Let's Get Clear On This

NickOfTime

A variety of electronic periodicals reach my inbox regularly. One that arrives nearly every day is published by a retired seminary professor. Most days I derive a great deal of pleasure and often profit from glancing through his cogitations.

Today’s number, however, evoked a bit of concern. The dear fellow was reprinting some criticisms that he had received. Here is what they said.

The oft-repeated mantra coming out of Dr. Piper and Dr. Storms is that it is impossible for human beings to enjoy too much pleasure. We are made for pleasure, but it’s the pleasure of enjoying God. These guys are full-bore new evangelicals and Piper is a hard line Calvinist…. Why are you promoting this sort of thing?

While I can appreciate many things coming out of Dr. Piper’s ministry, are you endorsing such a leading New Evangelical with no disclaimer?…I am sure you do not endorse the New Evangelicalism that is Dr. Piper’s ministry, but when we simply laud a New Evangelical by attending his conference and praising it, that is the result at the practical level.

These responses are typical of the way that some Fundamentalists view conservative evangelicals in general. These men apparently divide all American Christians into only two categories: Fundamentalists and neo-evangelicals. If a Christian leader is not recognized as a Fundamentalist, then he is considered to be a new evangelical, with all the opprobrium that follows.

This binary system of classification is far too simplistic. American Christianity never has been neatly divided between new evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Other groups have always existed, and one of them is the group that we now designate as conservative evangelicals.

Conservative evangelicalism encompasses a diverse spectrum of Christian leaders. Representatives include John Piper, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Bruce Ware, Bryan Chapell, Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, Al Mohler, Tim Keller, John D. Hannah, Ed Welch, Ligon Duncan, Tom Nettles, C. J. Mahaney, Norman Geisler, and R. C. Sproul. Conservative evangelical organizations include Together for the Gospel (T4G), the Gospel Coalition, the Master’s Seminary, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (at least in its better moments), and Ligonier Ministries. These individuals and organizations exhibit a remarkable range of differences, but they can be classed together because of their vigorous commitment to and defense of the gospel.

Both mainstream ecumenicals and Left-leaning evangelicals would like to classify these individuals as Fundamentalists. Conservative evangelicals, however, do not perceive themselves as Fundamentalists. Most Fundamentalists also recognize some differences. While there are similarities between them, enough differences remain that Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals ought to be distinguished from each other.

What are those differences? Anti-dispensationalism seems to be more widely characteristic of conservative evangelicalism than it is of Fundamentalism, though it is less vitriolic than the anti-Calvinism of some Fundamentalists. Toleration of Third-Wave charismatic theology is widely accepted among conservative evangelicals but universally rejected among Fundamentalists. Conservative evangelicals are willing to accommodate the more contemporary versions of popular culture, while Fundamentalists restrict themselves to older manifestations. Most importantly, Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals still do not agree about what to do with Christian leaders who make common cause with apostates.

Conservative evangelicals are different from Fundamentalists, but they are not new evangelicals. New evangelicals were committed to a policy of re-infiltrating ecclesiastical organizations that had been captured by apostates. They wanted to live in peaceful coexistence with apostasy. They were willing to recognize certain apostates as fellow-Christians and to cooperate with them in the Lord’s work. These are attitudes that conservative evangelicals explicitly reject. To apply this label to a conservative evangelical is completely unwarranted.

Frankly, conservative evangelicals do seem to take doctrine more seriously today than many Fundamentalists do. Not that the Fundamentalists are unwilling to discuss doctrine! Many of them are at this moment arguing for a “biblical” doctrine of the perfect preservation of the King James Version or of the Textus Receptus. Others have speculated that the work of redemption was not completed until Christ carried His material blood into the heavenly tabernacle, there to abide as a perpetual memorial before the presence of the Father. Still others have engaged in shrill campaigns of anti-Calvinism while defending theories of human nature that almost beg to be described as Pelagian. Such Fundamentalists are too numerous to be dismissed as aberrations—indeed, their tribe seems to be increasing.

