Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because Scripture says, “He Knew Her Not…Until.”


Celibate Roman Catholic clerics had a low regard for sexual relations within marriage and taught that Mary, their spotless “Queen of Heaven,” was a perpetual virgin.

“The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity* but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.” – CCC 499.

Protestants counter by pointing to Matthew 1:25:

“but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.”

The verse indicates Mary and Joseph had normal marital sexual relations after Jesus was born. Broussard attempts to refute the Protestant interpretation with three rebuttals:

(1) Broussard posits that the word “until” (Greek – heōs) doesn’t necessarily signal a change in future status. As an illustration, Broussard offers the saying of one friend to another, “Be safe until I see you again.” The speaker in that case isn’t implying that his friend should be unsafe after they meet again.

(2) Broussard provides examples in Scripture where heōs – “until” or “to” – is used to indicate a select period of time without reference to change in the future, such as 1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 3:15.

(3) Broussard argues that, framed in context with preceding verses, Matthew is “trying to persuade his audience (in Matthew 1:25) that Jesus’ conception and birth were miraculous, not to tell us what Mary did afterward” (p. 185).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Did you catch Broussard’s argumentation? He’s claiming that, paraphrasing Matthew 1:25, “Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus” only means that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant, and doesn’t convey that he had sex with her afterwards.

We fully understand that heōs – “until” or “to” – doesn’t always indicate/signal a change in future status. But in the case of Matthew 1:25, the clearest interpretation is that Joseph and Mary began normal, marital relations after Mary gave birth to Jesus. Broussard’s argument that “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son” connotes the same lack of future change as “Be safe until I see you again” is lexical subterfuge.

Are there ANY Bible verses that either explicitly or implicitly teach that Mary was a perpetual virgin? No, there are not. The notion is based solely on Catholic tradition. We’ve previously discussed that the Bible teaches Jesus had multiple half-siblings. See here.

The Roman Catholic church’s low regard for natural sexual relations within marriage meant that Mary, the chaste and spotless Queen of Heaven, could never have been “soiled” by her husband. In contrast to Catholicism, the Bible honors the sexual union of husband and wife. The apostle Paul wrote under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit that married believers ought not to withhold themselves from each other as the Roman church claims Mary and Joseph did.

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – 1 Corinthians 7:5

*Included in the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the not-widely-known assertion that as she was giving birth to baby Jesus, He miraculously passed through her hymen without rupturing it, thus preserving her “virginal integrity.”

Is the perpetual virginity of Mary biblical?

What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?

Throwback Thursday: Turn! Turn! Turn! Roger McGuinn and Jesus

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 24, 2016 and has been revised.


As a young teen, I became a huge fan of the rock group, Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). I was such a dedicated admirer that I even began exploring the back-catalogs of the members’ previous bands, including David Crosby’s stint with the Byrds. I eventually became a bigger fan of the Byrds than CS&N.

The Byrds came together in 1964 with Jim McGuinn on lead guitar and vocals, Gene Clark on vocals, David Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Hillman on bass, and Michael Clarke on drums. They were all folk musicians who had seen the writing on the wall with the rising tide of Beatlemania and attempted to make the switch to rock ‘n’ roll. Their resulting sound, with the instantly-identifiable, jingle-jangle of McGuinn’s Rickenbacker twelve-string electric guitar and Crosby’s high vocal harmonies, was a unique blend of folk and rock; a synthesis of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

The Byrds’ first two albums were wildly successful and influential, but the band’s popularity gradually waned as rock music began drifting toward a “heavier” sound. Over the years, band members came and went and by 1968, McGuinn (pronounced mik-gwin) remained as the only founding member. But McGuinn and his hired hands continued to release albums and tour as the Byrds until 1973 when he disbanded the group to begin his solo career.

