Sunday, March 30, 2014

Preaching the Gospel to New Evangelicals?

In one of our Word of Truth conferences, for the panel discussion someone asked a question about evangelizing new evangelicals.  Recently on a blog forum, out of the blue, someone criticized that question as strange enough that he stopped listening anymore, even though he thought the answer wasn't bad.  Why would anyone ask about evangelizing new-evangelicals?

As an interesting sidebar, have you read the recent popular fad by evangelicals of "preaching the gospel to yourself"?  I guess it's good to new evangelicals to preach the gospel to themselves, but bad if someone else preaches the gospel to them.  Just way too much preaching of the gospel today, I guess, really offensive -- gotta stop doing that.  Why?  Why not?

Don't new-evangelicals like hearing the gospel?  Aren't they gospel centered?  It's interesting how dogmatic fundamentalists can get about not doing something, like there's a Bible passage that says, "don't preach the gospel to someone."  Do you know one?  So this person, a pastor, is basing his idea on something non- or even unscriptural.

I was listening to a bit of the Word of Truth Conference, which is an annual conference these men put on. During the Q & A, I was a bit shocked to hear this question:

How would you share the Gospel with new evangelicals? 

The response (by somebody) was fine, but the bare fact that the question could be asked, quite honestly, shocked me greatly. I have seen this trend before; the suggestion that unless somebody is aligned with your particular ecclesiology, they may not be "real" Christians. To be clear, this question was asked by an audience member, not a panelist. I am not impugning Bro. Brandenberg or anyone else on the panel. However, again, the fact that the question needed to be asked is disturbing. I stopped listening shortly thereafter.

First, I don't imagine anyone at our conference saying "share the gospel," because it's not the kind of language we use, so I wouldn't think it's an exact quote, although presented as such.    The title of the comment was "A Bit Disturbing," and then you can see that he said he "was a bit shocked."

Second, he said this was an annual "conference these men put on."  Men put this conference on?  Bethel Baptist Church would find it interesting to find that some men put on their conference.  Our church pays for the conference.  Men don't put it on.  This is an entirely fundamentalist perspective, where groups of men put things on.  Is there something like that in the Bible?

And then he judged the question to be because new-evangelicals are not aligned with a particular ecclesiology.  That is untrue, and at the level of a bold-faced lie.  It is patently untrue.  It is bare speculation fabricated out of whole cloth.  It is typical fundamentalist style, mean-spirited guess-work.  That question HAS NOTHING TO DO with our ecclesiology.  Just.  Wow.   I guess with fundamentalists there are bad questions.  Inform your membership that you need to be careful what question you ask a fundamentalist, because he might become disturbed.  He did get part of it right.  The reason we evangelize new evangelicals is because we have found that most are not in fact real Christians.  Should that surprise anyone?  It has nothing to do whether they are universal church, local church, local church/universal body, or whatever ecclesiology they have.  That never comes up.  Never.  Again, wow.

I can't judge why this comment was made.  It was mean.  It was untrue.  It was typical.  We're concerned for the lost.  New evangelical pastors, which I know, because I actually talk to them face to face and on the phone, will tell me that over 50% of their people are not saved.  They know it.  So when I hear door-to-door someone goes to The Adventure or The Rock, I should just say,  according to this disturbed pastor, "Praise the Lord, you must be saved!"  Really?  Wow.  What ignorance.  This is an ignorant AND mean comment.  Is this acceptable?  Are these people preaching the gospel to anyone?  Get out a little.  Get out into the real world and minister a little.  What is going on?!?!

But he says that he stopped listening because the question itself was disturbing.  Guess what?  It's more disturbing that he thinks it's disturbing.  It shows a woeful lack of knowledge.  Hopefully, he'll learn.  I recently read a post at The Gospel Coalition, which is mainly new-evangelical if not completely, and it was a very good post about why rejection of same-sex marriage is at the level of an essential to the gospel.  You read the comment section and many, many were opposed to the post.  These are new-evangelicals.  Do you think that some of them might not be converted?

