Friday, December 02, 2005

'The New Evangelism' IV

We saw in the last post Henry Drummond's criticism of the 'old evangelism'. So what was the 'New Evangelism' going to be?

"Perhaps the most important principle, in the first place, is that the New Evangelism must not be doctrinal. By this is not meant that it is independent of doctrine, but simply that its truths as conveyed to the people are not to be in the propositional form... Now, when it is said that preaching is not to be doctrinal, what is meant is this. When Evangelism wishes to recieve truth, so as to expound it, it is to refer to criticism for information rather than dogmatism. And when it gives out what it has recieved, it is neither to be critical in form, nor doctrinal." (p. 20)

So the New Evangelism majors on non-doctrinal preaching. Preaching is not to be directed so much to reason as to the imagination (P. 26).

"The old theology was a product of reason. It was an elaborate, logical construction. The complaint against it is that, as a logical construction, it was arrived at by a faculty of the mind, and not by a faculty of the soul. On close scrutiny it turns out to be nothing more or less than rationalism. The doctrine of the atonement, for instance, and the whole federal theology, is an elaborate rationalism." (P. 26).

But will there not be a loss in this non-doctrinal mode of preaching which is aimed at the imagination? Yes, for the New Evangelism "...will never say that it sees quite clearly." (P. 33).

Non-propostional, non-doctrinal preaching, which aims at the imagination rather than the mind and cultivates vagueness? Yes, Henry Drummond had 'Emergent' typed and filed in the 1890s. Truly there is 'nothing new under the sun.' Drummond's brand of mysticism did not fill the churches then, it will not do so now.
I have noted in a published article that Drummond so under-emphasised the atonement, and dwelled in his preaching on the incarnation and the ethical aspects of Christianity. Although he worked with D.L. Moody, Drummond's message was not Moody's. Drummond would never preach about the blood of Christ. His teaching, in the words of a friend, "seemed to do without all that, to common Christianity, is indispensable."



Blogger étrangère said...

Fascinating. Postmodernism isn't so post-modernism after all. It's a thin veneer; it relies on it. As Romanticism did not replace enlightenment thought but relied on it. So I suppose the response isn't going to differ much either, for better or for worse. Those self-identifying as emerging would be disappointed to discover it's already emerged and submerged.

12:08 pm  

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