I was struck by something that I read today in Carl F. H. Henry’s watershed work The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947).
Fundamentalism is agreed on the main doctrines of God, of creation, of anthropology, of soteriology, and of eschatology in its main peaks (p. 61).
What impressed me about Henry’s observation here is that, sadly, it is no longer true. The consensus that used to characterize American evangelicalism no longer exists.
One can no longer claim unity among evangelicals on central issues. Current debates among evangelicals about open theism and the adequacy of the penal substitution model of the atonement demonstrate that the old, broad consensus on the doctrine of God and soteriology has broken down.
Henry’s characterization of old liberal saws sounds a lot like the critiques of some post-modern and emergent evangelicals today. Can you see the similarities in the following?
To conceal his own embarrassment, many a liberal today follows a planned strategy of thanking God he is not a Fundamentalist [just like this guy and this guy]. A frequent pattern is to remark that of course the liberal repudiates the obscurantism of taking the whole Bible literally [like this guy again], or of thinking God dictated it without respecting the personalities of the writers, or of contending that God stopped working in human history 1900 years ago. What is not remarked is that no representative Fundamentalist thinks that either (p. 56).
I could give a lot more examples of correlation, but I will stop with these. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.