Can Fundamental Baptists Find Greater Unity?

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Aaron Blumer's picture
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In September, Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) is hosting an unusual event: a conversation among Baptist leaders with greater unity across splinter groups as a major goal. I asked pastor Greg Linscott, who has led the effort, to tell us more about this conversation.

Q. How did this event come about?

A. A few years ago I began to sense the need for First Baptist of Marshall to become connected with a network more national in scope than our longtime historic affiliation with the Minnesota Baptist Association. Our church has established a ministry with S’gaw Karen refugees from Burma/Myanmar. Because of their missionary connections dating all the way back to Adoniram Judson, the Karen tend to default to the ABC-USA when here in the US. But due to significant differences in doctrine and practice, I did not find that an acceptable option.

As we worked to disciple the believers we had influenced, we wanted to be able to familiarize them with churches whose doctrine would emphasize the authority of Scripture and who would be in general agreement with we teach at First Baptist (including specifics such as a young-earth creationist perspective, cessationist position, and pre-trib dispensationalism) but who also had a large enough network nationally that it would be practical to point Karen believers there as they eventually begin to relocate across the US. The GARBC fit those criteria.

Furthermore, in my limited encounters with Regular Baptists in Minnesota, it had seemed to me that congregations in the MBA and MARBC had much in common with one another—certainly as much as they did with churches in their own associations. The two associations had already been jointly supporting a church planter’s efforts in the Twin Cities metro, and the influence of Central Seminary graduates in both Minnesota associations had further served to draw attention to the commonality the two constituencies had with one another.

As I began the process of preparing our church to formally fellowship with the GARBC and MARBC (while still retaining our affiliation with the MBA), I learned that John Greening, National Representative of the GARBC, was lined up to speak to the MARBC’s 2014 annual meeting. This event was to be held the same week as the MBA’s Men’s Fellowship (an event for which I serve as president), where it had been arranged for Mike Harding, who is prominent in the FBFI, to be our speaker. I was also aware of Kevin Bauder’s work on a history of Baptist Fundamentalism (the recently published One In Hope and Doctrine from RBP). To have two prominent individuals from national Baptist organizations in the same state seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

I contacted Sam Horn (President of Central Seminary) and Matt Morrell (Pastor at Fourth Baptist) to see if they might be interested in arranging an event featuring these two men alongside Kevin Bauder, addressing the current state of Baptist Fundamentalism and its potential future. From the beginning, they were intrigued and enthusiastic about making something happen. The initial participants quickly agreed to participate. We explored a few possibilities before eventually arriving at the current luncheon format on the Fourth/Central campus. Mike Harding turned out to be unable to attend due to a conflict. Though I was disappointed with Harding’s absence, Dr. Mike Sproul of Tri-City Baptist Church/International Baptist College and Seminary was interested and available, and graciously agreed to participate in the role that had been vacated.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish?

A. I had a conversation with a fellow pastor recently. His church has gone through some significant turmoil and division over the last few months. He lamented the fact that because of some of his own past decisions over the years, he had isolated himself from fellowship with other pastors and churches around him. “No one should have to go through things like this alone,” my friend said, sadly. There is a sense that we need to take that to heart, both locally and on a larger scale. Sorrows shared reduce the weight of the burdens being carried. Celebrating joys and triumphs can encourage and motivate others in their own contexts of ministry. Opportunities can bear more fruit with the enhanced resources of combined efforts.

I think it is fair to say that in the recent past, many parties in these Baptist constituencies have been somewhat distrustful and suspicious of each other. I envision this occasion providing a venue where misunderstandings and misconceptions about one another can be addressed and clarified. Ultimately, the fruits of this conversation may leave us in a position to see if the commonality we share in matters of doctrinal emphasis might prove to be enough of a platform for further collaborative efforts.

This is certainly what I am praying for, and I encourage others to do the same. Our churches already often support many of the same missionaries, send students to many of the same educational institutions, draw on each other for publication and curriculum resources, and so on. Closer working relationships would do nothing but enhance the gospel proclamation and disciple-making efforts of all our churches—not to mention giving a louder collective voice to those championing some doctrinal positions that seem sometimes to be lost in the larger conversation.

