The Book Is Out

NickImage

This week’s mail brought one of the first copies of Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, edited by Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen. The book is a contribution to Zondervan’s Counterpoints series. It has been in the making for just under four years.

Andy Naselli was the one who came up with the idea for this “four views” book, suggesting the topic to series editor Stan Gundry during the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2007. Naselli already had his Ph.D. in theology from Bob Jones University and was working on another in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He was also working as D. A. Carson’s researcher.

Though his educational background is with Bob Jones University, I’m not sure whether Andy would want to be identified as a Fundamentalist today. Even if not, however, he is definitely not an opponent of Fundamentalism. From the beginning, one of his main concerns was to have a credible presentation of the Fundamentalist position included in the volume. Several names were discussed: Mark Minnick, John Hartog III, Dave Doran, Mike Barrett, and both of the Houghton brothers (Myron and George). It was thought that all of these writers would defend approximately the same vision and values in their presentation of the Fundamentalist perspective. At one point, the editors even considered the possibility of featuring more than one Fundamentalist author.

When all was said and done, I was chosen to write the chapter (though any of the others would certainly have done as well). In accepting the opportunity, I was especially motivated by the prospect of subjecting a defense of Fundamentalism to the criticisms of representatives of other positions. On my view, Fundamentalism is suffering from a kind of ennui today, partly because we have been content to talk only to ourselves. My opinion is that the idea of Fundamentalism has merit and we ought to be eager to share it with the rest of the world.

Staking out the other positions and putting labels on them was problematic. The label conservative evangelicalism was considered to be too pejorative, so eventually the position was designated as confessional evangelicalism. The stream of thought that used to be called neoevangelicalism was relabeled generic evangelicalism. Perhaps the most problematic position was the evangelical Left, which represents rather an amorphous collection of variations on evangelical themes. Eventually the editors settled on post-conservative evangelicalism, a label that may denote both more and less than the evangelical Left.

Other authors were recruited along the way. Roger Olson (Truett Theological Seminary) was chosen to represent post-conservative evangelicalism. Finding a speaker for generic evangelicalism was problematic, but finally John Stackhouse, Jr. (Regent College) agreed to take this responsibility. Among the capable representatives for confessional evangelicalism, the editors finally settled on Al Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).

From that point, the debate was on. The authors had several months to complete the presentations of their individual perspectives. After a couple of bouts of editing, each author was given the opportunity to respond to the other authors. One could wish that we had been given a chance to respond to the responses, but Zondervan has to draw the line somewhere.

On my view, Fundamentalists are distinguished from other evangelicals primarily by their understanding of primary and secondary separation. At the same time, most evangelicals (and many younger Fundamentalists) are allergic to the word separation. As I saw it, my task was to argue for biblical separation—including secondary separation—without laboring over the terminology of separatism. I also wanted to distance Fundamentalism from two influences that are often mistaken for it: hyper-fundamentalism and revivalism. These are decidedly not Fundamentalism, though Fundamentalists are sometimes characterized by them.

Interacting with the other authors was a genuine pleasure. The most interesting thing about other people is how their minds work, and this book gave me the opportunity to try to get inside the minds of three very competent representatives from other versions of evangelicalism. All of the other authors were gracious, but each was also very pointed in his view of the evangelical spectrum. Overall, the conversation between the authors was a healthy one, and I hope that some of that dynamic shows up in the printed text (which, obviously, I cannot read with unprejudiced eyes).

Perhaps the greatest surprise came from Al Mohler. The authors were asked specifically to evaluate Evangelicals and Catholics Together and of the Manhattan Declaration. Of course, Mohler was one of the signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, a decision for which he has received sharp criticism. He takes time in the book to reflect upon his involvement, and his conclusion is summed up in the following words.

I had great hope that the document and the movement would steer a new path that would accomplish a brave moral consensus without confusing the theological issues at stake. Nevertheless, in the light of subsequent statements, I came to believe that the Manhattan Declaration had also crossed the line into an unwarranted and unbiblical recognition of the Roman Catholic Church. We should not be embarrassed to state that we stand together when indeed we do—and on these crucial issues of concern it is especially important that we stand together with courage. But no sense of cultural crisis should blind us to the priority of the gospel.

