[A] new kind of modernism is pushing Christians onto the down-grade. Why is it that biblical Christianity in modern times has been so vulnerable to doctrinal compromise and worldly influence? A fascinating historical account of the fundamentalist/evangelical movement in microcosm is found in Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism, by George Marsden. Tracing the history of one influential institution, Marsden recounts in detail how Fuller Seminary compromised and ultimately abandoned its commitment to biblical inerrancy.
The school was originally founded to provide a conservative, biblical training ground after denominational seminaries had embraced liberalism or otherwise abandoned the faith. But within a few decades, Fuller Seminary itself capitulated on the issue of biblical inerrancy. Why? Marsden’s account reveals that many of Fuller’s founders and early faculty were obsessed with the notion of intellectual and academic respectability. They wanted Fuller Seminary to be viewed in the elite academic community with the same esteem as the liberal denominational schools. Unfortunately, the intellectual climate of the age was almost unanimously sympathetic to skepticism, liberalism, humanism, and sub-Christian rationalism.
The very community from which the Fuller men sought to win acceptance was at war with the theology Fuller Seminary was founded to uphold. In order to gain the stature they sought, the Fuller men were willing to compromise. The history of the school therefore often reads like a sad chronicle of controversy and doctrinal decline. Is intellectual and academic respectability a worthy goal? Not if the world sets the standards that determine what is acceptable and what is not. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor.3:18-19, emphasis added).
It is folly to seek the approval of human wisdom; the goal itself is incompatible with biblical integrrity.
~Dr. John MacArthur