American Evangelicals: A Contemporary History of A by Barry Hankins

By Barry Hankins

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Modernist preacher Henry Ward Beecher put it best when he said that the oaks of civilization had evolved over time. ”8 The implication of such a statement was that the Bible represented the acorn, or seed, from which grew the fully evolved oak tree of Christianity in the late nineteenth century. Religious adaptation to evolutionary development accounted largely for the idea of progress that virtually all western European and American intellectuals adopted in the nineteenth century. Modernist theologians were by no means unusual among academics in their belief that civilization was progressing toward virtual utopia.

Neoevangelicals were those who wanted to retain an emphasis on the fundamentals of the faith while presenting an intellectually compelling case for a nonseparatist, culturally engaged gospel. The Rise of Neoevangelicalism Among a handful of events that were instrumental in the development of neoevangelicalism was the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942. The NAE was modeled after the New England Fellowship (NEF), a regional organization of evangelicals led by J. Elwin Wright.

Evangelicals believed that the threat of modernism could be resisted and battles averted if everyone could just agree on a baseline of belief beyond which no orthodox Protestant would be allowed to go. The question was simply, What are the fundamentals of the faith? The term “fundamental” was not widely used in 1910, and the five points would not become formalized as “fundamentals” until the 1920s. ” From 1910 to 30 Chapter Two 1915 there appeared in print twelve paperback pamphlet volumes known collectively as The Fundamentals of the Faith.

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