Friday, August 07, 2009

"I frankly don't care if neo-evangelicalism dies as a movement. Frankly, I hope it does—the sooner, the better."

From Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs.

This is old news, I know, but since most of you probably still know 8 or 10 people who persist in calling John MacArthur a neo-evangelical, just thought you might like to know.

Or am I talking to you? Kent? Don?

18 comments:

Don Johnson said...

Since you called...

I would say that as a movement neo-evangelicalism has finished moving.

But as a philosophy, I think it is alive and well in the minds of most evangelicals. They may not agree with everything BG et al did, but they agree that the break with Fundamentalists was a good thing. JI Packer, in his book Fundamentalism and the Word of God, articulated the view that fundamentalism was good to put a check to modernism but had outlived its purpose and could be discarded.

I don't know that any conservative evangelicals have really abandoned this view of fundamentalism. As I see it, those ideas are the root ideas of neo-evangelicalism.

FWIW

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Ben,

I don't remember recently calling MacArthur or Johnson a neo-evangelical. I call them conservative evangelicals. I think that neo-evangelical has become a kind of non-term now. A month or so ago, I was reading the Wikipedia post about evangelical and neo-evangelical, and whoever wrote it recognizes this change in terminology too.

I think my evaluation of MacArthur, who I do have respect for, is a scriptural one, based on scriptural principles, which is how I hope I evaluate you too, Ben. We speak as the oracles of God. I do believe terms can give some historical context and tell us where someone is in his belief and practice. That's what they are good for, in my opinion.

Here's what is interesting about Phil's statement (and I had read him before I came here). I come here by scrolling through SI's blogroll to see what's interesting. Grace Community is uber-involved in FADS just like the neos that they criticize. They are gigantic big "H", Hypocrites on fads. It really is that their fads are acceptable (Resolved Conference, etc.) and the evangelical fads are not.

If you bring this up to them, they bully you and put you down with the same kind of fadish speaking, dude (by fifty-some year old men). You can't have a decent conversation with them when you are critical. They don't give you due process. Interesting, huh? I've thought about writing on my blog about how much they remind me of fundamentalists.

He says he wants embarrassing neo-evangelicalism to die. That's great. I say, look in the mirror. And I say that having some respect for Phil. I do. Frank, that's another story.

Nathan said...

Kent said "Grace Community is uber-involved in FADS just like the neos that they criticize."

LOL!!!!!!!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Nathan, I'll write some time on the fads of Grace Community Church, but until then, you are case in point with your laughter.

Let me give you one example though. Phil is talking about the downfall of evangelicalism in part because of fads and he illustrates it with women in underwear and bras right at the top of the article. If you criticize him on that, he'll defend himself, mock you, as well as his minions. For instance, he would say those are "track suits." Is this conduct becoming the gospel?

James Kime said...

Kent, are you saying a conference is now a FAD? I personally have never and will never attend "resolved" or whatever "fad" you are referring to, mainly because those big names never feel the need to come to Florida.

James Kime said...

Btw, thanks for the post Ben. Phil is right about this. However, if this term/movement dies, then alot of Fundy preachers and professors will run out of material faster than usual. One wonders if they need that movement to exist to give them more reason to rally the troops.

Also Kent, is it becoming of the gospel to redefine clothing terms to impugn others? I actually know the answer.

Nathan said...

Sorry Kent, as a member of Grace Community, it is really difficult for me to take someone seriously who honestly thinks my church is given over to fads and is always trying to jump on the evangelicalism bandwagon. Would you consider blogging a fad? How about computers?

Also...I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about when you mention Phil Johnson illustrating some point with women in bras and underwear at the top of his article.

Anonymous said...

Kent,

You have to understand that Grace Community church has had the same "everything" for like the last 40 years. Same preacher....same pulpit....Same commitment to the Scriptures.....Same commitment to expositional teaching....responsible theology....church discipline....discipleship.....God-centered evangelism.....same music guy....same music (with the exception of what's in the youth departments). I think they even have the same carpet and furniture....So compared to many "Type A" fundamentalist churches that have not changed in 100 years....I suppose you could call Grace Community's 40 years of stability a fad??? Of course one guys century old "stability" might be someone else's dead orthodoxy.

I understand Nathan's confusion. I share it.

Prayerful you have enough power out there in California.

Straight Ahead!

Joel

Ben said...

Don,

Thanks, I'll take that as a "yes."

Kent,

You wrote:

"He says he wants embarrassing neo-evangelicalism to die. That's great. I say, look in the mirror."

So Phil Johnson, at least, is a neo-evangelical. But maybe not MacArthur? Am I following you? Thanks, I was just checking.

Oh, and how is MacArthur not a neo-evangelical now if he was earlier?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Ben,

I think that neo-evangelical, at least as I understand it, was the term used to describe a particular category of evangelicals. Now all evangelicals seem to be in that category. I think it is simply an evolving or devolving terminology issue. That's even how Wikipedia describes it.

And I haven't actually said that either John or Phil are neo-evangelicals. I've called them conservative evangelicals. They would use worse terminology for me and I don't think anyone here would be offended. I wonder why that is? It would be an interesting explanation. Of course, Phil seems to be even separating himself from the evangelical term. I'm not offended by that, but do you see how terms can change in their designations?