At the peak of the Byrd’s popularity, McGuinn, a former Roman Catholic, began dabbling in Subud, a form of Eastern religiosity, and subsequently changed his first name from Jim to Roger in 1967 as part of his initiation. The Byrds’ recorded repertoire included a large number of songs with a spiritual theme, which no doubt reflected McGuinn’s restless spiritual search: Turn! Turn! Turn!, 5D, I Am A Pilgrim, The Christian Life, Oil in My Lamp, Jesus Is Just Alright, Glory Glory, and Farther Along.

Drugs were a staple of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and McGuinn was a regular imbiber. By 1977, heavy drug use had brought McGuinn to the lowest point in his life. Elvis Presley’s drug-induced death in August of that year was a wake up call. McGuinn thought to himself, “That could have easily been me.” The Holy Spirit was working in McGuinn’s life and after talking with some Christian friends, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Being a huge Byrds fan at the time (and currently still), I thought McGuinn’s acceptance of Christ and becoming one of those “born-agains” was some very strange and disappointing stuff. Little did I know that the Holy Spirit was using McGuinn’s conversion, along with many other people and things, to also prod me along. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior six years later in 1983.

McGuinn’s witness continued to affect my life. Five years ago (2015), I was reading an online article in which Roger described how he and his wife had a daily devotion time together, during which they read a Psalm, a Proverb, and a chapter from the Old and New Testaments and prayed. My wife and I had never had a daily devotion time together. I suggested it to my wife and she gladly agreed and it’s been a huge blessing in our lives ever since!

At the age of 78, Roger continues to tour and delight audiences. Nobody plays the twelve-string quite like him.

Ave Maria, a planned Catholic community near Naples, Florida?

Three of my five sisters live together in Naples, Florida and one of them mentioned that they recently took a 50-minute, curiosity drive to visit the planned community of Ave Maria (Hail Mary). Intrigued, I did a little research.

American entrepreneur, Tom Monaghan, now 83, founded the Domino’s Pizza chain in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1960. The humble pizza chain grew to be a national corporation with 17,000 locations. Monaghan retired in 1998 and sold Domino’s for a reported $1 billion dollars.

Monaghan is one those pious, conservative Roman Catholics who takes their legalistic works-religion very seriously. Among other projects, he founded the Ave Maria Catholic Radio Network in 1999. There’s also Ave Maria Mutual Funds. In 2006, Monaghan broke ground in former-tomato farm fields for his planned Catholic community of Ave Maria, northeast of Naples, Florida, which would include Ave Maria University, a commercial/business district, and 11,000 residences, all clustered around the mammoth Ave Maria Catholic church in the center of the community. Monaghan envisioned the college campus and residential and commercial areas being totally free of contraceptives and cable television pornography via restrictive town ordinances, which prompted the Naples press to begin referring to Ave Maria as the “Catholic Jonestown.”

There’s been slow growth and Ave Maria currently has about 30,000 residents, but it’s still considered more of a giant housing development than an actual town. Monaghan had hoped the new community would attract other like-minded, pious Catholics and become a center of conservative American Catholicism, but people of all religious beliefs have moved in and the town could be mistaken for any other large Florida development, except for the Catholic university (1100 students, 80% Catholic) and the ostentatious church building sitting smak dab in the center of town, like something out of Medieval Europe.

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 6.13.08 AM
Tom Monaghan

Conservative Catholics like Tom Monaghan still pine for the pre-conciliar, militant Catholicism of the 1950s. They haven’t gotten the message yet that their popes and prelates now grant that all works-religionists and even atheists may also merit heaven if they are “sincere” and “good.” Catholicism covers a wide range of beliefs and preferences, from progressive to traditionalist, but nowhere in sight is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The most dangerous places in Ave Maria are actually its centerpieces; the Ave Maria Catholic church and Ave Maria University, both of which propagate Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Postscript: It’s quite revealing that Tom Monaghan is ALL ABOUT worshiping Mary, with the “Ave Maria” moniker attached to EVERYTHING he creates.

