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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Jeff Straub's picture

This thread is interesting to me. I wonder how many here have actually read Beale's book? All 616 pages worth. He makes exactly two brief comments about BJU that are poorly nuanced. Its not fundamentalism vs. broad evangelicalism.

Where is BJU on the continuum? With BJ's participation in Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes, one wonders just how far things may go. Is there anything wrong with sending Christmas boxes to kids? Of course not. Is there anything wrong with aligning with Franklin Graham's work? Well, is this one example of a larger course shift in Greenville? Time will tell.

The conversation about dress re: BJU is more than about ties vs. business casual. But this is really a side issue.

Jeff Straub

www.jeffstraub.net

AndyE's picture

 Some of the perceptions of 80’s fundamentalism must be related to one’s own personal experiences, beliefs, and church situation.  Most of the stuff that is thrown around is so foreign to me and my experience.  I grew up on the West coast, and over there, it was BJU that was shunned and ridiculed, for being too strict and having pink and blue sidewalks.  

In regard to PCC, I was at BJU in the 80’s and I always considered PCC a sister school. I don’t recall any animosity at all towards them.  The only “negative” thing I ever remember hearing was an off-hand comment by my math professor, Dr. Guthrie, who had some recent interaction with PCC where they came out against set theory in mathematics.  He was dumbfounded by that and made a comment, and that’s all I ever heard.  It wasn’t until the Dell Johnson videos that I perceived any ill-will between the schools.  Does PCC still promote KJVO there?  I’ve been wondering about that.

AndyE's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:
With BJ's participation in Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes, one wonders just how far things may go. Is there anything wrong with sending Christmas boxes to kids? Of course not. Is there anything wrong with aligning with Franklin Graham's work? Well, is this one example of a larger course shift in Greenville? Time will tell.
I was actually going to bring this up, so I'm glad someone did.  This was a real stunner to me.  I don't want to charge the sins of the father to the son, but it would seem to be a pretty significant shift in philosophy if Samaritan's Purse and the BGEA are not still involved in giving Christian recognition to unbelievers.  Look, I don't know what is going on there.  I could be wrong. Hopefully I'm wrong.  But this just seems like a really bad idea and not at all in line with BJU's former separatist stand.  It's just one event.  My girls wouldn't know the connection like I do, and I don't even know if they participated in this or not, but I think it is a valid concern.

Jeff -- your point is well taken regarding Beale's book.  I've appreciated his other works, and so I'm sure most of this current one is good, too. I should probably get it.

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

It was a brilliant PR move on the part of the BJU administration (if it is indeed moving the institution towards "Broad Evangelicalism") to have impoverished, third-word children as the face of what it means to work with evangelicals.  IMO, choosing Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse was NOT a coincidence or accident on the part of the administration.  Considering BJU's past relationship with the Graham family, it is too blatant.  They chose this ground to do battle on.

Don Johnson's picture

Jeff is right, All the talk about dress standards and the like is NOT what Beale means, nor what those of us who are concerned about BJU are worried about. Yes, I might not like some of them, but they are not the issue.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Craig Toliver's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Jeff is right, All the talk about dress standards and the like is NOT what Beale means, nor what those of us who are concerned about BJU are worried about. Yes, I might not like some of them, but they are not the issue.

What is it? Spell it out!

TylerR's picture

Editor

It won't let me embed the picture. Beale's entire comment is here.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

T Howard's picture

I find Beale's use of the definite article and capitalization interesting: "the inclusive, Broad Evangelicalism." Not sure what to make of that other than what Doran points out. There are only two groups: separatist Fundamentalism and Broad Evangelicalism. I smell a false dilemma.

So, basically, people are up in arms because instead of looking to separate from people, Pettit is looking to partner with people. We don't like some of the people Pettit has chosen to partner with because these people don't partner with the right people. So, this issue is basically over secondary separation, correct?

BTW, is there a charity like Samaritan's Purse within separatist Fundamentalism that would be acceptable for Pettit and BJU to partner with? Just curious. Or, is that kind of charity seen as too social gospel-ish for card carrying separatist Fundamentalists?

Don Johnson's picture

Surely there are missions organizations, like BJU's own GFA which could organize a similar ministry. (I know GFA and BJU are no longer directly linked. )

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

AndyE's picture

T Howard wrote:
We don't like some of the people Pettit has chosen to partner with because these people don't partner with the right people.
If this is how separation is viewed, then no wonder people don't support it.  The question is, what is the Biblical teaching regarding our response towards those who give Christian recognition to those who are unbelievers and deny the gospel.  It isn't about liking or not liking someone.  To me it is an issue of obedience. But for evangelicals, in general, it's what Iain Murray refers to as the unresolved controversy.