We also evangelize fundamentalists.  Know why?  A lot of the Hyles types, the promotion types, practice 1-2-3 pray with me and don't preach repentance.  I preach the gospel to all of them too.  Disturbing?  Are we disturbed?  Are we shocked?  Are we tongue-snapping and rolling our eyes?

Everyone at this blog forum, SharperIron, just accepted this comment.  They assumed it to be true.  Then there was a pile-on from other commenters, assuming way, way too many things.  One guy commented on our book A Pure Church, as if it were a book about chain-link Baptist perpetuity.  Not only do I not believe that position, but there is nothing in this book on that.  It is a book with exegesis on separation and unity passages.  It's a great book.  But he smears it as that, which is a lie, and everyone chirps in, as if someone said something good.  This is fundamentalism.  It is mean and it is in so many cases inaccurate and it doesn't give due process.  There seems to be little curiosity as to their own possible ignorance.  This is why fundamentalism is dead or dying.

But I digress.  This post is about preaching the gospel to new evangelicals.  I don't know how we answered in the conference, but I know what I would do.   I would hear that they go to Bay Hills or Valley or whatever, and I would likely say something to the effect that attending church won't get you to heaven and then preach the gospel, the true gospel.  I would in effect do the job that new evangelical churches often don't do.  They are often into attracting a crowd through various means and preaching a very watered down gospel presentation.  Often they leave people twice the child they once were.  You preach the gospel to the person because you love him and you want him to be saved.

Preach the gospel to new evangelicals.


horace said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

If you found that a particular new evangelical (or a fundamentalist) did affirm the Gospel (including the necessity of repentence and lordship Salvation), would you stop preaching the Gospel to them? I agree, thought, that professing Christians ought to be questioned regarding the Gospel along with everybody else.

Casey Cho

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Brandenburg:

The comment was indeed made by me. I believe I made it clear I was not condemning you. I was also not suggesting that you promote the idea I was criticizing.

What I was reacting against was the common idea I have seen and observed among some Baptists that "if you're not just like me" than you're not a real Christian.

I am well aware that the "casual" attitude among many alleged Christians is cause for great concern. I spoke to two people this very week who claim to be Christians, but have not darkened the doors of a church in years. Are they saved? I seriously doubt it.

I took the questioner to be implying that because someone is a new evangelical, they may not be really saved. This is an . . . odd way of thinking. There are plenty of Baptists, as Bro. Mitchell has taken pains to point out, who may not be saved either. Being a new evangelical has nothing to do with one's eternal state.

I have frequently heard the "if you're not just like us, you must not be a real Christian" line put forth many times. I once heard a missionary say proudly that he felt called to go to New Zealand, because, "there are a lot of Presbyterian churches, a lot of Methodist churches, but there isn't an INDEPENDENT, FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST CHURCH THERE, AMEN!"

It is this exclusivist mindset I was reacting against. I wasn't trying to be "mean." I wasn't suggesting you promote an exclusivist mindset. One's denominational affiliation or stance on ecclesiastical and personal separation has nothing to do with salvation. The question implied that it did. That is wrong.

I made the very point this morning in church that Paul didn't draw the line around "Baptist gospel," a "Methodist gospel" or a "Presbyterian gospel," but around "the Gospel."

Wasn't trying to insult you, and I apologize if it felt that way. My point of issue was with the nature of the question. I still think it was a ridiculous question.

KJB1611 said...

When I preach the gospel to new-evangelicals, I give them the pamphlet here:

It both deals with:

1.) Making sure that they are truly converted

2.) If they affirm that they believe the true gospel, that they join a true church (historic Baptist & practicing true worship).

I deal with both issues both because many evangelicals are unconverted, as many evangelical leaders confess themselves, and because being part of a church in the line of true Baptist churches has a lot to do with whether one can be considered a real Christian. Those who separate are those who are considered God's sons and daughters, 2 Cor 6:14-18; those who believe and are baptized will get to heaven (and baptism is believer's immersion on the authority of a NT Baptist church), Mark 16:16.

