I recently took notes over Carl F.H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. Written in 1947 (when “fundamentalism” and “evangelicalism” were equivalent terms), Henry’s call was for a theologically informed and socially engaged evangelicalism. Henry was concerned that, through its separatist mentality and tendency to separate social action from the concern of the Christian, modern evangelicalism was becoming irrelevant — and, more than that, unbiblical.
Henry’s call is just as relevant today as it was then, though evangelicalism has made immense progress. There is still a tendency to over spiritualize, to focus on the “spiritual” side of things in a way that tends to diminish and demean physical and social needs. And, on the other hand, when being rightly practical and concerned about social action, there is a tendency to do this apart from the important doctrinal foundations on which the Bible places these concerns. We need to continue increasing in our concern for social issues and addressing large global problems, while at the same time doing so on a theological foundation, recognizing that classical Christian doctrines are actually the best foundation for diligent social action.
In order to do this, however, we need to understand how Christianity and culture relate. Henry’s book is one of the best expositions of that issue. It is not only a call to action, but also gives the basic fundamentals for thinking about the relationship between Christianity and culture and how Christians can effectively partner with those who do not share our faith but do share our concern for confronting large global problems head on.
Russ Moore recently had a good post on Carl Henry, writing about this book that:
Henry’s “Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism” is perhaps the most important evangelical book of the twentieth-century. It is just as relevant as it was in 1947, and should be read again by all those with a serious commitment to applying a kingdom vision to every aspect of life. The kingdom Jesus inaugurated spoke to the whole person, to spiritual lostness, to physical sickness, to material poverty, to the need for community. A church that joins Jesus in preaching the kingdom will too. We need that reminder every generation, perhaps especially now. The evangelical conscience is, after all, still uneasy after all these years.
It turns out that today would be Carl Henry’s 100th birthday. So, in honor of his 100th birthday, and in light of the call to us as Christians to care about all suffering and be intelligently and helpfully engaged in social issues for the good of the world and glory of God, here are my notes on perhaps his most important book, which is just as relevant today as ever.
“This book is both a detailed complaint about evangelical failures and a call to renewal.”
In the late 40s, Henry and other evangelical leaders were concerned that evangelicals were ill-equipped to address the crucial issues of the day.
Evangelical and fundamentalist were equivalent terms at that time.
Henry and Ockenga saw this book as setting an agenda for Fuller, which was established the same year it was published. The elements of a founding vision are all here.
- “a deep commitment to a new kind of evangelical scholarship that would wrestle seriously with the important issues being raised in the large world of the mind”
- “a hope for a more open evangelicalism that would transcend the barriers that had been erected by a separatistic mentality”
- “a profound desire to engage culture in all of its created complexity”
We need to engage culture!
The evangelicalism of the first fifty years of the twentieth century failed in its intellectual and cultural obligations.
It is possible to promote an intellectually and culturally engaged evangelicalism. Further, a worldview “based solidly on biblical authority” is “desperately needed.” Currently theological options have in their own ways failed to “provide satisfying answers to the deepest questions of the human spirit.”
They named specific issues evangelicals were on the wrong side of.
Henry called “for an evangelical activism that recognizes the need for broad cultural involvement.”
Henry’s call was “an invitation to an evangelical cultural involvement that was based solidly on the kind of profound theological reflection that could only be sustained by a social program that was closely linked to a systematic commitment to the nurturing of the life of the mind.”
“There is often a considerable disconnect between grassroots evangelical activism and carefully reasoned theological orthodoxy.”
Tendencies in all sectors of evangelical life to “dilute the proclamation of the gospel.” Also to negotiate too-easy settlements between evangelical thought and various manifestations of postmodern culture.
We must articulate our cultural involvement within a supernaturalistic framework.
Constant assault on the evangelical position. “One of the things which modern man most needs to be saved from, is a moral sense which is outraged at a divine provision of redemption.”
“What concerns me more is that we have needlessly invited criticism and even ridicule, by a tendency in some quarters to parade secondary and sometimes even obscure aspects of our position as necessary front phases of our view.”
To that extent, “we have failed to oppose the full genius of the Hebrew-Christian outlook to its modern competitors.”
“We have not applied the genius of our position constructively to those problems which press most for solution in a social way. Unless we do this, I am unsure that we shall get another world hearing for the Gospel.”
“If we would press redemptive Christianity as the obvious solution of world problems, we had better busy ourselves with explicating the solution.”
The great biblical doctrines are “the only outlook capable of resolving our problems.”
