The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future? Part 1

The following is a paper Dr. Straub read at the Bible Faculty Leadership Summit last summer (He also read a variation at the Conference on the Church for God’s Glory last May). It appears here with light editing. The paper will appear here in four parts. -Editor

Today I wish to address fundamentalism at the beginning of the 21st century. I was invited to a Pastor’s Conference in Illinois in May to address this issue and I forwarded the folks here in Ankeny for consideration to be read here this week. I have revised the original paper slightly for today’s deliberations.

We are met this week as a group of professors representing the Bible faculties of various colleges and seminaries across our movement. We are somewhat diverse—Arminians and Calvinist; Baptists, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and Bible church men. There are many others not here represented who associate with the wider movement of fundamentalism who would not associate with us here today because of our diversity—on Bible translations, on theology, on ecclesiology. Nevertheless, we represent what I will call the core of “historic fundamentalism.” I want to take a few minutes and reflect on the state of our movement and try to suggest where we are at and where we are headed.

The century is less than a decade old. It is hard to guess where we might be at the quarter century, much less at the beginning of the 22nd century if the Lord tarries His coming. So what challenges do we currently face? Where are we today and where are we going? This is a tall order and admittedly, I am no prophet. But I am a historian. A historian studies the past as a window into the present. He also studies the present as a guide to the future. I speak today as a historian within the tradition of self-identified fundamentalism. Read more about The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future? Part 1

We Interrupt This Series

NickOfTime

Sometimes ministry gets in the way of work. I’m not complaining though, because that’s exactly the way it should be. If our work is not directed toward and interruptible by ministry to people, then it has become an idol indeed.

Medieval mystic Walter Hilton wrestled with this phenomenon. Somewhere—I believe in his Scale of Perfection—he pondered the desirability of the contemplative life over against that of the active life. In the end, he argued for what he called the “meddled way,” the middle path. He offered the observation that, if we are on our knees in prayer, and a brother or sister interrupts us with a need, we should respond just as if the Lord Jesus had interrupted us Himself.

By the way, I like the medieval mystics. At least, I like some of them. There is a reason that the older Fundamentalists used to read Thomas à Kempis. And if you enjoy Tozer, then you are getting nothing but a modern paraphrase of the medievals.

That’s beside the point, however. The point is that my work is being interrupted by ministry. That is why there is no In Nick of Time on Fundamentalism this week.

Wait. Another digression. We who are vocational ministers need to plan for our work to be interrupted by ministry. We need to build ministry interruptions into our schedules. I work in a Christian institution (Central Baptist Theological Seminary) that is housed by a Christian church (Fourth Baptist Church) of which I am a member. I could literally go for months on end and never have a serious conversation with an unbeliever. In fact, other than the supermarket and the gas station attendants, I would never even talk to an unbeliever.

I have to plan to make contact with non-Christians. For example, I have become a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol (the auxiliary of the United States Air Force). Chaplaincy is attractive to me, not because I get to wear a uniform or pin ribbons on my chest, but because it puts me in direct contact with unbelievers. It leads to serious conversations, often of a spiritual nature. Read more about We Interrupt This Series

All You Need is Love, but...

Article first appeared on SI November 20, 2006

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 22:37–39, KJV)

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
-The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) 1

Were John, Paul, George, and Ringo, 1900 years after Jesus of Nazareth, reiterating His message to a new generation? Is this similarity evidence that the same basic message underlies all world religions and worldviews? That after we strip away all the external, all the ceremonial, all the legal, all the theological and metaphysical considerations, every religion pursues the same basic values, usually including “love”?

That all religions are basically the same is an idea held both by the man on the street and in the halls of academia. Consider what Paul Tillich wrote: Read more about All You Need is Love, but...

Book Review - The Kingdom Triangle

Image of Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit's Power

Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power

J. P. Moreland

ISBN: 031027432X

In Kingdom Triangle, J. P. Moreland shows that, instead of retreating from the dual onslaught of naturalism and postmodernism, Christianity offers the only solid basis for a life with richness and meaning. Many “evangelicals” advocate blending Christianity with one of these impoverished worldviews as the only way for the Church to survive. Moreland’s critique of these views is extremely well done. Read more about Book Review - The Kingdom Triangle

Life is More Than Laundry

One Saturday not too long ago, my husband was having a particularly trying morning. His conclusion was that the only sensible thing to do was pack everyone in the car and go fishing…have a picnic too.

I was not so sensible that morning. Had you been in the kitchen while I was attempting to wrangle a picnic lunch without any heads-up, you would have heard (out of ear-shot of the kids, of course):

“Doesn’t he realize I have three lessons to finalize today for church tomorrow?”…”How can I get a lunch together for the whole family? It would have been helpful to be able to plan for this!”…”And what about the laundry??? I’m up to my eyeballs in it!”…”The baby is due for her nap in about 30 minutes, too!”

I had had the day perfectly planned in my mind. I knew exactly how each of the little colored containers of leftovers in the fridge would be employed that day. I was going to work on my lessons while Katie napped. My laundry would be happily humming away while all of this was transpiring…blissful multi-tasking. I would get so much accomplished!