Conservative evangelicals have oriented themselves by fixed points of doctrine. They have scoured apostasy from the world’s largest seminary. They have debunked Open Theism. They have articulated and defended a Complementarian position against evangelical feminism. They have rebutted the opponents of inerrancy. They have exposed and refuted the New Perspective on Paul. They have challenged the Emergent Church and laid bare its bankruptcy.

In other words, because many Fundamentalists appear to have lost their doctrinal sobriety, the initiative for defending the gospel has shifted from Fundamentalism to conservative evangelicalism. Conservative evangelicals have majored on the centrality of the gospel and the exaltation of God. Rather than centering themselves upon theological novelties and idiosyncrasies, they have given themselves to a defense of the Faith.

Nevertheless, some Fundamentalists have managed to convince themselves that conservative evangelicals are the enemy. They insist that John Piper is a neo-evangelical. They actually hope to limit his influence—and the influence of other conservative evangelicals—in their churches and among their younger generation.

The apostle Paul insisted that he was “set for the defense of the gospel.” Fifty years ago, that phrase appeared on nearly every Fundamentalist ordination certificate. Today, however, Fundamentalists simply allow others to defend the gospel for them. The sad truth is that the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp.

To be sure, significant differences continue to exist between Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. Those differences, however, are less serious than the ones that exist between the various camps within Fundamentalism. For example, many Fundamentalist churches and institutions have capitulated to the error of King James Onlyism. Many Fundamentalists are willing to tolerate and even idolize arrogant and egotistical leaders. Many Fundamentalists are willing to live with doctrinal shallowness and trivial worship in their pulpits and in their hymnals. Many Fundamentalists continue to believe that manipulative Revivalism will produce vibrant Christians. Who could deny that these matters are serious?

Of course, many Fundamentalists reject these errors as well. Nevertheless, the errors that are tolerated within Fundamentalism are every bit as great as the errors that were committed by the new evangelicalism. They are certainly greater than the differences that exist between mainstream, historic Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals.

Upcoming young leaders are uncertain about the future of Fundamentalism and about their future with it. And no wonder. One Fundamentalist college recently advertized that it does not teach Greek to theology majors. Why? Because the school has an “absolute conviction that the King James Bible is God’s perfect, preserved Word for the English Speaking World.” Contrast that school’s approach with D. A. Carson’s essays in his upcoming book, Collected Writings on Scripture. If young leaders are forced to choose between these two approaches, I have no doubt which choice they will make.

More and more Fundamentalists are coming to the same conclusion. They are not entering into full cooperation with conservative evangelicals, but they are working together in certain targeted areas. Quiet conversations have been occurring between some Fundamentalist leaders and some conservative evangelical leaders for several years. One seminary recently hosted John D. Hannah for a lecture series, and another hosted Ed Welch. A Fundamentalist mission agency brought in John Piper to challenge its missionaries. A leader who is a Fundamentalist pastor and seminary president has written for a conservative evangelical periodical. A very straight-laced Bible college sent its students to T4G. One elder statesman of Fundamentalism chose to preach in the chapel of a conservative evangelical seminary. Other Fundamentalist schools are slated to host Michael Vlach from Master’s Seminary and Mark Dever from Capital Hill Baptist Church. These steps are being taken, not by disaffected young Fundamentalists, but by the older generation of leadership within the mainstream of the Fundamentalist movement.

These leaders are neither abandoning Fundamentalism nor embracing conservative evangelicalism. They are simply recognizing that the Fundamentalist label is no guarantee of doctrinal fidelity. They are aware that historic, mainstream Fundamentalism has more in common with conservative evangelicals than it does with many who wear the Fundamentalist label.