Of course, we may also discover that enough differences remain to justify the status quo. The potential benefits that could result from the time taken to have this conversation, however, deserve at least such an effort as this event is striving to provide.

Q. What’s planned, in general?

A. I anticipate two panel sessions beginning with some prepared questions, prefaced by a brief historical overview by Bauder, and concluding with analysis and to some degree, possible vision casting for the future coming from Chris Anderson, Matt Morrell, and myself. Lunch will be provided, and a freewill offering will be received to help with expenses.

Q. What do you think has prevented conversations of this sort in the past and how is the situation today different?

A. It is a historical fact that there were differences in influential personalities that became significant factors in the formation of these separate Baptist identities and organizations. Further complicating this historically, there were competing strategies in relation to the Northern Baptist Convention early on. Time moves on, and the issues and personalities of the earliest days are no longer directly relevant to the circumstances of today—but residual tension lingers. Some remember later concerns that developed that were legitimate at the time, but fail to acknowledge how those legitimate concerns were eventually addressed. Some focus on the contrasts the “other side” has in methods and practices they tolerate—while failing to acknowledge similar ranges that exist in their own sphere of influence.

I do not mean to say that differences do not exist. At the same time, I think it fair to say that the range of differences can be as easily observed from one individual congregation to another, regardless of organizational affiliation. When it comes to unifying matters at an organizational level, the principles themselves are remarkably similar.

One thing that has helped pave the way for something like this conversation is what I like to call “cross-pollination.” Here in Minnesota, as I have already mentioned, we have Central Seminary graduates serving in MBA and MARBC congregations. Similar observations could be made here for graduates of Faith, Maranatha, BJU, and Northland. Educational institutions have provided a venue for developing familiarity in working relationships. The Internet has helped, as over the last decade, people have been able to access content and interact with individuals whose ideas they can affirm, but whose connections might not always be the familiar ones. There has been some intentional bridge building on national conference platforms, too.

Q. The answer to this one probably depends somewhat on the outcome of this event, but can you tell us more about what you’d like to see happen in the future?

A. As you say, I think that much remains to be seen, and will be influenced by the preceding panel sessions. I wouldn’t want to presume to speak for any of the others. At the same time, as Bauder has observed, “unity is a function of what unites.” It is my prayer that whatever else might happen, those who come would leave encouraged, being more aware of the degree of unity they share with these like-minded brothers.

If you want anything more specific than that, you’ll have to come and join the conversation!

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Range of differences

"the range of differences can be as easily observed from one individual congregation to another, regardless of organizational affiliation."

Certainly fits what I've observed. I've often been in a church and wondered "why are they in Fellowship A rather B?" and vice versa.

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I am reminded

some friction is only eliminated with some funerals.  Now, that a generation or two has passed, maybe now the GARBC and the FBFI can finally speak to each other.  I don't see an organizational merger.  But It would be nice if men could as they move about the country be able to move from one org to another depending which has a presence in the locale.

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Organizational mergers

In my very limited experience (in corporate environment) there's often far less gain than expected when organizations merge. It seems to usually be better to coordinate mutual efforts. Partner. Sometimes, though, after a period of partnership, the organiztions involved develop a level of familiarity and comfort where they start to say things like "You know, we could both do X cheaper and more effectively if we shared resources" or some trading of "business units"

But it all really starts with realizing we're not truly competitors

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If nothing else,

churches in either organization feeling free to support missionaries serving with mission boards traditionally identified with the other org.