James,

I hope I didn't offend you, but I specifically mentioned their Resolved Conference. Does anyone here need for me to explain why I mentioned that? I don't mind, but I thought everyone was up to speed on that.

Nathan,

I guess you have no problem with the laughter answer. Was that holy laughter or some other kind? I'm serious about the whole, "I cracked up," or some answer like that.

I've been alive long enough to have been able to watch what has happened there at Grace and see what they do. I didn't give an all out presentation, but it isn't blogging that's the issue, obviously, or computers versus electric typewriters. I have a hard time that you are even serious with that answer, Nathan. I am talking about the music and dress and some of the means by which they attempt to market the conference. Those are fads. This is the same evaluation that Peter Masters had about it, as well as Ian Murray in the MacArthur bio. On the top of the article that Ben her linked to (did you look), there was a picture of a women's track team in bra-like tops and panty-like bottoms. Are those something that Christianity has accepted as modest, or is that something going with the times that is a fad? Laughter won't due as an answer. If we are going to criticize Driscoll's smut speech, then we're saying that criticizing smut is acceptable.

By the way, Joel, criticizing MacArthur doesn't mean I don't love him. I do love him. Just because I don't join with him endeavors doesn't mean that I don't love him. It means I do love him. Please don't interpret my criticism as a lack of love for him and Phil.

Nathan said...

Kent,

If the picture that Phil linked to brought impure thoughts to your mind then I feel very bad for you because you will never be able to leave the confines of your house. There is nothing even remotely sexual about that photo at all.

I really did laugh out loud when I read what you put about Grace Church being on the front lines of every evangelical fad. It was funny! Really funny

Kent Brandenburg said...

Nathan,

For the depth of material that John MacArthur puts out, I wonder sometimes when I'm talking to those closely affiliated with him. This isn't a matter of winning an argument. This is about God, Nathan, not about who is right and wrong.

There is a scriptural standard for nakedness. When Adam and Eve had on their fig leaf outfits, their covering still wasn't suitable related to their nakedness. God put on more out of skins. Why was this when there wasn't any other person around to fall because of lust? Do you really need this explained to you? That's what I've got to do when you give the inane response you did, which judges that my problem with the picture is that it causes me lust. It violates a scriptural understanding of modesty, Nathan. That relates to God. "Shamefacedness" in 1 Timothy 2:9 relates to God as a standard in women's dress.

If Mark Driscoll uses smutty speech, is that a matter of only what it might cause for his hearers or does that display conduct unbecoming of the gospel? In the same way, a smutty picture communicates something that does not adorn the gospel. It is the same thing, Nathan. It doesn't matter whether anyone lusts after it or not. But there could be a weaker sister who takes that as the wrong example of how to dress. What would you think of that? If we're spiritual leaders, we should be modeling the right example of dress.

Am I the only one that sees this? Or is this an area that men aren't sure about their belief? Or they're afraid that if they bring it up, they'll be criticized like Nathan is criticizing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing, Nathan. With the particular subject matter I brought up, and with me not joking at all, laughter is inappropriate and disrespectful. It says something about you that you would say it in the first place and it says even more that you that you can't retract it. I've got substantive basis for my comment. You should be asking what the basis is. That would be the appropriate scriptural response from anyone. And that doesn't mean that I think it is wrong to laugh.

James Kime said...

Kent, this is a bit off topic at this point I think.

If you could, please send me whatever information you have on the resolved conference. Not being able to travel to these types of conferences typically causes me to ignore them. I honestly don't know much about it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

James,

Click on this and you'll get a taste of the Resolved Conference from Grace Community Church:

http://www.resolved.org/media/photos/2009/friday/index.htm

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ben,

I see this has taken a life of its own after my early comment. And I see I didn't read your question carefully enough. Sorry about that. Comes from reading blogs at light speed (well... not actually...)

Anyway, for MacArthur, I'd say the label still fits in some ways. I think he would still agree with Packer and though he wouldn't approve of all Graham's doings, he still maintains that connection to some extent (writing in Decision magazine, preaching at the Cove) and thus gives the appearance of some agreement.

Hope that clarifies a bit.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ben said...

Don,

MacArthur would agree with Packer on what? The atonement? The inspiration and authority of Scripture? I'm guessing yeah.

Surely you're not one of those people who claims that MacArthur signed ECT or some fabricated whopper like that one I've heard before.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ben,

I think MacArthur would agree in general with Packer's book "Fundamentalism and the Word of God", in which Packer says the fundamentalists were useful for their time (fundamentalist-modernist controversy) but are no longer needed and a new approach is needed. He wrote this book about 1957 I think, right at the height of the new-evangelicalism, applauding the changes.

So I think MacArthur would at least in general think that what the new-evangelicals did was a needed thing, although he might say that they went too far. But, still, I think that most conservative evangelicals think that what was done in the 50s/60s was a needed corrective. I believe I have heard Dever say as much in one of the interviews (maybe the Minnick one?) or some other place where I listened to him talking about it. Sorry I can't recall exactly. Perhaps you could check with him on that question: do you think that the Graham/Christianity Today/Fuller Seminary move of the 50s/60s offered a needed corrective to fundamentalism and as such was a good thing?

That's not to say that I think the CE men are endorsing everything that evangelicalism has become as a result of the new evangelicalism, but I get the impression that they think all in all new evangelicalism wasn't entirely a bad thing and in many ways was a good thing.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3