T Howard's picture

Andy, would it be better if BJU partnered with a non-sectarian charity---let say a local food bank, crisis pregnancy center, or homeless shelter---instead of with Samaritan's Purse?

Or, can BJU only partner with separatist Fundamentalist approved ministries?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Beale's comment seems more than poorly nuanced. It may be that BJU isn't the same type of separatist as they used to be. But for a historian not to know the difference between "Broad evangelicalism" and "conservative evangelicalism" seems strange to me, especially when it is capitalized. It is a disappointing comment to say the least because it appears to slam with a broad brush when a much narrower brush is warranted. And to only say that much about it is a strange thing. You have spent a whole book telling a story, a fascinating one and then that? It seems almost gratuitous ... like I gotta get this jab in but I don't want to take time to demonstrate it.

As for Samaritan's Purse, there are significant reasons to think the whole venture is a bad idea regardless of who does it (because it can be the exporting of American materialism, the undermining of families and particularly father's who can't provide stuff for their families, etc.), but it is not as simple as "have GFA organize it." There are a ton of logistics that go into it. Whether or not BJU should partner with Samaritan's Purse might be a good question. But "Have GFA do it" is not a workable solution.

AndyE's picture

T Howard wrote:
Andy, would it be better if BJU partnered with a non-sectarian charity---let say a local food bank, crisis pregnancy center, or homeless shelter---instead of with Samaritan's Purse?

Or, can BJU only partner with separatist Fundamentalist approved ministries?

That’s a good question.  Here is how I think about that, not just with this issue but in general.

It’s probably worth noting that BJU is a school and not a church, and so the issue of what constitutes non-biblical koinonia can get complicated, at least in my mind.  Some things that the school does from an educational standpoint, like brining in guest artists or guest political speakers, does not constitute Christian fellowship/koinonia and thus does not violate the separation commands in the Bible that we have been talking about.  However, because BJU is a *Christian* school, sometimes those distinctions can get hard to evaluate properly. I see the distinction between a chapel speaker and a political convocation.  I would put a pastoral roundtable in the fellowship/koinonia bucket. I would put medical symposium in the non-fellowship bucket.  What about athletic fundraising, anti-abortion pregnancy centers, and relief efforts?  Those lines can get harder to draw confidently and consistently, and so some deference should be shown in these areas, I think. 

The Samaritan’s Purse issue is a relief effort and there are several things that come into play here. First Paul talks about his relief effort for the saints in Jerusalem as koinonia (Rom 15:26, 2 Cor 9:13) and so this sort of thing can fall into this category.  Second, Samaritan’s Purse isn’t any old relief agency, it’s headed by the president of the BGEA, and so partnering with that agency is going to send a message whether intended or not.  Third, there is the social gospel angle to all this.  I have not done a lot of thinking in this area, but in my mind, we don’t want to just give material relief to people in the name of Christianity, we want to point them to Jesus Christ and the gospel. But if that is what is going on, then the koinonia aspect comes into play again and all the concerns that come with that.  All that to say, while I think we need to give some room for differing conclusions on these edge cases, this particular relief effort could have been handled in a way that doesn’t call into question their commitment to Biblical separation. One way to do that would be to use, as you suggest, a non-sectarian charity to make it more of an educational than a religious effort. If it is a fellowship/religious effort, then it ought to be done following clear Biblical instruction.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Thank you, Andy, for demonstrating a willingness to work through these complexities.  Too many treat this as cut and dried, either or.  

Part of the problem, as I see it, is in the doctrine of secondary separation.  Separation from apostate Christianity is clearly commanded in Scripture.  No disagreement here among Fundamentalists, and also among those usually categorized as Conservative Evangelicals.  The issue get tougher when secondary separation is introduced.  Here, Scriptural teaching is not as clear, and not surprisingly, particular real-life applications are more difficult.  It often comes down to subjective opinion.  "I don't think any true Fundamentalist should have anything to do with so and so, because they have a slight connection with so and so."  I'm afraid it often comes down to a petty cat fight, not a principled application of Scripture.

