Forgotten Voices in Early Twentieth Century Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism

_Problem_ The dominant historiography about fundamentalism and evangelicalism prior to 1950 has suggested that fundamentalism (in various hues) predominated in the 1920-1945 period and that evangelicalism (or neo-evangelicalism as it is usually described) only gradually differentiated itself from this through the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals (1943), of Fuller Seminary (1947), the Evangelical Theological Society (1949), the emergence of Billy Graham as a national figure, and the launch and reach of Christianity Today magazine (1956).
So, for example George Marsden, _Reforming Fundamentalism_ (1988), John Fea (1994), Joel Carpenter, _Revive Us Again_ (1997) Garth Rosell, _The Surprising Work of God_ (2008),Owen Strachan, _Awakening the Evangelical Mind_ (2015) and Douglas Sweeney (2005, 2019)
This historiography, while it has helpfully drawn attention to the enterprises which followed the 1943 creation of the NAE — has at the same time not been fully convincing because there remain numerous strands of evidence that point in a different direction.
Among these strands of contrary evidence are these:
1) The diversity of outlook and conviction reflected in _The Fundamentals_ (1909), first published as pamphlets before being bound together in hardback volumes in 1917
2) Non-uniform evangelical attitudes displayed at the time of the Scopes trial of 1925. William Jennings Bryan himself was a ‘concordist’, an old-earth creationist.
3) The emergence by 1945 of the Berkeley Version of the New Testament, an idiomatic contemporary version. The NT was the work of Gerrit Verkuyl, a 1903 graduate of Princeton. Zondervan purchased the rights to the version and added the OT by 1959.
4) The continuation through the 1920’s and 30’s of an evangelical ‘intelligentsia’ which showed itself eager to maintain a scholarly evangelicalism. This is the generation that trained the future neo-evangelical leaders. Gresham Machen, Melvin Grove Kyle, Oliver Buswell, A.T. Robertson, E.Y. Mullins, Griffiths Thomas, Louis Berkhof.
5) This same phenomenon is observable in the United Kingdom in the 1930’s, as displayed by the early efforts of the Inter Varsity Fellowship and its publishing division. By the mid-1930’s IVF was publishing scholarly material available from the pens of such Anglican stalwarts as T.C. Hammond (d.1961). From 1929, the _Evangelical Quarterly_ became an international forum for evangelical theology. F.F. Bruce emerges in this setting.
6) From both America and the United Kingdom, there were from 1930 onwards, profitable links opened up with scholarly evangelicals in the Netherlands and France, the literature of which constituencies soon began to show up in the publishing lists of both IVP, Britain and the William B. Eerdmans firm of Grand Rapids. G.C. Aalders, Herman Ridderbos, Auguste Lecerf are examples.
_Conclusion_ If we want to know where Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Francis Schaeffer and other evangelical leaders ‘came of age’, we must look to the generation of those who taught them.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten Voices in Early Twentieth Century Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism”

  1. Solid Abstract
    Ken always does a great job. An important topic, a nod to important secondary literature, significant evidence. I would have liked him to spell out more explicitly the “different direction” he states mid-way through. This would fit our group.


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