Beale on Broader Evangelicalism

" ...let’s just zero in on the most significant problem with Dr. Beale’s taxonomy—that there are only two groups in our day, Fundamentalism and Broad Evangelicalism" - Doran

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Recommended reading.

Another sample...

Dr. Beale’s definition was accurate from the mid-20th century for the next few decades, but probably has been outdated since the late 1990s, certainly by the early 21st century. Beale’s taxonomy presents two coherent groups, Fundamentalists and Broad Evangelicals, but the ecclesiastical landscape is not at all like that. At least Kevin’s definition recognizes this somewhat, and he has acknowledged elsewhere that defining Fundamentalism is not an easy task.

Accepting Dr. Beale’s definition on its face, though, means his charge against BJU is false. I have seen his explanation for the charge and it does not prove that BJU prefers “to identify with false teachers under the broad umbrella” or that they are guilty of “joining liberals in ecumenical campaigns.” This is the flaw in seeing the world only in terms of Fundamentalism and New/Broad Evangelicalism.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ron Bean's picture

Who published the new edition? BJU Press published the first but, considering the unflattering portrait of Dr. Beale's former plave of employment, I suspect that they didn't publish this edition.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

WallyMorris's picture

BJU Press doesn't usually make money on these books, so the authors have to seek other publishers. Other BJU professors have had this problem, even though they have written excellent books.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Larry's picture

Moderator

I believe it is self-published. (Xulon Press)

WallyMorris's picture

Self-publishing is very different today than 10-15 years ago. Amazon helped change perceptions and financials. An accepted way of publishing today.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Don Johnson's picture

I agree with Dave that Dr. Beale's terminology is incorrect. It does confuse the reader, since there are "evangelicalisms" at least as much as there are "fundamentalisms". 
 

However, despite the confusion, no one can deny Dr. Beale's main point, which is that the changes at BJU are in the direction of evangelicalism, not fundamentalism. The folks at BJU might protest the evangelical label, but they are no longer separatists as they once were. 
 

To me, that is a tragedy. Many others applaud the changes. I wonder if Dave does?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dave Doran's picture

I am grateful for the acknowledgement that there are “evangelicalisms” as well as “fundamentalisms”—that’s a helpful start toward navigating the current landscape. Yet, the question still is built on the assumption that things haven’t changed all that much. To use the analogy in my post, acknowledging that the Soviet Union no longer exists is good, but continuing to treat all of its former members the same way doesn’t make sense. There are states that were in the Soviet Union which are now members of NATO. Does the USA forming an alliance with the Ukraine indicate that we have gone soft on communism? Not at all. They changed, so we respond differently.

So, until we actually address who is a separatist as defined biblically (vs. historical label), I don’t think we can have meaningful discussions about direction, etc. For my part, I have been separating from both professing fundamentalists and evangelicals for a long time and, by God’s grace, will continue to do so. As for BJU, I am not going to answer questions for or about them beyond saying that I still welcome Steve to our pulpit and I feel comfortable preaching and teaching there. The point of my blog post was the inadequacy of Beale’s taxonomy, not an assessment of BJU.

DMD

Don Johnson's picture

You are about where they are. Probably explains why you react so strongly to Dr. Beale's comment. I agree he should have used a different term and also that he should have explained more about what he meant in the book. 
 

But ultimately, the argument we are having is how close we should work with Evangelicals. My answer is, "Not very." Yours is??

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dave Doran's picture

Don, you just don't seem to get it. You acknowledge there are "evangelicalisms" but then still press on about "work with Evangelicals" as if there is only one group. No having your cake and eating too. 

Not sure what else to say at this point. You are comfortable working with people I am not; I am comfortable working with people you are not. Both of us will give our accounting to the Lord about that and I'm content to leave my assessment to Him. I'm sure you feel the same for yourself. 

DMD

Philip Golden Jr.'s picture

I agree that Beale is not being as nuanced as he should be and BJU is certainly not turning into Saddleback or Willow Creek in their philosophy. However, I think an honest observer will note that BJU is not where it was 10-15 years ago.