This may be one of the most important statements in the book. It definitely represents a shift in Mohler’s attitude toward the Manhattan Declaration. Providentially, it may prove to be a kind of intellectual antacid for the heartburn that Mohler’s signature has given to some of his friends.

In his conclusion to the book, Naselli argues that the four positions really merge into only two. Post-conservative and generic evangelicalism favor a broad tent, while both confessional evangelicalism and Fundamentalism favor definite (and similar) boundaries. While this evaluation is true to a point, I think that it underestimates the remaining differences between the latter two perspectives.

No one can claim to speak for all Fundamentalists, and I do not claim to do so. I do believe that the time has come—and probably passed—for a new, credible, public exposition of the idea of Fundamentalism. Whether my chapter contributes to such an exposition is a matter that readers will have to judge for themselves.

The Lamentation
John Marckant (fl. c. 1560)

O Lord, turn not away thy face
From him that lies prostrate,
Lamenting sore his sinful life
Before thy mercy-gate; 

Which gate thou openest wide to those
That do lament their sin:
Shut not that gate against me, Lord,
But let me enter in.

So come I to thy mercy-gate,
Where mercy doth abound,
Requiring mercy for my sin
To heal my deadly wound. 

Mercy, good Lord, mercy I ask,
This is my total sum;
For mercy, Lord, is all my suit:
Lord, let thy mercy come.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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There are 16 Comments

Caleb S's picture

Someone pointed me to the following blog:

http://gloryandgrace.dbts.edu/?p=575

In it an individual, who claims to be a fundamentalist, has no problem siding with Roger Olson (post conservative evangelicalism) on the issue of opposition to Calvinism. Is opposition to Calvinism REALLY more of a unifying element than the fundamentals of the faith? Why is it that people are so adamantly opposed to Calvinism? The answer, "because it goes against the Bible," is not an answer. Since, post conservative evangelicalism goes against the fundamentals (big assumption here not having read the book), then why is that issue set aside for the more important Calvinism bashing? Is Calvinism really more of a threat than post conservative evangelicalism?

Jay's picture

Quote:
In it an individual, who claims to be a fundamentalist, has no problem siding with Roger Olson (post conservative evangelicalism) on the issue of opposition to Calvinism. Is opposition to Calvinism REALLY more of a unifying element than the fundamentals of the faith?

Yes.

The longer I observe Fundamentalist praxis, the more and more convinced that I am that the 'movement' isn't really about the fundamentals - it's about a loose association of some people against some doctrines. They might be anti-pants on women, or anti-new bible translations or anti-Calvinism or anti-Reformed theology...but there's no real idea or understanding of what they stand for. They have to be opposed to things in order for the system to work. Consequently, the 'movement' is really more about opposition (and sometimes uninformed opposition to something - like Jaeggli's book on drinking or NIU's changes) than it is about the Fundamentals. It's actually a really, really sad commentary on the 'movement'.

Phil Johnson http://audio.gracechurch.org/sc/2005notes/JohnsonDeadRight.pdf ]nailed it more than six years ago :

Quote:

Frankly, I thought that sort of fundamentalism deserved to die. And I knew it eventually would, because the most prominent hallmark of the visible fundamentalist movement was that its leaders loved to fight so much that they would bite and devour one another and proliferate controversies—even among themselves—over issues that no one could ever rationally argue were essential to the truth of the gospel.

"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

Don Johnson's picture

I think the book will be interesting, though I may not agree with the presentations of any of the contributors. But I hope we don't go down the rabbit trail of C vs. A... that's not what the book is about.

It is interesting that one of the editors, Colin Hanson, is reportedly seeing little difference between Bauder's and Mohler's views. I'd like to read the book to see if he is right in that assessment. Personally, I think there is a significant difference, knowing what I know of both men and having some familiarity with their writings, especially Bauder's. But I'll have to wait till I can read the book. Hope it is in a Kindle edition.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

Coming right up - http://www.amazon.com/Views-Spectrum-Evangelicalism-Counterpoints-ebook/... ]Kindle edition link Smile I'll probably get a copy myself.

