Thursday, July 27, 2006

CHURCH HISTORY: Catching up on my reading with a 48 year-old copy of The Sword of the Lord

That's right, I have a copy paper box full of ancient issues of The Sword of the Lord (The Sword of the Lord still has an online presence here. For those of you who are not familiar with TSOTL, go here.)

I've decided to post excerpts on a few gems of the past every so often; this morning's offering is about two articles which are joined at the hip: "Roddy Denounces Bible-Believers," by Dr. Arno Q. Weniger (below the fold); and "Another Fundamentalist Joins Shocking Unbelief," by the editor, John R. Rice (page two).

Both center on an October 1, 1958, article by Sherman Roddy in Christian Century. Roddy was a Church History professor at the Conservative Baptist's Denver Seminary, in the 50s until his views became public ... his father was a tenured professor at Fuller in Pasadena at the time. Roddy ended up a liberal assistant minister at a Denver Presbyterian Church.

Keep in mind that the big Baptist splits were a thing of the past at this point, yet the rancor and vitriol between "modernists" and "fundies" remained as dangerous as Pompeii three days after Vesuvius' temper tantrum. The Sword was a main paper for the fundamentalists of the day. Also remember that the CBA's Denver Seminary was considered a fundamentalist seminary in its early days.

The quotes which follow pertain to personalities only ... remember this was 1958, only nine years after Billy Graham's first Los Angeles Crusade. The focus of the paper is clearly anti-modernist as it continues to be at this time.
The article by Sherman Roddy is not especially worthy of comment, except that it shows what happens to a man who becomes ashamed of the term "fundamentalist" and then calls himself a "new evangelical" and then finally lands in total unbelief, and as the enemy of Bible Christianity. The article has so little of intelligence or reason or spiritual sensitivity that it is amazing that even The Christian Century would publish it. It seems to be written by a spiritually sick man, a frustrated and vengeful man. The language is not Christian language but the language of infidels.
Certainly their take on The Christian Century was prophetic.
Roddy is a graduate of Wheaton College.
Again and again, they couldn't resist taking a dig at Wheaton and Fuller (though the latter may have been prophetic).
[Roddy] speaks as an "insider" of the "young intellectuals," self-styled, who form the "new evangelical" movement, largely developed through the leadership of Dr. Carl Henry, who was then teaching at Wheaton College, now editor of Christianity Today; of Robert Walker, a little ahead of him in Wheaton College, but who lives in Wheaton and edits Christian Life magazine; and Dr. Billy Graham, only slightly ahead of Sherman Roddy and his contemporary in Wheaton College.
Robert Walker is not well known but the contributions of both Henry and Graham are well known.
But lest someone should think I was unfair in this matter; the reader must remember that Dr. Harold Ockenga, then the president of Fuller Seminary, organized and brought into being this of the "new evangelicals," as he boasts .... Dr. Billy Graham, the evangelist of the "new evangelicals," as he is openly named by articles in Christian Life and Christianity Today, has recently joined the board of Fuller Seminary and Dr. Fuller ... has recently acclaimed this "new alliance."
Clearly, those whom Evangelicals might consider our theological fathers were held in low esteem in the late 50s. In fact, somewhere I have an issue of The Sword in which one author points to Bill Graham as "the anti-Christ." I'll have to find it and post on it at a latter date.
We consider this article quite authoritative, since Denver Seminary is widely regarded as a center of the new evangelicalism. Fundamentalists recall that one of the earliest proponents of the New Evangelicalism was Denver's president, Dr. Vernon C. Grounds whose able defense of the new "ism" was published in Donald Grey Barnhouse's Eternity Magazine, February, 1956, under the title, "The Nature of Evangelicalism."
Vernon Grounds was an active editor at Moody Monthly during my first few years as a Christian and while I attended Talbot Theological Seminary in the 80s. If if hadn't been for the likes of him and Barnhouse, Ockenga, Henry, Graham, Torrey, McGee, and others I would have been considerable deficient in my biblical knowledge today. I bless them for helping to this helpless middle-aged seminary student.

Rice contends Grounds and the others were wolves in sheep's clothing, a charge that is being leveled at far too many of our brethren today.

Even the early version of my alma mater, BIOLA receives some serious knocks from the descendants of early fundamentalism.
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4
One thing is certain to me - the fundies of that day couldn't distinguish between a modernist (liberal) and an evangelical; that fact hurt them publicly. Almost five decades later another type of fundamentalism is rearing its ugly head and likewise can't distinguish between true liberals and latter-day evangelicals.

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