Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today's Conservative Evangelicals on the Failures of the New Evangelical Strategies

I suppose there are folks who still think that all non-Fundamentalists embrace the atrocious mid-20th century Evangelical strategy—infiltrating apostate denominations to advance evangelism and gain a hearing for orthodox faith. I'm not sure how that's possible. Men like MacArthur, Mohler, Dever, Piper, Sproul, and others have been crystal clear in their criticism of those strategies for years now.

The latest contribution to this stream comes from Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary, who appropriately acknowledges J.I. Packer's positive contributions to evangelicalism, but also addresses his failures quite directly in this video:


Don Johnson said...

And not a word about ECT?

You say these men have been crystal clear... but many of them will still embrace someone who said:

"Do we recognize that good evangelical Protestants and good Roman Catholics - good, I mean, in terms of their own church's stated ideal of spiritual life - are Christians together? We ought to recognize this, for it is true."

J. I. Packer, "Why I signed It," Christianity Today (December 12, 1994):35.

And Trueman wants to say Packer is a failure because he never wrote a systematic theology? Wow!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Lou Martuneac said...


Good and valid point you've raised.



Ben said...

Don and Lou,

I suppose I should thank you more than argue with you. You've made the point of my post more effectively than I ever could have.

Don, I hope your error is that you didn't listen carefully to Trueman's words, rather than that you are deliberately distorting them. Without question, Trueman is more critical of Packer's loyalty (in contrast to Lloyd-Jones) to Anglicanism than of his failure to write a systematic theology. Do you remember that part?

I'm talking about when he argued that Packer propped up a "mushy, non-ecclesiastical evangelicalism" on the grounds that Anglicanism was "the best boat to fish from." Trueman suggested that this propping up contributed both to Anglicanism's ongoing prominence and to its slide into non-confessionalism.

Nathan Gearhart said...


Very interesting video. I look forward to reading this book. I heard what Trueman said. I still wish he had specifically mentioned ECT. Saying Packer fostered "mushy non-ecclesiastical evangelicalism" seems to fall short of saying he was disobedient to the example of Paul in Gal 1:8-9, you know? Maybe something like--"Packer failed because he extended Christian fellowship to men who deny the gospel."

I'm glad to see Trueman going as far as he has. It certainly is better than joining Packer in his error. But if there's bad, good, better, and best, I guess I'd have to say, hmm, well--that's better than Packer's bad. Is it best?

Lou Martuneac said...


You wrote, "Packer failed because he extended Christian fellowship to men who deny the gospel."

Thanks for further clarifying the issue.


Ben said...


Of course you're right that there's better. Just as there's a better articulation of fundamentalism and separatism than you and I have so often heard here and there.

I'm sure it's no surprise to you that the fundamentalists who better articulate historic fundamentalism, and the evangelicals who better articulate historic evangelicalism have far more in common with each other than with the members of their own "camps." And I'm sure you've heard leaders, perhaps on both sides, say precisely the same thing. I know I have.