The “uneasy conscience” is “one distressed by the frequent failure to apply them effectively to crucial problems confronting the modern mind.” He is pleading not for a revolt against the fundamentals of the faith, but an application of them to the large cultural issues before us.
Many seem “blissfully unaware” of the new demands upon us.
Seeks to provoke a united effort.
While we are pilgrims here, we are also ambassadors.
The church needs a progressive evangelicalism with a social message.
We are not to be fatalistic on ethical problems. Yet, most evangelicalism is precisely that. We need a “growing revolt in evangelical circles on ethical indifferentism.” “It is impossible to shut the Jesus of pity, healing, service, and human interest from a Biblical theology. The higher morality of redemption does not invalidate moral consistency.”
“A Christian world- and life-view embracing world questions, societal needs, personal education ought to arise out of Matt. 28:18-21 as much as evangelism does. Culture depends on such a view.” Evangelicalism is dissipating the Christian culture accretion of centuries, “a serious sin.”
We are not to abandon social fields to the secularist.
This book is “a healthy antidote to Fundamentalist aloofness in a distraught world.”
Chapter 1: The Evaporation of Fundamentalist Humanitarianism
The charge against evangelicalism from non-evangelicals: it has no social program calling for a practical attack on acknowledged world evils. “On this evaluation, Fundamentalism is the modern priest and Levite, by-passing suffering humanity” (2).
Some social evils: aggressive warfare, racial hatred and intolerance, the exploitation of labor by management.
The social reform movements dedicated to eliminating those did not have the active, let alone vigorous, cooperation of large segments of evangelicalism. Worse, “fundamentalist churches increasingly have repudiated the very movements whose most energetic efforts have gone into an attack on such social ills.”
This would be more understandable if we were assaulting these social evils equally on our own. But “the Fundamentalist opposition to societal ills has been more vocal than actual.”
“Evangelical social action has been spotty and usually of the emergency type.”
Even worse, our voice decreased as well when it came to calling out social evils. “It was unusual to find a conservative preacher occupied at length with world ills.”
We should preach sermons directed mainly against such evils and proposing the framework within which the solution is possible.
We need a keen world reference. Interest in ethics is demanded, rather than precluded, by our doctrinal fervor.
Some have come to think that “indifference to world evils is essential to Fundamentalism.”
Social irresponsibility, independent isolationism, uncritically-held theological formulas, and overly-emotional revivalism are attributed to evangelicalism.
At root, fundamentalism was a Bible-believing Christianity that regarded the supernatural as part of the essence of the biblical worldview. The miraculous is central and essential, not incidental and superfluous, as liberalism views it.
Machen “vigorously insisted that Christianity has a message relevant to the world crisis, however staggering the issues.”
We are often classified with the pessimists in our attitude toward world conditions.
“That Christian supernaturalism, which as a matter of historical record furnished the background and in some sense the support for the modern humanisms and idealisms, should be accused of having lost its own devotion to human well-being, is indeed a startling accusation” (6).
Fundamentalism almost without exception focused on individual sin rather than social evil.
Often the main points of ethical attention are avoiding alcohol, movies, dancing, card playing, and smoking.
The notion that one can maintain rigorous personal ethics while ignoring and being indifferent to issues of social justice is questionable.
The failure of evangelicalism to confront social evils has led to “a suspicion on the part of the non-evangelicals that there is something in the very nature of Fundamentalism itself which makes a world ethical view impossible” (11). And some think original sin is too pessimistic a view of human nature to make a social program even possible.
Thus, the modern mindset has an insistence that evangelical supernaturalism has within it an inherent ideological fault which precludes any vital social thrust. And “contemporary speculation has no hearing whatever for a viewpoint which it suspects has no world program. It dismisses Fundamentalism with the thought that, in this expression of the Great Tradition, the humanitarianism has evaporated from Christianity.”
Chapter 2: The Protest Against Foredoomed Failure
“An evangelical message vitally related to world conditions is not precluded by NT doctrine.”
In fact, only this estimate of the sinfulness of man and his need for regeneration is sufficiently realistic to make any optimism in world affairs possible at all.
Evangelical Christianity has become “increasingly inarticulate about the social reference of the gospel.”
“Fundamentalism is wondering just how it is that a world changing message narrowed its scope to the changing of isolated individuals” (14).
Evangelicalism views the non-evangelical movements which promote world social uplift as “competitors for the ideological loyalty of the masses.”
“All these things” are added only after we have sought first the kingdom.
