Dr. Douglas McLachlan came to know Christ as his Savior at the age of 16 while attending a church near his hometown of Flint, Mich. Throughout his years in ministry, Dr. McLachlan has been the pastor of several churches, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and board member of various mission agencies, Bible colleges, and Baptist associations. He is currently chancellor of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. A gifted author, McLachlan has the ability to verbalize difficult theological thoughts. This is a book that surfaces a great need among today’s conservatives and will benefit anyone wanting to grow in their knowledge and personal relationship with God.
Chapter 1 deals with the hindrances to a balanced fundamentalism. Many of today’s fundamentalists are third- and fourth-generation and are raising questions that have been previously unspoken. To be balanced, fundamentalists need to address the issues head on and grow from them, instead of sidestepping issues and having a shaky foundation. “Fundamentalists have developed a reputation for exalting polemics over apologetics,” McLachlan says. This age-old argument has been the cause of many splits. The issue of arguing over theology without correct knowledge was a main reason for the start of neo-evangelicalism. Its adherents believed that people should defend their faith, but that they should argue only on points that were thoroughly researched and could adequately be defended. The rest of the chapter goes on to explain numerous ways fundamentalists have slipped into this model and several ways to correct the problem.
Chapter 2 deals with identifying true leadership. This first half of the chapter shows how power equals leadership today. Certain dynamics of power from the secular world are creeping their way into the church. Working one’s way up the power ladder and name seeking are two methods used to gain power. The book then highlights several areas of caution that need to be exercised when trying to be a power seeker. The second half of the chapter models what a Biblical servant leader should look like. It gives examples from Scripture of how a true servant leader should lead.
Rediscovering authentic evangelism is the topic of chapter 3. Evangelism is a ministry of reconciliation in a world of alienation, and it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to know that we are falling behind the necessary pace to achieve global evangelism. The first part of the chapter goes through several factors that are attributing to the decline in evangelism, ranging from materialism to Calvinism. The second part suggests Biblical principles for rekindling the fire of evangelism and the impact it will have on the world.
Chapter 4 talks about practicing authentic proclamation, emphasizing the proclaiming of God’s Word. Language, says McLachlan, is something that God used and is the main method of communication used today; therefore, we should put a strong emphasis on the proper use of language. McLachlan then describes how fantastic Scripture is and how clearly it communicates the intended message.
Implementing authentic separation is the next topic. Chapter 5 starts by showing how the church of today has restated separation. It then shows how one should restate separation in different areas of one’s life. Finally, principles are given on how Biblical separation can be rescued.
Chapter 6 relates how one can recover their spiritual vitality. This chapter highlights four aspects of a revival: its constituents (“Revival is for all those who are owned by God and have His name upon them”); concern, which should be a central burden in the life of every believer; conditions; and consequence.
Two sections of the book are extremely applicable in the 21st century and should be read by every believer, especially young men going out into ministry. These sections deal with power seeking (pages 25–52) and principles for separation (pages 115–142).
Men entering the ministry should be completely focused on Christ and on glorifying Him. Unfortunately, affirms the section on power seeking, that is not always the case. Some men only want to rise to power and prestige; they desire recognition and results more than faithfulness and humility. Many fundamentalists, McLachlan says, seem to have an Adam-like hunger for God-like power. This is a natural desire, but it must be suppressed in order to serve God to the fullest. The book gives a tremendous overview of ways to prevent becoming a power seeker and explains what a Biblical servant leader should look like—which will change the way men look at ministry.
The section regarding separation gives Biblical reasons why believers should separate and practical ways to separate. These principles clearly enable men to honor God in their ministries, although the section would have been more powerful if McLachlan had given examples of how ministries have not separated over certain issues and the tragedies that resulted from compromise. It is easy for believers to make exception clauses, and it is crucial to see where errors in judgment could lead.
Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism, though now out of print, is a fantastic book that highlights numerous principles of historic fundamentalism that are the foundation of what a fundamentalist should believe. When these principles are lost, the entire direction of the movement shifts.
Reviewed by Nathan Robbins. Nathan is a senior at Appalachian Bible College and is the son of Tom Robbins, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Camp Point, Ill.