Even such mild and narrow recognition, however, provokes panic from the Fundamentalist opponents of conservative evangelicals. Like the two critics at the beginning of this essay, these opponents express concern that any level of involvement with conservative evangelicals will constitute a blanket endorsement of their errors. These Fundamentalist critics, however, are seldom willing to express these same concerns over the excesses of the hyper-fundamentalist Right.

We Fundamentalists may not wish to identify with everything that conservative evangelicals say and do. To name these men as neo-evangelicals, nonetheless, is entirely unwarranted. To treat them like enemies or even opponents is to demonize the very people who are the foremost defenders of the gospel today. We do not have to agree in every detail to recognize the value of what they do.

If we did not have conservative evangelicals to guard the borders, the real enemy would have invaded our camp long ago. Fundamentalism has exhibited a remarkable freedom from Open Theism, evangelical feminism, New Perspective theology, and other present-day threats to the gospel. The reason is not that Fundamentalists have kept the enemy at bay. The reason is that other thinkers—mainly conservative evangelicals—have carried the battle to the enemy. Conservative evangelicals are the heavy artillery, under the shelter of whose barrage Fundamentalists have been able to find some measure of theological safety.

So let’s get clear on this.

Conservative evangelicals are not our enemies. They are not our opponents. Conservative evangelicals have proven themselves to be allies and even leaders in the defense of the faith.

If we attack conservative evangelicals, then we attack the defense of the faith. We attack indirectly the thing that we hold most dear, namely, the gospel itself, for that is what they are defending. We should not wish these brothers to falter or to grow feeble, but rather to flourish. We must do nothing to weaken their hand in the face of the enemies of the gospel.

If we believe that we must respond to conservative evangelicalism, then let us begin by addressing the areas in which they have exposed our weakness. Let us refocus our attention upon the exaltation of God. Let us exalt, apply, and defend the gospel in all its fullness. If we were more like what we ought to be, perhaps we would feel less threatened by those whose exploits attract the attention of our followers.

Whatever our differences, I thank God for John Piper. I thank God for Mark Dever. I thank God for John MacArthur. I thank God for D. A. Carson. I thank God for a coalition of Christian leaders who have directed our focus to the centrality of the gospel and the exaltation of God. May their defense of the biblical faith prosper.

Penitentiall Hymns. II.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

Great God, and just! how canst thou see,
Dear God, our miserie,
And not in mercy set us free?
Poor miserable man! how wert thou born,
Weak as the dewy jewels of the Morn,
Rapt up in tender dust,
Guarded with sins and lust,
Who like Court flatterers waite
To serve themselves in thy unhappy fate.
Wealth is a snare, and poverty brings in
Inlets for theft, paving the way for sin:
Each perfum’d vanity doth gently breath
Sin in thy Soul, and whispers it to Death.
Our faults like ulcerated sores do go
O’re the sound flesh, and do corrupt that too.
Lord, we are sick, spotted with sin,
Thick as a crusty Lepers skin,
Like Naaman, bid us wash, yet let it be
In streams of blood that flow from thee:
Then will we sing,
Touch’d by the heavenly Doves bright wing,
Hallelujahs, Psalms and Praise
To God the Lord of night and dayes;
Ever good, and ever just,
Ever high, who ever must
Thus be sung; is still the same;
Eternal praises crown his Name. Amen.


This essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.

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There are 143 Comments

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

And believe me, Monte can spice things up! I remember a debate between our societies years ago at BJU. The debate was over the issue of free trade and the Monte's pulled out this serious looking file called the "Jumbo Fact File." After they opened it, they pulled out a squirt gun and shot water at people to prove the superiority of American-made products. Later in the debate, one of the brothers, used his Sears suitcoat to prove this topic and said that it was guaranteed to be wrinkle-free through the rapture.

Biggrin

jhorneck3723's picture

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a good post and agree with Bauder whole-heartedly, but I can't think of another movement of any type that argues so much about labels. Great articles on SI will get 4 or 5 comments but if there is an article on the label of Fundamentalism... open up the bandwidth because data is gonna fly. This isn't so much a criticism as a question. Why? I'm here posting as well so I'm not excluding myself from this, but why do we so desperately long to discuss this issue?

