Justin Taylor|9:11 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 5: Thursday

Thursday, April 2, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with scholars Doug Moo, Nick Perrin, and Paul Maier, focusing on the background of the Passover, why Jesus and the disciples reclined at the Last Supper instead of eating at a table, and why the Jewish officials had to get Pontius Pilate involved after beginning their judicial proceedings against Jesus.





Justin Taylor|1:20 pm CT

David Platt on Why You Should Not Believe “Heaven Is for Real”

Here is the MacArthur book that Platt is quoting from: The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (2nd edition, Crossway, 2013).

In this podcast, John Piper argues against such books from Isaiah 8:19 (And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?)

God’s beef with necromancy is that it belittles the sufficiency of his communication. Why would you inquire of the dead to find out what you want to know instead of inquiring of me? And if they say: Well, I have inquired of you and you didn’t tell me what I want to know. He would say: Well, that is your problem. I have told you what you need to know. You don’t need to know about such and such if I haven’t told you. And, in fact, if you go trying to inquire about such and such that I haven’t told you, you are dishonoring me. So that is the nature of the argument. And, therefore, I think the prohibition of séances and necromancy applies to this kind of thing and people ought to stop writing those books.

Here is the trailer for the film coming out on Easter that will have everyone talking about this again:

HT: @jnjbrewer





Justin Taylor|9:41 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 4: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 1, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University) and New Testament professor Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing on the behind-the-scenes motivations and actions of the Sanhedrin as they plot to put an end to Jesus once and for all.





Justin Taylor|10:35 am CT

Why It Matters Theologically and Historically That Women Were the First to Discover the Empty Tomb


In a new piece for Christianity Today online, Andreas Köstenberger and I look at Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon. Here is a comment on the role of the women that may be helpful to remember:

As you preach this Easter, do not bypass the testimony of the women as an incidental detail.

In the first century, women were not even eligible to testify in a Jewish court of law.

Josephus said that even the witness of multiple women was not acceptable “because of the levity and boldness of their sex.”

Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, mocked the idea of Mary Magdalene as an alleged resurrection witness, referring to her as a “hysterical female . . . deluded by . . . sorcery.”

This background matters because it points to two crucial truths.

First, it is a theological reminder that the kingdom of the Messiah turns the system of the world on its head. Into this culture, Jesus radically affirmed the full dignity of women and the vital value of their witness.

Second, it is a powerful apologetic reminder of the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts. If these were “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pet. 1:16), women would never have been presented as the first eyewitnesses of the risen Christ.

For a quick guide to the identity of these women, go here.





Justin Taylor|10:13 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 3: Tuesday

Tuesday, March 31, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) along with historian of ancient history Paul Maier (of Western Michigan University), focusing in particular on the opposition to Jesus and what angered his Jewish antagonists so much.





Justin Taylor|1:47 pm CT

One Jesus: Four Pictures

Author Date Audience Picture of Jesus
Matthew Tax collector turned follower of Christ; one of the Twelve 50s or 60s Jews Jesus is the Jewish Messiah predicted in the OT, the son of David who comes to establish the kingdom of heaven
Mark Close associate of the Apostle Peter; may be the young man in Mark 14:50-51 mid to late 50s Gentiles in Rome Jesus is the authoritative, suffering son of God who gives his life as a ransom for many
Luke Gentile physician and companion of the apostle Paul who interviewed eyewitness for his two-volume work (Lk 1:2) 58-60 a man named Theophilus Jesus is the Savior of the world who seeks and saves the lost in fulfillment of the OT promises to Israel
John The beloved disciple; not only one of the Twelve but in the inner circle of Jesus’ closest friends (with Peter and James) mid to late 80s or early 90s the church in Ephesus Jesus is the messiah who demands belief and the lamb of God who dies for the sins of the world and gives those who believe eternal life

For a short and accessible introduction to this, see T. Desmond Alexander’s Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person?





Justin Taylor|11:00 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 2: Monday

Monday, March 30, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Nicholas Perrin (of Wheaton College) and Grant Osborne (of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), focusing in particular on the cursing of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, and the role of the temple in the theology and practice of Jesus. We will be releasing a new video each day this week.





Justin Taylor|11:00 pm CT

Holy Week, Day 1: Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 29, AD 33.

