An awkward title, but an informative book about evangelical compromise

New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise
By John E. Ashbrook
Here I Stand Books, Second Printing, 2002, 110 pp.

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I’ve recently reviewed a couple of excellent books about the sad history of evangelicalism’s slow and steady journey towards compromise and accommodation with Roman Catholicism and other errors. See my review of “Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism” by Rolland D. McCune here and my review of “We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics” by Neil J. Young here.

Fundamentalist pastor, John E. Ashbrook (d. 2011), expanded upon the themes of the 1958 booklet, “The New Neutralism,” written by his pastor father, William Ashbrook, to produce this short book, which was first published in 1992. By “neutralism,” the author is referring to compromise with error and religious unbelief. As with “Promise Unfulfilled,” Ashbrook examines the rise of “New Evangelicalism” and its wayward journey. New Evangelicalism was the brainchild of Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, and Billy Graham. They determinedly broke from fundamentalist separatism in the late 1940s and plotted a course that would be more accommodating in relationship to modernists and Catholics. The initial idea was that “dialogue” would win more souls than confrontation, but, as might be predicted, accommodation with error gradually turned into acquiescence to error.

Ashbrook names many names and doesn’t pull his punches. His tone is angry, strident, and sometimes even sarcastic as befits a fundamentalist pastor with an ax to grind, but it’s hard to argue with much of what he’s written here. One need only turn on TBN to see the heterodox bitter fruit of Ockenga, Henry, and Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” vision.

Chapters:

  1. Why the New Neutralism?
  2. Separatism, Acceptance, and the Social Gospel
  3. The NAE, the WEF, and Camels
  4. Fuller Seminary – Exhibit A
  5. Billy Graham – The Mouthpiece of New Evangelicalism
  6. Billy Graham’s Catholic Connection
  7. Mr. Revolutionary (Bill Bright) and Campus Crusade
  8. Intellectuals in Residence
  9. The Popularizers
  10. Explos and Extravaganzas
  11. Jerry Falwell and the Gnu Evangelicalism
  12. The Institutions
  13. A View From the Top of the Hill

26 thoughts on “An awkward title, but an informative book about evangelical compromise

  1. “Ashbrook names many names and doesn’t pull his punches.” This definitely appeals to me. You sold me on this one, Tom, and I’ll order it. I have a feeling it will make my blood boil, but if this is reality, I need to deal with it. Much thanks for the great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! It’s an interesting little book and many of the assertions would be jarring for most evangelicals who aren’t familiar with the historical details involving Ockenga, Henry, and Graham. They no doubt started out with good intentions, but one compromise inevitably leads to another, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 👋🏼
      Hiya! Hope you’re having a good afternoon! After yard work, my wife asked me to watch a documentary on the dangers of social media. It was excellent. Maybe I’ll post a short review.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yeah, fundamentalism had its problems as we’ve discussed before, but at least they were discerning enough to know Rome’s gospel was a false gospel.
      BTW, Ashbrook was a Presbyterian fundamentalist rather than Baptist. I’m pretty familiar with the indy fundy Baptists but not so much the indy fundy Presbyterians. Carl McIntire (d.2002) was the leading figure of that movement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see Amazon has two biographies of McIntire.

        “Fighting Fundamentalist: Carl McIntire and the Politicization of American Fundamentalism” by Markku Ruotsila appears to be critical while “McIntire: Defender of Faith and Freedom” by Gladys Titzck Rhoads appears to be overly complimentary.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Understandable. I can certainly relate to reacting to the narrowness (and hatred) of fundamentalism. I could listen to a guy like McIntire for about 2 minutes before I would have to get up and leave the room. But some ex-fundamentalists overreacted, going too far and dismantling all bastions of discernment, e.g., Ockenga, Henry, Graham, Carnell, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, sister! I always try to go for the cheapest option, which usually means library (hardcopy) first, then Kindle or Amazon used (hardcopy) so it’s around two-thirds hardcopy and one-third e-book.

      Liked by 1 person

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