Barry L.'s picture

"In the words of Garrison Keillor, we're just "happy to be here!"

Uh-oh, Is Monte trying to bring his Minnesotan Lutheran friends into the fundamentalist tent?....

Aaron Blumer's picture

jhorneck3723 wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I think this is a good post and agree with Bauder whole-heartedly, but I can't think of another movement of any type that argues so much about labels. Great articles on SI will get 4 or 5 comments but if there is an article on the label of Fundamentalism... open up the bandwidth because data is gonna fly. This isn't so much a criticism as a question. Why? I'm here posting as well so I'm not excluding myself from this, but why do we so desperately long to discuss this issue?

I'll take a shot at this one... I have a theory.
1) Fundamentalism has sort of been about labels from the beginning. That is, once the idea of standing by the fundamentals and fighting to keep/regain control of denominations in control of the Fundamentalists began, there was sure to be a fairly significant amount of attention (and properly so) to whether someone was or was not a Fundamentalist.
2) Many evangelicals specifically reputiated Fundamentalism but also didn't want to be "Liberals" and coined the term "New Evangelicals." The label was their idea, if I'm not mistaken. So from that point it became important to the Fundamentalist identity not only to affirm certain things but to not be a New Evangelical.
3) After New Evangelicalism sort of blended into lots of other things and Fundamentalists had withdrawn and built their own institutions, Fundamentalists began to fight over an increasing number of decreasingly important things... but the "labeling thing" continued to be a strong weapon in the arsenal. If you wanted to strongly decry what a leader or ministry was doing, you labeled them a neo-evangelical. So the terms still carry alot of emotional weight.
4) Controversy always generates more web traffic. Not sure what that means, and I believe in resisting the temptation to intentionally go after conflict to boost traffic, but it's pretty predictable. It's not just labels, either. I wrote a short series defending the value of rules last fall and these also generated a lot of commentary (that time, much to my surprise). So the common denomenator isn't so much labels as it is controversy... or maybe just the drama of controversy. Human nature I guess.

Joel Tetreau's picture

As I consider the unnecessary division between balanced fundamentalism and the militant strains of conservative evangelicalism I think of it as a kind of "Ecclesiastical Berlin Wall." In the spirit of my favorite US President, "Mr Schismatic Fundamentalist" ("who says all conservative evangelicals are compromisers") or "Mr. Arrogant Evangelical" ("who says all fundamentalist are stupid!")...tear down that wall!"

I'll add my own thought - "blow it up baby!" Smile

Straight Ahead!

jt

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;

Ron Bean's picture

I recall a message preached at BJU's Bible Conference in 1976 that addressed the fracturing of fundamentalism over things like Bible versions, denominational labels, dictation, and some other things I don't recall.

30 years later fundamentalists are still separating from each other over things like music, dress, personalities, pseudo-Calvinism, etc. These divisions are often typified by less than gracious descriptions of their brethren while the younger generation, weary of the rhetoric, has discovered conservative evangelicalism and finds its generally strong emphasis on Christ, sound doctrine and expository preaching a breath of fresh air.

BTW, I recall that the self-proclaimed essentials of new evangelicalism were dialogue and co-operation with theological liberalism and modernism and a willingness to let scientific discoveries affect their view of the first chapters of Genesis. That was pretty much it. For fundamentalists to hang the new evangelical label on the CE's is not historically accurate.

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

Don Johnson's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
BTW, I recall that the self-proclaimed essentials of new evangelicalism were dialogue and co-operation with theological liberalism and modernism and a willingness to let scientific discoveries affect their view of the first chapters of Genesis. That was pretty much it. For fundamentalists to hang the new evangelical label on the CE's is not historically accurate.

