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Ockenga and the new science

Herescope has been examining the significance of a historical moment in 1979 when evangelical leaders opened the door to dialogue with a noted occultist, Willis Harman at a Consultation about the future. Harman had proposed a new psychic science. To put this event in context, it is necessary to go back and take a look at the formation of Neo-Evangelicalism. Few modern Christians know this history. It explains how heresy has flooded the church.

Dr. Harold John Ockenga has been called “The Father of New Evangelicalicalism.” He coined the term “neo-evangelical,” which means “new evangelical.” He explained this in the Foreword to Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book, The Battle for the Bible (1976):

“Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals. . . It differed from fundamentalism in its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas of life . . . .

“Neo-evangelicals emphasized the restatement of Christian theology in accordance with the need of the time, the reengagement in the theological debate, the recapture of denominational leadership, and the reexamination of theological problems such as the antiquity of man, the universality of the flood, God’s method of creation, and others.” [emphases added]

Why is this significant? Because 29 years later, there were observable fruits from the philosophy of engaging in “theological dialogue.” Dr. H.J. Ockenga was present at the first Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns in 1977 in the capacity of an official responder to an address entitled “The Economy and Resources” by E.V. Newland, an executive of Royal Dutch Shell Corporation. Mr. Newland spoke at length about the world’s overpopulation “problem,” a key feature of the Club of Rome reports. He mentioned China’s “compulsory systems” of birth control (coercive abortions) in a morally neutral fashion. Dr. Ockenga’s response was not to debate, nor stand for what was biblically right, but rather to dialogue inclusively: “We have to think through, it seems to me, in these areas in the light of the great philosophies of the world.” (Evangelicals Face the Future, p. 74) [emphasis added]

The Neo-Evangelical Science

A good refutation of Ockenga’s neo-evangelical philosophy can be found in a book entitled The New Neutralism II by John E. Ashbrook [http://www.hereistand.com/homepage.htm]. Commenting on Ockenga’s definitions of neo-evangelical (quoted above) Ashbrook observes,

“Re-entering the theological dialogue with modernism was an important cause to new evangelicalism. Notice that it is described as ‘dialogue,’ not debate. A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position.” (p. 7)

The open door to new “science” and new philosophies can be seen in Ockenga’s 4th goal of neo-evangelicalism, which was a “reexamination of theological problems such as the antiguity of man, the universality of the Flood, God’s method of creation and others.” Ashbrook calls it “the most destructive compromise of all.”

“The Bible declares that God did these things in a certain way. Man cannot accept that at face value, because he has never seen creation in seven days or a universal flood. To reexamine what God has told us He did is to subject God’s Word to the judgment of science. If a man accepts God’s sovereignty he needs no reexamination. On the other hand, if a man accepts only science he must reexamine, reexamine and reexamine. This reexamination of Biblical truth by worldly scientists has had a deadly effect. . . . From its inception new evangelicalism has been determined to impress the world with its intellect. It has craved the respect of academia. It has determined to earn plaudits at the fountainheads of secular learning.” (Ibid, p. 8)

The Truth

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 10,11)

“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:20,21)

More tomorrow!