Personally, I think many of the changes have been good. BUT... I do worry if the pendulum is swinging to far. In conversations I have with other pastors in Western PA, they also are expressing this same concern. In the past, I chalked it up to the same old objections of the "old guard" fundamentalists. I doubt that I share the objections Don has, but, as a "younger fundamentalist," I also have seen some concerning things.

My advice to people who express that concern is to reach out to the BJU administration directly. I have found them generally accessible and open to discussion. That being said, things are definitely changing. From my perspective, some of that change is welcome and good. I just hope they can center the pendulum rather than let it swing so far that BJU loses some of what distinguishes among other Christian Universities.

Phil Golden

Don Johnson's picture

First, of course there are subsets in evangelicalism. Not denying that. 
 

I'm just not willing to cooperate with any of them. 
 

I object to the soft philosophy of evangelicalism. That is not to say we don't have our own problems 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dave Doran's picture

Philip, I don't want to get into a detailed discussion of another ministry, but I'll just say that there hasn't been a decade since I graduated with my BA from BJU where I didn't hear this same complaint. BJ III faced it in the late 80s & early 90s (which is why some other colleges started). Stephen faced it. Now Pettit faces it. It's inevitable since the context within which they each led was changing from the days which preceded it.

Biblical principles never change. Applications of those principles do. Applications, but definition, demand constant evaluation of the context in order to remain faithful to the principles. Each generation has to wrestle through what the fresh, faithful application of biblical principles looks like. Historically, many Christian educational institutions have failed to do this well. Doing it successfully is not a given, especially when so many other factors and pressures are at play. 

Frankly, I still favor the mandatory light bells, family style dinners, room checks, etc. of my era. And I would have no problem passing hair check any more. I will say this, I had the privilege of preaching in chapel a few weeks ago and I was really encouraged by the attentiveness of the students. I have been doing this for a long time and that isn't always a given on college campuses. Doing chapels at BJU and Faith this fall was very encouraging. I think God is doing something good on these campuses. 

DMD

Philip Golden Jr.'s picture

Dr. Doran,

I absolutely agree with you that cultural changes require an adjustment to how issues are approached. My concern is not so much centered on the rules, I think almost every recent change to the handbook and expected conduct among students has been positive. My concern is more towards Philosophy of Ministry and their approach to ministerial training and I, like you, don't think a detailed discussion of that is helpful here. We had a BJU intern here in Pittsburgh last summer (2020) and his heart for ministry and attitude towards the Lord was excellent. This is no doubt a result of the refocus on biblical discipleship at BJU. I am thankful for what God is continuing to do there and pray that by God's grace the University continues for the glory of God. I am still a supporter and would recommend the school, but there are just some nagging concerns in the back of my head.

Phil Golden

Dave Doran's picture

Just to be clear, I was cracking a joke about the rule book. My main point on the principles/applications is that this is true for separation too (and has been a bone of contention in every decade since I graduated). As an illustration, look at the FBF through the decades and how it has changed too. Or the GARBC. New times and challenges require new responses. Some of those responses seem out of step with earlier ones. Some are. Some aren't. None of our churches and ministries are exactly the same. As has been admitted, there is no Fundamentalism, but clusters of Fundamentalists with their own distinctives and concerns. Ministries trying to serve in that reality are not going to satisfy everyone's concerns. I have had my concerns with "our" educational institutions through the years and expressed them (as well as received such concerns re: DBTS). I have always known that I will have to accept some of what I don't like precisely because these institutions serve churches that differ with ours on some matters. Here's what has always been the bottom line for me--will a student's heart be turned away from a church like ours? If so, we don't encourage students to go there. Might be simplistic, but it fits our focus on the primacy of the church. BJU has always been broader than us on separation (with whom we would work and fellowship), but they have not turned hearts away from a church like ours. 

Thanks for interacting. Need to bow out.

