"Does Charles Spurgeon represent 'Cultural Fundamentalism?'”

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Since 4/16/11 13:47:18
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Confused...

I tried to follow along but at some point there was a leap that lost me. Why does cultural fundamentalism equal personal separation? Couldn't someone abide by the demands of cultural fundamentalism and yet fail to practice personal, Biblical separation? Could someone legitimately pursue personal, Biblical separation outside the specific, traditional applications of North American cultural fundamentalism?

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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Exactly, AD Thompson. It's

Exactly, AD Thompson. It's one big leap.

Steve Davis's picture
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Since 7/25/09 21:47:12
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Leaps and more

ADThompson wrote:

I tried to follow along but at some point there was a leap that lost me. Why does cultural fundamentalism equal personal separation? Couldn't someone abide by the demands of cultural fundamentalism and yet fail to practice personal, Biblical separation? Could someone legitimately pursue personal, Biblical separation outside the specific, traditional applications of North American cultural fundamentalism?

Get used to leaps as well as twists and turns. Chuck's right about one thing. It is "personal" separation. but personal separation often means individual ideas of what the consecrated life looks like. And when the application is different, then others are considered less separated.

You would think that Christians who differ on the application are not concerned about holiness because of their understanding of dress, music, associations. etc. Worse they are accused of attacking personal separation and by that are not "promoting true biblical faith." And if you disagree with their idea of personal separation and its relationship to historic fundamentalism then you are not interacting with biblical instruction and even "demonstrate an appalling ignorance of and perhaps even cavalier arrogance toward true biblical Christianity before the birth of fundamentalism..."

I don't know of anyone who "belittle[s] personal separation by attacking 'cultural fundamentalism...'" But that doesn't matter because then we are told that "to belittle separatism is to belittle Scripture." Again who's doing this? These perceived attacks on "personal" separation cannot be construed as attacks on biblical separation. They are disagreements about emphases that go beyond Scripture as being normative for the Christian life. Chuck seems to know who is guilty and is sure about these "revisionists who demonstrate an appalling ignorance of and perhaps even cavalier arrogance ..."

Chuck is also partly right about the polarization. But I hope he wouldn't suggest that those who disagree don't love the Lord or His Word. If he's interested in "peace" he has a strange way of going about it. If he's interested in further diminishing the influence of his branch of Fundamentalism, then he's doing a fine job.

Steve Davis

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
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Really pretty obvious

I'm not sure Chuck has said it all that well, but maybe he has. I need to read the post more thoroughly, but surely it's not hard to see the connection between Spurgeon's renouncing of worldly living and what many today are calling "cultural fundamentalism."

Maybe I can help a bit...

  • The concept of holiness in Scripture is rooted in the concept of separation (the words translated holy, consecrated, etc. bear this out as well as the contexts where they appear)
  • We are all called to be personally holy and live holy lifestyles  (1Pet.1:16, 2Cor. 7:1, many more)
  • Ergo, we are all called to personal separation and personal separation is synonymous with holy living.

Add in a couple of other well-known (and surely beyond dispute) prinicples:

  • Cultures are usually deeply infected with allegiance to the temporary (at best) and the decadent and demonic (at worst).(1John 2:15-16 and 2:17)
  • We are called to not conform to these allegiances and practices (Rom. 12:2, Gal.4:8-9)

Given these principles, isn't it pretty obvious that being a Christian has profound cultural implications and these implications include a mandate to consciously (and selectively) not conform to much of what is common in our culture?  ... and that this is part of our call to personal separation (i.e., holiness)?

I don't see where the mystery is.

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Since 6/5/09 11:14:53
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Mystery is application

Very few will argue personal holiness doesn't matter, the question is in areas of subjectivity who gets to decide, and how do we interact with those with whom we disagree.  This conversation rarely rises when talking about other local churches, but due to the history of Bible colleges in fundamentalism, undue influence and attention is often given to their choices in how they nuance holiness and institutional control.  

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Yes...

Yes, application is the thorny part. But what I'm seeing a whole lot of the last few years is an abandoning of principles--at least verbally. It often takes the form of broad dismissal of the whole idea that we are called to be counter-cultural. So the baby goes out with the bathwater in the name of "I'm not a cultural fundamentalist." But the logic is often along the lines of selective appeal to biblical evidence: talk about Pharisees, "legalism," etc., as though the other passages (which exist it great abundance) calling us to disciplined and discerning counter-culturalism aren't there.

But they are there and aren't going away.

So I'm all for acknowledging the difficulties of application and granting one another space for respectful disagreement. But if we denigrate the whole practice of establishing firm, clear cultural boundaries and articulating them with passion--that's really the most intolerant position of them all. 

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Since 4/16/11 13:47:18
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Culture...

I do not object to associating personal separation with a call to holy living--far from it! However, our movement developed a culture and as you well stated--"Cultures are usually deeply infected with allegiance to the temporary".

I remain unconvinced that following these cultural norms (based on the past application of principles) determines whether or not we practice personal separation.

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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Humor

Well, I made the same points that Steve Davis did yesterday and was told that I misunderstood Phelps' point.  Although I will give Don credit for pointing out that I was wrong to say that I'm labeled as 'subversive'.  Now those other labels that Phelps used, though...

I find it highly ironic and downright funny that myself, Roger Carlson, ADThompson, Shaynus, and Steve would all misunderstand in the same exact way on reading the same article.  Well, I would if this wasn't a serious issue.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 2/19/10 12:33:22
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Jay, do you know what prejudice is?

If  you read someone with prejudice (your own point of view), you will read into what you think he is saying. That's why you made your error yesterday. Of the guys you name, I know of reasons for three out of the four to have been able to predict the reactions.

We all do it, hopefully we can minimize the effects and read objectively, but it is very difficult, especially in this emotion-laden age.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Steve Davis's picture
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Since 7/25/09 21:47:12
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Prediction

Don Johnson wrote:

Of the guys you name, I know of reasons for three out of the four to have been able to predict the reactions.

Prediction? And here I thought you didn't hold to the gifts Smile

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Since 4/16/11 13:47:18
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Objectivity...

Don, I value your recognition that we all struggle with personal prejudice and we should strive to minimize its effects on our interaction--as hard as that may be. I am very biased at times.

I would only mention that confidently predicting the response of others could be construed as prejudice.