For example, in 1972, I led a Ministry Team to the Northeast for BJU.  (Called "Ensembles" in those days.)  That was the first year that BJU teams were forbidden to minister in Southern Baptist churches.  In 1971, teams went into a number of SBC churches.  Was BJU compromising in 1971?  Some thought so.  Was BJU overly nit-picky in 1972?  Some thought so.  What is the clear Biblical doctrine that settles this issue?  There is none.  It's a judgment call, a matter of personal opinion.  In these areas, Christians need to show forbearance and tolerance, not accusations and a critical spirit.

G. N. Barkman

WallyMorris's picture

Our dog has a tendency to push the limits of where she should go when we put her outside. She will go a little further than she has in the past and will look to see if anyone notices. The next time she goes a little further. After awhile she is almost to the edge of the yard. She is always looking to see how far she can go. A few small steps in the beginning eventually result in her being in the road. I would say she "slid" toward the dangerous road. Each individual action she takes seems insignificant until she is in the road.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

T Howard's picture

Wally, that's another example of the slippery slope fallacy. If IFB institution does X that will necessarily lead to Y.

BTW, secondary separation has been very problematic, as noted above, because it has been used to justify cutting off fellowship with other ministries and churches based on tribes, preferences, and cultural standards.

  • "We don't fellowship with church X because they allow their women to wear pants, and they listen to Southern Gospel music."
  • "We don't fellowship with church Y because they fellowship with church X, who allows their women to wear pants, and church X also listens to Southern Gospel music." 
  • "We won't support you as a missionary because you went to college X."

This is not a type of fundamentalism worth saving.

WallyMorris's picture

I am well aware of what type of argument it is. That's why I gave the illustration. Someone may argue philosophical and logical principle as much as they want, but our dog still tries to go to the road, one small step at a time.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

AndyE's picture

Here in Atlanta, we have Stone Mountain.  At the top, you can make your way down the curved top, which gets steeper and steeper, until before long you are going to slip and tumble down past the carved figures of Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis to your death.  They now have a fence installed to prevent people from going too far.  Good idea.  The slippery slope argument is valid and invalid at the same time.  There are safe steps you can take towards the edge that do not result in catastrophe. Not all steps down the slope are slippery. But there are also steps that are slippery and will lead to disaster...the problem is that you don't know where that line is.  So you put up a fence.  Hopefully you put the fence in a sensible place.

My son, many years ago, going right up to the fence, trying to push the limits of the slippery slope!

 

T Howard's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

I am well aware of what type of argument it is. That's why I gave the illustration. Someone may argue philosophical and logical principle as much as they want, but our dog still tries to go to the road, one small step at a time.

This reminds me of a sermon illustration I heard in the last IFB church I attended. The preacher was waxing eloquent on why women shouldn't wear pants, why teens shouldn't listen to CCM, etc. and as a support he used the illustration of a carriage driver for the queen of England. The illustration went something like ...

"Back when the queen of England regularly rode in carriages, she had a carriage driver who was world renown for how safely he drove her carriage. When asked about how he acquired his reputation the carriage driver responded, "When I'm driving the queen's carriage and going around a corner of a steep embankment, I make sure I steer the carriage as far away from the embankment as I can. I don't steer in the middle of the road, because that is too close to the embankment."

"Church, the reason women shouldn't wear pants is that they should want to be as far away from the world's immodest dress standards as they can be. Wearing pants is like steering the queen's carriage in the middle of the road. If women begin wearing pants, pretty soon your church will be full of women who are wearing miniskirts and halter tops. The same thing is true with allowing your teens to listen to Steve Green, Amy Grant, and Sandi Patti. If you allow them to steer their music carriage in the middle of the road, they will soon be listening to rock and roll music. So, church, remember, always steer your carriage as far away from the embankment of the world as possible. Amen!"

Jay's picture

Someone may argue philosophical and logical principle as much as they want, but our dog still tries to go to the road, one small step at a time.

While this analogy works to a point, there is a huge difference between a dog that knows it shouldn't go beyond the bounds of your yard because those are the rules and a dog that runs out of the yard for a good reason (chasing an intruder, for example).  I had a dog that knew immediately the boundaries of our yard but who, in his zeal, overran the boundaries and then wouldn't come back because he knew I was upset that he overran the perimeter.

Also, Christians tend to reason at much higher levels than dogs do.

"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

Steve Davis's picture

Jeff Straub wrote:

...

Where is BJU on the continuum? With BJ's participation in Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes, one wonders just how far things may go. Is there anything wrong with sending Christmas boxes to kids? Of course not. Is there anything wrong with aligning with Franklin Graham's work? Well, is this one example of a larger course shift in Greenville? Time will tell.