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 6.24.39 AM

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #42

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Hebrews 13:9-16 and “Every Day With Jesus.”

Next we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching on Ephesians 2:1-7 and “But God.”

Pastor Roger Copeland – Every Day With Jesus


Pastor Cody Andrews – But God

The American Revolutionary War, as it’s never been told before

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
By Rick Atkinson
Henry Holt and Co., 2019, 800 pp.

5 Stars

My interest in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) was kindled by my parents. Our family excursions to Fort Niagara (Niagara Falls), Fort Ticonderoga (near Lake Placid), and the Freedom Trail in Boston sparked my curiosity and I read all of the books about the ARW I could get my hands on at our local library branch while in junior high and high school.

I’ve continued my interest in the ARW over the years with a book here and there and recently came upon Rick Atkinson’s “The British Are Coming.” It’s unique among the many books I’ve read in a couple of ways: 1) it tells the story from the British perspective as well as the American, and 2) the details are copious. All of the other books I’ve read about the ARW provided a history almost strictly from an American perspective so it was refreshing and informative to get the British view. As for the details, military and personal, they were both helpful and a distraction. In some cases, Atkinson’s persnickety slavishness to detail seems to detract from the overall sweep of a battle or campaign, while in other cases it seems to enhance it.

In this volume, Atkinson follows the ARW from its beginning on the roads to Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, to the New Jersey campaign (late-1776-early-1777) and Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware. Two more volumes are planned for the final six years of the war (the conflict was over for all intents and purposes following the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, excepting some minor and inconsequential skirmishes).

As I read this book on my Kindle, I also used the Google Earth app on my iPhone to get an eagle-eye view of the various locales and even some of the surviving structures that were mentioned. Using Google Earth greatly enhances reading a history book such as this one.

Postscript: I would like to research further how believers living in Colonial America (especially pastors), were able to justify their rebellion against the God-ordained British monarch, George III.

Reevaluating “saint” Thomas More, terrorizer of Protestants

The Black Lives Matter protesters are targeting everything (statues, memorials, flags, names, etc.) alleged to be symbolic of Western/European/American/White racism and oppression. State and local governments, private institutions, and businesses are scrambling to align with the “new think.” I don’t agree with violence or the destruction of public or private property, but some of the statues and symbolism were blatant holdovers of other-era racism and bigotry that already should have been changed/removed (e.g., the incorporation of the Confederate flag as part of several southern state flags).

The American Catholic church has been kept busy by the BLM provocateurs. Over the past month we’ve seen protesters targeting memorials to Franciscan friar, Junípero Serra, explorer, Christopher Columbus, and Saint-King Louis IX. We’ve also seen multiple reports of Catholic statues of Jesus and Mary damaged or defaced after BLM leader Shaun King tweeted on June 22 that all images depicting Jesus as a “white European” should be targeted.

Again, I don’t condone mob violence or destruction, but I do think that it is interesting that Catholicism is being pressured to reevaluate some of its revisionist history. Modern popes have previously apologized for some of the most blatant examples of Catholic oppression (the Inquisition, forced baptisms, anti-Semitic pogroms, persecution of Protestants), but some revisionist charades still continue. I know of one such example in my own backyard.

St. Thomas More Catholic church (photo above) is located about three miles from my house. Who was Thomas More? More was Lord High Chancellor (i.e., Prime Minister) of England from 1529 to 1532 during the reign of King Henry VIII. In that role, he authorized the surveillance, arrest, imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and execution of Protestants. At least eleven Protestants were burned at the stake under More’s authority (see here) and thousands more were terrorized and persecuted during his three-year, anti-Protestant crusade. It’s ironic that More himself was beheaded in 1535 after refusing to assent to Henry’s break with the Roman Catholic church. More got caught in his own trap. What’s even more ironic is that More is hailed by American Catholics as a champion of religious liberty! Argh! Talk about revisionist double-speak! More was canonized as a “martyred saint” by pope Pius XI in 1935. In 2000, pope John Paul II even declared murderer More the patron saint of statesmen and politicians.