"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

Bob Hayton's picture

I'm reading through a galley copy of this book and was really impressed by Bauder's essay. After reading both Mohler's and Bauder's essays, I can sympathize with Naselli in seeing them both as very similar. Not sure I saw enough distinction made between the two views as both were very approving of the other. The difference may be in degree. But Bauder does flesh out the indifferentist issue in his response to Mohler.

I was very grateful for Bauder's description of the hallmarks of a hyper-fundamentalist. I do think his essay will 1) help advocate for the idea of fundamentalism outside of our little pond and 2) help clarify that fundamentalism is an ideal and doesn't have to include the crazies. I think readers will be blown away by Bauder's erudition as the average evangelical reading this book wouldn't have expected that from a fundamentalist. And Bauder actually gets to go first, which is nice!

Not too surprised by LM's response to it all, though, Caleb. But that's for a different thread (I hope).

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Paul Henebury's picture

Looking forward to the book. I think Bauder was a good choice to represent a solid, thought-through Fundamentalist position.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We should have a review to post here pretty soon.... maybe by end of the week.

It's hard to tell if in the long run the fundamentalist idea can be successfully distinguished from "the movement" and marketed, so to speak, as a thing in itself. But I think it's a worthy goal to aim for.
Among other reasons, I think it's worth attempting because movements tend to get pretty inwardly focused after a while and stop winning over new joiners. Movements reach a point where they are no longer about anything except themselves. (This is not a "fundamentalist movement" thing. It's just a movement thing. They all go that way eventually.)
The result is that, at best, those "inside" can try to sustain things to new generations who are also "inside." They can't effectively gain new adherents.

So if a movement's impetus can be sort of extracted, freshly articulated and resold in a bigger market... I can't say that I'm aware of this ever happening (but, arguably, that's what the Reformation was--the impetus in that case being the Christian faith). It would be a very interesting phenomenon, not just as fundamentalist history etc., but interesting from a "movementology" standpoint.
(If there is not a "movementology" field of study, there should be!)

Bob Hayton's picture

I nominate Aaron Blumer as our official SI movementologist. Smile

Put that in your title and see what looks you get!

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Joel Tetreau's picture

I second Bob's nomination of Aaron Blumer as SI's official "meovementologist!"

All those in favor say "I"

All those opposed so "Loooooouuuuuuuu!" Smile

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Ed Vasicek's picture

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the Kindle link.

When I asked where i fit into all this, I think I fall between the cracks. One the one hand, I believer in primary separation and embrace boundaries. I like truly Biblical doctrinal statements, not confessions.

I think of "confessing" people as usually Amil and almost always covenant or replacement, like Mohler or R.C. Sproule. Correct me if I am wrong.

Stanley Gundry is a brain; he was one of my profs at Moody and an intelligent and amazingly read man, though he believed it was appropriate for women to serve as lead pastors. I think the idea for the project was good, and I can think of no better representative for a healthy strain of fundamentalism than Dr. Bauder. Too bad Joel Tetreau's defining system for types of fundamentalists didn't make an appendix!

"The Midrash Detective"

Ron Bean's picture

Quote:
I hope we don't go down the rabbit trail of C vs. A... that's not what the book is about.

I hope this thread doesn't go down this path as well. IMO, anti-Calvinism is a mark of hyper-fundamentalism and revivalism. Historic fundamentalists have not been anti-Calvinists.

I'm somewhat familiar with fundamentalists who label nearly everyone outside of their village as neo-evangelical and then treat treat them like apostates. I'm looking forward to this book.

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

Don Johnson's picture

I noticed that the price for the Kindle edition is higher than the print edition (13.90 vs. 11.55). That seems a little odd. Highly expensive bits and bytes?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Hmm... it sounds like it might go well with Regular Baptist.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
I noticed that the price for the Kindle edition is higher than the print edition (13.90 vs. 11.55). That seems a little odd. Highly expensive bits and bytes?

In my link, the Kindle shows as $9.95. Maybe they correct it?

"The Midrash Detective"

Jay's picture

Don's one of our Northern neighbors, so he gets to pay a different amount based on exchange rates and stuff.

"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

Don Johnson's picture

Just so you know, the C$ is worth more than the US$ these days - I should be paying less, not more. But there may be cross border taxes, hadn't thought of that.

I might be able to get it direct from Zondervan for 9.99... we'll see.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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