Saturday, March 14, 2009

Phil R Johnson: What is an Evangelical?

Phil R. Johnson has preached an excellent sermon on this topic at the Shepherd Conference, which can be downloaded here.

This is an interesting excerpt:

Sometimes when I feel it's necessary to distance myself from the mixed multitude of the contemporary evangelical movement, I actually like to refer to myself as a Paleoevangelical. That's a label that's not likely to be commandeered anytime soon by some postmodernized, emergentized religious hack. No neo-orthodox church leader or Christianity Today editor would wear that label—"Paleoevangelical." That's what I am—a Paleoevangelical, and I'm firmly fixed in that position.

[HT: Paleoevangelical]

This term "paleoevangelical" has been in my mind for some time. Interesting term here. I guess I will use it as a substitute for biblical Evangelicalism from now on, seeing as how the term "Evangelicalism" is now mistaken to mean "New Evangelicalism".

As with regards to Evangelicalism proper, here is an excerpt:

The parting of ways between evangelicals and fundamentalists [in the early mid 20th century, just before the emergence of Neo-Evangelicalism] weakened and impoverished both groups. Evangelicals tended to be uncomfortable with the nonstop militancy of the fundamentalists; fundamentalists thought the evangelicals' desire to be as positive as possible was a sign of weakness and compromise. The truth is that both temperaments were valid, and each side's unique contribution was needed in almost equal measure.

The two groups moved steadily further apart for some 40 years or longer. Deprived of so much evangelical warmth, the fundamentalists grew increasingly contentious. And deprived of so much fundamentalist conviction, the evangelicals grew increasingly willing to compromise. Anything and everything eventually became negotiable.

The wider the rift grew, the more eager to fight the fundamentalists became, the more willing to compromise the evangelicals were. Each side, reacting badly to the temperament of the other, unwittingly exaggerated their own faults.

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