Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, and Neo-Evangelicalism

by Mike Ratliff

15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-19 (NASB)

The following definitions are from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

e·van·gel·i·cal| ˌēvanˈjelək(ə)l | adjective of or according to the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion. of or denoting a tradition within Protestant Christianity emphasizing the authority of the Bible, personal conversion, and the doctrine of salvation by faith in the Atonement.

fun·da·men·tal·ism| ˌfəndəˈmen(t)lˌizəm | nouna form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture: there was religious pluralism there at a time when the rest of Europe was torn by fundamentalism. strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline: free-market fundamentalism. Modern Christian fundamentalism arose from American millenarian sects of the 19th century and has become associated with reaction against social and political liberalism, and with the rejection of the theory of evolution. Islamic fundamentalism appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries as a reaction to the disintegration of Islamic political and economic power, asserting that Islam is central to both state and society and advocating strict adherence to the Koran (Qur’an) and to Islamic law (sharia).

For a definition of Neo-Evangelicalism, go here.

I hope you followed that link and read the history of Neo-Evangelicalism. Why? That is the religious force that is dominating the Visible Church in our time. When I first started this blog it was at the prompting of two men, Ken Silva and Jim Bublitz. Both were seeking recruits in the Truth War, although that is not what we called it back then (2005-2006). That term came into use when Dr. John MacArthur published his book The Truth War in 2007. After it became popular later that year and into 2008 we started calling the continual battle we were in against the onslaughts from the Seeker-Sensitive and Emergent camps along with the pseudo-Evangelicals like Rob Bell and Joel Osteen, etc. by that name.

I can remember vividly during that time being accused by one of Rob Bell’s defenders that since I was a Fundamentalist, I was, therefore, not worthy of being listened to. These terms Fundamentalist and Evangelical seemed to be opened ended. No one really seemed to understand the real definition of what they meant. Last night I watched this video of a sermon by Phil Johnson. In it he gives the precise definitions of Fundamentalism from a Christian perspective then breaks down the real meaning of what a true Evangelical is. The definition I placed at the top of this post is the same one he gives in the video. I agree with that. I also agree with him that there are way too many pseudo-Christian leaders out there claiming to be Evangelicals who attempt to redefine what Evangelicalism is in order to line it up with their secular focused ministries.

One thing that I learned through my study of this and listening to Phil was how at one time Fundamentalists and Evangelicals were One. The Downgrade Controversy that Charles Spurgeon went through in removing his church from the Baptist Union in the late 1880’s was in response to those Evangelicals within the Union abandoning Fundamentalism and going after false doctrines, outright heresies, and skepticism leading to liberalism.

What we must never forget is that Jesus will never stop building His Church, but along with that there will be continual attacks upon it from our enemy. During the ministry of Athanasius of Alexandria in the 4th Century the Arian heresy came upon the Church. During the ministry of Augustine of Hippo less than a century later Pelagius started the Pelagian Heresy. This goes on and on in the history of the Church, but what we must remember is that when these evil heresies do come into the Church God always raises up the right people to counter them and His Truth always stands regardless.

Where are we now? Since Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism have become separated the new power in play now is Neo-Evangelicalsim. The link above explains it. It was meant to address the split, but ended up being the actual source of liberalization of Evangelical Seminaries and Colleges everywhere. We now have men in place in denominations like the SBC who know nothing other than what they were taught in Neo-Evangelical Seminaries. What do we do?

As I have stated on my FB page and on several posts here, I am a Southern Baptist, but that is because the Church my wife and I belong to is in that denomination. The SBC Denomination does not tell us what to do. There are most certainly liberal churches that call themselves SBC churches, but we are most certainly not like them. We have maintained that balance between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. Neither of the two sides of that coin overrides the other. We are all about the Gospel and obeying the Great Commission while at the same time being committed to living obedient lives of walking in repentance for the glory of God alone. That is what real Evangelicalism is. The Word of God is God’s Truth. It is Absolute Truth. We are saved by Grace through Faith alone as God’s gift. There is no other way to God than this. We contribute nothing to our salvation. God does it all.

Now, with that stance we can tell the Neo-Evangelicals what the truth is and there is no comprise, have a nice day. For those pseudo-Evangelicals, we call them to repent. We expose them. We warn everyone we can about them. The Fundamentalists who are all about legalism, we call them to hear the Gospel and obey it by the Grace of God. God can save anyone.

Soli Deo Gloria!