O MacDonald had a video…


On Friday I linked to a video of James MacDonald that related to seminary and in which he mentioned DBTS. I made the comment that, given our ages, we might have passed in the halls around here, but I had no recollection of it. I have since found out why I don’t recall it—he took one class in the summer of 1985 and I didn’t take summer school here that summer. I’ll try to be discreet and tactful, but please allow me to say a few things.

This passing comment by MacDonald is quite disappointing—taking one class 25 years ago hardly seems like a good basis for speaking ill of this ministry. It was another reminder that no particular group holds exclusive license for uncharitable speech. MacDonald, like a lot of former fundies, seems to have a burr from his past experiences with fundamentalists and takes a cheap shot in this case.

Although I was not in his summer school class back in 1985, I did take the exact same course three years later (in the fall of 1988). Probably as a testimony to the significance that the background and disposition of the student plays into the assessment of any particular course, that class was incredibly valuable to me. There are probably many reasons why I would have responded differently to it than MacDonald. I was done with my M.Div. and working on a Th.M. by that point and it sounds like MacDonald took it near the start of his seminary training. I had a very good relationship with the professor and held him in very high regard. The course forced me to firsthand research into areas about which I had little historical exposure, but had heard a lot of opinions. Many prejudices which I held in an uninformed way were either exposed and removed or were replaced with a more carefully formed understanding of both Scripture and ecclesiastical history.

The course was New Evangelicalism taught by Dr. Rolland McCune. That class was so helpful to me that I strongly encouraged Dr. McCune to turn it into a book. The result of that was Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism. Here’s part of what I wrote in the foreword to the book when it was published in 2004:

While in seminary, I had the privilege of taking Dr. McCune’s course on the History and Theology of New Evangelicalism and it turned out to be one of the most influential courses I have ever taken. Since I was not born until after Harold J. Ockenga announced the launch of the New Evangelicalism and did not begin to think seriously about such matters until almost two decades after that, it was eye-opening to learn this history and see its implications for the world of ministry I was entering. Frankly, before taking the course I knew what the Fundamentalist position was, but I didn’t fully understand why. The material contained in that course, and in this book, helped me understand the dangers of the compromises which had been made before I was born but were bearing very bad fruit by the time I was entering ministry. Now, almost another two decades later, the costs of these compromises continue to mount. I pray that the material in this book will have the same effect on others that it has had on me, and I hope that it will receive a wide audience among Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. It is a serious and solemn call to faithfulness that desperately needs to be heard.

My guess is that this is exactly where the rub with MacDonald is. We took the same class, but we came to it and left it with very different conclusions. He apparently thinks that separatism is driven by anger. I came to see that it is driven by love. The funny thing is that 25 years later he still feels compelled to speak ill of people he barely knew at all. Maybe we’re not the angry ones.

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