Aaron Blumer wrote:

In my very limited experience (in corporate environment) there's often far less gain than expected when organizations merge. It seems to usually be better to coordinate mutual efforts. Partner. Sometimes, though, after a period of partnership, the organiztions involved develop a level of familiarity and comfort where they start to say things like "You know, we could both do X cheaper and more effectively if we shared resources" or some trading of "business units"

But it all really starts with realizing we're not truly competitors

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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There should be a good relationship with the FBF and GARBC

So I don't think I would be militant enough to be a good fit in the FBFI. That's not a shot at the FBFI, it just is. My position would fit in with many in the GARBC. However, there seems to be little difference at all between a majority of the FBFI guys and the conservative half of the GARBC. You men in the FBFI and the conservatives in the GARBC should continue to build your relationships. I don't think a formal merger would work because the GARBC constituency probably is still too broad for many in the FBFI. With both worlds shrinking it makes sense that you would do that. Frankly I was encouraged to see the FBFI annual meeting meeting at Faith Baptist College and Seminary.  

A benevolent thought from an IFCA guy......who appreciates you men in the FBFI and the GARBC.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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I Remember!

I've been a member of both the GARBC and the FBFI. I recall the struggles within the GARBC in the 80's and I'm thankful for what they've become. Frankly, I can't see the FBFI ever entering into any meaningful relationship with the GARBC as a whole or any other fundamental group with the possible exception of the ACCC. There may be some limited cordial association between some members of the FBFI and the more conservative members of the GARBC but I think that kind of association might be not be appreciated by the more militant segment of the FBFI. In other words, I would be very surprised if an FBFI member who spoke at a GARBC meeting would be invited to speak at any future FBFI meeting. I'd like to hear what Don Johnson thinks of this.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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What criteria?

There may be some limited cordial association between some members of the FBFI and the more conservative members of the GARBC but I think that kind of association might be not be appreciated by the more militant segment of the FBFI.

I understand why you're saying this, Ron, but why do you think that is? What would that lack of appreciation be based on? 

Conversely, would you expect any hesitancy from people in the GARBC looking in the other direction? If so, what would be some of those concerns?

Greg Linscott
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Response to Greg

Greg Linscott wrote:

There may be some limited cordial association between some members of the FBFI and the more conservative members of the GARBC but I think that kind of association might be not be appreciated by the more militant segment of the FBFI.

I understand why you're saying this, Ron, but why do you think that is? What would that lack of appreciation be based on? 

Conversely, would you expect any hesitancy from people in the GARBC looking in the other direction? If so, what would be some of those concerns?

I suspect that the GARBC understands the principle that its possible to have fellowship and even a working relationship with Christians who may not be exactly like you. My personal experience with the FBFI was that that the more militant members tolerated their less militant brethren but kept their distance.

In the 80's I was in both the GARBC and the FBF. I spoke at regional meetings for both groups. (I also preached at both Faith Free Presbyterian and Mount Calvary in Greenville---but I digress.) At the time we were involved in the battle in the GARBC to get it back to its roots--a battle that seems to have been won. I recall FBF leaders making disparaging remarks over the efforts and telling me that I wasn't a real fundamentalist because I hadn't separated from the GARBC. I think that that kind of separation from brethren is still an identifier for some in the FBFI.

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Full Report Now Available at GARBC.org

A few choice quotes...

John Greening:

Obviously, we need to guard truth, . . . but we also have to champion it! We have to leverage the collective brain trust, our commitment to the ideas of fundamentalism, and turn them into something in the context of religious debates.

The issues of Biblical authority, as they play themselves out, will become vitally important within the context of how the local church serves and functions. Our definition of the gospel will become increasingly important as we try to figure out how we impact the culture in which we live. Our view of eschatology, . . . the hermeneutic that we use, is going to be increasingly important as we shape a philosophy of ministry, and these are the things that are at the heart and soul of who we are and what we agree about, and we must not allow ourselves to just chase rabbit trails or talk about issues that are not as vitally important while the world is on its way to Hell. We need to be out there addressing things, . . . the whole moral and ethical arena, which is increasingly becoming a battlefield that requires our voice speaking up, which will probably result in persecution and suffering because of our commitment to Biblical authority. . . . We must figure out how we’re admonished in Scripture to speak truth, but to do so in a bold but gentle fashion . . . that does so in a gracious manner, but extends the mercy of God to people . . . and calls them to repentance because of the crisis of eternity that’s ahead for them.