You don't see saved people rejecting Biblical baptism and the true church for religious organizations not started by Christ in the first century in Scripture. I am not saying that there are no converted Presbyterians, etc.--I was a converted Catholic for a while after my conversion until, because of the working of God the Spirit in my life, I separated from the whore of Babylon and united myself with the Lord Jesus's church, an independent Baptist one--but treating someone who is not part of a true church as a true Christian cannot be Biblically justified.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't spend time preaching the gospel to people who don't want to hear it or don't need to hear it. It doesn't mean that I still think they're saved, but that wasn't the point, and I know it, to the person's question. I know who asked the question, and he asked it because we run into so many evangelicals in our area who are unsaved. He wanted people to hear how to deal with them. They need spiritual warfare. I have a tract I give evangelicals, entitled, "Can You Worship God in Your Church?" We run into them all the time. They go to these churches like social clubs and those churches are like that. I've talked to hundreds of them. They spawn false conversion. They are built for that.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Your comment didn't even fit in the context of the conversation. Why even say it? It was and still is total speculation. You think that's good. I remember who asked the question. He asked because he is one of the most evangelistic men you'll ever meet -- a young man. He talks to evangelicals all the time, who are not saved. It has nothing to do with the fact that they are "new evangelical." I talk to person after person after person who just goes to these churches, who are not saved. He does too. It has nothing to do with their new evangelicalism.

A secondary question is, "Should they be in a new evangelical church?" Do you think they should? Can you worship God in a new evangelical church? If so, then why does your church exist? Is it just another dish on the buffet table of Christianity? I believe we can judge things and spiritual warfare should be done. They should know something about the doctrine of separation. They should hear about biblical orthopathy. I would defend you against new-evangelicalism. I would tell people to join your church over new-evangelicalism. Do I have any right to do that? Does that have to be sectarian pride or can it be based on sound exegesis?

If people aren't sure why someone asked a question, should they judge the worst and then say it in public? You're wrong. If I say you're wrong, you're wrong. The idea that you might be right should be dismissed by you. I've done what you are doing before. The best thing to do is just to say you're wrong. You judged something you can't judge, because you can't know. The question was read, so you don't even know by the tone of the question.

And when the question was asked, should we have said, "That's a bad question -- we aren't going to answer it."

If there were a Methodist and Presbyterian church in a country and not Baptist, do you think the bases are covered there, so there is no need for a church? Put aside that about 95% plus Methodists are apostate, then the Presbyterians are likely amillennial, covenant theologian, baby sprinklers, do you think you've got one of the Lord's churches in that place? So what's your argument there. I'd be interested in hearing. Do you think those Methodists and Presbyterians are there preaching the gospel? I've never run into one Presbyterian or Methodist in my life preaching.

It is far more likely that being a new evangelical today relates to someone's eternal state. Someone may think that just because someone says he's a Christian, which these people will, that there is nothing that needs to be said. That should not be assumed with them, and people need to know that.

There is more to spiritual warfare than, "Are you saved?" which I can see Thomas Ross has written in his comment. I agree with everything that he's said about dealing with people. I think every new-evangelical should leave their disobedient church and join a biblical one. But the question was the gospel, not spiritual warfare.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I want to comment to Bro. Ross's comment for anyone to read. Not based on sheer speculation or upon mere feelings, but based upon the Bible, what it actually teaches, I agree with him.

Like he said, I think there are saved Presbyterians, but these churches that are characteristically disobedient I can't regard as saved. That doesn't mean I judge them to be unsaved, it means I don't count them as saved. Consider Matthew 18:15-17. Are people we discipline out of the church unsaved? Jesus said to let them be unto you as unsaved. It's different. I recognize people don't like that, but it is at least defensible scripturally.

Consider something like 1 John 2:3-4, which say that you can say that you know Jesus, but if you don't do what He says, then you are liar. 1 John is a rough book. I'm fine with someone giving me a biblical answer, not huffing and puffing and saying words like "disturbing" (ala Bill Nye) and giving no evidence. We're going to be judged by Jesus' Words not by fundamentalist tradition.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Perhaps you can let Josh P. know that I asked my wife if he was foaming at the mouth and she said, "Yes," and since the "'I asked my wife' test" is the way to come to the truth on anything, I believe her. Just ask your wife. You know the verse on that? Isn't one. Don't ask the person who asked the question. Don't ask the person who knows the person who asked the question. Ask someone who you know will sympathize with you and that's the way to get the answer you want. No due process -- Phil Johnson's top criticism of fundamentalism. It's like asking John and James' mother whether they should sit next to Jesus in the kingdom. It's very scientific. And biblical!! If you want to know what someone meant, don't ask the person directly. Just assume he meant something 'disturbing' and to quote you again, 'ridiculous.' You don't know, but just assume, based not even on mind-reading skills. If someone could read minds, he'd have to know which mind to read. Think the worst and then ask questions later.