DMD

Craig Toliver's picture

Dave Doran wrote:
I have had my concerns with "our" educational institutions through the years

The solution to '"our" educational institutions':

  • Go to a state school.
  • Be a missionary
  • Connect with the "Navigators"
Joeb's picture

Don your 100 % right. Between all the Scandals going on with the SBC Conservative Baptist Network Their Buddies at  Liberty and infamous Duggars who are tied to Paige Patterson I'd think the IFB would run like HADES away from these people. Include the Hyles crowd to.  
 

I talked to my College Roommates son whose a youth Pastor at a Methodical Church and he is trying to talk people in his youth group out of going to Liberty.  I suggested BJU due to their Humilty and doing the right thing and their excellent academics.  He agreed even with the rules which have been softened some.  I told him his Youth Group Members would get a really good education without the Baloney Christian Right drama.  .  

Ron Bean's picture

Since Steve Pettit assumed the presidency of BJU has the school exhibited any of the signs of new evangelicalism such as working with liberals/modernists/apostates, joining with those that do work with liberals/modernists/apostates, forsaking Biblical truth for science, etc. Have they done anything that violates Scriptural teaching?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

G. N. Barkman's picture

If you haven't, neither have I.  Admittedly, I don't know everything.  But we have three church young people enrolled and doing well.  I have seen new growth and maturity whenever they come home after a few months at BJU.  I have a married daughter whose husband is on the faculty at BJU, and I am aware of none of the issues Ron asks about.  I have ongoing relationships with several other BJU faculty members, and have heard nothing that gives me concern.  I preached at a strong Greenville church recently, and saw and heard nothing to concern me.

Unless I have clear evidence, I am forced to conclude that the "concerns" expressed by some are related to peripheral matters--cultural, traditional, Christian liberty issues, rather than Bible doctrine.  (I don't want to insult anyone, but one of the weaknesses I see in Fundamentalism is greater loyalty to traditions than to Biblical exposition and application.)

G. N. Barkman

Steve Davis's picture

Don, this comment of yours is at the heart of the issue, IMO.

"However, despite the confusion, no one can deny Dr. Beale's main point, which is that the changes at BJU are in the direction of evangelicalism, not fundamentalism."

I think many would deny your convenient classification of two possible directions. At least I would. There have been, are, and probably will be more changes at BJ. Isn't there another possibility? It seems to me that BJ has not veered one iota from a God-pleasing, Christ-honoring purpose. The changes might actually be more in a gospel-centric direction rather than a man-pleasing, movement-oriented, culture-bound direction. God is the ultimate judge for the motivation behind the changes. Although I'm not intimately connected to the school I like much of what I see. There's probably much I would disagree with as well but not to the point of criticism or separation. 

Don Johnson's picture

Brother Steve

There have been many instances of cooperation and ministry with pastors or others who would call themselves evangelicals. Many who would call themselves fundamentalists have objected, expressed concerns, etc.

Some applaud these changes, usually evangelical-leaning erstwhile fundamentalists. Some decry the changes. 
 

You can call it what you want, but the changes are undeniable. If the changes mean increased cooperation with evangelicals and decreasing support from fundamentalists, what direction would you say change is going?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Probably the big issue in terms of BJU, unless I'm misinformed, is the question of what degree of separation we're talking about here--I personally support primary separation on the basis of the theological fundamentals but not so much secondary or tertiary separation--and the question of exactly what constitutes "the fundamentals" on which basis we ought to separate.  

From my perspective--that the fundamentals properly include the original five fundamentals plus the Trinity and the truths in the Apostles' Creed--I think that the moves I've heard of from BJU are in a great, and very fundamental, direction.  If you're keen on secondary separation and cultural fundamentalism, you'll disagree with me.  But it's important that we get our terms straight here.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dave Doran's picture

Can't really re-engage (on vacation so I need to vacate!), but I did want to make clear that I don't agree that the issue with Beale's comment is about secondary separation. That's the problem with his taxonomy. I don't think BJU has abandoned so-called secondary separation (aka from disobedient brothers), nor have we (DBTS). Every semester our students must affirm this statement as part of enrollment: 

We believe that believers and churches must separate from those who deny essential doctrines of the faith (Jude 3; 2 John 9–11; Rom 16:17); that believers and churches must separate from those who compromise the faith by granting Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied essential doctrines of the faith (Rom 16:17; Phil 3:17–19; cf. 2 Thess 3:6–15); and that believers and churches must strive to reflect God’s holiness and to live differently than those who have not experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:15–16; Eph 4:17–19). 