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo (of Wheaton College Graduate School) and Andreas Köstenberger (of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). We will be releasing a new video each day this week.





Justin Taylor|12:34 pm CT

Why Eugene Peterson Keeps Reading Calvin’s Institutes

Eugene Peterson, writing in Books & Culture:

Although I had been a pastor for a couple of years, I had little interest in theology. It was worse than that. My experience of theology was contaminated by adolescent polemics and hairsplitting apologetics. When I arrived at my university, my first impression was that the students most interested in religion were mostly interested in arguing. Theological discussions always seemed to set off a combative instinct among my peers. They left me with a sour taste. The grand and soaring realities of God and the Holy Spirit, Scripture and Jesus, salvation and creation and a holy life always seemed to get ground down into contentious, mean-spirited arguments: predestination and freewill, grace and works, Calvinism and Arminianism, liberal and conservative, supra- and infralapsarianism. The name Calvin was in particularly bad odor. I took refuge in philosophy and literature, where I was able to find companions for cultivating wonder and exploring meaning. When I entered seminary I managed to keep theology benched on the sidelines by plunging into the biblical languages.

But midway through [Douglas] Steere’s lecture, theology, and Calvin along with it, bounded off the bench. A new translation of the Institutes by Ford Lewis Battles (edited by John T. McNeill) had recently been published. I knew of the work of Dr. Steere and trusted him. But Calvin? And theology? After the hour’s lecture, most (maybe all) of my stereotyped preconceptions of both Calvin and theology had been dispersed. Steere was freshly energized by the new translation. He talked at length of the graceful literary style of the writing, the soaring architectural splendor of this spiritual classic, the clarity and beauty of the thinking, the penetrating insights and comprehensive imagination.

The lecture did its work in me—if Calvin was this good after four hundred years, I wanted to read his work for myself. The next day I went to a bookstore and bought the two volumes and began reading them. I read them through in a year, and when I finished I read them again. I’ve been reading them ever since.





Justin Taylor|10:47 am CT

Who Were the Women at the Empty Tomb?


This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.

In our book The Final Days of Jesus Andreas Köstenberger and I try to provide some help in understanding the identity and  role of Jesus’s female disciples, especially with respect to their discovery of the empty tomb and their eyewitnesses testimony to the risen Christ.

There are a number of things about the narrative of the women that can perplexing when we seek to harmonize their actions across the four accounts. The sheer number of Marys sometimes adds to the confusion! And it even can be difficult to untangle the Greek grammar. For example, is John 19:25 about three women or four?

A. ”[1] his mother and [2] his mother’s sister, [3] Mary the wife of Clopas, and [4] Mary Magdalene”


B. ”[1] his mother and [2] his mother’s sister, [that is,] Mary the wife of Clopas, and [3] Mary Magdalene”

Under option A, the reference is likely to Salome (which would make the sons of Zebedee—James and John—the cousins of Jesus). However, option B is more likely, meaning that Mary the wife of Clopas is Mary’s sister (or sister-in-law) and thus Jesus’s aunt.

We don’t pretend to offer definitive solutions in our book, but I thought it might be helpful for those preaching or thinking through this material to highlight the relevant entries in our reference guide at the end of the book. There is more information on these important women than we have often recognized.

1. Joanna (wife of Chuza)

Among the first women to discover the empty tomb (Luke 24:10), she was the wife of Chuza, the household manager or steward of King Herod Antipas (Luke 8:3).

She was a follower of Jesus and helped to provide financially for Jesus’s ministry, along with Susanna and many others (Luke 8:3).

2. Mary Magdalene

A Galilean woman probably from the town of Magdala (on the west bank of the Sea of Galilee). Jesus delivered her from seven demons (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).

She became a follower of Jesus (Matt. 27:57), a witness to the crucifixion and burial (Matt. 27:61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; John 19:25), and was among the women who went to the tomb on Sunday (Mark 16:1; John 20:1).

She was the first person to see Jesus alive (Mark 16:9) and told the other disciples (Luke 24:10; John 20:18).

3. Mary (mother of Jesus, widow of Joseph of Nazareth)

She gave birth to Jesus, raised him, was present at his execution and burial, and witnessed his resurrection life.

From the cross Jesus entrusted his widowed mother to John’s care, and she went to live in his home ( John 19:25-27)—perhaps because Mary’s other sons were not yet believers ( John 7:5; see also Matt. 13:57; Mark 3:21, 31; 6:4).