“Non-evangelicals tend to equate the ‘kingdom’ and the ‘these things,’ reflecting a blindness to the significance of the vicarious atonement of Christ.”
“A globe-changing passion certainly characterized the early church, however much it thought within a redemptive pattern centering in Christ’s substitutionary death and bodily resurrection. Had it not been so, Christianity would not have been the religion of the then-known world within three centuries. Some sort of a world passion had made the Christian message pertinent enough for rulers to want to bring their subjects in subjection to it” (16).
“A Christianity without a passion to turn the world upside down is not reflective of apostolic Christianity.”
We have failed to develop the broad social implications of our message.
Premillenials and amillenials see the Scriptures as holding forth no hope for the conversion of the whole world.
“Historically, Christianity embraced a life view as well as a world view; it was socially as well as philosophically pertinent.”
Evangelicalism became increasingly absorbed in resisting non-evangelical humanism as a deceptive competitor for the commitment of the multitudes, and because of its prophetic cheerlessness about the present age narrowed its message for the “faithful remnant” that would be called out of the world.
“Whereas once the redemptive gospel was a world-changing message, now it was narrowed to a world-resisting message.”
And in protesting against non-evangelical ideologies, evangelicalism “came to react also against the social programs of the modern reformers.”
For liberalism, “the end in view was a global peace without any reference to the vicarious atonement and redemptive work of Christ” (20).
“Fundamentalism in revolting against the social gospel seemed also to revolt against the Christian social imperative” (22).
What cut off the relevance of fundamentalism to the modern global crisis was its failure to “work out a positive message within its own framework.” As a result, it came to be that the really creative thought was being done by the non-evangelicals.
The apostolic passion was “to change the world by changing the individuals in it.”
Chapter 3: The Most Embarrassing Evangelical Divorce
“For the first protracted period in its history, evangelical Christianity stands divorced from the great social reform movements” (27).
“The NT world-life view lifted the ancient world out of pagan barbarism.”
“The Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages tended to substitute political for spiritual revolution, and also staunchly supported the feudal system” (27).
“In proportion as the world passion was absent from Christianity, the latter ceased to be an apostolic or missionary Christianity of the type which the Reformation sought to recapture for the western mind” (28).
“Metaphysics and ethics went everywhere together, in biblical intent.”
“The ideal Hebrew or Christian society throbbed with challenge to the predominant culture of its generation, condemning with redemptive might the tolerated social evils, for the redemptive message was to light the world and salt the earth. No insistence on a doctrinal framework alone was sufficient; always this was coupled with the most vigorous assault against evils, so that the globe stood anticipatively at the judgment seat of Christ. Such, at any rate, was apostolic Christianity; such too was the spirit of the post-apostolic apologies. The emperors must come to terms with Jesus, if not in this life then in the next” (31).
“The universe is put together on moral lines.” There is but one sure foundation of a lasting civilization, and “its cornerstone is a vital knowledge of the redemptive God.” Since the universe is put together on moral grounds, any attempt to build civilization on other grounds has the seeds of dissolution in it. And the only way we can hope to fulfill the high moral prerequisites of founding civilization is through the redemptive work of Christ.
In the Bible, “the cardinal doctrines are not divorced from ethical implications.”
The major and minor prophets lashed out “with uncompromised vigor against social evils of the day.” The breathed social passion in a redemptive context.
“The Hebrew world-life view could not look with indifference upon miscarriages of justice in the law courts, usury, plundering the needy, failure to feed and clothe the poor, and over-charging for merchandise” (33).
“John the Baptist stood with Moses, Isaiah, and Amos in his social alertness” (33).
The message of redemption was at the forefront of John the Baptist’s preaching, but his redemptive preaching was not on that account socially indifferent. He called for fruits worthy of repentance and gave specific examples to the question “what should we do.”
There was a social spirit to his preaching.
“The social spirit of John’s preaching was not contrary to Jesus’ own message.”
Matt 11:4-5; Lk 7:22: “In view of so central a passage, it is difficult to find room for a gospel cut loose entirely from non-spiritual needs.” “There is no room here for a gospel that is indifferent to the needs of the total man nor of the global man.”
Redemption is the essential ingredient in the solution of economic problems.
“The methodology of Jesus is a redemptive methodology.”
“There is not a problem of global consequence but that, from the viewpoint of Jesus, redemption is a relevant formula.”
Paul was concerned with more than individual morals. He proclaimed a social, as well as personal, Christianity. His missionary passion showed he did not see the believer’s life as something to be lived in monastic privacy; “rather, he was spiritually aflame to bring the world to the feet of Jesus.”