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Addressed This Earlier

Link to previous thread comment

 

To summarize, I think Phelps, with his citation of Spurgeon, actually leaves the door open for changes in how personal separation gets applied. In the citation, Spurgeon objects to churches utilizing, among other things, drama and leisure games of chance in their methodology. As I noted in the earlier entry, it is quite evident that Chuck's ministries do not draw the line where Spurgeon would have in his day, since his churches have incorporated both methods into their practice.

I am not, by the way, condemning Chuck or his churches for doing so. I am simply observing that things have changed, and that most would not presume that Chuck or his churches have stopped caring about personal separation from worldliness.

I do not agree with or condone some of the specific practices that I imagine prompted Chuck's article, either. At the same time, as Don observed that the stage and playhouse may have had a different connotation in Spurgeon's day than it would today, some are perhaps reasoning that the specific practices of music, for example, do not carry the same connotation as they did, say, in 1974 as they might today in 2013. To say it another way, there are those today who still would agree with Spurgeon that drama has no place in the church. I don't think, though, that the universal conclusion Bauder would reach is that those who practice drama simply aren't concerned with personal separation. 

As much as Chuck may want to reduce it to personal separation, there is a sense that "cultural fundamentalism" is still something that is changing. Music may or may not be part of the discussion, but there are things that Fundamentalists have slowly changed their application of personal separation on. I brought up the example of women wearing pants- something that was widely not permitted in many Fundamentalist institutions as recently as a decade ago (and is still forbidden in some settings). There are many who have changed, though, on this and other appearance matters (facial hair on men, wearing blue jeans...).   These things were condemned by some as worldly in the course of my lifetime, and those who would dare to adopt some of these things were condemned by others as being unwilling to practice personal separation.

It seems to me, that rather than reduce it to a matter of condemning those who deviate from the practice one holds to as those who fail to practice personal separation at best only serves to rally those who already agree with you. There is little to no exhortation, no explanation of why, say, it's okay to use drama but not contemporary music styles, or why it's acceptable to have women wear "slacks" today, but in 1984 it was "worldly."

In other words, if Chuck and the FBF thinks this is a principle worth upholding, this article  is a very poor way of persuading sound reasoning and application. The conclusion one could easily draw here is "we alone will establish what is worldly and what is not."

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jim's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:47:03
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Is this a true statement?

Is this a true statement?

Generally the standards (when it comes to the well-know taboos) of self-identified fundamentalists are "tighter" (not necessarily better) than those who are not?

Examples:

  • Most (guessing the vast majority of) self-identified fundamentalists are total-abstainers
  • Most selfself-identified fundamentalists-identified fundamentalists do not attend movies
  • Most self-identified fundamentalists do not play cards
  • Most self-identified fundamentalists do not dance

Is this what is known as cultural fundamentalism?

 I further observe:

  • Self-identified fundamentalists who are 2nd generation +, or attended CDS, or graduated from a fundamentalist college (BJU, Pills, etc) basically live the taboos (they view the above as improper or unacceptable) without questioning or complaining.
  • Fundamentalists who are not 2nd generation, did not attend CDS, did not attend Bible college really don't buy into the taboos.

Examples: I'm a 1st generation Christian (actually not precisely because I am a descendant of Resolved White. But there has been a giant gap between that generation and mine.) I went to public school, public university (University of Cincinnati), was saved in college.

  • I occasionally play cards (mainly hearts)
  • I occasionally go to a movie theater
  • I do not believe the Bible teaches total-abstinence (I agree with Spurgeon on this)

 

 

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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Terms

"Is this what is known as cultural fundamentalism?"

When I say 'cultural fundamentalist' (and I think I'm the one who popularized it here at the site), I am specifically talking about fundamentalists that draw lines of demarcation over cultural issues (card playing, movies, dress standards, music standards, etc).  They can do it in a negative way (as Phelps does in his article) by describing norms that are contrary to what they see in Scripture, or they can do it in a positive way, as someone like Scott Aniol might.  These fundamentalists seem changes in praxis as threats to the gospel (due to a lack of 'separation'), and have deliberately structured their lives around specific and culturally agreed upon, norms.

In short, their view of separation results in a very explicit and selected set of norms for a people group - a culture.  That is what characterizes their lives and praxis.  It's Amish culture with cars and electricity (and I don't mean that pejoratively).

I'm not saying it's wrong to have culture.  NO people group is devoid of culture.  What I am saying is that this particular strain of fundamentalism can and should be characterized by their particular form of culture.  My culture looks different because I don't handle texts on separation the same way they do, and I don't agree with them that separation is and should be the first step in defining how I relate to other believers.

I mentioned this in a different thread, so let me repost that section here:

I'd also like to interact with something that Phelps said.  I was curious, so I looked up culture in Dictionary.com.  Here's what it lists:

cul·ture

[kuhl-cher] Show IPA noun, verb, cul·tured, cul·tur·ing.

noun

1.  The quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

2.  That which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.

3.  a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

4.  development or improvement of the mind by education or training.

5.  the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

Now, here's what Phelps said that I disagree with:

To belittle separatism is to belittle Scripture and to ignore what it means to live a life of consecration.  It’s not about “cultural fundamentalism,” it never has beenIt’s about living a consecrated life of personal separation to please a holy God.

And what he views as a 'consecrated life of personal separation' is exactly what I call it - a culture that he chooses to enmesh himself in because he feels that it is 'a life of personal separation'.  Phelps errs when he argues that is he is not 'cultural'.  Culture isn't just what tens of thousands of people do.  It's a style of living adopted by any group of people (as Dictionary.com notes, and as I correctly suspected).  So it is disingenous to argue that 'separation does not equal culture' and then turn around and argue that 'lack of separation is a result of ungodly culture'.  Just say that my culture is more godly than your culture, which seems to be Aniol's argument.

If you're going to argue about culture, then at least realize that you do have one, whether you define it as 'a consecrated life of personal separation' or a 'culture', or as something else. 

Does that make sense, Jim?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/2/09 08:15:17
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Generational, but not that way

Jim wrote:

Is this a true statement?

Generally the standards (when it comes to the well-know taboos) of self-identified fundamentalists are "tighter" (not necessarily better) than those who are not?

Examples:

  • Most (guessing the vast majority of) self-identified fundamentalists are total-abstainers
  • Most selfself-identified fundamentalists-identified fundamentalists do not attend movies
  • Most self-identified fundamentalists do not play cards
  • Most self-identified fundamentalists do not dance

Is this what is known as cultural fundamentalism?

 I further observe:

  • Self-identified fundamentalists who are 2nd generation +, or attended CDS, or graduated from a fundamentalist college (BJU, Pills, etc) basically live the taboos (they view the above as improper or unacceptable) without questioning or complaining.
  • Fundamentalists who are not 2nd generation, did not attend CDS, did not attend Bible college really don't buy into the taboos.

Examples: I'm a 1st generation Christian (actually not precisely because I am a descendant of Resolved White. But there has been a giant gap between that generation and mine.) I went to public school, public university (University of Cincinnati), was saved in college.

  • I occasionally play cards (mainly hearts)
  • I occasionally go to a movie theater
  • I do not believe the Bible teaches total-abstinence (I agree with Spurgeon on this)

Jim, I think it is somewhat generational, but not that way. I don't know what CDS means, but ton Bible colleges, it depends more on which institution. At least at BJU in 2004-2011, the period in which I lived in Greenville, most of the students did not agree with the taboos and frankly, didn't keep to the same standard of rules when at home or when they wouldn't be caught. Most people put on a good show. Some, after graduating, openly dissented. I was involved in two large BJU churches for a while, and almost all the guys my age listened to CCM and/or secular music, drank on occasion, and were not super tight on entertainment media. Almost all the women wore pants to church events other than Sunday worship, and almost none of them wore skirts/dresses all the time.

However, I had friends at West Coast, Pensacola, Crown, and Ambassador. All of these groups evidenced some difference between the official standard and their private lifestyles, the PCC crowd more so than the others. With PCC, I think the issue is that the education is so cheap, it attracts people who are not really on board with the school's agenda. 

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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CDS

CDS= Christian Day School

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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Cultural Norms

Here is a short listing of cultural norms that have been defended vehemently (which is the point Greg is making) under the rubric of 'separation':

* King James Version (vs. other versions)

* Christian Day School / Christian College

* Dress Standards

* Music Standards

* Drama Teams

* Door-knocking or 'soul-winning'

If they sound familiar - they should.  They're arguably the biggest stressors or hot points of Fundamentalism on the Web.  I think that's why Phil Johnson wrote this (in the Dead Right pdf):

In fact, by the 1970s, American fundamentalism had already ceased to be a theological movement and had morphed into a cultural phenomenon—a bizarre and ingrown subculture all its own, whose public face more often than not seemed overtly hostile to everyone outside its boundaries.

Frankly, I thought that sort of fundamentalism deserved to die. And I knew it eventually would, because the most prominent hallmark of the visible fundamentalist movement was that its leaders loved to fight so much that they would bite and devour one another and proliferate controversies—even among themselves—over issues that no one could ever rationally argue were essential to the truth of the gospel. 

They fought and argued over controversies because they had stopped arguing and fighting for the gospel and were instead arguing over cultural norms that they defined and decided on even though they didn't say that was what they were doing.  It was always about the norms to one extent or another.  When those norms were challenged, the immediate response was to 'separate' (or to throw the questioner out so they didn't create problems).

That's why SI and individual bloggers generally get the pushback they do - because the culture of the cultural fundamentalist is threatened and they can't just tell people to sit down and ignore the man behind the curtain like they could in the past.   It's also why the Sweatt incident from 2009 (or whenever it was) was so fascinating and out of the ordinary...the cultural fundamentalists were finally called on the carpet by a bunch of fundamentalists that stood up to them and said "No, this is wrong".  If you don't believe me, start with post #8 or #9 on that thread I just linked to.  Mike Durning used exactly the right word in post #10 - they rebelled.  And we should have.

It's also why movements like T4G are so appealing - people are finally realizing that the emphasis needs to be corrected, and they're moving back to it.  I think a lot of those movements are man-oriented, but I also think that we'll see a lot of men staying there after guys like MacArthur and Dever (and I pick those two in particular) will be in Glory.  Other man-centered movements like Driscoll or Mahaney won't last as long (if you can even say that they last now).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 2/19/10 12:33:22
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cultural norms?

the KJO movement is just a "cultural norm"?

Man, and I thought we had trouble defining fundamentalist. If you want to simply dismiss KJO-ism as a cultural norm, we're doomed to talk past each other.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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IF

If you make the use of the KJV a separation issue - as in, I will not cooperate with someone who uses a different version because of that - then yes, it is a cultural issue.

I'm not talking about double-inspiration guys or something like that.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
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Jay, Per your definition of

Jay,

Per your definition of cultural fundamentalist. You are saying some define their group (the who's in and out line) around a stance on cultural issues.  Dresses not pants, no beat in music, or whatever.  Their definitions might differ within this group (some are okay with pants, some are okay with a different style of music i.e, southern Gospel), but it is about these matters of lifestyle and practice.

I think I agree with you.  Others opt for fundamentalism around doctrine more. In other words, if someone's practice is different but they agree on the core, fudnamental doctrines, this group would be less hesitant to hobnob with them.

Is that what you're saying. Or to ask it another way, what other kinds of fundamentalists are there than cultural fundamentalists? They rally around lifestyle standards and make it a subculture. What do non-cultural fundamentalists, the others (historic or mainstream or what have you) rally around?

Chuck has a point that all Christians care about lifestyle applications.  But I'm with Greg L. above that there is drift and change over time that isn't necessarily bad, it is about applying the same principles of God's Word in a cultural moment in time and space that is much different than it as in Spurgeon's day.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Greg Linscott's picture
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KJO-ism as a cultural norm

Don,

I can't speak for Jay- he and I would differ on applications for music, for one. At the same time, the KJVO movement, though it has some articulate people who approach the matter theologically (Kent Brandenburg is one example that comes to mind), much of the momentum they have been able to generate comes from a grasp of established tradition and culture that some people just don't want to let go of. It may not be only a cultural norm, but that does factor in. Music may not just be a matter of cultural norms, but it does factor in (try criticizing "In The Garden" from the pulpit in a Fundamentalist congregation sometime and see what happens...).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Not that simple...

But I'm with Greg L. above that there is drift and change over time that isn't necessarily bad, it is about applying the same principles of God's Word in a cultural moment in time and space that is much different than it as in Spurgeon's day.

Bob,

I  just want to say that some of the drift and change over time just might be bad, too. I will allow that Chuck perhaps has a point here- I am saying that if he does have a point, he hasn't really supported it, especially by citing Spurgeon. If he is going to personally distinguish himself from say, music styles in the understanding that they are worldly, while at the same time embracing drama and games that Spurgeon would have recognized as worldly, it seems to me that is at best inconsistent. There is no effort to define or provide reasoning why one behavior is unacceptable, while the other is "in bounds" for Christians today.

I would say too, that it seems to me there is room to extend  brothers in Christ room for different applications, even if your disagreement on application leads to limited fellowship.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 2/19/10 12:33:22
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Well...

I don't have time to get into this just now, will probably have to leave it until late tonight. But I want to discuss this idea of KJO as a cultural norm, and parse a few more things on Jay's list as well. Probably needs a thread of its own. More later

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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Since 5/3/10 10:36:03
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Greg Linscott wrote:much of

Greg Linscott wrote:
much of the momentum [fundamentalist cultural taboos/their advocates] . . . generate comes from a grasp of established tradition and culture that some people just don't want to let go of. It may not be only a cultural norm, but that does factor in.

This.

I even think some norms in particular are so dearly held that they are read back into passages which are then presented as proof of the norm.  I realize I myself could be vulnerable to this very criticism on some issues, but I think its an important and legitimate point well put by Greg. 

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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Bingo

Bob Hayton wrote:

Jay,

Per your definition of cultural fundamentalist. You are saying some define their group (the who's in and out line) around a stance on cultural issues.  Dresses not pants, no beat in music, or whatever.  Their definitions might differ within this group (some are okay with pants, some are okay with a different style of music i.e, southern Gospel), but it is about these matters of lifestyle and practice.

I think I agree with you.  Others opt for fundamentalism around doctrine more. In other words, if someone's practice is different but they agree on the core, fundamental doctrines, this group would be less hesitant to hobnob with them.

Is that what you're saying?

Yes...because the cultures don't match.  This is why I would have no problems visiting Greg or Don's people at my church or camp, but Don or Greg would probably have a bigger problem with going to my church.  I do have a problem with Greg's New England Patriots, though Smile

I'm using them as quick examples because they're in the thread.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/6/09 18:00:02
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Do All forms of Religion have a form of Culture?

ADThompson wrote:

I do not object to associating personal separation with a call to holy living--far from it! However, our movement developed a culture and as you well stated--"Cultures are usually deeply infected with allegiance to the temporary".

I remain unconvinced that following these cultural norms (based on the past application of principles) determines whether or not we practice personal separation.

 

Could one argue that all expressions of religion have "cultural norms" associated with it? Even if you do not hold to any cultural norms that becomes a type of culture. I think one could argue for a NT culture.

Marriage is temporary yet I don't think any true believer would desire to jettison that aspect of culture.

 

 

Frank Jones, Pastor

www.faithmemorialbaptist.org

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Depends...

This is why I would have no problems visiting Greg or Don's people at my church or camp, but Don or Greg would probably have a bigger problem with going to my church.

I would have no problem with visiting Jay's church in some settings- say, a conference setting, for example. I don't know much more.

I do have a problem with Greg's New England Patriots, though...

Ever since 2007, anyway... Smile

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 4/16/11 13:47:18
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Marriage...

I would think that marriage--as a divine institution--transcends culture. Perhaps you could suggest a different example that would help me to understand your perspective.

As for a NT culture, I suppose that there were probably at least two cultures in the NT church--the Jewish background culture and the Gentile background culture. They had trouble reconciling their differences at times.

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Since 7/9/09 09:36:02
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Greg Linscott wrote:   As

Greg Linscott wrote:

 

As much as Chuck may want to reduce it to personal separation, there is a sense that "cultural fundamentalism" is still something that is changing. Music may or may not be part of the discussion, but there are things that Fundamentalists have slowly changed their application of personal separation on.

To me this seems to be the crux of the issue.  We hold to the truths in Scripture which are binding and don't falter or change as times change or culture changes.  Yet our application of this and culture itself does change.  What was once thought as evil "Woman's pants", is now not an issue.  Is it because Scripture changed?  No.  It is because culture changed and our application of the truths against today's culture has changed.  This to me is what is rubbing everyone.  You have some people in this generation and every generation who feel our application shouldn't change regardless of culture changes and you have another group that is changing.  The group that hold's fast is calling the other group compromisers and you have the group that is moving that claims the other group is holding fast to items that are no longer relevant.  The people who say we shouldn't change our music to worldly standards are also the same group that now doesn't require their wives to wear hats in church, or require their wives to wear full arm length gloves, both of which were compromises to the culture not too long ago.  Music and other so called separation issues will change over time.  Where they fall out only time will show.  But culture will change and the fact that we change with the culture shouldn't always be viewed as a bad thing.  Standing still isn't allows the best thing either.

 

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Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
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@Greg - understood.

@Greg - understood. Thanks.

@Jay - I posted my comment just after you had given one that better explained your statement. I think I'm following. Obviously not everyone will be cool with explaining things this way -and technically there are some areas of cultural application that the other group would see as closely enough tied to doctrine as to be an issue. But I think you're generally correct.

Perhaps this blends into leadership style and institutional MO as well. When it is mainly about praxis and specific cultural stances, the motive for being defensive and the zeal to keep everyone in the fold is greater. When it is mainly about doctrine there is less of a territorial mentality and more agreement to disagree while still making much of the gospel together.

Okay, I'm sure I lost a bunch of people with this. But I think there may be a connection here.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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Jay wrote: Here is a short

Jay wrote:

Here is a short listing of cultural norms that have been defended vehemently (which is the point Greg is making) under the rubric of 'separation':

* King James Version (vs. other versions)

* Christian Day School / Christian College

* Dress Standards

* Music Standards

* Drama Teams

* Door-knocking or 'soul-winning'

If they sound familiar - they should.  They're arguably the biggest stressors or hot points of Fundamentalism on the Web.  I think that's why Phil Johnson wrote this (in the Dead Right pdf):

 

 

Jay, I would submit to you that many fundamentalists have been willing to bend on most of the issues you just listed except for the one I highlighted. And this is why the recent videos have caused the reactions we've seen. 

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I know of several

I know of several Fundamentalist churches, where they won't bend on KJV only, but they adopt contemporary music. The ones I know also have different dress standards now than they used to have. But of all the things on this list, music is probably the one most held to by fundamentalists of many stripes.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

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Bob Hayton wrote: I know of

Bob Hayton wrote:

I know of several Fundamentalist churches, where they won't bend on KJV only, but they adopt contemporary music. The ones I know also have different dress standards now than they used to have. But of all the things on this list, music is probably the one most held to by fundamentalists of many stripes.

Northern Florida is filled with these types of churches.  Staunch KJVO churches, with massive bands, worship teams, drum sets, long haired tatooed worship leaders....  It is the craziest combination I have ever seen.

Matthew Richards's picture
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Interesting read for sure.  I

Interesting read for sure.  I saw part of this on SFL but enjoyed reading the rest of the article.  I found it interesting that he would use CHS as the standard for obvious reasons.  I didn't realize that CHS had become the bar by which we all measured our commitment to Christ.  Don't get me wrong, I love CHS, but this is an interesting idea.  When he really starts citing Scripture it is in the statement below that most orthodox conservative Christians would all agree to.  

His statement #2 sounds nothing like "cultural fundamentalism"...

The cross-denominational Niagara Conference is considered to be the seed-bed out of which fundamentalism grew. The Niagara Creed was written in 1878. Statement #12 of Niagara’s Creed says, “We believe that we are called with a holy calling to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and so to live in the Spirit that we should not fulfill the lusts of the flesh; but the flesh being still in us to the end of our earthly pilgrimage needs to be kept constantly in subjection to Christ, or it will surely manifest its presence to the dishonor of His name: Rom. 8:12-13; 13:14; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:1-10; I Pet. 1:14-16; I John 3:5-9.” Niagara’s Creed, which both predates and lays the foundation for the fundamentalist movement sounds a lot like the straw man now called “cultural fundamentalism.”

Obviously all fundies, conservative evangelicals, and even many others far from the fundy orbit would agree with this statement from the Niagara Conference.  Not sure what this proves or disproves about his assertions about cultural fundyism.  

As I read the conclusion I was struck by these statements:

Beware of those who belittle personal separation by attacking “cultural fundamentalism.” To belittle separatism is to belittle Scripture and to ignore what it means to live a life of consecration. It’s not about “cultural fundamentalism,” it never has been. It’s about living a consecrated life of personal separation to please a holy God.

Interesting that he uses the words, "beware", and "attack".  He seems to be overstating it a bit, don't you think?  First of all, I'm not sure that anyone is belittling personal separation.  The real issue here is when I demand that my brother or sister have the same personal standards or preferences that I have. Reminds me of my M-I-L who still says that those ladies who wear britches just haven't "grown in the LORD" enough yet.  We should pray specifically for them to get out of their slacks.  

Secondly, I wonder how my "personal standards" or "personal separation" pleases God.  Years ago I would have read that statement and never batted an eye.  Now I read it and it just doesn't hit me right.  If our righteousness is like a dirty rag in God's sight, why would this be a motivation for me?   Certainly we should seek to please Him but does my lack of card playing, cigar smoking, listening to rocky music, and absence of long hair REALLY please the LORD?  

Matthew

Greg Linscott's picture
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One other question...

In re-reading, this statement jumped out at me:

For the genuine Christian, “personal Separation” predates “fundamentalism.”

In context, Phelps speaks of those who reject the applications of personal separation in areas of "music, dress, ministry associations, and methods" under the guise of "cultural fundamentalism." Is Dr. Phelps actually meaning to say here that those who don't agree with his applications regarding personal separation aren't genuine Christians?

I would tend to think that ultimately, that is not his intent, but one can only interact with what was published. At the same time, though, it demonstrates that this piece perhaps does not deserve the "wide circulation" that the FBFI editors seem to think it does. As much as those who are abandoning "cultural fundamentalism" are, in Phelps's words,  "(failing) to biblically explain one’s position on matters pertaining to Christian liberty," the piece does little to reassert why his is Biblically justified, and serves only to muddy the waters further by citing a contradictory reference that condemns practices he has himself adopted in his own ministry.

Furthermore, while accusing others of causing "increasing polarization among those who profess to know the Lord and love His Word," this piece is actually worded in a way that is more accusatory, very nearly implying that those with opposing views perhaps don't "know the Lord and love His Word" and aren't "genuine Christians."

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Steve Davis's picture
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Genuine Christians

Greg Linscott wrote:

In re-reading, this statement jumped out at me:

For the genuine Christian, “personal Separation” predates “fundamentalism.”

In context, Phelps speaks of those who reject the applications of personal separation in areas of "music, dress, ministry associations, and methods" under the guise of "cultural fundamentalism." Is Dr. Phelps actually meaning to say here that those who don't agree with his applications regarding personal separation aren't genuine Christians?

I would tend to think that ultimately, that is not his intent, but one can only interact with what was published. At the same time, though, it demonstrates that this piece perhaps does not deserve the "wide circulation" that the FBFI editors seem to think it does. As much as those who are abandoning "cultural fundamentalism" are, in Phelps's words,  "(failing) to biblically explain one’s position on matters pertaining to Christian liberty," the piece does little to reassert why his is Biblically justified, and serves only to muddy the waters further by citing a contradictory reference that condemns practices he has himself adopted in his own ministry.

Furthermore, while accusing others of causing "increasing polarization among those who profess to know the Lord and love His Word," this piece is actually worded in a way that is more accusatory, very nearly implying that those with opposing views perhaps don't "know the Lord and love His Word" and aren't "genuine Christians."

 

I don't think Chuck would say that those who disagree with him are not genuine Christians. At least I hope not. Perhaps he would clarify that. Either way I think he is a genuine Christian. When his article first appeared on an easily and deservedly ignored web site it was not taken seriously. When it appeared on a more serious FBF connected web site the article deserved more attention. Now it should be ignored again as I suspect some will do with the FBF as well.

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Dan McGhee wrote: Jay

Dan McGhee wrote:

Jay wrote:

Here is a short listing of cultural norms that have been defended vehemently (which is the point Greg is making) under the rubric of 'separation':

* King James Version (vs. other versions)

* Christian Day School / Christian College

* Dress Standards

* Music Standards

* Drama Teams

* Door-knocking or 'soul-winning'

If they sound familiar - they should.  They're arguably the biggest stressors or hot points of Fundamentalism on the Web.  I think that's why Phil Johnson wrote this (in the Dead Right pdf):

 

 

Jay, I would submit to you that many fundamentalists have been willing to bend on most of the issues you just listed except for the one I highlighted. And this is why the recent videos have caused the reactions we've seen. 

Dan, I think many fundamentalists have bent on the music issue, but the music issue is far more transitory, so the target keeps moving. "Acceptable" music in most IFB churches has loosened significantly in my 42 years of personal contact. Soft Southern Gospel from 30 years ago is now almost a norm - particularly among those in the hyper/far right end of the spectrum.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Just thinking aloud

It would be interesting to know what precipitated Phelps' article.  Is he reacting to the SI discussions that have been going on, or is there something else?

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture
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Response to "Pursuing Transparency With Change"

Jay wrote:

It would be interesting to know what precipitated Phelps' article.  Is he reacting to the SI discussions that have been going on, or is there something else?

 

In the footnotes of the original post, "those who disenfranchise from" cultural fundamentalism is a descriptor specifically linked to Matt Olson's "Pursuing Transparency With Change" blog post.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Good point

Thanks, Greg.  Appreciate that.

Someone linked to this post by Kent Brandenburg at his blog on cultural fundamentalism on a friend's Facebook page.  I thought I'd link to it and quote it because it dovetails nicely with the discussion and my thesis.

Kent notes that the term has a fairly lengthy history.  I've taken the liberty of underlining direct quotes in his post since I can't seem to do quotes within quotes on SI.

In 1999 a professor at the University of Wisconsin, William P. Tishler, referred to “cultural fundamentalism” existing in the U. S. in the 1920s.  He described it like this:

The 1920s was a time when many adherents of “Cultural Fundamentalism” attempted to ensure that all Americans followed the right patterns of thought:  quest for certainty and predictability in social relationships; an order in human affairs that was at once familiar, comfortable, and unthreatening; and nostalgia for the idealized, non-industrial society of their parents.

Tishler’s syllabus reads like sheer propaganda, assigning motives to people without evidence.  David G. Bromley in his 1984 book, New Christian Politics, calls the “new religious right” (NRR) “cultural fundamentalism.”  He, like Tishler, would say that “cultural fundamentalism” supports things like right to life and male headship.

The first “cultural fundamentalism” struck me as an identifiable label was when I read what Tim Jordan said at the latest GARBC national conference.  He warned:

If we produce ‘biblical’ reasons for cultural fundamentalism, they [the young Fundamentalists] know you are lying. And why do they know you are lying? It’s because you are!

So you see his usage of “cultural fundamentalism,” differentiating himself from that.  I started looking for other usages and I read this from Bob Bixby on his blog in January 2008:

These first-generation Calvinists embrace Calvinism in order to embrace what they really want: contemporary worship, a swig of beer, or the sheer pride of life that gratifies the egos of those who, embittered because of everything they could not have in cultural fundamentalism on the basis of dumb argumentation, now have an indisputably better biblical argument for anything they want.

I don’t know exactly who Ben Wright is talking about at 9 Marks in Mar-April 2008 when he says cultural fundamentalists are atheological fundamentalists.  He writes:

In addition, the theological Fundamentalism of Bauder and Doran represents a matured strain of Fundamentalism that intends to expose and disassociate from the atheological (sometimes called cultural) Fundamentalism that has dominated many segments of separatist Fundamentalism in recent decades.

Here’s how someone named Charlie defined “cultural fundamentalism” at SharperIron:

I have heard the term “cultural Fundamentalism” applied to those described as hyper-Fundamentalists. I like this term at least somewhat better, because it communicates that the real areas of controversy are not “doctrinal” in the sense of disputes about systematic categories (which some cultural Fundamentalists wouldn’t even be able to explicate), but rather cultural in the sense of affecting the look, feel, and function of church life. For example, you can sing vapid songs, but not CCM songs. You can murder the meaning of a Bible passage, but you have to have the correct initials on the binding. You can preach all sorts of bizarre allegory, but you need to be in coat and tie when you do it.

Kevin Bauder dealt with this way back in 2005 in his essay “A Fundamentalism Worth Saving,” especially in these two paragraphs:

This, I think, highlights the limited usefulness of a distinction between “historic” and “cultural” fundamentalism. Biblical obedience is never acultural for the simple reason that human beings are never acultural. We must always obey God at a particular time, in a particular place, situated in a particular culture. We do not really care whether George Carlin’s words were obscenities in 1560, nor whether their cognates are obscene in German or Norwegian. We care about what they mean in English at the beginning of the 21st Century.

In short, the only way to be a historic, biblical fundamentalist is to be a cultural fundamentalist. The only alternatives are, first, to say that cultures are beyond the Bible’s ability to critique and correct, or second, to argue that fundamentalism is concerned only with doctrine and not with obedience. I doubt that any of us really wants to take either of those steps.

It’s interesting to consider that Ben Wright says that Bauder is not a cultural fundamentalist, and wants to distinguish him from one, when Bauder himself says that a historic fundamentalist must be a cultural fundamentalist.  I think I’ll go with what Bauder says about himself rather than what Wright says about Bauder to help his article along.  It would do Ben well to also check out a certain paper produced by Mark Snoeberger, who teaches at Detroit, Doran’s seminary, and his words about cultural fundamentalism:

It is often suggested that there are two kinds of fundamentalism—doctrinal fundamentalism and cultural fundamentalism. The former is to be embraced as a defense of the orthodox core; the latter to be eschewed as a counter-cultural set of archaic, arcane, and even pharisaical traditions some of which are downright silly. There is some validity to this distinction. At the same time, since theology always informs our view of culture, it is impossible to completely divorce the two.

We have already noted above that in the specific issue of evangelism, fundamentalists have typically eschewed both the ―Christ of culture‖ approach (practiced broadly by liberalism and new evangelicalism) and also the holistic ―Christ transforming culture‖ approach (practiced in Kuyperian Reformed circles). I would suggest that this understanding has extended beyond evangelism to a whole plethora of cultural issues.

Snoeberger says you can’t divorce the theological fundamentalism from the cultural.

Why are doctrinal and cultural fundamentalism being divided?  I believe there are those who want to hang on to the doctrine of separation.  They think it’s in the Bible.  But they only want to separate over certain theological issues.  They want to allow much more room to maneuver on the so-called cultural issues.  Therefore, if there exists doctrinal fundamentalism, they can still be a fundamentalist without associating with the fundamentalists who disassociate over violations of the right cultural practices.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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The difference

The thing that I wanted to note from his article here is that:

Male headship isn’t cultural.  It is biblical.  Heterosexuality isn’t cultural.  It’s scriptural.  Gender designed distinctions in appearance isn’t cultural.  They are biblical.  Modesty isn’t cultural.  It’s in God’s Word.   Complementarianism isn’t cultural.  It’s in the Bible.   Spiritual, sacred worship isn’t cultural.  It is scriptural.  Dress that is distinct from the world isn’t cultural.  It’s biblical.  Patriarchy isn’t cultural.  It is Scripture.  I’m to preach the whole counsel of God’s Word.  I’m to teach the saints whatever God has said in His Word.  I’m not going to have those teachings diminished for the convenience of those who prefer to fit into an unbiblical way of life.  Take the world, but give me Jesus.

The Bible is lived in the real world.  The Bible reacts to culture.  The Bible guides how we will live.  The Bible tells us what is the right music, the right art, the right marriage, the right fashion, and the right family.

I totally agree with that last paragraph that I quoted.  That being said, it is my argument that Kent is conflating things that are actually Biblical with the things in his specific culture (the things that are in bold).  He's putting his form of culture on the same level as Biblical teaching, and that's why I disagree with him strongly.  It's also why people like Chuck Phelps will respond by saying that 'separation is under attack'.

I would argue that 'gender designated distinctions' are Biblical, but they can (should!) look different from what he says is Biblical.

I would argue that 'spiritual, sacred worship' is Biblical, but it will look different from what he wants it to look like.

I would argue that dress that is 'distinct from the world' is Biblical, but it will look different from what he wants it to look like.

My contention is essentially that Christians can have differences in music, dress, and style that point to distinction from the culture but not 'land' at the same places that Kent would.  That being said, Kent is still my brother in the Lord and a fellow believer.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
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How do you do this??

Dress that is distinct from the world isn’t cultural.  It’s biblical...

I'm seriously curious about this. How does one do this on a consistent basis if....

1) I work on a factory assembly line

2) I work for a law firm in downtown Chicago

3) I'm a server in a restaurant

4) I'm on the golf course

5) I'm a spectator at a baseball game 

6) I'm playing in a baseball...basketball...football game

7) I'm out to dinner with my wife

8) Etc. Etc. Etc.

You know what I've observed about this particular subject? It's really all about women & girls! THEY have to be somehow distinct, sticking out from everyone else, looking odd or peculiar or...different. But we men & boys? We can just blend into the crowd and look like everyone else. So I'm questioning the validity of the idea that there's a biblical mandate for Christ-followers to dress in a unique, distinctive way.

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Well...

It's really all about women & girls! THEY have to be somehow distinct, sticking out from everyone else, looking odd or peculiar or...different. But we men & boys? We can just blend into the crowd and look like everyone else. So I'm questioning the validity of the idea that there's a biblical mandate for Christ-followers to dress in a unique, distinctive way

I went to several different Christian day schools (my father was in the US Navy when I was growing up) where shorts on men were discouraged. On of the schools played in a sports league comprised exclusively of Christian schools, and all the men's basketball teams wore uniforms with long pants and short-sleeved shirts (as opposed to tank top style). I remember playing a scrimmage with a team from a larger Christian school that wasn't in our league (they were a traditional school, our league was ACE schools), and there were a lot of nervous twitters from our spectators because their boys wore SHORTS!

I also remember blue jeans being identified by a pastor or two I sat under as a kid as "the uniform of the world." I think the first time I ever got a pair was in high school, when we had moved back north (and we were in a church where women were not discouraged from wearing pants). Hairstyles on men have been a common emphasis- length, yes, but I was also in one school setting where the men were forbidden from parting their hair down the middle because it was "worldly." There are still people who will judge a man's worldly appearance on things like facial hair, glasses frames, lack of a tie in some settings...

So yes, women are often a major emphasis in these areas- but I would submit not an exclusive one.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 5/6/09 22:30:53
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militancy

The one thing Spurgeon had in common with what I call Type A fundamentalism is that both are willing to be militant on both clear textual issues as well as certain belief's/practices that might not be as clear in the text - but are at least clear in their thinking as a direct application or implication of the text.

This can be a good thing.......it can also can be dangerous.

A major disconnect between Spurgeon and Type A fundamentalism by way of "sub-culture" is a belief in Calvinism. I just received a little notice from a well-known "really Type A fundamentalist institution" off the Gulf Coast where they make a big deal about not believing God pre-elected anyone to Heaven.

Charles Spurgeon would be militant against that view - He would not want you to send your kids to that institution I promise you!

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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Since 4/16/13 09:36:59
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I found this forum by

I found this forum by accident. I am a Christian, and grew up in a fundamentalist environment. Now I am in my 20's.  have to say, no one CARES about these issues you guys all argue about. None of those of us who grew up in fundamentalism with me care at all. We don't care about music, and all these other fringe "personal separation" issues. Those of us who still are claim Christianity (many were turned off from Christianity entirely by the blatant hypocrisy), believe in the Bible and real doctrinal issues. But you lost those other battles years ago, when we were kids, and we knew all that other stuff was nothing more than (sorry) dumb man-made rules. So, honestly, you can argue about music all day if that's what you enjoy. . .but you lost most thinking young Christians long ago on these types of issues. I really don't understand why you continue to fight about them when the truth is that there are actually important issues that are in the Bible to worry about.

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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No one?

Cindy,

First, welcome to SI. Biggrin

Second, I don't know if it is exactly true that "no one cares." Recent personal experience tells me that there are still people- some who weren't even raised in American Fundamentalism- who care about issues like this. I have two young couples in their twenties who have become a part of our church from more broadly Evangelical backgrounds, with much different music expression than our traditional worship. One couple has specifically told me that the traditional music was an attractant in their migration from an E-Free setting. The wife of the other couple has dived headlong into getting involved in the music ministry, playing her violin and singing in the choir. We've had in the last year 3-5 couples and families who either were newly  saved or coming from broader backgrounds (but older than their twenties) that are finding the hymns quite enriching.

On top of that, we have a tribal group of refugees from Burma who have come to our town, increasing our attendance by a third or more. They came to this country already professing faith in Christ, and to this town looking for a Baptist church in which to find fellowship (They were evangelized initially by Adoniram Judson). One of the things they were most excited about when they found us, and one of the best connecting points we have across the language barrier, is hymn singing. They have a small collection of English hymns translated into their language- one copy you can see is here: http://issuu.com/mbaoc/docs/karen_hymnal They very much cared and were encouraged to find us using the music we do. Even evangelicals are beginning to realize that traditional ways of doing church retains a degree of effectiveness in today's world (see http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/04/12/dont-throw-out-your-nice-suit-just-yet/).

This conversation you've stumbled upon may seem pointless to you. I don't think it is, though. One thing I would observe is that conversations like this can be helpful to people with conflicting views and practices to realize there are areas in which they can cooperate while still retaining some of their strongly held practices, to recognize that someone may utilize different methodology than you do (and may even be wrong in doing so), yet still be used of God for His glory and the building of His church.

Don't know if any of that helped, but there you go. I will say that if conversations like this one tend to discourage you, SI probably won't be "your thing." There's a lot of that here. :D
 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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CindyZ wrote: We don't care

CindyZ wrote:
We don't care about music, and all these other fringe "personal separation" issues. Those of us who still are claim Christianity (many were turned off from Christianity entirely by the blatant hypocrisy), believe in the Bible and real doctrinal issues. But you lost those other battles years ago, when we were kids, and we knew all that other stuff was nothing more than (sorry) dumb man-made rules. So, honestly, you can argue about music all day if that's what you enjoy. . .but you lost most thinking young Christians long ago on these types of issues.

Hi Cindy -

The blatant hypocrisy you witnessed is exactly why I think we need to talk about these issues.  For too many years, the kinds of norms in the culture of fundamentalism have gone unchallenged and, in some cases, became more important than the teaching of Scripture.  Those kinds of attitudes need to be challenged.  If I can convince (and the Spirit can convict them) that their culture was more far important to them than the Scripture ever is/was, and they change as a result of that conversation, then my time will not have been wasted.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/3/09 13:47:39
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Oh, let's see, I am about 198

Greg Linscott wrote:

On top of that, we have a tribal group of refugees from Burma who have come to our town... They came to this country already professing faith in Christ, and to this town looking for a Baptist church in which to find fellowship (They were evangelized initially by Adoniram Judson). 

 

Dude, I had no idea Burmese people lived to be that old Smile

Andrew Henderson

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Since 3/7/11 11:58:55
330 posts
I'm in the process of reading

I'm in the process of reading The Juvenilization of American Christianity. It's enlightening to me, especially in understanding why/how adults (like me) have come to some of the opinions we now hold or used to hold.  I'm only a couple chapters into the book, but thus far the author has shown that the emphasis on the youth culture and on appealing to youth (which began in the 1920s) by using "worldly" methods -- sanitized, of course, did not create stronger Christians, but instead "subtly changed the content of the faith that was being communicated." The author then wrote that the type of person this created was "passive consumers with poor critical thinking skills."  Ouch!

The book details the early "culture" of fundamentalism regarding it's attitude toward youth. There wasn't agreement among fundamentalists and the co-opting of "worldly" things in the 20s and 30s just as their isn't agreement today. However, we can and perhaps should still discuss such things -- maybe it will help us develop the critical thinking skills that we are supposedly lacking. These types of things do affect the faith and are important.

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
An elaboration

BryanBice wrote:

Dress that is distinct from the world isn’t cultural.  It’s biblical...

I'm seriously curious about this. How does one do this on a consistent basis if....

1) I work on a factory assembly line

2) I work for a law firm in downtown Chicago

3) I'm a server in a restaurant

4) I'm on the golf course

5) I'm a spectator at a baseball game 

6) I'm playing in a baseball...basketball...football game

7) I'm out to dinner with my wife

8) Etc. Etc. Etc.

I recently began serving as chaplain to a local manufacturing firm that employs over 125 workers. Prior to taking this position, I knew only two of the employees. My basic job is to go to the worksite for a couple hours a week, touch base with each employee for a moment or two, and see if anyone wants to discuss a problem, need, etc. The relevance to this thread/post is that all of the office personnel dress essentially the same: business casual attire. All of the workers in the manufacturing areas also dress essentially the same--jeans, t-shirts/sweatshirts, etc. There is absolutely no way to tell who the Christians were by their dress (well, except for one guy who was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Real Men Love Jesus" -- but he would be labeled "worldly" by many(?) in the fundy world because he was wearing t-shirt with a slogan on it!!).

So here's the interesting thing. In interacting briefly with people, I was quickly able to discern who were the likely Christians by their demeanor, attitudes, friendliness. In other words, something akin to "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35) and "...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt 5:16). I suggest the same thing should be true in the Chicago law firm...the baseball game (watching OR playing)...on the golf course...in the restaurant.

Maybe I missed it, or maybe it's in the original 1611 version and got mistranslated by worldly compromisers, but I've never read the verses, "people will know that you are my disciples, if you dress with distinction" or "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your unusual garments...."

Having said all that--especially that last tongue-in-cheek paragraph--I recognize the importance of not having a sin-clouded, idolatrous heart that wants to identify with a radical, distinctive sub-culture that prides itself in rebellion, immorality, or even exorbitant materialism and whose adherents distinguish themselves largely in their manner of dress. Certainly, for example, it's hard to reconcile "Christian Goth." But it's equally difficult to reconcile "Christian Hilfiger" (or whatever the latest must-have clothing label is). What I'm getting at here is best illustrated by a young lady I overheard in the Christian school hallway bragging to her girlfriends that she spent over $100 for her [designer label] top (that met the dress code & therefore wasn't "worldly"). I'd suggest that the professing believer who wants to dress either "goth" or "designer" has an idol-heart issue.

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