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Thomas C. Oden


Answering Critics of An Evangelical Celebration

Editor's Note:
This is a substantially longer version of the article by Thomas Oden that appears in the May/June issue of Books & Culture under the same title. Next week we will post a selection of responses from readers to the exchange between Oden and Robert Gundry.

Some who, having read my exchange with Robert Gundry in the March/April issue, may still be wondering what the fuss and fidget is all about. I would like to try simply to describe the conflicting interests flowing into the controversy over the "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration," the leadership for which was provided by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Christianity Today.

It is pertinent to begin by pointing out the unprecedented coalition of worldwide evangelical leaders who joined in this sensitive effort to state an evangelical consensus. In order to show the inclusive and irenic purpose of the document, it is first useful to specify the remarkable breadth of this consensus. Headlined by Billy Graham, this consensus includes such leading exegetes as D.A. Carson and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.; distinguished evangelical educators such as Richard J. Mouw, Luder Whitlock, George Brushaber, and Duane Litfin; prominent evangelical women such as Roberta Hestenes, Kay Arthur, Beverly LaHaye, and Joni Eareckson Tada; key European evangelical theologians such as Henri Blocher and John Stott; leading evangelical apologists such as Ravi Zacharias and R. C. Sproul; heads of worldwide parachurch ministries such as Bill Bright and Chuck Colson; major voices of international broadcast ministries such as Charles Swindoll, John MacArthur, Marlin Maddoux, John Ankerberg, David Jeremiah, and Pat Robertson. Then compare the transdenominational varieties of voices: major Baptist leaders such as Charles F. Stanley, Adrian Rogers, Richard Land, and Jerry Falwell; varied representatives of Wesleyans and Arminian traditions such as Maxie Dunnam, Jay Kesler, and Robert Coleman; such different Presbyterian ...

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