Mary’s other sons (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:2-3; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:4-5; Gal. 1:19) were named:

  • James (author of the biblical book of James)
  • Joseph/Joses
  • Simon
  • Judas/Jude (author of the biblical book of Jude)

She also had at least two daughters (Mark 6:3).

4. Mary (mother of James and Joses/Joseph)

A witness of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection appearances.

Her sons were named James the Younger (hence her husband must have been named James) and Joses/Joseph. See Matt. 27:61; 27:56; Mark 15:40, 47.

The fact that two Marys in the story have sons with the same names (James and Joseph/Joses) shows the commonality of certain names in first-century Galilee. The name Mary, in particular, was exceedingly common in first-century Palestine, hence the need to distinguish between different Marys in the Gospels, whether by way of their hometown (Mary Magdalene) or in association with their husband (Mary of Clopas) or sons (Mary mother of James and Joses).

5. Mary (wife of Clopas)

A Galilean witness of Jesus’s crucifixion, she may be identified as Jesus’s “mother’s sister” ( John 19:25)—though see discussion under Salome below.

According to Hegesippus, as quoted by the historian Eusebius, Clopas was the brother of Joseph of Nazareth (Hist. Eccl. 3.11; 3.32.6; 4.22.4). If so, Mary and Clopas were Jesus’s aunt and uncle. Their son Simeon (Jesus’s cousin) became a leader of the Jerusalem church succeeding James the brother of Jesus.

6. Salome (mother of James and John)

One of Jesus’s female followers in Galilee, she witnessed the crucifixion and went to the tomb on Sunday (Mark 15:40; 16:1).

The parallel passage in Matthew 27:56 makes it likely that she is the mother of the sons of Zebedee (i.e., James and John).





Justin Taylor|9:25 am CT

Logic on Fire: The Life & Legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

A forthcoming documentary:

If you preorder a digital download of this film by midnight (Central Time) tonight (Friday, April 11, 2014), you will be entered to win Lloyd-Jones’s complete 14-volume commentary set on Romans (which retails for $369).

Here is some more information on the project from Jonathan Catherwood, president of the MLJ Trust and grandson of the Doctor.

Dear Friend,

We wanted to let you know about some exciting news. A Christian filmmaker called Matthew Robinson is making a documentary on Martyn Lloyd-Jones entitled “Logic on Fire: the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.” The website for the film is http://www.logiconfire.org. News of the film was announced at this week’s “Together for the Gospel” gathering in Kentucky, right before a panel on the influence of Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the evangelical community.

Matt and his team have already started filming interviews with Christian leaders such as Iain Murray (who wrote the authorized two volume biography on Dr. Lloyd-Jones [see here]), and will in Britain later this month interviewing members of the Lloyd-Jones family and visiting key locations in the life of Dr. Lloyd-Jones in England and Wales. The film is due for release in 2015.

We also wanted to let you know that while we are very excited about this project, and have greatly appreciated the care that Matt has taken to make sure that Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s descendants and the Trust are comfortable with his approach, this is an independent venture. The MLJ Trust is not funding the film and will not be receiving any proceeds from it. Our mission is to make the 1,600 audio sermons of Dr. Lloyd-Jones available at MLJTrust.org for anyone who wants them at no cost, and that is where all our efforts and resources are focused. Our hope is that interest in the film will lead to interest in the Gospel message contained in all of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s sermons.

Every blessing to you,

Jonathan Catherwood
President; MLJ Trust





Justin Taylor|9:56 pm CT

Gay Marriage: Not Just a Social Revolution but a Cosmological One

Rod Dreher has an important essay on “Sex After Christianity.”

Here is an excerpt:

Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage. The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation.

Too many of them think that same-sex marriage is merely a question of sexual ethics. They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture—indeed, by many who call themselves Christians. They don’t grasp that Christianity, properly understood, is not a moralistic therapeutic adjunct to bourgeois individualism—a common response among American Christians, one denounced by Rieff in 2005 as “simply pathetic”—but is radically opposed to the cultural order (or disorder) that reigns today.

They are fighting the culture war moralistically, not cosmologically. They have not only lost the culture, but unless they understand the nature of the fight and change their strategy to fight cosmologically, within a few generations they may also lose their religion.

