Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism

By George M. Marsden | Go to book overview

2. Evangelicalism since 1930:
Unity and Diversity

IF THE NEW EVANGELICALISM that eventually emerged as heir to the original fundamentalist coalition of the 1920s ever had a chance of achieving some real working unity it would have centered around Billy Graham in his prime. Carl F. H. Henry, once one of Graham's lieutenants, looking back in 1980 observed, “During the 1960s I somewhat romanced the possibility that a vast evangelical alliance might arise in the United States to coordinate effectively a national impact in evangelism, education, publication and sociopolitical action.” Billy Graham had decisively broken with the separatist fundamentalists, had made inroads into the major denominations, was immensely popular, and stood almost alone as a recognized evangelical leader. Henry and some of his intellectual cohorts, often known at the time as “new evangelicals” or “neo-evangelicals,” had provided the movement with some ideological leadership. Christianity Today, under Henry's editorship, modeled itself after The Christian Century but had a larger circulation. The neo-evangelicals and Graham even talked seriously about founding an evangelical university in the New York City area. The movement was advancing on a number of fronts and Henry could plausibly imagine that the core group of new

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