Chris Anderson:

For some fundamentalists . . . we allow people to deny the necessity of repentance, we can allow people to be borderline heretical on their Bibliology, but if they don’t have music we agree with, that is worth fighting over. . . . I think, as we “triage” where we can differ and where we can give each other some space—there has to be a border somewhere—but I think at some point . . . what is really more vital—a stout expositional ministry and doctrinal integrity, or the fact that somebody is to my left musically?

Read the whole report here.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Which side of the border would Charles Swindoll be on?

Not an incidental matter, in my opinion.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Lobbing grenades...

Don, many people have no context for your remark. If you really want an answer, you might want to flesh out your question. I suspect your intent was to accuse rather than begin a discussion, but I will leave it to you to clarify...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Oh Don is just ready to

Oh Don is just ready to condemn Chris Anderson because he collaborated with Swindoll's church choir on a music project. Just Don being Don.

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Understood...

I knew where he was going... and it's not even that the matter he raises isn't worth discussing. But it does seem like a lobbed grenade into the middle of something promising.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Greg Linscott

I appreciate your efforts to put this meeting together. I was encouraged by reading your report and I hope this is the beginnings of a greater cooperation among fundamentalists - a sort of return to the "big tent" fundamentalism that was characteristic of the original fundamentalist-modernist controversy. In this day of rampant secularization, fundamentalists ought to be able to get together and articulate a clear vision for fighting against apostasy and heresy. Yes, that means we need to be concerned with things beyond John Piper, Calvinism, new evangelicals and other well-worn punching bags and bogeymen. Let's stop playing defense and start playing offense. Mohler and MacArthur, et al, shouldn't be the only one's speaking out and fighting against heresy. It's time fundamentalists articulate a positive message, instead of merely fixating on what we're against.  

I hope this is a sign of good things to come. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Greg,

Greg,
Thanks for your efforts to put this together. It was an enjoyable time of fellowship and a unique opportunity for brothers to share. That first quote by John Greening reverberated with me, since I have been saying that for quite a while.
Incidentally, Marty Marriott called for a Baptist congress of sorts when he spoke to pastors at MBU back in September. I, for one, would love to see the primary groups of Baptist fundamentalism coming together to enjoy fellowship and encouragement on somewhat of a regular basis. Hopefully, this event is a precursor to good things to come.

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Congress idea is brewing

Paul,

Mike Sproul is already working on organizing something along those lines in Arizona in 2016 (Aaron, that might be something to think about for a future interview article). I can't imagine he wouldn't be reaching out to the guys at MBU. I agree that doing something like this more regularly is needed. 

It was good to see you and your father there, even if we only briefly interacted. 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Encouraged

The more I read of this, the more I'm encouraged to see my Baptist brothers coming together. Just for fun I took out my Uno cards in an attempt to read the future. I think this is going to work. The majority of these men see the big picture and are willing to overlook their minor differences. I don't think that we'll see the FBFI as a whole going along but there will be individuals from the fellowship who will. After all, the FBFI is a group of independent individuals.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Can I politely ask...

Don Johnson wrote:
Which side of the border would Charles Swindoll be on?

Not an incidental matter, in my opinion.

Who cares?  Was Swindoll at the meeting?

"Our task today is to tell people — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells
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haven't had time for a reply

Greg Linscott wrote:

I knew where he was going... and it's not even that the matter he raises isn't worth discussing. But it does seem like a lobbed grenade into the middle of something promising.

Something promising... well, we'll see. However when your basis for a beginning appears to be fuzzy on the boundaries at the start, it is hard to see how the ending will promise much success.

Or do you think Swindoll is on the right side of the boundary?

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Well let's see. One of the

Well let's see. One of the speakers at that conference had the opportunity to have Swindoll's church choir record his songs for a CD. This makes the entire conference suspect. Never mind that every CD produced by any organization Don approves of uses secular studios and at least some non-Christian musicians.

