June 5, 2014

Archival Series: “Another Look at the New Evangelicalism,” Dr. George Houghton

At Brother George Zeller’s site I perused his series on Understanding New (neo) Evangelicalism with multiple submissions under that heading. Among the submissions is an article Brother Zeller includes written by Dr. George G. Houghton, Th.D. (Senior Professor, Faith Baptist Bible College), which appears under the sub-heading, 4) New Evangelicalism in the Twenty-First Century. I will reproduce Dr. Houghton’s 2002 article without editing.

As you read, however, see how many of the trends Dr. Houghton notes you can identify as evident and in some cases more pervasive today among the so-called “
conservative” evangelicals than they were in the eight years since this article’s original publication. Trends such as: CCM, ecumenism, challenges to a young earth creationism and Charismatic theology. See if you can, furthermore, recognize how many of these disturbing trends, identified by Dr. Houghton, or the openness to and tolerance of these trends have made their way into Fundamentalist circles particularly among the so-called “Young” Fundamentalists, aka., the “Emerging Middle.” See if you can recognize what Dr. Ernest Pickering warned of in The Tragedy of Compromise,* which is the “new” wave New Evangelicalism making inroads into Fundamentalist circles. This trend is due in large part due to an unchecked affinity, among certain men in fundamental circles, for the so-called conservative evangelicalism.

The following is excerpted from Dr. George Houghton's article entitled, “Another Look at the New Evangelicalism
(Faith Pulpit, May/June 2002, a Faith Baptist Theological Seminary publication)

Today, as we are now in the twenty-first century, and a few generations separate us from the beginnings of the new evangelicalism, there are some from within fundamentalist circles who are saying, “New evangelicalism was at one time a reality, but today it is non-existent (or at least, not a formidable foe any longer).” Is this really accurate? The answer to that is an emphatic, “No!” The issue is not the term “new evangelicalism.” Terms come and go. The question is, “Are the issues and attitudes raised by the new evangelicalism gone?” And, again, the answer is an emphatic “No!”

This is seen today in several areas.

(1) The rapid rise of the church marketing movement from the early 1990s to the present with its emphasis upon relationships and experience, drama and contemporary music, to reach and hold people. The Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, has a Willow Creek Association of many other churches (into the hundreds) which are following the Willow Creek model.

(2) The positive response of evangelicals to the programs and ministry of Robert Schuller and his Crystal Cathedral.

(3) The broad acceptance (or at least toleration) of the Contemporary Christian Music movement and rejection of fundamentalism’s personal separation standards, so that Charisma magazine (April 1997, 26ff.) could write that “British Christians Use Techno-Dance to Reach Youth.” Their article talked about alternative worship services, evangelistic night clubs and “a revolutionary Christian dance movement.” In describing this, the article said “strobe lighting, smoke effects, DJs, dancers, Celtic music and tribal rhythms were served up for this worship feast. The trend can be found everywhere.”

(4) The influence of the apologetic writings and lecturing of Dr. Hugh Ross, who teaches that the earth is billions of years old, and began with a “big bang,” that death and degeneration existed in the beginning and have continued for billions of years, and that neither the fall to sin nor the flood resulted in significant physical changes in nature.

(5) The positive attitude of many evangelicals toward the charismatic movement, especially as it is seen in the signs-and-wonders movement.

(6) The acceptance of religious teachers and institutions which have not held the line on belief in eternal punishment. Fuller Seminary modified its doctrinal statement in this area, and individuals like Clark Pinnock have opened the door to people hearing the gospel after death and having a chance to respond positively, or hell being viewed as annihilation.

(7) The hearing being given in evangelical circles to “the openness of God” concept which rejects His absolute foreknowledge, among other things.

(8) The toleration by some evangelicals—especially in academic settings—of deviant sexual lifestyles, particularly homosexuality.

(9) The willingness of evangelical publishers to publish works which allow for aspects of higher critical views of the Bible, including redaction criticism, in interpreting the life of Christ in the Gospel accounts.

