Then the fact surfaced that Cedarville University was unwilling to subscribe to the GARBC statement of purpose. Consequently, the Council of Eighteen determined that sufficient commonality did not exist between the GARBC and Cedarville University to allow the university to advertise itself through official GARBC channels. That decision was challenged by friends of Cedarville University and brought to a vote at the annual meeting this year. By a wide margin, the messengers adopted a statement upholding the formal position of the GARBC on separation. By a much narrower margin, they upheld the council’s decision not to allow Cedarville to advertise in the Baptist Bulletin or at the conference.
What does all of this mean? In the first place, it does not mean that Cedarville has become a neo‐evangelical institution. Neo‐evangelicals were people whose attitude toward apostates was to tolerate them in their organizations, to cooperate with them where necessary, and to infiltrate organizations that were controlled by them. Cedarville University has never displayed these attitudes. Its theology is thoroughly orthodox. It would not for a moment tolerate a theological liberal or any other apostate within the institution. If nearby Dayton were to host an ecumenical evangelistic campaign, Cedarville University would surely abstain. No, Cedarville is not neoevangelical and cannot rightly be treated as if it were.
Did that second paragraph catch your attention? It did mine. Bauder claims that Cedarville is not a new evangelical institution. Is that a true assessment of the school? By his definition, new evangelicals are “people whose attitude toward apostates was to tolerate them in their organizations, to cooperate with them where necessary, and to infiltrate organizations that were controlled by them.” He further clarifies that Cedarvile surely would not take part in an ecumenical evangelistic campaign.
I must admit that this last statement caused me to wonder. Wasn’t it Cedarville that broadcast an Ohio Promise Keepers rally? If so, that certainly would qualify as an ecumenical crusade. Sure enough, after an internet search, I came across an article documenting this very fact.
As the primary radio voice for the July 13-14, 2001 Promise Keepers (PK) Conference, the CDR Radio Network (The PATH, 90.3 FM in the Dayton/Springfield area) spread PK’s spiritual encouragement, teaching, and worship to countless CDR listeners. … The CDR Radio Network is an outreach ministry of Cedarville University, with nine affiliate stations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Contrary to Bauder’s statement, Cedarville has unashamedly taken part in nearby ecumenical crusades. But does this indicate that Cedarville is a new evangelical school? The answer to that question depends on your definition.
Chapter Nine of Mark Sidwell’s The Dividing Line is helpful with a thorough explanation of Harold Ockenga’s vision for the new evangelicalism. After reviewing the first three of four tenants, the author explains the fourth and most important difference between fundamentalism and new evangelicalism.
Finally, and most important, Ockenga proclaimed a “ringing call for a repudiation of separation” and aimed for “the recapture of denominational leadership.” Rather than pulling out of compromised associations, the New Evangelicals wanted to stay in the denominations and even reenter those that Fundamentalists had left. … From the beginning, Fundamentalists protested that the New Evangelicalism was leading Christianity toward too close an identification with the world system. Unquestionably, the New Evangelicals were taking an attitude that although false teaching might be wrong, Christians could profitably work with false teachers themselves. The actions of these New Evangelical “reformers” led many Fundamentalists to reluctantly break fellowship with these Christians who rejected the scriptural teaching concerning separation from false teaching.
How does this relate to Cedarville University? My first concern is their relationship to the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC is a mixed bag containing believers and apostates. While a limited amount of change has taken place in recent years, there is still an unequal, unbiblical yoke. Unfortunately, Cedarville is not pushing the Convention to “come out and be separate.” Instead, they are more likely “to stay in the denominations and even reenter those that Fundamentalists had left.” This sounds an awful lot like new evangelicalism to me.
Other problematic areas include the school’s use of new evangelical speakers and Christian rock music. Pastor John Ashbrook provides an interesting quotation about these areas of compromise in his book, New Neutralism II.
Not long ago I found myself in conversation with a fellow pastor who had formerly been a leader in the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches and had served on the Council of Eighteen. As we discussed the position of two of the prominent schools in that movement, I asked my friend, “What factors were influential in moving those institutions from a fundamentalist stance to the new evangelical position?” He did not hesitate in his reply “The two most important factors were the use of contemporary Christian music and the use of a group of popular new evangelical speakers without any warning about their dangerous position.”
For more information on these subjects, see Dan Greenfield’s article “Cedarville University and the New Evangelicalism.” But suffice it to say that I disagree with Dr. Bauder about Cedarville. There is enough evidence to indicate that the school has a new evangelical philosophy which is affecting those under its influence. Should we continue to fellowship with such an institution on a limited basis? For example, would it be right to allow a Cedarville professor to speak at a fundamental school as Bauder suggests? Not at all. Continued fellowship with a compromising, new evangelical school like Cedarville would only lead to confusion. Instead, let those who wish to be clear in their denunciation of the new evangelical mindset speak out and officially separate from such compromise in obedience to biblical commands.