Now, to my mind, I would get nothing accomplished except watching poor little crickets meet their demise as fish fodder. I would get to chase Kate around and keep her from drowning herself. I would have the privilege of cooking lunch on the grill while the mosquitoes feasted upon me. Read more about Life is More Than Laundry

And Now This: New Advertising Options at SI

SI is funded from four sources: donations, advertising, Amazon purchases from our links, and what the site’s owner throws in now and then. The first source pays nearly all of SI’s server-related costs. The second has been the largest single source and funds everything from phone bills and PO box rentals to traveling expenses, editing fees (this expense ended during the 2nd quarter of this year), and compensation for article writers (this year this took the form of contest prizes). Ad income also funds site development and upgrades and—once in a while—a portion of equipment that has a site-related purpose (like a cell phone, for example). The third source—the Amazon links—has not yet yielded much revenue, but it’s growing. Finally, the fourth source—Aaron’s pocket book—funds all of the above whenever the other three sources fall short. After cutting some costs this year, that source has been—thankfully—marginal.

New Advertising Options at SI

With that as context, on to the point of this brief post. Advertising. SI averages 12 to 15 thousand “Absolute Unique Visitors” per month (per Google Analytics) and 40 to 60 thousand “visits” (also per GA). Active membership is just under 1,050 at the moment. So SharperIron remains a good way to reach the conservative evangelical and Fundamentalist niche. Read more about And Now This: New Advertising Options at SI

Fundamentalism: Whence? Where? Whither? Part 10

NickOfTime

The Social Shift

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.

To hell with the Twentieth Century!
—Billy Sunday, New York City, April 15, 1917

Ideas always precede movements. Movements (by which I mean large numbers of people sharing a common set of concerns and working together toward a common goal) grow out of ideas. As the idea turns into the movement, however, other ideas and influences get mixed in. The result is that movements rarely or never reflect purely the ideas that produced them.

The Fundamentalist Movement embodies the Fundamentalist idea only imperfectly. One of the most common mistakes in discussing Fundamentalism is to confuse the two, to speak of the movement as if it were the idea or vice versa. The idea of Fundamentalism (which we have not yet discussed) is certainly a component in the Fundamentalist movement, but Fundamentalism as a movement has also assimilated other ideas and ceded to other influences.

Attempting to tell the story of Fundamentalism, I have tried to describe some of the intellectual and social influences that shaped the early Fundamentalist movement. Fundamentalism emerged as an identifiable movement around 1920, but it came from and displayed the characteristics of an earlier American evangelicalism. I have suggested that this earlier evangelicalism was deeply influenced by at least three trends: Scottish Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. Though not alone in succumbing to these influences, Fundamentalists certainly did evidence them.

My thesis has been that the early Fundamentalist movement was deeply influenced by Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. Over the past several essays I have taken a digression, answering certain objections to this thesis. First, I tried to show how Common Sense Realism represented a metaphysical dream that differed substantively from the metaphysical dream of premodernity. Second, I tried to demonstrate how a genuinely historical-grammatical (literal) hermeneutic need not rely upon either Common Sense or populism. Finally, I attempted to explain the difference between congregational polity and that version of church democracy that grows out of American populism.

Because of these three influences, the Fundamentalist movement was never dedicated purely to defending the faith. To some extent, its defense of the faith always presumed and included a defense of the ideals of Common Sense, populism, and sentimentalism. In other words, the early Fundamentalists were men of their times, reflecting their own situatedness and displaying the concerns not only of historic Christianity but also of their own intellectual and social location. Read more about Fundamentalism: Whence? Where? Whither? Part 10

Review - Sermons and Addresses, by John A. Broadus

Image of Sermons and Addresses

Sermons and Addresses

John Albert Broadus

ISBN: B002NGMAXE

(Reprinted with permission from As I See It, Doug’s monthly electronic magazine. The article appears here with some editing. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.)

As noted in our review of John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy, edited by David S. Dockery and Roger D. Duke in the previous issue of AISI (12:8), John Albert Broadus (1827-1895) was the quintessential Baptist leader in America in the second half of the 19th century. And though Broadus was famous as a teacher of homiletics, and was very much in demand as a preacher and public speaker, yet he published only one book of his sermons and addresses. This is no doubt in large measure due to his practice of almost always speaking extemporaneously, without manuscript and with only brief notes, if any. There are twenty-one messages in all here, some from as early as the 1850s when, at barely thirty years old, Broadus pastored in Charlottesville, Virginia; some are from as late as 1886, the year of publication.

The sermons, the first eleven of the twenty-one messages, can be characterized as good to fair, though none was what I would call striking or outstanding. The addresses are to me of greater interest, and include such subjects as “Ministerial education,” “American Baptist Ministry in A. D. 1774” (which gives brief biographical accounts of numerous notable colonial era Baptist preachers), “College Education for Men of Business,” and “Education in Athens.” Also included are several memorial addresses/funeral sermons, including those for Dr. Gessner Harrison (Broadus’ professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Virginia, and his first father-in-law), G. W. Riggan (a promising young OT professor at Southern Baptist Seminary who died barely into his 30s), and A. M. Poindexter (a prominent Virginia Baptist preacher of the 19th century).