We're talking about how to take a question. Do you think there are biblical guidelines to know how to take things? Take it the best possible way. There is a verse for that. Love believes all things, hopes all things. And as a pastor, I've found it's also good for your life personally, not to imagine the worst.

Tyler Robbins said...

Bro. Brandenburg:

You have made your concerns quite clear. No, I do not believe being a new evangelical impacts one's eternal state. I don't think the term "new evangelical" means anything anymore. I do indeed believe a church that teaches infant baptism or amillennialism is out of step with Scripture. Does this make the church, and their Gospel, apostate or "another Gospel?" No.

You seem offended. I have apologized. No personal affront was meant or intended. I took the question to be exclusivist. I think exclusivism of that sort is ridiculous. You say I was incorrect in my assumption. Very well, I take your word for it and I apologize to the young man in question if he is offended.

Take care.

Tyler Robbins said...

KJB1611 wrote:

"I deal with both issues both because many evangelicals are unconverted, as many evangelical leaders confess themselves, and because being part of a church in the line of true Baptist churches has a lot to do with whether one can be considered a real Christian."

This is the kind of exclusivism I was speaking of. This is ridiculous reasoning. I doubt we will ever come to terms on this one. I leave you gentlemen in peace.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I do not believe being a new evangelical impacts one's eternal state.

Strawman. Being new evangelical itself will not send to hell any more than smoking. However, the nature of new evangelicalism could affect eternal state. If there are many churches with a majority of unsaved attenders, that means something impacts the soteriology.

I don't think the term "new evangelical" means anything anymore.

We can give a definition to a new evangelical, knowing what it means. The divisions have changed. Evangelicals might be the new evangelicals differing from conservative evangelicals. However, the young man understands new evangelical and was historically precise.

I do indeed believe a church that teaches infant baptism or amillennialism is out of step with Scripture.


Does this make the church, and their Gospel, apostate or "another Gospel?" No.

Did I say this? Not at all, so what are you answering? I said Methodists are 95%+ apostate. And it’s no wonder, they started with not believing in eternal security. What Presbyterians believed is a good reason to have a Baptist church in New Zealand. Understand that I’m just analyzing the statement of the man you decried, not reading into it. That’s how things should be judged. If you don’t understand, ask what the person meant.

Important reason for missions: will the gospel be preached to everyone? If not, then we need someone there who will do that. You had no comment.

You seem offended. I have apologized.

I appreciated your defense against “lackey” and other stuff by William D. I’m amazed they're left unmoderated. Should I? In the midst of a conversation about an article, a judgment is made based on one question that you misinterpreted. I don’t think you understand what you did wrong. You publically accused us of a point we weren’t making. I explained the point and you doubled down by saying it was ridiculous. You haven’t said it was wrong. You apologized for possible offense. That isn’t repentance. I don’t need a pound of flesh, but I want a retraction and the comment deleted. If you did, I would even remove this post.

No one has said this, but some would say ‘I should let this go.’ I’m not doing that because this is all too common at SI with the untrue drive-bys and pot shots taken. I’m not going to stop all of them, but I'm point some out. There are others that are even worse there even in that comment section.

No personal affront was meant or intended.

It is mainly just wrong. It isn’t the truth. And you still haven’t admitted that. You can’t know that what you are saying is the truth. You are speculating and you won’t admit that. When I preach, I try very hard to tell people when it is only my opinion. And that is when I’m even being general. You are being very specific, naming names, calling us out in public, and you are wrong. You still are not admitting that. So I don’t consider your apology valid. You are essentially saying, "don’t be offended, I don’t want you to be." I get that, but you are wrong.

