The New (Old) Name of Modern Evangelicalism: ‘Candyism’
Many descriptions have been used to highlight various aspects of the weakness, shallowness, doctrinalphobia and man-centeredness of too much of 20th and 21st century “evangelicalism”. But a single term has eluded us—one which would incorporate the entire grievous condition and capture the real essence of the problem. It is the conviction of this writer that that term was used in the 19th century (1882 to be exact), and should be immediately revived and applied where appropriate. The word is CANDYISM!
The immediate context in which it appeared is as follows. “If the faith and piety of the Church be weak today, it is, I am convinced, in a great measure because of the lack of a full, clear, definite knowledge and promulgation of these doctrines. The Church has been having a reign ofcandyism; she has been feeding on pap sweetened with treacle, until she has become disordered and weakly. Give her a more clearly-defined and a more firmly-grasped faith, and she will lift herself up in her glorious might before the world.”
The broader context in which this except is found speaks for itself.
“Calvinism may be unpopular in some quarters. But what of that? It cannot be more unpopular than the doctrines of sin and grace as revealed in the New Testament. But much of its unpopularity is due to the face of its not being understood. Let it be examined without passion. let it be studied in its relations and logical consistency, and it will be seen to be at least a correct transcript of the teachings of the Scriptues, of the laws of Nature and of the facts of human life. If the faith and piety of the Church be weak today, it is, I am convinced, in a great measure because of the lack of a full, clear, definite knowledge and promulgation of these doctrines. The Church has been having a reign of candyism; she has been feeding on pap sweetened with treacle, until she has become disordered and weakly. Give her a more clearly-defined and a more firmly-grasped faith, and she will lift herself up in her glorious might before the world.
“All history and experience prove the correctness of Carlyle’s saying, that ‘At all turns a man who will do faithfully need to believe firmly.‘ It is this, I believe, that the Church needs today more than any other thing—not ‘rain-doctors,’ not religious ‘diviners,’ wandering to and fro, rejoicing in having no dogmatic opinions and no theological preference; no, it is not these religious ear-ticklers that are needed—although thye may be wanted somewhere—but, as history teaches us, clear and accurate views of the great fundamental doctrines of sin and grace. First make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. It is not for us to trifle with these matters. Our time here is but for a moment, and our eternity depends on the course we take. Should we not, then, seek to know the truth, and strive, at any cost, to buy it, and sell it not?
“By all the terrors of an endless death, as by all the glories of an endless life, we are called and pressed and urged to know the truth and follow it unto the end. And this joy we have, in and over all as the presence of a divine radiance, ‘that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’ So grant, Thou Holy Spirit of God, to begin the work in every one of us; and to Thee, with the Father and the Son, shall be all the praise and the glory for ever! Amen.” (Nathaniel S. McFetridge, Calvinism in History, 155-157.)