Fuller Seminary and Intervarsity Press, 1996
May 21, 2020
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
Harold Ockenga

Harold Ockenga

Fuller Theological Seminary in California was founded in 1947 by Charles Fuller, the popular fundamentalist radio preacher of The Old Fashioned Revival Hour. The goal was to be the pre-eminent theological institution representing the New Evangelicalism.

The first president, Harold Ockenga, claimed to have coined the term “neo-evangelicalism” at the school’s founding. He said, “Neo-evangelicalism ... is different from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas of life. Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the times ... and the reexamination of theological problems such as the antiquity of man, the universality of the flood, God’s method of creation, and others” (foreword to Harold Lindsell’s
The Battle for the Bible).

The repudiation of separation, dialogue with heretics, and the reexamination of so-called theological problems was blatant disobedience to God’s Word and was the opening of a can of worms that has corrupted evangelicalism.

In 1969, Charles Woodbridge, who was a professor at Fuller in its early days but left in protest of the compromise, warned of the downward slope of New Evangelicalism:

“The New Evangelicalism advocates TOLERATION of error. It is following the downward path of ACCOMMODATION to error, COOPERATION with error, CONTAMINATION by error, and ultimate CAPITULATION to error!” (Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism, 1969).

The contamination and capitulation can be seen in every sphere. It is seen in ecumenical relationships.

On February 28, 1959, only a decade after renouncing “separatism,” Ockenga held the 150th anniversary service of Park Street Church in Boston, of which he was the pastor. Speakers included Dana McLean Greely, president of the American Unitarian Association, Charles H. Buck, Jr., modernist dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, and Erwin Canham, editor of the
Christian Science Monitor.

The contamination and capitulation can also be seen in theology, particularly in the downgrade of Bible inspiration.

Consider CHARLES SCALISE. He has taught history and theology at Fuller since 1994. He also supervises doctoral students in Advanced Theological Studies.

In 1996, InterVarsity Press published Scalise’s book
From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics.

Scalise argues for the schizophrenic position of accepting the conclusions of biblical criticism while at the same time holding the Bible as the “canonical Word of God.” He proposes the “canonical approach” of Yale Professor Brevard Childs who follows Karl Barth. Scalise uncritically describes how “the ‘postcritical’ hermeneutics of Karl Barth assists Childs in charting his way across ‘the desert of criticism’” (p. 44).

It is true that modern biblical criticism is a desert, but instead of rejecting it as the unbelieving heresy that it is the modern evangelical scholar tries to accept its conclusions while also attempting to hold the Bible as authoritative in some sense. In the first chapter of his book, Scalise plainly and unhesitatingly rejects the “facts-of-revelation” approach to Scripture that accepts the Bible as the historically accurate record of God’s infallible revelation (pp. 28-31).

Scalise does not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch under divine inspiration or that the Old Testament record of miracles is accurate. He believes the Pentateuch was redacted by unknown editors centuries later (p. 56). He believes the Bible’s account of miraculous events is exaggerated. For example, he believes that the Egyptian chariots pursuing Israel merely got “stuck in the mud” (p. 39). He agrees with Karl Barth that the book of Numbers contains both “history” and “storylike saga” (p. 49). He believes portions of Amos were added by an unknown editor (p. 56). He thinks that viewing the Bible as entirely historical is dangerous (p. 79). He does not believe the apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians nor that it was originally addressed to the church at Ephesus (p. 58). Scalise wants the Catholic apocryphal books to be accepted as canonical (pp. 60, 61). He commends an approach to the biblical canon that has “a firm center and blurred edges” (p. 60).

Scalise says, “The Bible is the Word of God because God speaks through it” (p. 22). That is a false, subjective Barthian view of Scripture. In fact, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Word of God, regardless of whether man feels that God is speaking through it.

Scalise claims that comparisons of the Trinity to the self by theologians like Karl Rahner and comparisons of the Trinity to community by theologians like Leonard Hodgson and Jurgen Moltmann “are within the channel of orthodoxy” (p. 103).

He does not like the “negative view of tradition” that comes from the Protestant Reformation, and he believes the Protestants and Catholics simply misunderstood one another (p. 73). He believes it is possible to reconcile the differences by requiring that the Bible be interpreted within the context of church tradition (p. 74). In fact, if the Bible must be interpreted by tradition, the tradition becomes the superior authority.

In the preface to his book, Scalise states that he was guided into his critical views of the Bible during studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and at Tubingen in Germany. He has also studied at Princeton University, Yale Divinity School, and the University of Oxford.

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

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