So one of the speakers at the conference several years ago used an evangelical choir to produce a CD. That taints everything apparently. And yet Don's preferred group brings in Clarence Sexton to speak at this year's meeting.

The nicest word I can say about Don's attack is that it is inconsistent.

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distortion is still GregH's game

So I'll not bother with a further reply.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Don

To be quite honest, I get the impression you really don't want anything like a fundamentalist consensus to come to pass. I wish I understood why. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Don, I will be happy for you

Don, I will be happy for you to point out what I said was inaccurate. I am not sure what you know about Anderson and Swindoll. I do know what happened and you might want to find out before you decide that Swindoll's choir recording his songs taints him forever. A CD was produced. So what? Make a case for why a conservative musician should not go get the best musicians he can when recording. That choir and orchestra is basically professional and Anderson got a chance to use them almost for free. If there is something wrong with that, why don't you enlighten us with what it is instead of making vague condemnations.

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Tyler

If a fundamentalist consensus includes ministry partnership with the likes of Charles Swindoll, count me out.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Don

Swindoll was not under discussion up at the luncheon at Central, and I'm not expecting him to be invited to a prospective fundamentalist conference. But, you appear to have your mind set against the vision articulated in Greg's article - based on a figment of your imagination.

Feel free to count yourself out, I suppose. It doesn't have to be that way. I hope you reconsider. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Reply to Don

Don, 

I am not going to discuss Swindoll here, because he wasn't on the panel. If you want to start a new thread, feel free. I would be happy to participate.

If you are faulting the panel because it included Chris Anderson... well, fault me away, as the one who organized the event. I was happy to sit alongside each man on that panel, and gladly consider all of them as brothers and co-laborers, though we all have things with which we could disagree to some extent with one another in areas of doctrine and application.

While I might not have made the same decision Chris did, I don't think that his decision is as black and white as you appear to. I don't appear to be alone in that (link).

So, I suppose if this effort is suspect because of Chris, you'd better ditch all your Majesty Music materials now, too. Might as well throw Colonial Hills Baptist and The Wilds under the bus while you're at it.

Personally, I don't see Chris's decision as terribly dissimilar to Kevin Bauder publishing a book with Zondervan, or John Vaughn representing the FBFI on a platform with people like Jack Schaap and Clarence Sexton, or BJU featuring Sexton as a speaker, or Dan Forrest having his music performed at Carnegie Hall by a choir and orchestra from a non-Fundamentalist church or institution. People might wrestle with the legitimacy of application- and I probably would wrestle with it, myself, if I were confronted with such a choice. But I don't think that his reaching a decision that is different than the one I might have made is grounds to separate. I admire what he has written, use it regularly, and recommend it without reservation. If others are recognizing its value outside of our boundaries and desire to use it, I rejoice that the truth God has used Chris to proclaim is getting a wide audience. I extend the same grace to my brother Chris, in fact, that I extend to those of you in the FBFI who allow yourselves to be connected with questionable bibliology like Sexton, or divisive and spiteful personalities like Lou Martuneac. I don't discard the value of the relationships just because your relationships extend further than mine might or do. There's room for differences.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Greg,

Greg,

I read your report on the meeting.  So glad that Dr. Sproul could take my place, since I had to be at BJU for the investiture that weekend.  We do need unity among Baptist Fundamentalists.  I am on the board of the IFBAM now called IFBFM.  I also serve on the alumni committee for DBTS, the board of FBFI, the executive board of BJU, and VP of Mich Assc. of Christian Schools.  I know the differences among these groups, but they are all Fundamental Baptists.  In the MACS one of our strongest churches and schools is Calvary Baptist Midland--GARBC Your meeting was to have a better understanding of our differences and how best to handle them in a biblical and God-honoring way.  Thank you.