He sought to relate Christianity redemptively to the Graeco-Roman environment of the day. This so characterized the apostolic witness that within three centuries Christianity had captured the then-known world.
“Whatever their view of the kingdom, the early Christians did not permit it to interfere with their world-changing zeal.”
Early Christianity “furnished the basic principles and the moral dynamic for such reform, and concentrated on regeneration as the guarantee of bettered conditions” (37).
The early patriotic moralists attacked pagan ethical standards and “everywhere they pitched the Christian message against social immoralities.”
“Calvin felt that the Hebrew-Christian tradition historically involved an articulate statement not only of dogmatics but of the social implications of redemption” (39).
Modern evangelicalism “is a stranger, in its predominant spirit, to the vigorous social interest of its ideological forebears.”
We do not explicitly sketch the social implications of our message for the non-Christian world; we do not “challenge the injustices of totalitarianisms, the secularisms of modern education, the evils of racial hatred, the wrongs of current labor-management relations….the apostolic Gospel stands divorced from a passion to right the world. The Christian social imperative is today in the hands of those who understand it in sub-Christian terms” (39).
Two great convictions:
1. “Christianity opposes any and every evil, personal and social, and must never be represented as in any way tolerant of such evil.”
2. The Christian solution to such evil, as “the only sufficient formula for its resolution,” is “the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.”
Evangelical theology does not logically involve an indifference to social evils; such an indifference is actually itself the contradiction. “An assault on global evils is not only consistent with, but rather is demanded by, its proper world-life view” and, further, any non-evangelical ideology involves “an essential inability to right the world order.”
Chapter 4: The Apprehension Over Kingdom Preaching
We trained enlightened spectators rather than empowered ambassadors.
The kingdom is here now in incomplete realization. Our task is to discover in what sense it is here now, in what sense it is to be further realized before Christ returns, and in what sense it is fully realized when Christ returns.
Chapter 5: The Fundamentalist Thief on the Cross
“We must confront the world now with an ethics to make it tremble, and with a dynamic to give it hope” (55).
“The supernaturalist framework of historic Christianity is here espoused as the lone solution to the modern dilemmas.”
“The revitalization of modern evangelicalism will not come by a discard of its doctrinal convictions and a movement in the direction of liberalism” (59).
If evangelicalism speaks in terms of the historic biblical tradition “rather than in the name of secondary accretions or of eschatological biases on which evangelicals divide, it can refashion the modern mind” (60).
“The central affirmations of the Hebrew-Christian message need most to be heard.”
The evangelical answer has often tended to be religious escapism.
Orthodoxy has always led the battle for a new order, and has never been content with a secondary or tertiary role.
Chapter 6: The Struggle for a New World Mind
“If historic Christianity is again to compete as a vital world ideology, evangelicalism must project a solution for the most pressing world problems” (65). A new world mind with spiritual ends, involving affirmations in political, economic, sociological, and educational realms. “The redemptive message has implications for all of life; a truncated life results from a truncated message.”
Because sin is not an ultimate necessity of our nature, “evangelicalism can view the future with a sober optimism…divine redemption can be a potent factor in any age.”
Evangelicalism must “develop a competent literature in every field of study, on every level from the grade school through the university, which adequately presents each subject with its implications from the Christian as well as non-Christian points of view” (68).
“Evangelicalism must contend for a fair hearing for the Christian mind, among other minds, in secular education” (68).
Second, we must reaffirm the importance of the evangelical school.
“The distinction between home and foreign missions is a generation outmoded; Christianity again faces the apostolic task of seeking to transform an environment that is quite unilaterally hostile” (69).
We cannot lose sight of the fact that “the church’s prime task is to challenge men and women individually in such numbers that the manifesto is global” (71).
“The Christian life must be lived out, among the regenerate, in every area of activity, until even the unregenerate are moved by Christian standards, acknowledging their force. The unregenerate are not, on that account, redeemed; nevertheless, they are more easily reached for Christ than those who have made a deliberate break with Christian standards, because they can be reminded that Christian ethics cannot be retained apart from Christian metaphysics. To the extent that any society is leavened with Christian conviction, it becomes a more hospitable environment for Christian expansion” (71).
Evangelicals must not withdraw from tomorrow’s political scene.
You can believe in separation of church and state “without sacrificing world statesmanship to men of godless convictions.”
“In today’s world the ministry of world affairs is no less important than any other.”
“Always evangelicalism proclaims that the true center of a living community is God, known in His redemptive work through Jesus Christ” (72).