...

We're all on a continuum. My friend Jeff (we met in the weight room/boiler room at BJ way back when in the 70s) has a point. BJ cooperating with Samaritan’s Purse and others reflects some change of philosophy or better, a more nuanced and more biblical understanding of separation that doesn’t call for separation from brothers in Christ like Franklin Graham. I don’t have time to track down everyone Graham works with or receives support from. I’m sure I can find some things I’d disagree with. From what I know of him, he is clear on the gospel and does not work in gospel endeavors with unbelievers. There’s a time for separation. There’s also a time for co-belligerency. I think Graham is on the right side, a friend of God and a friend of God’s people. I find no more reason to separate from him than from Dave Doran, or from Don for that matter (although the sentiment might not be mutual). Yes, BJU has changed and for that I thank God.

Anecdotally, I almost didn’t graduate from BJ because I was planning to go to an IFB seminary that was not part of the BJ orbit. I did attend the seminary in question and once BJ was aware (with transcript request) my alumni association dues were refunded and I received letters about how I had betrayed the university. I’m glad those days are over. Funny thing, a few years later the university and the seminary became best buds. After over 40 years of ministry, and even more aware that my years are counted, I’m content to serve the Lord, happily married, seeing and investing in my grandkids, and want to finish well. Until that time, I plan to enjoy as wide a fellowship as the Word of God allows. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

T Howard wrote:

Wally, that's another example of the slippery slope fallacy. If IFB institution does X that will necessarily lead to Y.

To those familiar with logic, it's of course true that X will not necessarily lead to Y.  But if X can lead to Y, through say, some combination of steps R, S, T, U, V, and W, it's not wrong to start wondering where things are going if changes have led to X, R, U, and W now being true.  As Andy mentioned in his example, not all steps are slippery, and not all steps in the direction of Y will necessary lead there, but at some point, the slippery slope becomes impossible to avoid.  The existence of the slippery slope fallacy does not mean that slippery slopes never exist, and thus there is no need to watch for them.

We all draw lines (or fences) at some point, and we argue over where those are or should be when the Bible is not clear.  But I think any true Christian realizes that there is a line between righteousness and unrighteousness, and that sometimes getting from one to the other is a process or degrees or steps rather than one big leap.  Where that is true, it is certain we there will be disagreement on where the fence should be, but hopefully not in the need to have one.

In a strict logical sense, if it's true that fellowship with unbelievers is disobedient, and fellowship with disobedient brothers is also disobedient, then all separation over fellowship is the same, no matter how many steps there are between you and the unbelievers.  Practically, however, it's not that clean, and due to lack of knowledge and lack of biblical specificity in some applications, or even lack of time or resources in tracking down everyone's associations, there will rarely be a clean line that all will agree on that tells us when fellowship is right or disobedient.

That's why there should be charity in our evaluations of these associations, and we should give our own more scrutiny than those of others.  Nonetheless, if we have concerns over where others are going, being charitable with them does not mean ignoring it or not mentioning it to them.  It's just that we have to be as biblical as we can in working through the issues.

Dave Barnhart

Jeff Straub's picture

It often comes down to subjective opinion. 

Why does this always come down to "secondary separation" issue? Why can't we talk about wisdom issues? Why do we start with "what's wrong with X?" Shouldn't we argue "what's right with X?"

Why don't we support a Catholic charity? Is it because of what they actually do? Or is it because of who is doing it? 

Then the question becomes "what is being done and why?" Why is X doing this?

In the case of BJ, are these deliberate actions intended to say or demonstrate something? Are they poor choices made without careful consideration? Are they choices someone made who is unaware of larger issues?

Is this really just subjective opinion? 

Jeff Straub

www.jeffstraub.net

Jay's picture

We can applaud that, but until they can clarify all their entanglements, I see no advantage in allying myself with them. 

Don,

Are YOU aware of all of your "entanglements", so to speak?  If not, how am I supposed to pass judgment and actually practice separation on you for being "compromised"?  

You seem to believe that you know exactly what's going on and that these people are not worth "saving" from their error.  As your opposite on many topics, let me point out that there are a LOT of good people fighting for reform and health in the circles you so glibly write off but I work to strengthen.  Those people deserve help, not another kneecapping in FrontLine.

If the only reason why you ally with people or organizations is to strengthen yourself and your ministry, what are you actually aiming for or achieving?

