Recently a new friend, Pastor Wayne Wager of Illini Life Christian Fellowship at the University of Illinois, Champaign, sent me a paper he had written entitled The Buses Will Wait: The Emergence and Rise of Neo-Evangelicalism (1940-1970). His paper explores the history of evangelicals with a focus on the Neo-Evangelical movement in the middle of the 20th century.
In this very helpful paper, Pastor Wager makes useful distinctions between Christian fundamentalists and their evangelical counterparts. He examines both the strengths and weaknesses of the New-Evangelical, identifying two major weakness compared with their earlier spiritual fathers. The Neo-Evangelicals were marked by anti-intellectualism and by a limited view of [w]holistic ministry, or engagement in social action. Wager concludes his paper with a call: “What I sense we need is faithfulness to those few core values that make evangelicals what they are. Living true to the teaching of Scripture, being obedient to Jesus Christ, a brave engagement with the world as it is, and a continuing to pray for the genuine conversion of people.”
The paper reminds me of Dr. Ralph Winter’s influential paper, published in the fall of 2007, The Future of Evangelicals in Mission: Will We Regain the Vision of Our Forefathers in the Faith?
In his paper, Dr. Winter makes a distinction between 1st Inheritance Evangelicals who wanted to see and who work for both the transformation of hearts and societies, and 2nd Inheritance Evangelicals who worked only for the transformation of the heart.
As the church enters the 21st Century it is good to see Pastor Wager, Dr. Winter and others calling the church back to her rich evangelical heritage. In this legacy, people are called to the cross for salvation and nations are implored to obey all that Christ has commanded so that they may reach their God given potential as free, just, and prosperous peoples.
-Darrow L. Miller