Further, that kingships that ignore the true Lord of the universe are usurpative; that the value of the human person is guaranteed only in a redemptive framework; that the liberties legitimately to be sought for man do not include a freedom from God; that “without a transcendent spiritual ground in the living Redeemer no government can surmount the threat of disintegration.”
“It is the redemptive element that distinguishes Christianity.”
“Evangelicalism will be presumed not to have a mind on great world issues unless it speaks, but there is no justification for evangelical attempt at solution in non-redemptive frameworks. These have been tried and found wanting; let evangelicalism now speak the redemptive mind” (73).
“Sacrificial distribution of food and clothing to the world’s naked and starving multitudes may spare countless lives, but it does not provide a superlife which makes existence meaningful.”
“Increasing the laborer’s pay may remove some of the inequities of labor-management relations, but it makes no provision beyond the needs of the economic man” (74).
Chapter 7: The Evangelical Formula of Protest
The fact of the future kingdom does not eliminate the need for an interim world program. For the evangelical, that program has three distinctives. It is:
- Predicated upon an all-inclusive redemptive context for its assault upon global ills
- Involves total opposition to all moral evils, whether societal or personal
- Offers not only a higher ethical standard than any other system of thought, but provides also in Christ a dynamic to lift humanity to its highest level of moral achievement (75).
Yet, right now, the “non-evangelical humanistic movements are heading up the agitation for a new and better world.”
Evangelicalism is to “recapture its rightful leadership.”
“Any conviction of foredoomed failure does not automatically cancel the missionary obligation. The futility of trying to win all does not mean that it is futile to try to win some areas of influence and life. An evangelical world program has its timeliest opportunity at the present hour.”
“No framework is really relevant today unless it has an answer to the problem of sin and death in every area of human activity” (77).
Christianity ought not oppose any needed social reform. Further, it ought to be in the forefront of reformative attack. And it ought “to press its attack on a redemptive foundation, convinced that every other foundation for betterment, because of inherent weaknesses, cannot sustain itself.”
We ought not desist from battle against world evils because of rejecting the ultimate non-evangelical formula for solution. Further, we should be counted upon not only to go along with all worthy reform movements, “but to give them proper leadership.”
We must condemn all social evils, “coupled with an insistence that a self-sustaining solution can be found only on a redemptive foundation.”
The evangelical ought to be worthy of being counted on in these battles more vigorously than the humanists and religious modernists. “And as vigorously as the evangelical presses his battle, he ought to be counted upon to point to the redemption that is in Christ Jesus as the only adequate solution.” This is “the true evangelical methodology.” Now, what does this look like? This is the form; now we need to fill it with content.
Evangelical action is not complicated within movements comprised of Christian theists, for we agree on the need for a social program and the redemptive context necessary for it. Yet, only a minimal effort has been made in such circles so far.
But what about in assemblies in which membership is composed on inclusive lines, so that evangelicals, liberals, and humanists must act together?
Evangelicals cannot maintain silence when evils are condemned by others; yet neither can it yield to a non-evangelical framework. The path seems to be this. First, we always condemn all forms of evil no less vigorously than any other group. Second, when in the majority, we couple this condemnation with the redemptive Christian message as the only true solution. Third, when evangelicals are in the minority, to express this opposition to evils in a “formula of protest” which concurs heartily in the assault on social wrongs, but insists upon the necessity of a regenerative context as alone able to secure a permanent solution and rectification of such wrongs. Thus, we take our stand against evil, and do so in the name of Jesus Christ the deliverer. “To do this, is to recapture the evangelical spirit.”
And we need to express this protest in a positive rather than negative way.
Some say evangelicals have no right to unite with non-evangelicals in any reform. “But unrestricted loyalty to Christ cannot be interpreted as consistent with a tacit condonement of great world evils,” which is what happens if we are never willing to unite with non-evangelicals.
For “in the very proportion that the culture in which he lives is not actually Christian, [the evangelical] must unite with non-evangelicals for social betterment if it is to be achieved at all, simply because the evangelical forces do not predominate. To say that evangelicalism should not voice its convictions in a non-evangelical environment is simply to rob evangelicalism of its missionary vision” (80-81, emphasis added).
It becomes impossible to cooperate with another group for social betterment only when that group “clearly rules out a redemptive reference as a live option for the achievement of good ends.” In that case, there is no option but that of independent action.
In non-evangelical groups, we ought not vote for something less than our position “except with an accompanying protest.” “This is a far truer road of expression for his convictions than to decline to support an attack on admitted evils—because the latter course tacitly withdraws his opposition to that which the Redeemer would unhesitatingly condemn.”
