard it preached and taught, but he had no formal theological training, and his mind was more filled up with secular things.

He attended a secular high school where a close friend was E.B. White who became a famous skeptic essayist and who committed adultery with a married woman and had a child with her. White, author of the famous children’s book
Charlotte’s Web, expressed his pantheism as follows: “All that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” He spoke of “the glory of everything.” White was an idolator who worshiped the creation rather than the Creator.

After high school, Frank Gaebelein leaped right into higher secular education instead of attending a Bible Institute to get a more serious grounding in God’s Word. He pursued an extended liberal arts education at New York University and Harvard (studying English and comparative literature). In these forums he sat for years on end at the feet of unbelievers and skeptics who promoted an unbiblical worldview.

While the young Frank didn’t become a skeptic, as many others have who followed that unwise course, his biblical convictions were weakened, and he developed a love for the world’s music, theater, dance, sports, drinking, smoking, etc.

A fundamental error was that he did not exercise a biblical testing mindset which is an essential part of a pilgrim Christian life (e.g., Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 7:15; Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Ephesians 5:6-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; Hebrews 5:14; 1 John 4:1). The renunciation of separatism, which is at the heart of modern evangelicalism, is a renunciation of a pilgrim testing mindset.

Arno Gaebelein also paved the way for his son’s compromise by his unscriptural “in non-essentials liberty” doctrine that was an integral part of interdenominational fundamentalism. This put the family into close association with unsound theologies such as Salvation Army holiness and Presbyterian Reformed Calvinism, to name only two. Interdenominational fundamentalism creates an ecumenical mindset that undermines spiritual conviction about the details of Scripture. The number of “non-essentials” tends to increase as time passes, which produces increasing doctrinal weakness.

Frank Gaebelein was the editor of the
Expositor’s Bible Commentary, which was first published in the 1970s and is based on the NIV. It represents a complete capitulation to modern textual criticism. For example in Mark 16, the Expositor’s gives credence to the heresy that Mark’s Gospel ends at verse 8. It leans on the arguments and reasoning of gross heretics such as Bruce Metzger, Robert Bratcher, and Eugene Nida. It concludes, “External and especially internal evidence make it difficult to escape the conclusion that vv. 9-20 were originally not a part of the Gospel of Mark. ... Thus the best solution seems to be that Mark did write an ending to his Gospel but that it was lost in the early transmission of the text. The endings we now possess represent attempts by the church to supply what was obviously lacking.” So Frank Gaebelein had come to the position that the Bible’s promise of the divine preservation of Scripture is untrue. Whereas Peter said the Word of God is incorruptible and endureth for ever (1 Peter 1:23-25), the modern textual critic says it has become corrupted and even lost.

Frank’s father, Arno, identified the chief problem with modern textual criticism, which is that it does not approach the biblical text on the basis of faith, but rather employs the tools of natural textual criticism to a supernatural book. “The trouble with these critics is that they approach the Word of God with doubt and reject its inspiration” (
The Annotated Bible).

Arno’s son landed in the exact error that Arno had identified in 1913. He was corrupted by his rejection of Bible separation and by his resulting wrong associations.

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

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