Some would defend More, as Wojtyla did, by saying that he “reflected the limits of the culture of his time” and that he persecuted and murdered Protestants according to the standards of 16th-Century European society. That type of apologia for tainted heroes is no longer tenable or excusable according to the BLM protesters. As long as the Catholic church is reevaluating its memorials to Serra and Columbus, shouldn’t the Rochester Catholic diocese also reevalute its memorial to the bloody-handed terrorizer of English Protestants?

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/25/20

A couple of weekends ago, I mentioned that Catholic writer and commentator, George Weigel, has penned a new book, “The Next Pope,” which speaks for conservative Catholics’ hopes that the next pope is the polar opposite of progressive pragmatist, pope Francis. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City, the highest ranking Catholic prelate in the U.S., is so pleased with the book that he’s sent copies to his fellow cardinals around the world in an attempt to influence them to vote for a conservative candidate at the next papal election. In the meantime, Francis is attempting to “stack the deck” by feverishly appointing like-minded progressives to the college of cardinals.

Credulous U.S. Catholics gasped when cardinal Ted McCarrick was exposed as a serial sexual predator in June, 2018. The McCarrick revelations were the kickoff to a scandal tsunami that has rocked the Catholic church ever since. In this disturbing but necessary article, some of McCarrick’s victims recall his diabolical methods.

Back in May, Governor Cuomo extended the original one-year window provided by the 2019 New York State Child Victims Act, that lifted time limitations for the filing of grievances by victims of child sex abuse, from August 13 to January 13, 2021. However, the extension does not apply to claims against Rochester-area priests because of the complications involved with the Rochester Catholic diocese filing for bankruptcy last September. Rochester survivors of priest abuse have only 19 more days to come forward and file a claim against the diocese in bankruptcy court.

Are you kidding me? File this one in the “truth is stranger than fiction” file. Here, we are, eighteen years after the Boston Globe first broke the story of large numbers of predatory pedophile priests and hierarchical cover-up, and the Vatican STILL doesn’t require bishops to contact civil authorities after they’ve been made aware of an abuser??? As I’ve said many times, the RCC’s inability/refusal to decisively confront this priest abuse issue over a span of nearly two decades is a mark of its absolute corruptness.

When Catholics mention “faith,” they are referring to their trust in their institutional church and its sacramental system. The COVID-19 pandemic required that churches be on lockdown, resulting in the Catholic sacraments – baptism, communion, confession, confirmation, last rites, matrimony – being limited or unavailable, causing great anguish to practicing Catholics who view the sacraments as essential to their works-salvation. As the lockdown is being eased here in Rochester, area Catholics are ecstatic to be able to receive their sacraments once again. Amidst all of this ritualism and ceremonialism, we find no sign of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

This is proof that the term, “evangelical,” has become entirely meaningless, with 70% of so-called evangelicals professing that “people are basically good.”

There’s “some” truth in what Pastor John Koletas of Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York (hardcore-IFB) is saying about Roman Catholicism, but there’s also a lot of exaggeration, unfounded claims, and mean-spiritedness. Like Jack Chick’s fanciful anti-Catholic rhetoric back in the 80’s, Koletas’ brand of extremism is irresponsible and damages credible Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic church openly teaches PLENTY of anti-Biblical heresies and heterodoxies. There’s no need to resort to wild and unfounded conspiracy theories.

Catholics are taught that the use of any form of artificial birth control, including non abortifacients such as condoms and diaphragms, is a mortal sin. Incredulous Catholics wonder why the church blesses unreliable natural family planning (aka the rhythm method), but condemns non abortifacient contraceptives when the desired end-result is the same. Research shows that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control in opposition to their church’s teaching. When the entire membership of an institution is not following its mandated requirements, it’s called a SHAM.