“The death of a culture begins when its normative institutions fail to communicate ideals in ways that remain inwardly compelling,” Rieff writes. By that standard, Christianity in America, if not American spirituality, is in mortal danger. The future is not foreordained: Taylor shares much of Rieff’s historical analysis but is more hopeful about the potential for renewal. Still, if the faith does not recover, the historical autopsy will conclude that gay marriage was not a cause but a symptom, the sign that revealed the patient’s terminal condition.

Read the whole thing.





Justin Taylor|9:12 pm CT

Where Did Christian Art Come From?

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 10.53.55 PM

Robert Louis Wilken:

Before the early third century there is no evidence of Christian art. Some have argued that in the early years Christians were aniconic—opposed to religious pictures, hostile to artistic representation of biblical events and persons. But that view has been abandoned by scholars. Though there is no archaeological evidence of Christian art before the catacomb of Callixtus, from literary sources we know that by the end of the second century Christians had begun to find ways to give visible expression  to their beliefs. Clement, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, said that Christians purchased objects engraved with symbols.

Let our seals [for example, a precious stone with a designed engraved on it] be a dove or a fish or a ship running in fair wind or a musical lyre such as the one Polycrates [ruler of the Greek island of Samos in the sixth century B.C.] used or a ship’s anchor such as the one Seleucus [a Hellenistic king in Antioch in Syria who died in 281 B.C.] had engraved on his sealstone. And if someone is fishing he will call to mind the apostle [Peter]. . . . We who are forbidden to attach ourselves to idols must not engrave the face of idols [on our rings], or the sword or the bow, since we follow the path of peace, or drinking cups, since we are sober. Many licentious people carry images of their lovers and favorite prostitutes on their rings. [Paed. III.59.2-III.60.1]

Clement’s point is this: If a Christian wished to have a ring that expressed his faith he should go to a craftsman whose stones were engraved with figures that could be given a Christian meaning. What he says about rings would apply equally to other objects, such as an oil lamp, or a bowl, or a pitcher. As yet there were not Christian artists or craftsmen who designed objects with distinctive Christian images. So Clement recommends that Christians buy rings that were in common use and readily available in workshops in the markets of the city. Though they may me stamped with symbols that bear one meaning to the maker and to most buyers, some of the engravings could be given a Christian sense. A dove could be taken to symbolize the Christian virtues of gentleness and peacefulness; a fish could be a symbol of Christ because the letters of the Greek word for fish (ixthus) could be taken to spell the first letters of the words JESUS CHRIST SON OF GOD SAVIOR; a ship could signify the Church carrying the faithful over the turbulent waters of life; a young man with a lyre could depict David singing the psalms; an an anchor could be a symbol of hope (Hebrews 6:18-19).

—Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2012), 49.





Justin Taylor|7:40 pm CT

10 Key Events: Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in 20th Century America

In 19th century North America, evangelicalism basically referred to a loosely associated, intradenominational coalition of Protestants who held to the basic reformational doctrines of sola fide [faith alone] and sola scriptura [Scripture alone], mediated through the revival experiences of the Great Awakenings.

David Bebbington’s evangelical quadrilateral—namely, that the common denominator among evangelicals is the combined belief in biblical authority, cruciformity, conversionism, and evangelism—has value but lacks specificity when applied to the North American experience (instead of just evangelicalism in Great Britain). North American evangelicals not only believed in the Bible’s general authority but also its inerrancy and infallibility. They not only believed in conversion but also saw revivalism as a way in which God might work.

The following are ten key events that took place in the relationship between evangelicals, fundamentalists, modernists, and neo-evangelicals during the 20th century in North America.

1. The Fundamentals Published (1910-1915)


In the wake of late 19th century Darwinian evolutionary theory and with the concomitant rise of biblical higher criticism in the early 20th century, two wealthy businessmen (oil man Lyman Stewart [1840-1923] and his brother Milton] funded a 12-volume series on The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910-1915). These 90 essays were written by 64 English and American pastors and theologians, most of them denominational evangelicals, setting forth what they agreed were the “fundamentals” of the faith. Between 2 to 3 million copies were distributed.

2. The Term “Fundamentalism” Is Coined (1920)

In 1919, the World Christian Fundamentals Association was founded, led by William Bell Riley (1861-1947), a Minneapolis pastor who also founded Northwestern Bible College and would later be known as ”The Grand Old Man of Fundamentalism.”