I took the question to be exclusivist. I think exclusivism of that sort is ridiculous.

You read into the question. We encounter evangelicals/new-evangelicals, mega-churches, whatever for those who are very picky (cf. Rom 14), and find that a majority are not saved. What should be the approach with them? You call that exclusivistic. We also run into missionary baptists a majority of whom are unsaved. They talk about their baptism. Some might think evangelicals don’t need evangelism, so it was a great, great question by the person. Are you exclusivistic about Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Buddhists?

You say I was incorrect in my assumption. I take your word for it and I apologize to the young man in question if he is offended.

I’ll be awaiting the comment to come down, since it is patently untrue.

There will be zero hard feelings.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Concerning your comment about Thomas's comment, Tyler,

Why not ask for a clarification instead of just calling it ridiculous? What if he's right? He gave biblical argument. You didn't answer the Bible part he gave. Why believe you? Just because you're you? That doesn't do it for me. Maybe you have people who are like that where you are.

Kent Brandenburg said...

On the new-evangelical aspect of this, maybe you could let Mark Snoeberger know about new evangelicalism. He must not be up to date on the latest, that there is no new evangelicalism.

Bobby said...

Of course, we should give the Gospel to Evangelicals. Aren't they included in "every creature." Much of evangelicalism is fraught with cries of "Lord, Lord" while resisting New Testament practice, so not doing His will. Much of evangelicalism has no Biblical understanding of Who Jesus is. Don't they need to be taught the reality of His Person so they can believe on Him? Tyler, would you seriously not preach the Gospel to an Evangelical, to be sure that they have a Scriptural understanding of it? Would you just accept that they are an evangelical, OK? THAT is DISTURBING. Have you not read the Epistles where Paul preached the Gospel to NT churches and challenged them to "examine themselves." I wonder if you would have been DISTURBED with Paul?

Jim Peet said...

Re "Everyone at this blog forum, SharperIron, just accepted this comment."

Response: Really .... everyone??

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for your support. I appreciate you. I didn't read any. Could you point me to one? People not only let it go, but they doubled down on the comment.

I'll correct that statement if I read something.

Thank you.

Jim Peet said...

Observation. I read a lot of comments on Sharper Iron (as you can imagine being that I am a moderator). There are many many comments with which I disagree and I just ignore them.

Bruce. I appreciate you too! Thanks

Kent Brandenburg said...



You must have known a Bruce Brandenburg in Minnesota. I never met him, but I've been asked many times if we're related. I'm Kent though. No offense, just wanted you to know that I knew there was a Bruce that was a Minnesota based missionary/preacher at some point. I don't know if he's still alive.

I know you can't disagree with everywhere there is a problem, but there are only so many sort of moving conversations over there. I've found that people, not you, are very quick to disagree if they disagree. By disagreeing with that comment, they would be showing support, which many might not want.

In defense though of Tyler, who I actually liked way more than most there who do stuff at SI, he and David O. stepped in defense of men when I was called names there by William D. So I got defended there when attacked. But I would wonder if there would be anyone there who would understand why someone would evangelize an evangelical/new-evangelical today. There was no answer given there.

Tyler Robbins said...


Pretend the tables were turned.

Suppose an audience member at the next Gospel Coalition conference stood up and asked, "How should we share/preach the Gospel to militant fundamentalists?"

What would you assume from the question? I would take them to mean they're assuming that those seemingly weird, militant fundamentalists weren't saved.

I saw Bro. Mitchell's comment, above, and I do want to re-iterate - the Gospel must be preached to everybody, whether they claim they're "Christians" or not. Their fruit will prove whom they really belong to.

I am disturbed by the idea that there is a greater likelihood somebody from an independent Baptist church is really saved than if they were a new evangelical. I don't see a correlation there, particularly in light of Bro. Mitchell's recent series chronicling the litany of false teachers infecting independent Baptist circles! I think you're painting with too broad a brush.

For example, if you're speaking of evangelical Presbyterians, which ones? PC-USA? OPC? It makes a difference. One denomination is liberal as the day is long, the other is conservative. There is a PC-USA church next door to me. I am very skeptical about what goes on there.