Ron, are you sure that is "pretty much it"? After all, [URL=http://gloryandgrace.dbts.edu/?p=276 ]Dave Doran said[/URL ]:

Dave Doran wrote:
And if the conservative evangelical position isn’t clear, then it seems hard to make definitive statements about how it is different from new evangelicalism.

If Dave thinks it is hard to make definitive statements about how conservative evangelicalism is different from new evangelicalism, how can you be so sure that hanging the NE label on the CE's is not historically accurate?

Actually, I think the philosophy of new evangelicalism is much more complex than you summarize it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ron Bean's picture

I prefer to think of new evangelicalism in simple terms for a number of reasons. One is that that is how I remember the issue when I was first introduced to it. When Harold Ockenga introduced the term at Park Street Church in Boston, his primary points were those that I mentioned, especially the refutation of separation from liberalism and modernism that marked fundamentalism. That proposal grew legs with Billy Graham.

I will confess that I lived in an isolated fundamentalist ministry (think "The Village") for many years and didn't know what was going on in the real world, so new evangelicalism may have changed. I wasn't aware of it.

I also recall fundamentalist groups like the GARBC, FBF, IFCA, OBF, etc. who had strained relationships at best.

I think Joel's wall idea sound like a plan.

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

Ron Bean's picture

Quote:

The following is taken from an article published in the Christian Life Magazine (March 1956) entitled, "Is Evangelical Theology Changing?" There are the characteristics of new evangelicalism from the article:

1. A Friendly Attitude Toward Science.

2. A Willingness to Re-examine Beliefs Concerning the Work of the Holy Spirit (especially in relationship to holiness experiences, a second blessing sometime after conversion, speaking in tongues, and healing).

3. A More Tolerant Attitude Toward Varying Views on Eschatology (a questioning of the premillennial and pretribulational position).

4. A Shift Away From So-Called Extreme Dispensationalism. "The trend today is away from dispensationalism--away from the Scofield Notes...in fact, many...rarely use the word dispensation now."

5. An Increased Emphasis on Scholarship.

6. A More Definite Recognition of Social Responsibility.

7. A Re-Opening of the Subject of Biblical Inspiration.

8. A Growing Willingness of Evangelical Theologians to Converse with Liberal Theologians. "An evangelical can...profitably engage in an exchange of ideas with men who are not evangelicals."

Harold Ockenga's Summary of Neo-Evangelicalism

1. A Repudiation of Separation.

2. A Summons to Social Involvement (see point #6 above).

3. A Determination to Engage in the Theological Dialogue of the Day (see point #8 above).

Historically, I don't see that dispensationalism is a fundamental of the faith. Other than questioning dispensationalism and increased emphasis on seminary training, I don't see these traits in the CE's with whom I am familiar.

And Doran has a point in that we all like the simplicity of labels.

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

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
The following is taken from an article published in the Christian Life Magazine (March 1956) entitled, "Is Evangelical Theology Changing?" There are the characteristics of new evangelicalism from the article:

4. A Shift Away From So-Called Extreme Dispensationalism. "The trend today is away from dispensationalism--away from the Scofield Notes...in fact, many...rarely use the word dispensation now."

Progressive dispensationalism is woven out of the same cloth as new evangelicalism, foisted upon fundamentalism in the name of scholarship. I am always amazed that some who want to be so careful in their outward associations are willing to accept the inward theological compromises of the progressive view. That to me is a non-sequitor, and I question whether it can be sustained over time.

Ron Bean wrote:
Historically, I don't see that dispensationalism is a fundamental of the faith. Other than questioning dispensationalism and increased emphasis on seminary training, I don't see these traits in the CE's with whom I am familiar.