There are apparently numerous editions of this book by several publishers, but all seem to be identical in contents and pagination (it is a fairly easy volume to find through internet book dealers). The similarly named volume, Favorite Sermons of John A. Broadus, edited by Vernon L. Stanfield (New York: Harper and Bros.; 147 pp.), contains reprints of just four sermons from the 1886 volume, eight additional sermons which Broadus left in manuscript at his death, and his sermon notes on twelve more sermons (according to Stanfield, Broadus left in manuscript notes to more than 300 sermons).

Some quotations from Sermons and Addresses

“It is easy to talk nonsense on the subject of church music. It is very difficult to talk wisely. But I think we sometimes forget in our time that there is a distinction between secular and sacred music. I have seen places where they did not seem to know there was such a distinction.” (p. 18)

“Mr. Spurgeon tells us that he requests his teachers, and his wife, and various other friends to hunt up illustrations for him. He asks them, whenever they have come across anything good in reading or in conversation that strike them as good, to write it down and let him have it, and whenever he sees a fit opportunity he makes a point of it.” (p. 41)

“Our advocate [Jesus] does not argue that we are innocent, but confessing our guilt, pleads for mercy to us; and he does not present our merits as a reason why mercy should be shown us, but his merits…. And God is made propitious, favorable to us, not when he is willing to save, but when it is made right that he should save us…” (pp. 77, 78)

“Bearing in mind the difference between the pleading of our great Advocate and any parallel which human affairs present, we may look at a story of Grecian history, which has been often used to illustrate the Savior’s intercession. The poet Aeschylus had incurred the displeasure of the Athenians. He was on trial before the great popular tribunal, consisting of many hundreds of citizens, and was about to be condemned. But Aeschylus had a brother, who had lost an arm in battle—in the great battle of Salamis, where the Greeks fought for their existence against the Persian aggressors. This brother came into court, and did not speak words of entreaty, but letting fall his mantle, he showed the stump of his arm, lost in his country’s defense, and there stood until the Athenians relented, and Aeschylus was suffered to go free. So, my brethren, imperfect and unworthy as is the illustration, so we may conceive that when we are about to be condemned, and justly condemned for our sins, our glorious Brother stands up in our behalf, and does not need to speak a word, but only to show where he was wounded on the cross—
   Five bleeding wounds he bears,
   Received on Calvary;
   They pour effectual prayers,
   They strongly speak for me;
   ’Forgive him, O forgive,’ they cry,
   ’Nor let the ransomed sinner die!’” (pp. 78, 79)

“We must be, ought to be, intensely dissatisfied with ourselves; but let us be satisfied with our Savior, and have peace with God through him; not content with the idea of remaining such as we are, but, seeing that the same Gospel which offers us forgiveness and acceptance offers us also a genuine renewal through our Lord Jesus Christ, and promises that finally we shall be made holy, as God is holy, shall indeed be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.” (pp. 94-5)

“Oh, ye people that have to do with the world’s young men, you never know what some little word you speak is going to do I shaping the whole character and controlling the whole life of the man who walks by your side!” (p. 172)

“But, in one sense, every man is self-educated who is ever really educated at all.” (p. 251)

“We remember, gentlemen, those of us particularly who were deficient in early advantages, the delusive hope of boyhood, that there would come a time when we should have read all books, and become masters of all knowledge. We learned long ago that this can never be; yet often one re-awakes to fresh disappointment, and finds that he has been dreaming that sweet dream of childhood still. It is painful to think that we must live on and die, and leave many a wide field of human knowledge untraversed and unknown. This longing to learn everything is in itself a noble element of our nature, and leads to noble results; but it requires to be checked by the stern voice of duty.” (pp. 294-295)

“In every grade of teaching it is perhaps even more important to consider what your teacher is than what he knows.” (p. 346)

“[God] can determine better than we, in what ways we shall be most useful. He knows whether it is best for us to labor in one part of his vineyard or another, in one or another sphere and method of Christian exertion.” (p. 353)

“Whatever is worth teaching at all is worth teaching well; and there is no really good teaching without an enthusiastic interest in the subject, and a passionate desire to give the pupil all possible assistance.” (p. 360)


Doug Kutilek is the editor of www.kjvonly.org, a website dedicated to exposing and refuting the many errors of KJVOism and has been researching and writing in the area of Bible texts and versions for more than 35 years. He has a B.A. in Bible from Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Mo.), an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati; and completed all requirements for a Ph.D. except the dissertation); and a Th.M. in Bible exposition from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, Minn.). His writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Biblical Evangelist, The Baptist Bible Tribune, The Baptist Preacher’s Journal, Frontline, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society and The Wichita Eagle. The father of four grown children and four granddaughters, he resides with his wife Naomi near Wichita, Kansas.

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