In 1920, Baptist journalist Curtis Lee Laws (1868-1946) wrote an editorial (“Convention Side Lights,” Watchman-Examiner 8 [July 1, 1920]: 834) offering new nomenclature to capture the current state of conservative dissent.

The label conservatives, he wrote, “is too closely allied with reactionary forces in all walks of life.” Premillennialist ”is too closely allied with a single doctrine and not sufficiently inclusive.” Landmarkers “has a historical disadvantage and connotes a particular group of radical conservatives.”

In its place he suggests “that those who [1] still cling to the great fundamentals and who [2] mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists.’” In other words, they were the type of people willing to continue the fight  for the sort of truths laid out in The Fundamentals pamphlets, the type of people who were joining the World Christian Fundamentals Association.

Refining the Definition

Following Laws’s original usage and utilizing the excellent analysis of Nathan Finn, fundamentalism, in its broadest and original sense (encompassing the disparate parties that would emerge), can be defined as conservative Protestant dissent against progressive (or revisionist, or Modernist, or Liberal) doctrine and mores. Those in the crossfires of fundamentalist so-called militancy were those who advocated:

  • progressivist beliefs that undermined the fundamentals doctrines (e.g., naturalistic evolution, biblical criticism, later neo-orthodoxy), and
  • progressivist values that undermined the fundamentalist understanding of the Christian life (e.g., dancing, drinking, gambling for some; others would focus more upon political movements like communism in the 1950s, or upon sexual mores, especially into the 1960s).

3. Denominational Battles Fought in the North (1919-1937)

From 1919-1937 a series of denominational battles were fought in the northern states for control of the Northern Baptist and the Northern Presbyterian denominations. Fundamentalist-evangelicals were committed denominationalists who were ecumenically minded toward those who held to the fundamentals but fought for the purity and integrity of their ecclesiastical bodies. During this time, conservative Presbyterians on several occasions sought to produce statements identifying the minimal core of their evangelical convictions: namely,

  • the inerrancy of the Word of God in its original autographs
  • the virgin birth of Jesus Christ
  • his vicarious atonement for sin
  • his bodily resurrection from the dead
  • the reality of biblical miracles

Others would later want to add additional items to the list like belief in the premillennial return of Christ.

4. Fosdick Preaches, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” (1922)

Harry_Emerson_Fosdick On May 21, 1922, Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) preached a provocative sermon to the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Referring to himself as an evangelical, he sounded a warning against the anti-modernistic obscurantism and anti-intellectualism of the fundamentalists. They could believe what they wanted about the virgin birth, the inspiration of Scripture, and their understanding of the atonement, but their boundary-drawing was a danger to the church and must be firmly resisted. He called for increased tolerance of spirit—though it seemed he mainly wanted the tolerance to be a one-way street toward his brand of modernism. Fosdick understood modernism to be the spirit of the age, and he viewed Christianity as needing to accommodate its categories and to infuse it with a Christian ethic of love.

5. The Scopes Monkey Trial Becomes a Symbol (1925)


In 1925 the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial transfixed the nation as the ACLU orchestrated a trial of John Thomas Scopes (1900-1970), a young biology teacher willing to test the state laws on the teaching of evolution. The trial pitted famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) against the charismatic prosecutor William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), a progressivist politician who was a confident fundamentalist in biblical doctrine.

Through the combination of acerbic reporting by H.L. Mencken (1880-1926), unforced errors by Bryan, and (later) a historically inaccurate play and Hollywood movie, the trial would eventually become symbolic in American culture for fundamentalism’s mean-spirited anti-intellectualism and even buffoonery.

(For more on the history of the trial, go here.)

6. Machen Defends the Faith against Modernism (1929-1937)

J.G.MachenIn 1929, J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)—a brilliant Reformed New Testament professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, who had studied under Adolf Schlatter in Germany—left the school after it reorganized its curriculum, having opened the door (in Machen’s view) to modernist compromise. He would then found Westminster Theological Seminary (1929) and later The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936) after he was tried and found guilty for continuing his Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM), designed so that money contributed by orthodox Presbyterians would end up going to support likeminded orthodox Presbyterian missionaries rather than modernist Presbyterians like Pearl Buck (1892-1973).