Throwback Thursday: “Dear Catholic Friend” and “Sermon from a Catholic Bible”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on January 15, 2016 and has been revised.


In previous posts, I’ve mentioned how my wife and I had joined an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church in 1983 shortly after we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. There was some excellent Bible teaching at that church, but there was also waaaaaay too much jingoistic patriotism and harping on U.S. politics. Many IFB pastors were imitating Jerry Falwell back in those days. There was also a lot of rigid judgmentalism when it came to certain pet sins. Our pastor railed against homosexuals so frequently that it became unbearable. We left the church in 1991 and I ended up walking away from the Lord for 23 years.

When I returned to the Lord in 2014 (Thank you, God!), I noticed the American Christian landscape had changed dramatically in my absence. Fundamentalism was definitely on the decline, but I wasn’t concerned because I definitely wasn’t interested in attending an IFB church ever again. But even conservative evangelicalism struggles against the rising tide of doctrine-lite, “seeker” and “purpose-driven” churches. And, of course, the “emergent” churches generally throw doctrine right out the window.

So, while the IFB churches had MANY faults, at least they were pretty good when it came to orthodox Biblical doctrine. Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) was a very influential figure in the IFB movement as the editor of “Sword of the Lord” bi-weekly newspaper, which had 300,000 subscribers at its peak in the 1970s. I was a subscriber to the Sword for a couple of years when I was a member of the IFB church and I always thought the reprints of Rice’s sermons were the best part of the paper.

The Sword of the Lord Ministries is still publishing and offers a couple of booklets written by Dr. Rice for Roman Catholics; “Dear Catholic Friend” and “Sermon from a Catholic Bible.” In both booklets, Dr. Rice charitably compares Roman Catholicism to God’s Word and challenges the reader to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. He has such a winsome way of reaching out to Roman Catholics with the genuine Gospel. These low-cost booklets are ideal as gifts for Catholic friends and family. Order from the Sword of the Lord here.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #32: “The Lord’s Brothers”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ argument that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because the Bible speaks of “The Lord’s Brothers.”


Both Catholics and Gospel Christians teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, but Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin in perpetuity. Evangelical Protestants believe Mary entered into normal marital relations with her husband, Joseph, following the birth of Jesus, pointing to such verses as Matthew 13:55:

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”

The verse clearly shows that Mary bore Joseph children after the birth of Jesus.

Broussard attempts to answer Protestants’ objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard references his Greek lexicon and points out that the Greek word translated as “brothers” in the above verse, adelphos, can mean biological, blood-brothers, but may also mean kinsmen, and can even refer to fellow-believers.

(2) Broussard points to Matthew 27:56, which refers to “Mary the mother of James and Joseph.” It’s accepted by all that the particular Mary referred to in Matthew 27:56 was not the mother of Jesus. Broussard then proposes that the James and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:56 are the very same James and Joseph cited in Matthew 13:55 and handily concludes that they were not, therefore, the blood-brothers of Jesus.

(3) Broussard argues that the dying Jesus would not have entrusted the care of His mother to the apostle John if she had had additional sons (John 19:26-27). Broussard includes an additional point with this argument, one that I’ve often heard from Catholic apologists. In her response to the angel Gabriel’s message that she would bear the Messiah, Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Broussard claims that Mary’s incredulous response can only be interpreted to mean that she had already taken a vow of perpetual virginity during her and Joseph’s betrothal period.

Let’s now look at Broussard’s arguments, one by one.

(1) We agree with Broussard that adelphos does not necessarily refer to blood-brothers, but according to the context used in Matthew 13:55, Joseph-Mary-brothers, it’s reasonable to assume the reference is to biological brothers. Classical Greek did have a word for “cousin,” anepsios, but this word is never used for Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament Greek text. There are several references to Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament, including Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31. Catholics must ask themselves why these men, if they were only Jesus’s cousins, were so often in the company of His mother?