(10) The broad acceptance of the Promise-Keepers movement, even though it tolerates working with Roman Catholics and has strong charismatic overtones.

(11) The willingness of major evangelical leaders to sign their names to the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document, and still others to sign the later statement entitled “The Gift of Salvation.” While recognizing traditional differences (including sacramentalism), there is the willingness to call each other “brothers in Christ.”

(12) The belief by some evangelicals that the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, is an evangelical.

If those attitudes and issues do not seem to be of such concern today, it is only because the new evangelical position has become mainstreamed into many Bible-believing circles to the extent that speaking against them puts one in a rather small minority. Issues such as ecumenical evangelism are still very significant today, but we hear little about them because many whose voices might at one time have spoken out in opposition have been quieted by a changed or at least a relaxed position. The new evangelical attitude has become so prevalent that one may be tempted to tolerate it as inevitable and normal.

Although addressing doctrinal and positional issues is not all that Christian leaders should be doing, it is one such important thing (note Paul's admonition to the Christian leaders in Ephesus [Acts 20:25 -31] and Jude's comments in his brief letter [Jude 3-5, 7-21]). Specific terms and titles may change, but there are always those from without and from within about whom the warning alarm needs to be sounded. This is biblical militancy. The issues and attitudes expressed by leaders within the new evangelicalism over the last 50 years are still important enough for biblical fundamentalists to address today. God's people must be informed and educated; they need to know where we as contemporary Christian leaders stand on these very significant topics. (bold added)
(Originally appeared March, 2010)
Editor’s Note:
The final two paragraphs by Dr. Houghton predates and likewise warns against what we have read from Dr. Peter Masters in his June 2009 article The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness. “
The ministry of warning is killed off, so that every -error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked” in regard to the disturbing trends of the conservative evangelicals. Today we are witnessing among some elder self-described separatists in Fundamentalist circles the loss of biblical militancy to the harm of the cause of Christ.

Are We Recognizing the "New" New Evangelicalism? For example,
The basic problem is this: Many fundamentalists, when speaking of the New Evangelicalism, are referring to the original positions and writings of the early founders of New Evangelicalism such as Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga. They repudiate heartily the thoughts of these earlier leaders, but either in ignorance or willingly they fail to recognize the updated version, the “new” New Evangelicalism. It is always safer to berate the teachings of those historically farther removed than of those who are currently afflicting the church. (Dr. Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise, p. 159)


  1. Thanks Lou, for posting this article. Standing for the Truth militantly is always the right thing to do regardless of others. This has been shown repeatedly in the Scriptures and throughout history. Far too many are unwilling to be a part of the faithful 'remnant" and instead acquiesce and follow the big tent with all its frivolity and fluff.

    1. Thanks for that Brian. Noteworthy and predictably in the years since the article was written (2002) and even since I published it here over 4 years ago, both so-called "conservative" evangelicals, a significant number of men who circulate in IFB, and certain schools have gone well down the road toward or into New evangelicalism.

      We can read through Dr. Houghton's 12 points and in most a name, church or school comes to mind that fits the description that in 2002 was not yet at that point. For example #10- "The broad acceptance of the Promise-Keepers movement, even though it tolerates working with Roman Catholics and has strong charismatic overtones." Al Mohler (Manhattan Declaration: 1st cousin to PK) and Northland International University acceptance of charismatic ministries.

      Thanks again,


  2. Great reminder about the necessity of "trying the spirits, whether they be of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (I John 4:1) Those who espouse New Calvinism reject this Biblical truth in favor of tolerance and acceptance of all those who are "Gospel-Driven."

    Thank you for the link to Dr. Houghton's article.

    1. Ps. Brainard:
      Thanks for sharing your comment here. For years I have been documenting examples from a wide range of men in both the so-called “conservative) evangelical camp (Mohler, Dever, MacArthur) and some who still circulate in Fundamental Baptist circles (Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, et.al.) who tolerate, allow for, excuse or ignore a great many issues for a “Gospel (Lordship Salvation) Driven” fellowship.