As far as Chris is concerned, he is a bright and godly pastor who has recently taken Killian Hill Baptist Church and School.  He is doing a fine job there.  All the major players in recording conservative Christian music have used musicians and recording studios from a wide variety of backgrounds.  It is not reasonable to criticize Chris for this and give the others a complete pass.  I like Chris' music and it has been very refreshing.  Very well done.  I am thankful that people outside of our circles find the music and words powerful and edifying.  None of us are above criticism, but I don't think it is reasonable or remotely consistent to go after Chris for this.

 

Pastor Mike Harding

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I should be stunned, but I'm not.

Don Johnson wrote:

Greg Linscott wrote:

I knew where he was going... and it's not even that the matter he raises isn't worth discussing. But it does seem like a lobbed grenade into the middle of something promising.

Something promising... well, we'll see. However when your basis for a beginning appears to be fuzzy on the boundaries at the start, it is hard to see how the ending will promise much success.

Or do you think Swindoll is on the right side of the boundary?

Kudos to Mike Harding for a concise, clear, and helpful response.

As for what I have to say...well, this passage came to mind.

Luke 7:31-35

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

"Our task today is to tell people — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells
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I'm Getting More Encouraged All the Time!

Thanks Mike Harding for your thoughtful and gracious contribution. Thanks Greg Linscott for initiating this dialog. Thanks to others who see big picture.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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I'm responding to Greg's report, post #72766

In it, he offers a "choice quote" from Chris Anderson:

For some fundamentalists . . . we allow people to deny the necessity of repentance, we can allow people to be borderline heretical on their Bibliology, but if they don’t have music we agree with, that is worth fighting over. . . . I think, as we “triage” where we can differ and where we can give each other some space—there has to be a border somewhere—but I think at some point . . . what is really more vital—a stout expositional ministry and doctrinal integrity, or the fact that somebody is to my left musically?

I am keying on the line "there has to be a border somewhere"

I agree.

But where is that border? Chris reported on his activity with Swindoll here and here. (There might have been one other post, I forget.) Anyway, Chris is being held forth here as having something to say to Fundamentalists as to where they should be in the future. I think it is legitimate to ask if his credentials are affected by his practices. I think it is legitimate to question where Swindoll is with respect to the border Chris speaks of.

If that is an attack, so be it. I just would like to know whether such activity represents legitimate ministry cooperation or not.

I presume Chris is still a member of this forum, I'm sure he can answer for himself if he wishes.

I would also suggest that some people have forgotten Swindoll's Grace Awakening and just how much a travesty that was.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Even Paul Needed a Barnabas

Don,

I'll repost what I just said in my last post:

Personally, I don't see Chris's decision as terribly dissimilar to Kevin Bauder publishing a book with Zondervan, or John Vaughn representing the FBFI on a platform with people like Jack Schaap and Clarence Sexton, or BJU featuring Sexton as a speaker, or Dan Forrest having his music performed at Carnegie Hall by a choir and orchestra from a non-Fundamentalist church or institution. People might wrestle with the legitimacy of application- and I probably would wrestle with it, myself, if I were confronted with such a choice. But I don't think that his reaching a decision that is different than the one I might have made is grounds to separate. I admire what he has written, use it regularly, and recommend it without reservation. If others are recognizing its value outside of our boundaries and desire to use it, I rejoice that the truth God has used Chris to proclaim is getting a wide audience. I extend the same grace to my brother Chris, in fact, that I extend to those of you in the FBFI who allow yourselves to be connected with questionable bibliology like Sexton, or divisive and spiteful personalities like Lou Martuneac. I don't discard the value of the relationships just because your relationships extend further than mine might or do. There's room for differences.

I think you'd have more of a point if Chris's relationship involved more than music. As it stands, I don't think anyone would realistically confuse Swindoll and Anderson and their distinctive positions and emphases. A hymnwriter and a noted arranger, whose work is regularly used in Fundamentalist churches, cooperated on a recording where the hymnwriter was completely in charge of the lyrical content articulated. As others have articulated to you in the past, there are plenty of relational inconsistencies your alma mater has made in the area of politics and arts. This seems to me to be in a similar vein.  We could look at the past inconsistencies represented in our hymnals (Spafford and "It is Well" for example). We could look at BJU including works by the Gettys in several of their recent recordings.