Movements for a “pure evangelicalism” have often done so with a sacrifice of social vision.
Evangelical convictions need a united voice. Liberalism had it in the Federal Council of Churches. Protestant evangelicalism too needs a single voice. “When such unity comes, the present competitive spirit of evangelical groups shall be overruled to the glory of God, and the furtherance of the Gospel witness. If this does not come, groups most responsible will inevitably wither” (82).
Chapter 8: The Dawn of a New Reformation
“No evangelicalism which ignores the totality of man’s condition dares respond in the name of Christianity” (83). Even though the modern crisis is not ultimately political, economic, or social, but rather fundamentally religious, “yet evangelicalism must be armed to declare the implications of its proposed religious solution for the politico-economic and sociological context for modern life.”
However marred, even apart from Christ “the world vessel of clay is not without some of the influence of the Master Molder. God has not left Himself entirely without witness in the global calamity.”
“There is a constructive work of God in history, even where the redemptive Gospel does not do a recreating work.”
“The Christian message has a salting effect upon the earth. It aims at a re-created society; where it is resisted, it often encourages the displacement of a low ideology by one relatively higher.” For example, “Democratic humanitarianism furnishes a better context for human existence than political naturalism, except as it degenerates to the latter.”
Modern evangelicalism does not need to fall into the trap of turning its primary aim into the building of “relatively higher civilizations.” That was the error of liberalism. Our supreme aim is “the proclamation of redeeming grace to sinful humanity.”
“The divine order involves a supernatural principle, a creative force that enters society from outside its natural sources of uplift, and regenerates humanity. In that divine reversal of the self-defeating sinfulness of man is the only real answer to our problems” (84).
Seek that first; political rest, labor and management fairness; and everything else will be added. “There is no satisfying rest for modern civilization if it is found in a context of spiritual unrest.”
“The Gospel of redemption is the most pertinent message for our modern weariness.”
This does not mean, however, that we cannot cooperate in securing relatively higher goods, “when this is the loftiest commitment we can evoke from humanity, providing we do so with appropriate warning of the inadequacy and instability of such solutions. The supernatural regenerative grace of God, proffered to the regenerate, does not prevent his natural grace to all men, regenerate and unregenerate alike. Because he brings rivers of living water to the redeemed, he does not on that account withhold the rain from the unjust and just alike. The realm of special grace does not preclude the realm of common grace.”
“The battle against evil in all its forms must be pressed unsparingly; we must pursue the enemy, in politics, in economics, in science, in ethics—everywhere, in every field, we must pursue relentlessly.” But when we meet the enemy, we must meet him head-on with gospel armor. “Others may resist him with inadequate weapons; they do not understand aright the nature of the foe, nor the requirements for victory.” We join with them in battle, all the while seeking to set forth more clearly the actual nature of the enemy, and more clearly state the redemptive gospel.
“Intermingling of Christian and and non-Christian elements.”
This also becomes a form of pre-evangelism. “It is far easier, in an idealistic context, to proclaim the essential Christian message, than it is in a thoroughly naturalist context. Life means more in a context of idealism, because true meaning evaporates in a context of naturalism.”
Simply because of our opposition to evils we ought to lend our endorsement to remedial efforts in any context so long as they are not specifically anti-redemptive, “while at the same time decrying the lack of a redemptive solution” (87).
Currently in America, the influence of Christian theism is sufficient such that the usual solutions are non-redemptive rather than anti-redemptive in character.
It is not enough to pass resolutions and write books. So often we think such things automatically constitute a long step on the road to deliverance. They do not. That is just the beginning, and it must not stop there.
“The evangelical task primarily is the preaching of the Gospel, in the interest of individual regeneration by the supernatural grace of God, in such a way that divine redemption can be recognized as the best solution of our problems, individual and social.” “This produces within history, through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, a divine society that transcends national and international lines.”
“The corporate testimony of believers, in their purity of life, should provide for the world an example of the divine dynamic to overcome evils in every realm.”
When the church begins to out-live its environment as the first century Christians did, “the modern mind, too, will stop casting about for other solutions.”
“The great contemporary problems are moral and spiritual.”
“The modern mood is far more likely to react first on the level of Christianity as a life view, than at the level of Christianity as a world view.”
A renewal of the church resulting in a world missionary program and “a divinely –empowered Christian community would turn the uneasy conscience of modern evangelicalism into a new reformation” (89).