Machen was a non-dispensational example of conservative dissent. He did not particularly care for or embrace the “fundamentalist” label, but he understood that their belief in premillennialism (while in error, in his judgment) was an error of a different kind than that propagated by the modernists.

In 1923 Eerdmans published Machen’s landmark book Christianity and Liberalism, arguing that modernistic liberalism was not a sub-species of Christian orthodoxy but rather a different religion that must be rejected once and for all. For example, he wrote, that the “Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all” (p. 52).

When Machen died in 1937 at the age of 55, after a bout with pneumonia, it marked the passing of an era in 20th century fundamentalist-evangelicalism.

(The best biography of Machen is D.G. Hart’s Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America; the best entry point is Stephen J. Nichols’s J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought.)

7. Internal Criticisms Issued within Fundamentalism (Late 1930s-Early 1940s)

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, some quarters of fundamentalism began to experience discomfort with the trajectory of the movement. There was a concern that the militancy of fundamentalism was having unfortunate results. Speaking in broad terms, some critics perceived the default posture of fundamentalism to have

  • a focus on infighting over soul-winning
  • a diminished social conscious in order to protect the doctrine of the gospel, and
  • a downplaying of intellectual engagement with the academy in the desire to avoid influence by modernism.

8. Ockenga and Henry Lead Fuller Seminary and Christianity Today (1941-1947)

ockenga portraitIn 1941 Harold John Ockenga (1905-1985), pastor of Park Street Church in Boston and a former student of Machen’s, issued the call for “neo-evangelicalism,” and the National Association of Evangelicals was formed that year. (Carl McIntire [1906-2002] was originally to be part of this, but broke off to form his own fundamentalist association that would define itself in many ways as a corrective to and critic of neo-evangelicalism.) This group was broadly ecumenical, at first encompassing not only evangelical denominationalists but also holiness, Pentecostal groups, and independent ministries like the Salvation Army.

In 1947 Ockenga co-founded Fuller Theological Seminary with Charles E. Fuller (1887-1968), CFHHenryhost of the popular radio broadcast “The Old-Fashioned Revival Hour.” The initial faculty—including Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003)—were evangelical intellectuals who wanted to write a new chapter in confessional Christian higher education.

That same year Eerdmans published Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalismwhich argued against both fundamentalists and liberals who were obscuring the gospel by focusing upon secondary issues.

In 1956 Billy Graham (1918-) founded Christianity Today, designed to be a forward-looking, positive alternative to The Christian Century. Henry was tapped as the magazine’s first editor.

9. Billy Graham and Bob Jones Separate (1957)


An epochal internal rift occurred in the summer of 1957, as Billy Graham engaged in his historic evangelistic crusades in Madison Square Garden with record crowds. From Graham’s perspective, he needed to partner with local pastors and churches in the area to ensure a warm reception of collegiality rather than to exacerbate competition and suspicion. This would also be a key part of the follow-up effort for those who had professed faith at the meetings. The strategy worked and Graham was not only welcomed by the local churches (many of them Modernistic) but also by the masses.

But this methodology was increasingly seen as problematic and troublesome, especially for fundamentalists in the South. Bob Jones Jr. (1911-1997), with the support of his father Bob Jones Sr. (1883-1968), founder of the eponymous Bible college, made it clear to Graham and his supporters that partnership with the modernists was a bridge too far. They felt that by having modernists on the platform—a visible endorsement, replete with asking some of them to pray and entrusting the gospel follow-up to some of their churches— Graham was engaging in sinful compromise and offering an implicit endorsement of the enemies of the faith. For the Joneses, and those who followed in their lead, this meant that they must separate not only from Graham himself, but from all those who supported Graham.

Thus emerged a new phase in the history of fundamentalist-evangelicalism, as the so-called “secondary separationists” began to have increasing influence, especially in the South. Whereas “fundamentalism” had originally been a conservative dissent movement within the denominations (working for their reform), a new segment of it defined faithfulness as leaving compromising denominations that had become apostate in their view—and also rejecting any fellowship and partnership with those who refused to do the same.

Three Approaches to Separatism 

Emerging from this 1957 division, and continuing through the intra-denominational controversies of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Southern Baptist Convention into the 1980s, there was conservative agreement that personal holiness was a necessity and that separation from moral sin was required. But beneath this general principle, there were three overlapping approaches to separation within fundamentalism.