(2) The other gospel writers help to identity the other Mary, referred to in Matthew 27:56. John identifies her as the “wife of Clopas” (John 19:25) and Mark identifies her as the mother of the apostle known as James the Younger (Mark 15:40). Broussard flouts Scriptural evidence and leapfrogs reasonable hermeneutics by concluding that the James and Joseph referred to in Matthew 13:55 are the same James and Joseph of Matthew 27:56.

(3) Jesus Christ did not entrust His mother to the care of His half-brothers because they were not believers at the time of His death.

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” – John 7:5

Which leads us to one of the strongest proofs for the existence of Jesus’s biological half-brothers; verse 8 from the Messianic Psalm 69:

“I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons.”

Broussard’s second point to this argument is irrational. Mary did not question angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Christ because she had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, as the Catholic apologist fancifully posits. She questioned the message, rather, because she had not yet entered into marital relations with her betrothed husband, Joseph. Catholics must twist Scripture like pretzels in order to concoct Mary’s supposed vow of perpetual virginity from Luke 1:34.

Another text evangelicals use to show Mary wasn’t a perpetual virgin is Matthew 1:25, “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” Broussard will attempt to refute that one next week.

My, my. Broussard and Catholicism in general expend a lot of time and energy on this claim for Mary’s perpetual virginity. Why is that? In the pagan religiosity that Catholicism adapted, virginity was viewed as a spiritually superior state (see the Vestal Virgin Wiki article here). Sex was viewed as base and even “dirty.” Catholics could not envision their semi-deified Queen of Heaven, their co-mediator and co-redemptrix, as having ever been “defiled” by Joseph on the marriage bed. Yet God’s Word states that the marriage bed is undefiled when honored (Hebrews 13:4).

Next up: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

The Rise and Decline of Neo-Evangelicalism

Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism
By Rolland D. McCune
Ambassador International,  2004, 398 pp.

5 Stars

At the onset of the 20th-century, the old, mainline Protestant denominations were drifting into Bible-denying, theological liberalism. In reaction to the growing apostasy, Bible-believing theologians and pastors produced “The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth,” a series of ninety essays, published between 1910 and 1915, that affirmed the five fundamentals of the Christian faith that were being attacked by theological liberals and modernists, those being:

  • The inerrancy of the Bible.
  • The literal nature of the biblical accounts, especially regarding Jesus Christ’s miracles and the creation account in Genesis.
  • The virgin birth of Christ.
  • The bodily resurrection and physical return of Christ.
  • The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.

Understood to be included along with the five fundamentals was the Biblical mandate of ecclesiastical separation from churches and denominations that denied the basics of the Christian faith. Theologically-orthodox Christians* rallied around “The Fundamentals” and the movement gained momentum and advanced the genuine Gospel message throughout the United States and the world.

However, in the late-1940s, some fundamentalist theologians and pastors began to bridle against the separation principle. Their thinking was that fundamentalism had become fanatically insular and partisan and that they needed to be more accommodating with the unbelieving world. The founders of this self-dubbed Neo (or New) Evangelicalism, Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga, enlisted evangelist, Billy Graham,** as the public face of the movement and also established Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California as its intellectual/academic base. Edward John Carnell oversaw the early years of Fuller. In contrast to fundamentalists, who had openly disparaged academia and intellectualism, the Neo-Evangelicals craved academic respectability.