"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

Jeff Straub's picture

Jay wrote:

You seem to believe that you know exactly what's going on and that these people are not worth "saving" from their error.  As your opposite on many topics, let me point out that there are a LOT of good people fighting for reform and health in the circles you so glibly write off but I work to strengthen.  Those people deserve help, not another kneecapping in FrontLine.

This is pretty strong rhetoric from a guy who objectives to strong rhetoric.  I don't recall ever seeing a "kneecapping" at Frontline

Jeff Straub

www.jeffstraub.net

Bert Perry's picture

The slippery slope fallacy actually does have a definition, and it does not fit what Wally is saying about his dog, or the analogy to Stone Mountain.  Those who would support the dress code or whatever part of BJU's history might be being abandoned today need to demonstrate exactly why, say, not requiring men to wear suit & tie to a tube steak dinner is going to lead to abandonment of a theological principle.  Or, why would people stop believing in the virgin birth because they hear music with a beat (or maybe even danceable), etc..

There is also the reality that when we're talking about "higher" standards of dress, we do run into what James tells us in the second chapter about the sin of deferring to those who appear to be rich.  Like it or not, suit & tie is upper middle class/wealthy white collar attire.  Requiring it is contradicted by verse 2, where we are counseled to welcome those in "vile raiment" equally, and the church is asked why on earth they're favoring people who tend to oppress poor members of the church.

In the same way, those supposed "high standards" of music required by too many schools really boil down, apart from legitimate concerns about lyrics in  music, to an insistence that music not be danceable, and not feature too prominent of a beat or percussive instruments.  That runs into Psalms 149 and 150.

Really, wherever we've got rules that appear to have a counter in Scripture, we are in effect training people to ignore Scripture when it's convenient to us.  So just as a lot of our extra-Biblical cultural rules have their roots in the "social gospel" of the 1800s (and theological liberalism), I would argue that we're actually undermining Sola Scriptura and the first fundamental.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

"Convergence"

No, you probably don't recognize it, Jeff.

"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

josh p's picture

I find it interesting that anytime so-called "secondary separation" comes up, people start trotting out the fundy taboos of the 80s as if that somehow negates the biblical principle. A principle applied wrongly does not negate the principle. We are talking about Billy Graham ministries here. This isn't some obscure ministry without a definable track record. This is THE ministry that most clearly rejected separation during the new-evangelical split (and yes it was them that split off). Graham's NY crusade was the catalyst. Graham denied the gospel by giving Christian recognition to false teachers/unbelievers. Anyone who denies this either doesn't understand the gospel or doesn't know the history. 

I have no connection to BJU but I find it concerning that they partnered with SP; just as I find it concerning that Beale did not exercise more caution in labeling. 

It seems that some have a disposition to criticize even careful fundamentalists but they won't apply the same standard to conservative evangelicals or those to the left of them. I don't understand that. 

Bert Perry's picture

Josh, whenever these issues come up on SI today, there is fierce advocacy on the part of some here on their behalf.  We can debate what the effects are of these policies, for good or ill, but let's not pretend they were left behind in the 1980s.  Really, the big part of the objections come with Steve Pettit assuming the Presidency of BJU, and he took that job in 2014.

Regarding secondary separation in particular, the Graham crusades are a good example, IMO, why our first look ought not be secondary separation, but rather the kind of ministry being done.   The big failure in the Graham crusades, one that ought to let us wonder whether he led people to Christ or inoculated people against Him, is the ~98% rate at which those who reported a salvation decision did not become integrated into a Bible believing church, and that derives primarily from very weak follow-up plans on the Graham organization's part.  Allowing liberal Christians to volunteer was certainly not helpful, but it's not exactly like the evangelicals (and fundamentalists) he partnered with were showing the world how to do it, either.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

josh p wrote:

I find it interesting that anytime so-called "secondary separation" comes up, people start trotting out the fundy taboos of the 80s as if that somehow negates the biblical principle. A principle applied wrongly does not negate the principle. 

I agree in principle. However, "secondary separation" has been so misused and abused within Fundamentalism that it no longer resembles the biblical principle it seeks to uphold. Separatist Fundamentalists were using "secondary separation" to break fellowship over all kinds of perceived compromise and downgrade, real or not. And, if you didn't agree with them that there was legitimate compromise taking place, you were yourself separated from. Secondary separation became like crack cocaine. Once you had a hit, you had to keep going back for more to prove you were a bona fide Fundamentalist.

So, that is why I--today--view secondary separation very suspiciously. I would rather give the benefit of the doubt and assume positive intent before I write off a Christian brother, ministry, or church.

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