In April 7, 1942, Harold John Ockenga stood to address the 150 delegates who had assembled at the Hotel Coronado in St. Louis, Missouri, to launch the National Association of Evangelicals for United Action (NAE). "Gentlemen," observed the dashing young pastor from Park Street Church in Boston, "we are gathered here today to consider momentous questions" and perhaps to even "arrive at decisions" that "will affect the whole future course of evangelical Christianity in America."

"Evangelical Christianity has suffered nothing but a series of defeats for decades," Ockenga lamented. The "terrible octopus of liberalism" had "spread itself throughout our Protestant Church, dominating innumerable organizations, pulpits, and publications, as well as seminaries and other schools." The "poison" of "materialism" is "spoiling the testimony and message of the majority of our young preachers today." The "floods of iniquity" are pouring over America "in a tidal wave of drunkenness, immorality, corruption, dishonesty, and utter atheism."

Look around you, Ockenga suggested to the delegates. What you will see are Christians who are "defeated, reticent, retiring and seemingly in despair." If ever evangelicals needed "some organ to speak for the evangelical interests, to represent men who, like myself, are 'lone wolves' in the church," it is certainly today. But such defeat and despair, he assured the delegates, were no longer necessary. "Can such an organization" as they had been discussing "be launched here which will be the vanguard of the movement? I answer unqualifiedly, it can."

"Are we in earnest?" he asked. "Are we teachable? … Are we clean? … Are we willing to dissolve any organizational connection which we may have in order that we, as ...

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