The point here is not to criticize or affirm any of those decisions. The point of our meeting, and the point I'm trying to steer this discussion back to, is that we can and should see the points of commonality we share, rather than cutting off all fellowship- or at least making it very awkward because of all the suspicions and whispers- because we can't agree on something like what choir should be permitted to record a Fundamentalist's music. 

I want to say quite distinctly that if that is your only reason to question this effort, then it is a poor reason indeed. If anything, that is a topic to be deliberated between friends, rather than an obstruction preventing a friendship from being fleshed out. The criticism might be worth sharing in the right context, but to do it here... now... as the first comment after the report (!)... it's like you've been sitting on this issue for almost two years, just waiting for the opportunity to get another chance to get that jab in. You could have aired that concern when the interview first was published on SI... or when I announced Chris would be included way back in the spring. Whether you mean it to be this way or not, these comments, in this venue, make you appear very petty and mean-spirited, and frankly are illustrative of why conversations like the one we had can be so hard to pull off- it can be tiresome having to deal with the naysayers.

Well, I'm not going to stop trying. There is a time for criticism and picking nits. This isn't that time. I'm not trying to get anyone to sit down with Swindoll. I'm not even trying to get anyone to sit down with "conservative evangelicals." This is an effort to get dispensationalist, separatist Baptists at the table, talking. I'm glad that there are men in the FBFI like Sproul  and Harding who are willing to sit at that table, even if people like you appear to be doing anything you can to distract from that effort. We are at a stage where trust needs to be earned, goodwill needs to be extended, diplomacy practiced.  Many times- even most of the time- you need a Paul... but there were times when even Paul needed a Barnabas. Don, we need a Barnabas now. If that isn't going to be you, at least let some other try to step into that role without further interference?! I admire your tenacity- I really do. If there is any doubt- who recruited you to SI and made you a moderator way back when? But my goodness!

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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lots of bafflegab

Greg, you still haven't answered my question. You like to throw in lots of extras. Not relevant.

You are the one who is touting Chris as a go-to guy whom we should all listen to. Fine. But it would be nice to know what kinds of boundaries he has in mind when it comes to fundamentalism. The issue isn't the connections or inconsistencies or problems of his questioners, but why should his questioners listen to him?

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Don Johnson wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

You are the one who is touting Chris as a go-to guy whom we should all listen to. Fine. But it would be nice to know what kinds of boundaries he has in mind when it comes to fundamentalism. 

Don's own words betray what is important to him. "Boundaries when it comes to fundamentalism."

How about boundaries that are related to truth Don? Maybe if you cared about those boundaries a bit more, you would see what everyone is trying to tell you--that it is absurd to keep throwing rocks at Anderson for something so silly when you have real problems in your own camp. I guess those problems don't matter though because Martuneac/Sexton and company are self-proclaimed fundamentalists.

 

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Answered Your Question

I answered it here. Again, to refresh your memory:

I am not going to discuss Swindoll here, because he wasn't on the panel. If you want to start a new thread, feel free. I would be happy to participate.

And to be clear, I think Chris is a fine speaker and good voice, but that doesn't mean I am anointing him as a "go-to guy whom we should all listen to," any more than I think I am the one who should be doing the anointing. I see Chris as representative of where many of his peers are (something that was confirmed after the panel, BTW, by a lot of guys who approached him afterward and basically said they could identify with a lot of what he said about his background and experiences). You want to make this about anointing new leaders and toppling old ones, and that is really not what this is about at all. 

"Why should his questioners listen to him?" Because they care about the great ideas of Fundamentalism, and wish to see them perpetuated beyond their own life spans. Chris has a sense of urgency, vision, and drive, like many of his peers, and rises above them in some ways because of his gifts, but in the end, is not intent on "jumping ship." He's a separatist. He's committed to Fundamentalist ideas. He's got questions. He sees things that can be admired in those he has disagreements with. Guys like you need guys like him... and vice versa.