Neo-Evangelicals and fundamentalists were initially uneasy allies, but Graham famously broke with fundamentalism completely when he cooperated with Bible-denying, liberal clergymen in the organization of his four-month-long, 1957 New York City crusade. Graham defended himself saying, “I intend to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody, to preach the gospel of Christ.” However, fraternity and dialogue with apostasy is a two-way street and Neo-Evangelicalism gradually strayed from foundational Biblical principles and found itself enmeshed in debates over Scriptural inerrancy and the other basic tenets of Christian orthodoxy. Former restraints were gone, leading to the following:

  • Billy Graham blazed ecumenical trails with Roman Catholicism. Ernest Pickering accurately wrote in 1994, “Much of the current theological confusion with regard to the Roman Catholic Church can be laid at the feet of one man; Billy Graham.”
  • Pentecostal/charismatic beliefs and practices rapidly spread throughout evangelicalism. Pentecostalism got its start in 1901 at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas.
  • The divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible have been increasingly contested. These days, Bible-believing students at apostate Fuller Theological Seminary must constantly parry attacks against their faith by the faculty.
  • Secular marketing methods have replaced traditional church.
  • Most evangelical Protestant churches have cut ties with the church history, avoiding any mention of the Reformation or the Five Solas.

Baptist fundamentalist scholar, Rolland McCune (1934-2019), does an excellent job of tracing the rise and decline of Neo-Evangelicalism. The first half of the book is devoted to the history of the movement, which I found most interesting. The second half focuses on the theological disintegration of Neo-Evangelicalism, which was challenging reading for this layperson, but not impossible. I’d been hoping to find an American counterpart to Iain Murray’s excellent “Evangelicalism Divided” (see my review here), and this book comes close.

*The Fundamentalist movement was comprised largely of Arminian-leaning conservative Baptists and Wesleyans. Mainline Presbyterianism had also begun drifting into liberalism in the 1910s and 1920s, just like the Arminian mainline denominations. In response, J. Gresham Machen and others founded the breakaway Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Firebrand pastor, Carl McIntire, was also a leader of the fundamentalist movement within Reformed churches. It’s interesting that both Baptist and Presbyterian fundamentalists revered the previous interdenominational leadership of D.L. Moody (1837-1899). As Neo-Evangelicalism has generally devolved into varying degrees of heterodoxy, the Baptist fundamentalism represented by McCune has declined steeply in numbers and influence.

**Billy Graham began his evangelistic career as a Baptist fundamentalist under the mentorship of John R. Rice and William Bell Riley.

Postscript: My wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist church from 1983 until 1991 after we were first saved. I enjoyed several aspects of the experience, but the pastor exemplified some of the stereotypical negative characteristics of IFB preachers including arrogance, pridefulness, leadership via coercion, majoring on the minors, conflating faith and nationalism, and an emphasis on guilt rather than on God’s grace. McCune understandably does not mention any of the problems within Baptist fundamentalism.

p.s. If you don’t think “evangelicalism” is in major trouble these days, just sit down on your couch and watch a day’s worth of TBN.


Part 1: Historical Antecedents

  • The Rise of Theological Liberalism
  • The Great Controversy

Part 2: The Formation of the New Evangelicalism

  • Four Crucial Issues
  • Other Contributions

Part 3: Ecumenism

  • Ecumenical Evangelism
  • Ecumenical Church Councils
  • Ecumenical Accolades and Ecumenical Journalism
  • The Charismatic Movement
  • Roman Catholicism

Part 4: Ecclesiastical Separation

  • The Rationale of Evangelical Non-Separatism
  • The Biblical Idea of Ecclesiastical Separation

Part 5: The Bible and Authority

  • Biblical Revelation
  • Biblical Inspiration and Inerrancy
  • Further Issues, Events, and Publications Related to Inerrancy
  • The Aftermath of “The Battle For the Bible”

Part 6: Apologetics

  • The Development of New Evangelical Apologetics
  • An Analysis of New Evangelical Apologetics

Part 7: Social Involvement

  • New Evangelical Social Activism
  • The Biblical Idea of Social Action

Part 8: Doctrinal Storms

  • The Status of the Unevangelized
  • The Destiny of the Finally Impenitent
  • The Open View of God

Part 9: Conclusion

  • Evaluation and Prospects
  • Addendum 1: Review: The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World
  • Addendum 2: Major Events in the New Evangelical Movement: 1942-2003