Monday, November 19, 2007

Book Review—Promise Unfulfilled | A Summary

Andrew David Naselli @ reviewed: McCune, Rolland D. Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism. Greenville, S.C.: Ambassador International, 2004. Hardcover, xvii + 398 pp. $24.99.

ISBNs: 1932307311 / 9781932307313

Andy noted:

Part 1. “Historical Antecedents” (pp. 1–26)

Part 2. “The Formation of the New Evangelicalism” (pp. 27–63) begins with “four crucial issues”:

  • (1) Unity/separation: The National Association of Evangelicals began in 1942 and declined to merge with Carl McIntire’s American Council of Christian Churches.
  • (2) Social concern: Carl Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947) decried “the lack of social concern in the fundamentalist movement of which he considered himself a part” (p. 34).
  • (3) Scholarship/intellectualism: Fuller Theological Seminary began in 1947, partly as a reaction to fundamentalists who “simply were not up to par intellectually” (p. 38).
  • (4) Evangelism: Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusades from 1949 to 1957 came to a head at the 1957 New York Crusade, which “finally made the two camps irreconcilable” (p. 45) because of Graham’s new and compromising policies on both sponsorship and convert referrals. “Graham brought an end to evangelical unity” (p. 55).

Eight other factors contributed to Evangelicalism’s formation:

  • (1) Vernon Grounds’ “The Nature of Evangelicalism” in Eternity (Feb. 1956);
  • (2) Christianity Today, created in 1956;
  • (3) “Is Evangelical Theology Changing?”, a symposium in Christian Life (March 1956);
  • (4) Harold Ockenga’s news release announcing Evangelicalism’s change of strategy from separation to infiltration (Dec. 8, 1957);
  • (5) Robert O. Ferm’s 100-page Cooperative Evangelism: Is Billy Graham Right or Wrong? (1958);
  • (6) Edward Carnell’s The Case for Orthodox Theology (1959);
  • (7) Donald Grey Barnhouse’s support of Evangelicalism from 1953 until his death in 1960; and
  • (8) articles by evangelicals published in the liberal Christian Century.

Part 3. “Ecumenism” (pp. 65–123)

Part 4. “Ecclesiastical Separation” (pp. 125–54) explains arguments for non-separatism (pragmatism, infiltration, apostasy, and the impossibility of a pure church), refutes them, and explains four “categories of separation”:

  • (1) Christians must separate from heresy, which denies what is essential to Christianity (Acts 20:28–30; Rom. 16:17–18; 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:8–9; Phil. 1:15–18; 1 Tim. 6:3–5; Titus 1:3; 2 John 9–11; Rev. 2:14–15).
  • (2) Christians must avoid unequal alliances by separating from non-Christians in spheres such as worship, marriage, and ministry (2 Cor. 6:14–7:1).
  • (3) Christians must separate from organized apostasy, which includes belonging to apostate denominations or associations, giving them money, speaking for them, and sponsoring them (Rev. 18:4; cf. Isa. 52:11; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 9, 45; 2 Cor. 6:17).
  • (4) Christians must separate from disobedient Christians (2 Thess. 3:6–15; cf. Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 1:20; 5:22). This fourth category is unique to Fundamentalism and is known as “secondary separation,” which “is the refusal to cooperate with erring and disobedient Christians who do not adhere to primary separation and other vital doctrines” (p. 146). “Ecclesiastical separation does not really admit of ‘degrees.’ [n. 26: “Bob Jones, “Scriptural Separation: ‘First and Second Degree.’”] Separation is directed to the other person because of his deviations from Scripture in whatever ways he may express them. If the erring brother runs with the wrong crowd, separation at this point is from him as well as from the unbiblical company he is keeping. The reason for separating may well involve someone’s unscriptural involvements, but in reality this is no more ‘secondary’ than a ‘primary’ separation from apostasy” (p. 147).

Part 5. “The Bible and Authority” (pp. 155–94)

Part 6. “Apologetics” (pp. 195–228)

Part 7. “Social Involvement” (pp. 229–74)

Part 8. “Doctrinal Storms” (pp. 275–308)

Part 9. The “Conclusion” (pp. 309–60)

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