Contending for the Faith has never been about only separating from those who deny some essential doctrine of the Faith. It has also included separating from those who disobey God's commands on this point. As I preached at the 2009 FBF annual meeting, the issue that fragmented fundamentalism was disagreement on identifying the disobedient brother(s). Some prefer to stick to labels/camps. Others have adopted an approach less controlled by labels and old boundary lines and more controlled by evidence of commitment to either drive out or pull away from error. I favor the latter. Back to vacating.

DMD

WallyMorris's picture

One Example: The BJU Seminary currently has a faculty member who believes Redaction Criticism is an appropriate tool for exegesis and interpretation. Even many conservative Evangelicals would disagree with that.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

Wally, is this what you're referring to?   If it is, I think we need to be careful to differentiate between what Stiekes does, and what the form critics are doing.  Stiekes is taking a look at who wrote it/taught Luke and the like, but without any attempt to undermine divine authorship.  With reference to the first fundamental, that's a critical difference.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

But I recall Don was leading the charge against the "convergent" Fundamentalists more than a few years ago and now it seems like he wants to lead the same charge against BJU for similar issues.  I believe him when he says he doesn't want to work with the various streams of evangelicalism but I do wonder who will be left to work with if he doesn't want to work with BJU in the future.  Hyles-Anderson?  West Coast Bible College?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

AndyE's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
One Example: The BJU Seminary currently has a faculty member who believes Redaction Criticism is an appropriate tool for exegesis and interpretation. Even many conservative Evangelicals would disagree with that.
Of all the things I might be worried about with BJU, and I do have some concerns, I am least worried about this this one.  For those interested, here is a blog post on the subject from the BJU seminary (and some push back from another BJU faculty member).  At worst, the author is guilty of using terminology that comes with unnecessary baggage.  It would be a huge stretch to say he is introducing any sort of methodology that would undermine the integrity or inerrancy of the Scriptures.  

Don Johnson's picture

Read what I said. There are changes at BJU that involve a closer relationship with some segments of evangelicalism. While I agree that Dr Beale's statement could be more precisely worded, it is undeniable that BJU's changes are towards evangelicalism. 
 

Making that statement isn't "leading the charge" Jay. It's just stating reality 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

WallyMorris's picture

One of the questions in this discussion concerns the extent of changes at BJU and if some of those changes are negative in some way. Apparently everyone believes that BJU HAS changed. The disagreement focuses on whether some of those changes are good or bad. Even some who generally support most of the changes seem to have concerns about where some of these and future changes will affect the school.

I never stated that Stiekes' beliefs "undermine divine authorship" or "undermine the integrity or inerrancy of Scripture". But his acceptance of Redaction Criticism, even within the constraints which he places on his use of RC, are a BIG change at BJU. Therefore a question I have, for those posting here and for the BJU Seminary faculty: Is Stiekes' acceptance of RC, even with the limits he places on his use of RC, a wise step for him and the BJU Seminary? Contra Andy, I AM concerned about what some of the changes at BJU will produce.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Jay's picture

While I agree that Dr Beale's statement could be more precisely worded, it is undeniable that BJU's changes are towards evangelicalism. 

Fill a brother in, here.  What changes are indicative of moving "towards Evangelicalism"?  I've seen some charges here but most of them are practical issues, not anything doctrinal or significant.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

WallyMorris's picture

The changes at BJU are worthy of careful watching. Here is a link to a blog post which I wrote almost 5 years ago  for Proclaim and Defend: https://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2017/02/23/why-is-compromise-always-one-direction/

Compromise, whether theological or political, is almost always toward a more liberal, "loosening" direction. I never hear of compromise toward a more conservative direction/position. The changes are usually small and appear insignificant. But the cumulative effect is dramatic.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

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