Evangelicals: A Vital Force

The New Evangelical Theology, by Millard Erickson (Revell, 1968, 250 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Richard N. Longenecker, associate professor of New Testament history and theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

Writing in the popular idiom, Millard Erickson, chairman of the Department of Bible and Philosophy at Wheaton College (Illinois), has done for “new evangelicalism” what William Hordern, his doctoral mentor, did for the various forms of neo-liberalism and neo-orthodoxy in A Layman’s Guide to Protestant Theology. And like Hordern’s book, The New Evangelical Theology ought to be on the required reading list of every Christian layman and beginning theological student who wants to understand the theological lines and issues as they are drawn today.

After broadly describing the threat to orthodoxy that has arisen during the past two centuries in the natural sciences, philosophy, and biblical criticism, Dr. Erickson focuses his attention upon five men who have been in large measure the spokesmen of new evangelicalism since 1946: Harold J. Ockenga, Carl F. H. Henry, Edward J. Carnell, Bernard Ramm, and Billy Graham. A few others are identified, but only in passing. Taking these five as the forefront of a distinguishable movement, Erickson describes their motivating concerns, their commitment to Scripture as formal authority, their doctrinal system, the type of apologetic they employ, and their efforts to develop a Christian ethic. He concludes by speaking of trends within the movement, reactions from the right and left, strengths and weaknesses, and the future.

His thesis is that new evangelicalism is a vital factor on the American scene today; that it is carrying on both ...

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