Kevin Bauder, President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, writes in his In The Nick of Time, about the separation issue today being fought between some Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals. This is a current aspect of separation being discussed by concerned fundamentalists at Fundamentally Reformed.
Who are some leading conservative evangelicals according to Bauder?
John Piper, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Bruce Ware, Bryan Chapell, Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, Al Mohler, Tim Keller, John D. Hannah, Ed Welch, Ligon Duncan, Tom Nettles, C. J. Mahaney, Norman Geisler, and R. C. Sproul.
Some of the CE organizations are: Together for the Gospel, the Gospel Coalition, the Master’s Seminary, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, and Ligonier Ministries.
What do these men have in common?
Their commitment to defend the gospel. This is where Historic Fundamentalism started in the 1920s and 30s in the Modernist/Fundamentalist Controversy.
What are some of the differences between Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals?
1. Conservative evangelicals are anti-dispensational. Bauder says CE is less vitriolic than the anti-Calvinism of some Fundamentalists. There is, however, plenty of vitriolism on both sides. Some CE doubt if dispensationalists are believers.
2. CE is tolerate of Third-Wave charismatic theology.
3. CE accommodate a more contemporary version of popular culture. The weakness of some Fundamentalists is to separate so from far from culture to never impact the people for whom Jesus died.
4. CE disagree about what to do with Christian leaders who make common cause with apostates.
Right wing Fundamentalists declare that CE are new evangelicals. New evangelicals, however, are committed to a policy of re-infiltrating ecclesiastical organizations captured by apostates. Chuck Colson with his leadership in producing Evangelicals and Catholics Together and The Manhatten Declaration represents new evangelicalism. CE reject this positions and attitude.
CE defend a different set of doctrines than the some Fundamentalists. The right wing Fundamentalists fight over the King James Version and anti-Calvinism. Right wing Fundamentalists are battling over versions, dress, and music. CE battle Open Theism, evangelical feminism, opponents of inerrancy, the New Perspective of Paul and the Emergent Church.
Some Fundamentalists insist that CE are the enemy.
More and more Fundamentalists are not entering into full cooperation with CE but they are working together in certain targeted areas. Bauder documents:
One seminary recently hosted John D. Hannah for a lecture series, and another hosted Ed Welch. A Fundamentalist mission agency brought in John Piper to challenge its missionaries. A leader who is a Fundamentalist pastor and seminary president has written for a conservative evangelical periodical. A very straight-laced Bible college sent its students to T4G. One elder statesman of Fundamentalism chose to preach in the chapel of a conservative evangelical seminary. Other Fundamentalist schools are slated to host Michael Vlach from Master’s Seminary and Mark Dever from Capital Hill Baptist Church. These steps are being taken, not by disaffected young Fundamentalists, but by the older generation of leadership within the mainstream of the Fundamentalist movement.
Bauder adds: These leaders are neither abandoning Fundamentalism nor embracing conservative evangelicalism. They are simply recognizing that the Fundamentalist label is no guarantee of doctrinal fidelity. They are aware that historic, mainstream Fundamentalism has more in common with conservative evangelicals than it does with many who wear the Fundamentalist label.
The group, Bauder calls the hyper-fundamentalist Right, reject these associations as compromise.
What is Kevin Bauder’s position?
We Fundamentalists may not wish to identify with everything that conservative evangelicals say and do. To name these men as neo-evangelicals, nonetheless, is entirely unwarranted. To treat them like enemies or even opponents is to demonize the very people who are the foremost defenders of the gospel today. We do not have to agree in every detail to recognize the value of what they do.
If we did not have conservative evangelicals to guard the borders, the real enemy would have invaded our camp long ago. Fundamentalism has exhibited a remarkable freedom from Open Theism, evangelical feminism, New Perspective theology, and other present-day threats to the gospel. The reason is not that Fundamentalists have kept the enemy at bay. The reason is that other thinkers—mainly conservative evangelicals—have carried the battle to the enemy. Conservative evangelicals are the heavy artillery, under the shelter of whose barrage Fundamentalists have been able to find some measure of theological safety.
So let’s get clear on this.
Conservative evangelicals are not our enemies. They are not our opponents. Conservative evangelicals have proven themselves to be allies and even leaders in the defense of the faith.
If we attack conservative evangelicals, then we attack the defense of the faith. We attack indirectly the thing that we hold most dear, namely, the gospel itself, for that is what they are defending. We should not wish these brothers to falter or to grow feeble, but rather to flourish. We must do nothing to weaken their hand in the face of the enemies of the gospel.
What is your position in this left to right spectrum? Admittedly there is overlap in Bauder’s labels. Most people do not fit neatly into a single category.