First, there were denominational reformers who believed they should stay within a denomination and fight for its doctrinal and moral purity.

Second, there were denominational separatists who believed that faithful Christians should extricate themselves from denominations and professing Christians influenced by modernism and therefore apostasy.

Third, there were ecclesiastical separatists who were also secondary separationists, refusing to have fellowship with fellow conservative dissenters who did not withdraw from apostate denominations.

What must be noted here, and is often overlooked in discussions of fundamentalism, is that the original fundamentalists were in categories 1, and sometimes 2. But category 3 was largely the result of post-1957 fundamentalism and represents a new phase of development.

10. Fuller Seminary Divides over Inerrancy on Black Saturday (1962)

DPFIn 1962 there occurred another event that, in my view, may be the second most important development after the 1957 split. On December 1, at the conclusion of a three-day planning retreat for the faculty and trustees of Fuller Theological Seminary, the issue of revising the school’s creedal statement on inerrancy was on the agenda. Ockenga, the school’s president in absentia who had helped to draft the original informal statement in a Reformational-Princetonian direction, wondered why the creed needed to be revised in the first place.

Daniel P. Fuller (1925) was the only child of the school’s founders, Charles and Grace Fuller. He had long abandoned his father’s dispensationalism, and had gone off to get a second doctorate in Basel with serious doubts about inerrancy—doubts that were solidified in his studies with Oscar Cullmann and after a conversation with a former fellow Fuller student who had gone on for a PhD at Harvard and expressed his opinion that Fuller would not survive if it retained its outmoded fundamentalist doctrine of inerrancy. Fuller informed Ockenga that the Bible did contain errors on non-revelational details (observable but not essential matters) and that an appeal to the original autographs would not solve the problem. Fuller’s nuanced view—which had much to do with the hermeneutics of authorial intent and divine accommodation—sought to retain the term “inerrancy” because he thought every word of Scripture was inspired by God and inerrant in its purposes, but it was clear he was breaking with the historic Warfieldian-Princetonian understanding.

The progressive-conservative divide was exacerbated and solidified and between the faculty—between those who were more comfortable with a traditional understanding of inspiration and those who wanted more progressivist changes. “Black Saturday” forever changed the direction of the school and stands for a significant change in the relationship between fundamentalism and neo-evangelicalism, as progressive evangelicalism proffered itself as a new third way.

(The story is told from a critical perspective in Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, though it has a number of historical errors in recounting the story. The fullest version by a celebrated historian is George Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism.)





Justin Taylor|4:48 pm CT

Livestream for T4G: April 8-10, 2014

You can register to watch the T4G livestream online for free.

All times below are Eastern. When each plenary speaker is speaking has not been publicly announced. At the end of the post you can find the list of panels, but again it has not been announced when each will be.

I am not sure if they are able to stream the music, so if it’s not live you may want to check back 20 minutes into the session.

Tuesday, April 8

1:00 – 2:50 | General Session 1
3:05 – 4:10 | General Session 2
4:30 – 5:15 | Panel 1
7:30 – 8:55 | General Session 3
9:10 – 9:55 | Panel 2

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 4
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 5
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 3
3:00 – 4:00 | Breakout Sessions
7:30 – 8:50 | General Session 6
9:05 – 9:45 | Panel 4

Thursday, April 10

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 7
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 8
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 5
2:00 – 3:15 | Panel 6
3:45 – 5:00 | General Session 9

Plenary Speakers:

Ligon Duncan, The Gospel by Numbers (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler, The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age (Acts 4)

Mark Dever, The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church an Encouragement to Evangelism (Isaiah 36-37)

John MacArthur, Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith (John 6)

David Platt, Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence (Exodus 32)

John Piper, Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

Kevin DeYoung, Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler, Christ is All (2 Tim. 1:8-14)


“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: John MacArthur and Iain Murray (biographer of D. Martin Lloyd Jones)

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Chair: Albert Mohler
Panelists: Russell Moore and  Sam Alberry (author of Is God Anti-gay?)

“Preaching Sanctification”
Chair: Matt Chandler
Panelists: Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas (Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Chair: Ligon Duncan
Panelists: Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates (Rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA)

“Stump the Panel”
Chair: Mike McKinley
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole

Future Theological Threats
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams