The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future? Part 2

The following is a portion of a paper Dr. Straub read at the Bible Faculty Leadership Summit last summer (he also read a variation at the Conference on the Church for God’s Glory last May). It appears here with light editing. The paper will appear here in four parts. See Part 1. -Editor

New-Image Fundamentalism (continued)

So if hyper-fundamentalism adds to the essential core, should we then speak of hypo-fundamentalism? Well, maybe, but I think “new-image” is a better term. A new-image fundamentalist does not like the negative image that older fundamentalism carries and wants to create a new category that will allow them to be seen in a better light by their fellow evangelicals.1 As such, some of the things that have given other parts of fundamentalism a bad image are jettisoned outright or quietly abandoned.

What are the characteristics of a new-image fundamentalist? Well clearly new-image men are evangelical in the classic sense of the term—committed to the core of Reformation truth summarized at least by the five solas: Scriptura, fides, gratis, Christus, and Deo Gloria. Part of the new image is pointing out their close affinity with other evangelicals in these important doctrinal views. “We believe what you believe—we cannot be that bad!” By saying this, I am not at this point meaning to exclude non-Calvinists necessarily from the term evangelical. But I am suggesting that there is, despite current revisionist notions within evangelicalism to the contrary, an essential body of truths that represent historic evangelicalism, including the nature of God, the reality and eternality of eternal punishment, etc. Little separates the new-image men who sometimes self-identify as fundamentalist from their conservative evangelical cousins. Both hold to some level of separation, primary at least, and even to some extent, so-called secondary separation. But the new-image men are tired of the hyper-fundamentalists and are looking desperately for something more balanced. They find that balance in the evangelical right.

Some have rejected the term “fundamentalist” simply because of the radical image that fundamentalism conjures up in the minds of the secular world. This negative image has come from two principle directions: from within the movement as self-professed fundamentalists act in erratic or unbiblical ways,2 and also from without, from the secular or wider religious world who speak of religious fundamentalism and terrorism in the same breath. This latter problem is due in no small part to University of Chicago historian Martin Marty whose Fundamentalism Project identifies a diverse list of religious fundamentalisms among whom are some very extreme groups.3 Examples of these are well known in our modern world. Muslim fundamentalism can be seen in the Taliban of Afghanistan and Hindu fundamentalism is currently wreaking havoc in India, especially among professing Christian groups.4

Because of these negative associations, new-image fundamentalists tend to identify themselves as fundamentalists infrequently, if at all, though they participate in public forums like Sharper Iron, the website dedicated to discussing fundamentalism. Often these men have come up through hyper-fundamentalism and are on a trajectory that will carry them ultimately completely out of any branch of fundamentalism. New-image fundamentalists also tend to reject outright, even if they practice implicitly, the concept of so-called secondary separation. Admittedly, secondary separation is hard to practice consistently. Many who do practice it are hard-edged, cantankerous and mean-spirited. However, I will argue in a moment that few in new-image fundamentalism or even in the evangelical right reject separation from Christian brothers absolutely. Most evangelicals on the right, and their new-image cousins, are de facto secondary separatists. They simply disagree with historic fundamentalists on who should be separated from and when that separation should occur.

New-image fundamentalists have been around for many years, well before the survey of so-called “Young Fundamentalists” done in 2005.5 There were men at BJU during my days who winced at some of the more strident declarations of our leadership. They tired of the shallow preaching and the loud pontificating. Today, the new image is less a group than a mood within fundamentalism. Many want to put distance between themselves and the hyper-fundamentalists with whom they share a common identity. They want a more balanced Christianity, which they see only in the evangelical right. Frankly, many historic fundamentalists feel equally embarrassed by the extremes of the name-sake cousins—the hyper-fundamentalists. However, for historic fundamentalists, abandoning the idea of fundamentalism for evangelicalism is not the answer. A coalition between the evangelical right and a balanced fundamentalism would be a nice prospect if the stakes weren’t so high—for both groups. It seems that one side or the other or perhaps both would have to make some core changes. While the evangelical right and new-image fundamentalists practice some secondary separation, the practice is not well-defined.

Historic Fundamentalism

Getting back to my fundamentalist taxonomy, I am left with one category to define—historic fundamentalism. Historic fundamentalists are centrists. They are mainstream fundamentalists focusing on the important issues that have long characterized the fundamentalist movement since its beginning. Not the least of the issues is the gospel itself.6 Fundamentalists have long been concerned that the good news of Jesus Christ, including issues of his person and work and his future return to finish what he started—the so-called five fundamentals—are not lost in the quest for theological unity. Moreover, those in the center are concerned to distance themselves from individuals at the fringes of the movements on the left or right. It all must be addressed as unbiblical behavior, but in various ways.

Two fringe groups should be identified. The first are the indifferentists. These men are willing to make common cause with gospel deniers, thinking some greater good will result. They adopt an end-justifies-the-means philosophy. Billy Graham was a prominent example.7 The historical record of the weakening of evangelicalism is well documented. The second group contains individuals who partner with the indifferentists. They may not directly partner with the Gospel deniers but they turn a blind eye to their indifferentist friends’ disobedience. They tolerate the disobedience of evangelicals who make common cause with enemies of the Cross of Christ.

A centrist or historic fundamentalist finds it difficult to fellowship with any who tolerate error, and those who fellowship with the apostates are in error. Therefore, at some point, he must break with the hyper-fundamentalist on the right, who hold either unorthodox positions like the infallibility of a Bible translation or who hold their position stridently so as to make common cause with anyone all but impossible. To fail to do so would be inconsistent with the spirit of the Bible. The historic fundamentalist separates from all disobedience which jeopardizes a clear gospel witness. We (historic fundamentalists) cannot not make common cause with men whose position on Bible versions is divisive and rancorous. We also disassociate ourselves from gospel deniers and those who support them.

I offer a personal illustration at this point. A few years back, I was a part of the Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America. At its annual meeting in Detroit, several of us argued that we had little choice but to break with D. A. Waite because he simply could not allow us the freedom to use a well-translated modern version. We had no personal objection to the King James and some used it preaching. But we felt that the use of modern version was equally within our liberty. For us, Bible versions were simply not an issue—why should it be? Moreover the IBFNA had an officially neutral position on Bible versions. Yet Waite was antagonistic as were other individual members. Gratefully, the KJV-Only men left. The fellowship is smaller today but better off without the hyper-fundamentalists.

About the same time, I was at a meeting of the FBF where a good friend said publicly that he was “NIV-positive.” Frankly, I thought that was a poor choice of words. I had no problem with a man who wished to use the NIV, but I thought the statement was a poor choice of humor. Fortunately he did not make this a test of fellowship and even regretted his words. We need to be careful not to be divisive over a non-essential issues. We would do well to heed the admonition attributed to Augustine: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” This does not preclude us from withdrawing from those whose position on the text is unbiblical. KJV-Onlyism is unbiblical and warrants withdrawal of fellowship.

A historic fundamentalist wants Bible truth wedded to biblical obedience. At the same time, we recognize that not everyone is at the same point in their growth in godliness. But at some point, disobedience becomes flagrant and willful. The problem is how is this demonstrated? Would we need to prove that the disobedience is willful before it can be censured? Or can we ask what a person should know to be right because he has a Bible? Consider again Billy Graham. Would he have said, “I know I am about to sin but I am going to do so anyway?” Perhaps, but I take him to be a sincere man. I question his wisdom and commitment to the biblical text. He had the Bible and he should have known better. The fact that he could not see what the Scripture said on this issue may be little more than pride, but whatever the reason, his influence corrupted the Church and needed to be addressed. Mark Driscoll is another example. He has been given time to repent and he has (apparently) refused! MacArthur did right in publicly rebuking him recently [See “The Rape of Solomon’s Song.” -Editor]. I think he also did right in publicly questioning the good judgment of his friends C. J Mahaney and John Piper. They ought to know better.

Notes

1 I use “evangelical” in this paper in two ways. In its classic sense, all post-Reformation, classical theists are evangelical—we hold to the gospel. But in a narrow sense, “evangelical” has come to mean gospel-centered but not separatist. Therefore all fundamentalists are evangelical but not all evangelicals are fundamentalist.

2 Some of Jerry Falwell’s antics might be a good illustration such as his infamous takeover of the Jim Bakker PTL Heritage USA. Cf. Susan F. Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). Or consider the harsh criticism he received after 9/11, when he blamed the terrorist attacks on America on gays and lesbians, suggesting the bombing was an act of divine judgment. See “Falwell apologizes to gays, feminists and lesbians” CNN.com 14 September 2001. Available online here. Accessed 27 April 2009. Another illustration would be Topeka, KS pastor Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church whose extreme views on homosexuality have led him to stage numerous public protests at funerals of homosexuals and more recently at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. See Mary Vallis, “Fundamentalist U. S. church could picket McLean funeral,” The National Post, 5 August 2008. Available online at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=702577. Accessed 27 April 2009. Phelps received some of his training at Bob Jones College at the time the college, which was located in Cleveland, TN, relocated to Greenvile, SC. See “Brief Bio of Pastor Fred Phelps.” Available online here. Accessed 27 April 2009.

3 See for example, Fundamentalisms Observed, ed. Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

4 In January 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned alive in their vehicle while they slept by a group of radical Hindus, upset by his Christian missionary work. See a follow-up article on Staines’ wife in which his death is still described as taking place at the hands of “fundamentalists.” Nirmala Carvalho, “Wife of Missionary Murdered by Fundamentalists Back in India,” AsiaNews 24 June 2006. Available online at http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=6526. Accessed 24 April 2009.

5 The survey results can still be viewed in this PDF document. Accessed 9 July 2009.

6 A good illustration of this is the 2009 meeting of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International held in June. Three sermons stand out as excellent examples of the gospel centeredness of these men. Mark Minnick discussed the glory of the Gospel in the person and work of Jesus Christ; Kevin T. Bauder’s message dealt with the centrality of the doctrine of justification and John Hartog III preached on the sacred trust of handling the gospel. These sermons may be found here. Accessed 09 July 2009.

7 For a recent critic of Graham from a man on the evangelical right, see Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided (Carlilse, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000).


Dr. Jeffrey Straub has served as adjunct professor at Central Seminary, as well as at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Moscow, the Ukraine, and Romania, at Piedmont Baptist College, and at LIFTS Institute, Kitchener, Ontario. He has been a senior pastor and church planter in Canada, and was a missionary among the Ojibway Indians in Wanipigow, Manitoba. He has had several articles published in the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, as well as in Frontline. Dr. Straub is a member of the Evangelical Missiological Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the American Society of Church History. Dr. Straub is married to Rebecca, and they have 3 children. He enjoys books, golf, hunting, and fishing.
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There are 24 Comments

Josh Gelatt's picture

BTW, so far I've found your articles well written. Thanks for posting them. But I do wonder if your definition of hyper-fundamentalism lacks precision. You define this as "fundamentalists who add to the essential doctrinal core of the fundamentals". I think I understand what your saying, but certainly we must agree that the original 5 were hardly all-encompassing (for example, notice there is no mention of the Trinity). Thus, it would seem hyper-fundamentalism isn't those who add to the core (thus for all of history anyone identifying another essential core would be categorized as hyper, per definition), but rather hypers are those who treat non-essential doctrines as if they were core.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think Dr. S.'s view of "essential doctrinal core" would be more than the famous five. I don't have a quote to cite off hand, but I know K. Bauder, for example, has often spoken of the gospel and necessary inferences from the gospel (and, as I recall, the doctrine of the virgin birth was an example).
So I'm certain the triunity of God and other long-standing features of orthodox Christianity (would be part of that "core"... eternal punishment comes to mind as well, which I'm not sure was in the famous five--I've never paid much attention to the five, myself).
[br ] I was thinking about a less pejorative term for the "hyper" group as well, since "hyper" is almost always something we attach disapprovingly.... so what would folks in that segment like to be called? Unfortunately, in many cases they believe their type of fundamentalism is the only valid type, so the term they'd prefer is simply "fundamentalist" and exclude all the others as "so called fundamentalists," etc. (I know not all of them think this way, but many do). So alternatives to "hyper" that these folks would willingly own aren't immediately obvious. Maybe Tetreau's "Type A" works. If not, what would be better? Super-fundamentalists? ...or ultra ... or even uber Smile "Ultra" doesn't sound so pejorative.

mounty's picture

No, I like "Über-fundamentalist." I suspect they might, too. Biggrin

Jim's picture

About this quote:

Quote:
Some have rejected the term “fundamentalist” simply because of the radical image that fundamentalism conjures up in the minds of the secular world.

Working in the secular world (financial institution in technology), the term “fundamentalist” either means nothing or nothing positive (or something very negative). Hence I never use the term "fundamentalist" among people whom I rub elbows. I might call myself a:

  • Born-again Christian [size=10 ]or[/size ]
  • Bible-believing Christian [size=10 ]or[/size ]
  • Conservative Christian [size=10 ]or[/size ]
  • Baptist [size=10 ]or even on occasion[/size ]
  • Evangelical

The term "fundamentalist" in my world often means "narrow negative judgmental legalism" (not my definition!)

In a theological setting among people who understand the term, I am comfortable with calling myself a fundamentalist.

A. Carpenter's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

[br ] I was thinking about a less pejorative term for the "hyper" group as well, since "hyper" is almost always something we attach disapprovingly.... so what would folks in that segment like to be called? Unfortunately, in many cases they believe their type of fundamentalism is the only valid type, so the term they'd prefer is simply "fundamentalist" and exclude all the others as "so called fundamentalists," etc. (I know not all of them think this way, but many do). So alternatives to "hyper" that these folks would willingly own aren't immediately obvious. Maybe Tetreau's "Type A" works. If not, what would be better? Super-fundamentalists? ...or ultra ... or even uber Smile "Ultra" doesn't sound so pejorative.

Perhaps we should just use the term "Fundamentalist" with the capital "F." Let the centrists have the modifier, "historic." Don't people who write taxonomies usually align themselves in the center? So, maybe letting those on the right keep the unmodified term would be a token of good will. Also, for those in the middle, using the term "historic fundamentalist" in secular or more broadly evangelical circles might open a door for conversation rather than closing it with a slam of prejudice.

Faith is obeying when you can't even imagine how things might turn out right.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I was in the congregation when Dr. Straub delivered this message in Rockford in May and studied the written version in the days immediately following. I appreciated his candor and his courage of conviction, and wish that people had been speaking this way when I was an impressionalble college student more than 20 years ago.
There are dozens of particulars within this lecture which many could quibble about, add clarification to or find disagreement with.
Overall, however, Straub offers much food for thought and it is definitely a healthy sign that fundamentalism is willing to tolerate introspection and critique at this level. I believe that this is a distinct change from what has been allowed previously in some quarters.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Ed Vasicek's picture

Rather than any kind of "fundamentalist," we need another term. There is simply TOO MUCH BAGGAGE and TOO MANY FLAVORS OF MEANING. The term "fundamentalist" needs to be given a funeral and a proper burial. But the idea of true fundamentalism needs to live on.

How about the term, "Biblical Essentialists." We are Bible-drive Christians who cling to and defend the "essentials" of the faith. A fresh term that puts the emphasis back where it belongs could work wonders.

"The Midrash Detective"

Mike Durning's picture

Interestingly, when I read the chart and took the survey yesterday, I identified myself as a "New-Image Fundamentalist". But now that I've read the article, I don't feel it fits me at all. I have no concern for any of the issues he claims drive the "New-Image Fundamentalists", despite the fact that the chart described me as one pretty well.

I don't care about the name versus terrorists.
I don't care what evangelicals think of me.
I just don't think the Fundamentalism that I've seen modeled by many is Scriptural in attitude, and sometimes, not in action either.

Based on the article, "Historic Fundamentalist" would fit me better in mood, but many of the descriptors in the chart don't fit me.

In short, the taxonomy of the chart is based on what we are. I like it a lot.
But the description in the article has a lot of "what drives this group" stuff that doesn't fit me well at all.

Oh well.

I'm also, apparently, disaffected. I didn't know that either.

Charlie's picture

Mike Durning wrote:
Interestingly, when I read the chart and took the survey yesterday, I identified myself as a "New-Image Fundamentalist". But now that I've read the article, I don't feel it fits me at all. I have no concern for any of the issues he claims drive the "New-Image Fundamentalists", despite the fact that the chart described me as one pretty well.

I don't care about the name versus terrorists.
I don't care what evangelicals think of me.
I just don't think the Fundamentalism that I've seen modeled by many is Scriptural in attitude, and sometimes, not in action either.

Based on the article, "Historic Fundamentalist" would fit me better in mood, but many of the descriptors in the chart don't fit me.

In short, the taxonomy of the chart is based on what we are. I like it a lot.
But the description in the article has a lot of "what drives this group" stuff that doesn't fit me well at all.

Oh well.

I'm also, apparently, disaffected. I didn't know that either.

Where is the chart?

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I like Ed's idea a lot. I guess the way you start the movement, Ed, is to start moving that way.

(One problem: What do we do when the media calls the "Biblical essentialists" fundamentalists and links us with terrorists anyway?)

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Jim's picture

Mike Durning wrote:
I'm also, apparently, [color=red ]disaffected[/color ]. I didn't know that either.

There's a conference for that: http://www.mpbchurch.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=13306&sec_id=3421

Quote:
The Standpoint Conference is designed to address the concerns of the "Young Fundamentalists" -- that group of [color=red ]disaffected Fundamentalists[/color ] who, while loyal to God and His Word, feel like the movement is adrift.

Smile

mounty's picture

Fundamentalism as it stands today is probably too big to rebrand, and it's recent enough that the rebranding would meet with strong opposition from a lot of the older generation of leadership. I seem to remember a push three, maybe four years ago by Dr. Bob Jones III for "biblicist," if memory serves. The fact that we're still proposing names at this point means that particular idea didn't go very far :), but he put forward a lot of the same lines of reasoning that I've read so far. Of course just because an idea dies once doesn't mean it's permanently dead, but in this case we can probably take "biblicist" off the list of potential replacements.

The trouble with replacing "fundamentalist" is that if you change the name without changing anything about the movement it's attached to, you get what Paul pointed out - folks will realize it's a rose by another name and go back with the old name. If, on the other hand, you stress that the new name comes with a new attitude or set of rules, you're implying that your new name is something new entirely, making it very difficult for folks to claim the new name because they'll feel like they have to "buy in" to all the new substance, at the same time distinguishing themselves from everyone who *hasn't* taken the new name and opening themselves up for attack from those who would say, "You're not a Fundamentalist anymore? Then you can't fellowship with us!"

For purely practical reasons, then, I'd say if you're going to make a new term it's got to refer to a new movement, come with a clean break from the old and be seeded by people who aren't concerned about getting a bad rap from their erstwhile Fundamentalist brethren. And it would probably have to come with mainstream clout to really stick. Get Piper to recognize it, get a writeup in Christianity Today, put a leader/speaker at the Shepherd's Conference, etc. If the new movement really is to work a little closer with the evangelical right, it's going to need the E.R.'s help to get out of the gate, and I just don't see that kind of a new movement "grandfathering" in the current amalgam.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Great articles. May God help us just to get so consumed with the person of the Lord Jesus, that we strive to reflect Him in every area of our lives.

Mike Durning's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Mike Durning wrote:
I'm also, apparently, [color=red ]disaffected[/color ]. I didn't know that either.

There's a conference for that: http://www.mpbchurch.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=13306&sec_id=3421

Quote:
The Standpoint Conference is designed to address the concerns of the "Young Fundamentalists" -- that group of [color=red ]disaffected Fundamentalists[/color ] who, while loyal to God and His Word, feel like the movement is adrift.

Smile

Ha! But I don't consider myself disaffected in the angry rebel sense. More the "I used to like it a lot more than I do now" sense.

Josh Gelatt's picture

Mike Durning,

I, too, felt the article defined "New Image Fundamentalist" almost along sociological or psychological lines--as if the opinion of broader Evangelicalism was a chief concern. That does appear to me to be a rather inaccurate (and perhaps biased) explanation that lacks depth. Of course, the very term insinuates this. Most of the conversations I have with this group (which I am probably in) do recognize the image problem, but that seems to be a secondary concern. The primary motivation, at least in the hundreds of conversations I've had with others, has been a genuine desire to become more biblical and theologically orthodox (along with the belief that "hyper-fundamentalism"--itself a problematic term--was truly orthodox, but it was a narrow, one-sided orthodoxy that lacks biblical balance).

Right or wrong in their assessment, that is what I am hearing--not the message "we want to be liked".

Mike Durning's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Suggest the Standpoint Conference avoid the use of the term "disaffected" because the meaning is "resentful and rebellious, especially against authority" (from my American Heritage desk dictionary).

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disaffected ]MW Online

I don't think the Standpoint advocates are "resentful and rebellious". If not best not to label oneself as such.

Jim, the disaffected term was applied to the Young Fundamentalist movement in general, rather than the conference organizers in particular. However, it IS too strong a word for most YF's. So it has been replaced with the word "disillusioned."

Jeff Straub's picture

:~ Can someone please tell me what a disinfected fundamentalist is? Was this an important category that I missed in my paper? It is so hard to stay current in the ever shifting sands of fundamentalism. One thing though is probably true. Those thus disinfected probably don't have to worry about the H1N1 virus, since I hear that disinfection keeps the risk down.

Jeff Straub

Jeff Straub

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Ed Vasicek wrote:
Rather than any kind of "fundamentalist," we need another term. There is simply TOO MUCH BAGGAGE and TOO MANY FLAVORS OF MEANING. The term "fundamentalist" needs to be given a funeral and a proper burial. But the idea of true fundamentalism needs to live on.

How about the term, "Biblical Essentialists." We are Bible-drive Christians who cling to and defend the "essentials" of the faith. A fresh term that puts the emphasis back where it belongs could work wonders.


Ed, since there's a history to the term, we'll need to keep it to identify the relationship of the present to the past... and the future. But I agree with you that it is not useful outside of conversations/gatherings where the historical context is (at least somewhat) understood.
I think Tom's right on this point
mounty wrote:
For purely practical reasons, then, I'd say if you're going to make a new term it's got to refer to a new movement

Jeff Straub wrote:
:~ Can someone please tell me what a disinfected fundamentalist is? Was this an important category that I missed in my paper? It is so hard to stay current in the ever shifting sands of fundamentalism. One thing though is probably true. Those thus disinfected probably don't have to worry about the H1N1 virus, since I hear that disinfection keeps the risk down.
Those are the medical missions fundamentalists.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Jeff Straub wrote:
:~ Can someone please tell me what a disinfected fundamentalist is? Was this an important category that I missed in my paper? It is so hard to stay current in the ever shifting sands of fundamentalism. One thing though is probably true. Those thus disinfected probably don't have to worry about the H1N1 virus, since I hear that disinfection keeps the risk down.

Jeff Straub


For those who need terms to be culturally relevant, they could be the "Like, Totally Bummed Out Fundies". Dude. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-cool12.gif[/img ]

Bob Hayton's picture

Charlie wrote:
Where is the chart?

It's linked to in the footnotes, I believe of the first post (or else linked to in the post).

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.

Joel Tetreau's picture

****Moderator self action - I've altered this post a bit - read down several posts to see how I've tried to make this original post.....nicer. To see my attempt to make this better see "Point of Clarity."

Jeff says the following,

“...They want a more balanced Christianity, which they see only in the evangelical right. Frankly, many historic fundamentalists feel equally embarrassed by the extremes of the name-sake cousins—the hyper-fundamentalists. However, for historic fundamentalists, abandoning the idea of fundamentalism for evangelicalism is not the answer. A coalition between the evangelical right and a balanced fundamentalism would be a nice prospect if the stakes weren’t so high—for both groups. It seems that one side or the other or perhaps both would have to make some core changes. While the evangelical right and new-image fundamentalists practice some secondary separation, the practice is not well-defined...”

A few quick responses from Joel:

1. I don't know of any young fundamentalists who see the evangelical right as the "only example of balanced Christianity." I couldn't name one YF who believes this (and my guess is I know more of them than Jeff does.....not a shot just a statement).

2. Jeff makes this statement, "A coalition between the evangelical right and a balanced fundamentalism would be a nice prospect if the stakes weren't so high - for both groups" He continues, "both would have to make some core changes."

My quick response is, "Jeff....there is a cause my brother. It's the same cause that God's men faced 80 years ago. It's the gospel. 80 years ago men who had less in common than what I call type B and type C fundamentalists today, were able to come together because of the onslaught of modernity. For the life of me, I can't understand how postmodernity is any less dangerous to the gospel. If there was a cause 80 years ago for a co-belligerence for sake of the gospel (and there was) between B's and C's, there most certainly is a cause in the face of postmodernity today (and there is!)."

My second response is, "Jeff....yes both groups should make changes. God would want that. I wonder if it has more to do with our pride than our Biblical sensibilities that keeps us from change."

My third response, "Jeff, you need to realize the overwealming majority of the students sitting in "our schools" (Centrals, Calvary, BJ, DBTS, etc.....), they are not buying it. Most of them reject the movement for all the reasons I've been writing about for the last 5 years. Jeff, let me say that a different way. The young leaders who are in their 20's going through graduate and postgraduate training in the schools you would call "historic fundamentalism" believe much closer to what you call "new-image." You guys have about 15 minutes before you loose the lot of them. But my guess (notice "guess") is you know that and so that's why you and Kevin and Doran and the rest of you guys are trying to "gather your alumni and students in conference form," "tossing your maps," "grabbing your compass" and "doing what your doing." Good luck with that! The more you guys fight this, the more you loose your students to Type B, C and frankly to the left of C. Stop fighting and start considering that a relationship between balanced fundamentalism and Scriptural-honoring militant evangelicals is not a mere fantasy, but rather a reality that's here. Scripture and it's example of the early church is on the side of a merged relation to some degree. You guys made a mistake. You taught your students exegetical studies and you told them they could follow Scripture as they see it taught and apply it with liberties granted by Biblical principles and by Baptist congregations. Well...they're doing that and it's leading them away from Type A fundamentalism. Frankly if you guys don't change you will continue to loose your students to the likes of Masters and Southern. That's happening and will continue to happen. Believe me....don't believe me. It's your deal man."

Great article Jeff.....keep smilen. Be safe on your travels. Hey, as soon as you and Bauder and the rest of the Central gang are ready to embrace What I call Type B fundamentalism, you let us know. You can be our flag ship school. On second thought I think we B's and C's are already getting a higher % of your graduates. Maybe you are already our flag ship school. Thank you!

Straight Ahead!

Stay Warm Jeff....stat warm. Cool

Joel

ps - Public Annoucement - OK.....I think from now on I'm not going to write what I just wrote. I've said this or stuff like this about 300 X's here on SI. From now on when I want to refer to this arguement I will say something like, "See stuff written by Joel about - "the cause!" That way I don't have to keep repeating myself. If I'm getting tired of hearing me on this - you people have to be getting board out of your minds. I can just imagine all of you my SI friends. Everytime I start talking about this you have to roll your eyes and say, "There goes Joel!" I'm sorry. I know life is short and I hate to put people out of their comfort zones. I'll try this a few times and see how it goes. Later days.......saints!

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Joel Tetreau wrote:
I don't know of any young fundamentalists who see the evangelical right as the "only example of balanced Christianity." I couldn't name one YF who believes this (and my guess is I know more of them than Jeff does.....not a shot just a statement).

2. Jeff makes this statement, "A coalition between the evangelical right and a balanced fundamentalism would be a nice prospect if the stakes weren't so high - for both groups" He continues, "both would have to make some core changes."

My quick response is, "Jeff....there is a cause my brother. It's the same cause that God's men faced 80 years ago. It's the gospel. 80 years ago men who had less in common than what I call type B and type C fundamentalists today, were able to come together because of the onslaught of modernity. For the life of me, I can't understand how postmodernity is any less dangerous to the gospel. If there was a cause 80 years ago for a co-belligerence for sake of the gospel (and there was) between B's and C's, there most certainly is a cause in the face of postmodernity today (and there is!)."

My second response is, "Jeff....yes both groups should make changes. God would want that. I wonder if it has more to do with our pride than our Biblical sensibilities that keeps us from change."


Joel, I'm doing some work on YF agenda right now (probably for next week), so I'm more curious on the subject than usual.

  1. If YFs do not see the conservtv evangelicals as the only example of balanced Christianity, who else so they see as exemplifying that? (I actually agree with you on that point and have some ideas, but I'd like to hear your answer)
  2. If "there is a cause" and a coalition between evangelical right and fundamentalism is actually achieved, would either one remain distinct? That is, in your view, would the goal be to merge these into one or to see each remain distinct but somehow more interconnected?
  3. What can these accomplish together that they are unable to accomplish separately?
  4. How separate are they really anyway? That is, if most YF's attend T4G, Gospel Coalition and Shepherds' etc. ... aren't we "together" as far as the gospel goes, already? My point here is that there is so much rhetoric about coming together but it's not clear to me what exactly that would look like. If it's a matter of a conference where some conservative evangelicals and some leading fundamentalists appear on the same platform, what does that accomplish that we are currently failing to do? I just get the feeling sometimes that we are talking about togetherness for the sake of togetherness and I wonder if there shouldn't be something actual that we would be gaining by the togetherness? That is, is togetherness an end in itself? I'm prepared to consider that possibility, but why should I believe that?
Joel Tetreau's picture

OK a few hours after my lively post let me sprinkle a little sugar on what I said plus answer a few questions:

1. First I told Jeff that students at the various places are closer to his "new-image" group. Let me say "in my opinion" they are. I've heard from various student leaders and/or faculty that what I'm saying is true......but only God knows what they believe....so I'm just repeating what I've heard from others. What would make some happy, is for me to make an actual poll. I would do that but I actually don't care enough to do that. Only God knows if indeed more students at the schools are closer or further from Type B/C....there's no way I can know for sure. I'll say, "I think" the majority of students studying in these places are tilted more towards Straub's "New Image" deal. To be safe don't take my word it. Ask the students themselves. Probably shouldn't be hard to find a student from each school I mentioned and just say, "Hey where do the guys lean on this?"

2. Second, I don't have a problem with the leaders doing what they do. I actually attended the one at DBTS and loved it. Doran was fantastic. I loved his "toss the map and let's use a compass." By the way....I'm very sure that neither Bauder or Doran would do a Conference just to keep students philosophically close to the vest. I heard Doran. His point seemed to be explaining that for Him his unity would not be constrained by tags or groups but rather "truth." I would encourage you to get the MP3 of the conference. Very good. I'm sure Bauders conference will be equally good.

3. Third, not all of the hesitancy about merging some from fundamentalism with some from evangelicalism is pride. That statement was over-kill. Let me back up. There are some legitimate questions that evangelicals must answer about past (and present) failure over Biblical obedience. So that is there and it is legitimate. However, I do believe that there is an unhealthy amount of "pride" over movements and that often that has as much to do with keeping brothers from working together as Biblical Principles might.

4. At some point in time I'll again put out there the Biblical text that I believe in principle defends my statements as they appear. I believe there are enough Biblical text that would support a closer relationship between men and ministries I can hang my hat on the statements I've made. I don't have time to do more right now because of a 3 day ministry commitment that will take me out of town. No more trips after this one for a while.

5. Aaron, most YF love a variety of Fundamentalist leaders from the past and present. Look....many of my own mentors are examples of movement fundamentalists to whom we love and owe much. Guys like Dr. Singleton, Dr. Doug, I will shock a few and say I even look up to John R. Rice. I disagree with his view of Calvinism but find an appreciation for other aspects of his ministry. I'd say the same things about Dr. Bob Sr. My theological mentor is Dr. McCune. I love him and respect him and find his version of Christianity to be the real deal. Most of the men I mention here would not appreciate or agree with my view of wanting to reach out to the Mac's and Dever's of the world. So I couldn't believe when Jeff said that "New Image" guys are looking into conservative evangelicalism thinking that the grass is always and only greener there. I don't know of anyone who is saying that.

6. Great question on would a "merged identity" mean there would never be a time when Type C's would hang with just Type C's and the same for B's. I don't think it has to be "either/or." Why can't it be both/and! Just like fundamentalism from 80 years ago. There were times when the Presbyterians would hang with just "there type." But then there were times when a variety of guys would come together.

7. Can you imagine for one moment the explosion of resources for the gospel and ministry if Conservative wings of the SBC, CBA, GARBC, IFCA, Bible Churches, and an endless host of independent churches were able to pool money and leaders and experience for the sake of missions, church planting, etc.....? At first the times together would be for the purpose of getting to know each other. I remember the first time a group of us Type B's had some fellowship time with Type C's. It was almost like we had to feel each other out. I mean we B's - our spiritual fathers told us that these C's and their spiritual fathers were all compromisers. They (the Type C) had been told that we B's (and A's) were all idiots (because they're fathers were more loving?). So the first few times we had to confirm that no - the C's were not compromisers.....and we B's were not idiots. Once you can establish you can have a relationship.....next you begin to identify where you can work together.

8. What would it do? My brother for the first time in 40 years if balanced fundamentalists leaders would sit on the same platform with conservative, militant, non-ecumenical, Type C, evangelical leaders that for the overwhelming majority of examples share and practice the same Biblical principles and the same Biblical convictions (like Mac and Dever).....it would show that indeed our common Faith is based on Truth.....Doctrine and not party lines.....not movements.....not even man made groups......but on a Spirit and Word based Unity.

9. Hey......on the question of what they could do together that they can't do separately. I'd like to see them just stop throwing stones at each other. Sit with them. Get to know one or two and see if they really do love the Word like you do. What did they do together in the NT? Well in Acts 15 I think they were able to bring a consensus together on a theological challenge. Can you imagine if a local group of ministries would actually try to sit together and talk about some of the theological differences that divided them. It might be we just might find out we weren't as different as we thought (on both sides)

10. One more point......I think that those of us in this "new world" that come from the movement of fundamentalism will continue to hang with certain friends and ministries that we have much in common with. That is yes I plan to go to Shepherd's and T4G and such....but I plan to have as much contact with some of my FBF, GARBC and other Type A/B groups as I have in the past. And when the Type C's have certain meeting that my Type B blood can't handle....I won't go. But that doesn't mean I'm separating or having "no unity" with them. It's just on those occasions we don't have a working relationship.....but it doesn't mean we have no relationship.

I hope this helps.....Man I don't like writing when I can't hear people's response. It makes you feel your waisting people's time. If I'm waisting your time forgive me. Just trying to make a nicer, more Biblical world. Keep Smilen! Thanks to the friend who wrote me off line. Outstanding!

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - I'm sorry to run just now as this thing get's "juicy." I'll pick up on what I've missed on Monday when I get back in the office. Board meeting for IBL and preaching in a Greenville Church on Sunday. Much to do between now and when my plane leaves the ground early tomorrow AM.....forgive me for leaving so quickly. If you think I'm a dork or a heritic you're not the first and will not be the last. Feel free to write me an email and I'll be happy to interact with you (pastorjoel@sevbc.org). You're all loved! Shalom friends!

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

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