As much as anything, this meeting was about getting people connected who hadn't been, so much. While it might be interesting to know everyone's boundaries, those boundaries are going to vary. You have a different boundary than I do on the KJV only types. Our Iowa brethren have drawn a boundary on "Baptist in the name" that not all Baptist Fundamentalists are comfortable endorsing to the degree they did. Your own fellowship disagrees on whether or not you can use Getty music. I'm sure there are a lot more things we could bring up.

There are times for erecting boundaries, and there are times for building bridges. As this continues, I am wondering if you even have a bridge-building mode in you.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Your answer: I won't answer

In case you were wondering, that isn't really an answer.

When you talk about bridge building, you sound like a politician. What are you trying to build?

But you are right, I am not much into bridge building. I am more interested in being loyal to God and his word, as best I can. I don't build bridges to men who could write Grace Awakening.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Building?

I said I would take you up on another thread. If you really want your answer, the option is there for you. I will not discuss the matter further in this thread, nor continue to address any specific references, jabs or accusations about it. 

You say politician like it's always a bad thing. Politics happen when people get together and have to find ways to work with each other. Webster's:

5 a :  the total complex of relations between people living in society
  b :  relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view
<office politics> <ethnic politics>

As far as what am I trying to build? Coalition around common principles for the sake of increased momentum for our (biblical) ideas, and  productivity for the building of Christ's churches. Why did American Baptists get together in the first place, historically speaking? Missions. See: Luther Rice and Adoniram Judson. Cooperative efforts can only enhance the efforts and effectiveness of Baptist Fundamentalists.

As much as you want to seem to paint any bridge building as bad, it is a reality. You have to do it in evangelism. You have to do it when you are discipling people. You have to find ways to do it in a church. You have to do it in any successful marriage. If you're constantly erecting borders between spouses, it's a recipe for disaster.

In this specific context, we have spoken about some very specific boundaries, too- including Young Earth creationism, dispensationalism (I would even say pre-trib/pre-mil), separatism, cessationism... The boundaries are as important as the bridges.

You paint this matter as binary- either you are loyal to God and His Word, or you are a politician building bridges to all that is destructive. My Bible does tell me to preach the whole counsel of God, and "speak the things which become sound doctrine..."- but it also tells me to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and as much as lies within me to live at peace with all men. There is a time for loyalty to God's Word, but there is also a time to foster like-mindedness between brethren. The two aren't antithetical to one another. Both require our attention.

I have said about all I can say to you, though. I will not discuss anything more to do with the specific matter you raised in this thread. I will continue to converse about things related to the matter addressed in the original post.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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This is a Good Thing!

To see fundamental Baptists seeking for unity among themselves is a good thing. The distorted practice of separation from brethren that has been expressed in this thread has been the most prominent and detrimental feature of fundamentalism, yet its practitioners wear it as a badge of honor.

If this works out will we seek a split in the FBFI? Will Don separate from Mike because Mike won't separate from Chris?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Ron Bean wrote:

Ron Bean wrote:

To see fundamental Baptists seeking for unity among themselves is a good thing. The distorted practice of separation from brethren that has been expressed in this thread has been the most prominent and detrimental feature of fundamentalism, yet its practitioners wear it as a badge of honor.

THIS ^^^^^^^^^

I personally am sick & tired of the "It's just you and me brother, and I'm not so sure about you..." mentality.

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Ron Bean wrote:

Ron Bean wrote:

If this works out will we seek a split in the FBFI? Will Don separate from Mike because Mike won't separate from Chris?

I know Ron is half joking, but this is the result of 50 or more years of one-sided emphasis on separation without the call to biblical unity. 

Don seems awful close to illustrating Titus 3:10 in this thread, and I hope other FBFI members take note. 
 

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Good event, excellent goals.

Greg, I hope we will be able to download audio or watch the video from this event. I am encouraged by the effort.

I think Keith Robertsson said it well, "some friction is only eliminated with some funerals." Not surprisingly, it will be post-modern Christians that could make fundamentalism rational again.

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