New Evangelicalism

MacArthur on Fundamentalism

When The Master’s University (TMU) hired BJU’s Vice President Sam Horn as its President and when a friendly picture of West Coast Baptist College President Paul Chappell surfaced with John MacArthur on Twitter, some of us believed that a convergence was taking place between the left flank of Fundamentalism and the right flank of Evangelicalism.

However, after only one year in office, Horn resigned as President of TMU. A year after Horn’s departure, Austin Duncan, Director of the MacArthur Center for Expository Preaching, produced a podcast (March 8, 2022) where he interviewed MacArthur on the topic “MacArthur and the Fundamentalists” (https://open.spotify.com/episode/34Dbvzbvnjctqfke7PKcSk).

There are lighthearted moments in this podcast such as MacArthur’s recollection of the Southern Baptist Convention’s W. A. Criswell calling him a “Baptist”. MacArthur also remembers when R. C. Sproul suggested “Imputationalists” as a possible label for Bible-believing Christians. MacArthur replied to Sproul, “That’s not going to work, R. C. They’re going to think we’re cutting off people’s limbs!”

Springing off of MacArthur’s conversation with Sproul, Duncan asks, “If MacArthur isn’t entirely comfortable with the term ‘evangelical’, would he embrace the term ‘fundamentalist’?” Duncan observes that MacArthur has a “tenuous relationship with Fundamentalism;” he “appreciates aspects of it, but doesn’t identify with it.”

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Theology Thursday - Ernest Pickering on "New Evangelicalism"

Donald Pfaffe, "Views Of New Evangelicalism," CENQ 02:2 (Summer 1959)

In the spring of 1959, Ernest Pickering wrote an article for the Central Bible Quarterly entitled “The Present Status of the New Evangelicalism.”1 This was only one of the first in an eventual avalanche of articles written by passionate and articulate fundamentalists, beginning in the late 1950s, as the breach between the “New Evangelicalism” and “Fundamentalism” became, for many men, a bridge too far.

Elsewhere, Robert Ketchum wrote to GARBC churches and pleaded with them to not participate in Billy Graham’s crusades. To do so, he warned, would be “the same in principle as going back into the [American Baptist] Convention for a season.”2

In the summer of 1959, William Ashbrook (also writing for the Central Bible Quarterly) solemnly warned his readers about the “New Evangelicalism.” He thundered forth, “First, it is a movement born of compromise. Second, it is a movement nurtured on pride of intellect. Third, it is a movement growing on appeasement of evil. And finally, it is a movement doomed by the judgment of God’s holy Word.”3

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