Al Mohler is an evangelical. So is Roger Olson. I'm not worried about Mohler. I do have doubts about Olson. Same with Dever vs. Osteen. There is a whole world of difference between these folks!

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm sitting here doing taxes, keeping track of the Giants, noticing that the Warriors beat Dallas in overtime, and checking email. I get notified by email.

You didn't need to broadbrush Bobby and me on an article on good parenting. Critique the article, but don't try to read into something that isn't there. You brought into that conversation the motive behind a question---not the answer and not even the question so much---but the motive. I do believe people can judge motives, but there is nothing in a read question. I remembered the 28-29 year old (that's young for me) M. Div grad, who knows biblical languages and has written a commentary on 1 Peter, told me he had asked that question because we run into so many of them.

I told you that I don't consider most Baptists in this area to be saved. Or Methodists. Or Lutherans. That's by 27 years of experience of talking to dozens and dozens. Billy Graham would say the Buddhists might be saved, because he's inclusive.

John MacArthur thinks almost all Charismatics aren't saved, hence strange fire. He's getting a lot of flack for saying that. I don't find the evangelicals much different in their gospel knowledge. They want to be called saved because they are either good people, go to church, or like the worship team. And if they do claim something close to salvation by grace through faith, the grace is so cheap that I believe I'm responsible to preach to them.

There is a resurgence in the SBC, but we've got Golden Gate Seminary in Marin County--that's not so hot.

Have you looked at a list of the top 20 most influential evangelicals? One of them is T. D. Jakes. John MacArthur didn't even make the top 20. We need to train our people to preach to evangelicals. It's the world we live in. I'm not preaching to Al Mohler at the door. This isn't the ETS.

I spent a year and a half preaching the gospel to our church, not because we get a lot of visitors.

IMO, this is an easy call. You're being stubborn and perhaps you think if you give in, I'll dance all over you. I don't believe in dancing.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I didn't answer the tables turned thing. I would be overjoyed to hear that TGC would want to be out preaching the gospel. I often say door-to-door, I would preach this to you if you were a member of our church. I've never had an evangelical approach me with the gospel. I might hyperventilate if one did, but in a good way. When the tables are flipped, you're right -- they think when they tell me they have a church, the conversation should be over. Doesn't sound very evangelical, does it?

Doulos said...

"And if they do claim something close to salvation by grace through faith, the grace is so cheap that I believe I'm responsible to preach to them."

I'm so thankful for my "virtual pastor". I might dance for your willingness to say this...and I don't dance either. Cheap grace--yes! Christianity, including fundamentalism, is overflowing in cheap rather than amazing grace. Preach on!

KJB1611 said...

I think it would be wonderful if evangelicals had a meeting about how to evangelize militant fundamentalists. Fundamentalists in Hyles circles, and in many other circles, need to be evangelized because there are many of them that are unconverted. A fundamentalist Baptist church that has 99% false professions in its promotion/"soul-winning"/salesmanship ministry is going to have a very high percentage of unconverted people in church membership.

Speaking of the ETS, they can't even agree that open theism is idolatry and that open theists need to be kicked out of the organization. Members of the Evangelical Theological Society need to read something like my Do You Wants to Worship God? pamphlet because many of them are unconverted and because many of them that are converted are engaging in false worship in their non-biblical religious organizations.

Kent Brandenburg said...


When I said the ETS, it could be taken the wrong way. I should have considered that. You're not talking to seminary professors at the door. I was speaking of Tyler's comments about Mohler and Olsen. And I think Olsen may be an open theist. I thought he was treating it like we think we're talking to seminary professors door-to-door. I agree with you in your surmisal, however.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Thanks for the clarification. I think we're definitely agreed on this. I have spoken to a number of seminarians at doors and at other places, but I don't know how many professors I've run into that way. It would be a fun call.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Another good reason to evangelize evangelicals and Baptists.

Steve Rogers said...

Ugh...Pastor B. I was just about to post this link to Benny Hinn and almost word for word accompanying comment. But you're right and it's even more proof to preach the Gospel to every creature, including evangelicals.

I can't wait to hear the responses by the above defenders of evangelical orthodoxy.