Since all the prophets and apostles were dispensationalists, I thought I would be one too! Cool

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

Aaron Blumer's picture

Might be yet another topic for a separate thread... but I know too many progressive dispies and non-dispies too well to associate their efforts with new evangelicalism or lump it under "in the name of scholarship." I mostly don't agree with them (being a dispy, myself), but that's another matter.
Personally, I'd love to see Fundamentalism have more variety in that department, not less. As I see it, the fewer the things you fight for, the more importance you attach to the things that you do fight for. To me, the fundamentals are too important to add anything to them at the same level.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Aaron,

I understand your point about the "fundamentals," and I do believe in fellowship around the fundamentals with non-dispensationalists.

However, as I wrote in post #4 regarding Dr. Bauder's article:

"As I read the article, the only clarification I would personally make is that I would put more weight on someone's theological convictions (or, possibly, his expertise in one particular area) than whether or not he is accepted as a fundamentalist or a conservative evangelical, etc."

I am not sure that building a wider version of fundamentalism with more theological variety would be of interest to me personally. I appreciate the original article for different reasons than that. I guess that takes us back around the circle to the questions of (a) is there still a fundamentalist movement, and (b) should there be more of one going forward.

I will stand by my statement that, "Progressive dispensationalism is woven out of the same cloth as new evangelicalism." But its defense is probably more along the lines of a doctoral diss. than a blog, so I will play nice and drop it for now. Wink

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

Brian Ernsberger's picture

It looks as though this post has run its limit. Lines have been drawn and minds remain unchanged. Joel Tetreau spoke of tearing down the wall between CEs and Fundys. So for all of you who have no real concern about the CEs then go ahead come out of the closet and tear down that wall. We have heard from those in CE that there are Fundys who attend their conferences rather secretively, so come out and declare yourself, openly go to their conferences and invite these men and their ministries to your services. Stop twiddly-dinking (complex Greek word for those who don't know Wink ) around. As indicated from the postings you really don't care about what we who have concerns about these men and their ministres think, so go ahead and take the out the sledgehammers and get to work. Enjoy the rubble that will be created.

Adios, amigos.

Ron Bean's picture

Actually the word "closet" is a contracted form of the mathematical term "closed set". Thus the invitation to "come out of the closed set" is an enticement to leave the safety of the walls of the fundamentalist village and experience "the world".

(I need some sleep.)

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

Jay's picture

Brian Ernsberger wrote:
It looks as though this post has run its limit. Lines have been drawn and minds remain unchanged. Joel Tetreau spoke of tearing down the wall between CEs and Fundys. So for all of you who have no real concern about the CEs then go ahead come out of the closet and tear down that wall. We have heard from those in CE that there are Fundys who attend their conferences rather secretively, so come out and declare yourself, openly go to their conferences and invite these men and their ministries to your services. Stop twiddly-dinking around. As indicated from the postings you really don't care about what we who have concerns about these men and their ministres think, so go ahead and take the out the sledgehammers and get to work. Enjoy the rubble that will be created.

Brian, your point might be easier to take if there weren't so many passages in the New Testament that teach unity based on doctrine.

If MacArthur and Doran share the same doctrine [just to put two random names out there ] have the same doctrine, then why should they be 'enemies' or 'opponents'? It's the same Lord they're serving. If you want to elevate musical styles [for example ] to the status of a fundamental, then your position is consistent, I think. But does difference in musical styles really add to or deplete from salvation by faith through grace alone, which is the core of the gospel that we preach?

If I'm serving the Lord in New York, and the closest other Christians near me are from Bob Jones and TMS, then why on earth shouldn't I cooperate with them as long as we share the same doctrinal positions?

"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

Jamie Hart's picture

Brian Ernsberger wrote:
Enjoy the rubble that will be created.

Brian...what rubble? Can you be more specific? It's makes a creative ending to your post with the analogy used...but I have a hard time calling unity rubble...or a greater gospel impact rubble...or god-glorifying love rubble. Remember, we are talking about people who agree on the majors but may not agree on the minors. Where's the rubble when they work together?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Guys,

As much as I appreciate the topic, the conversation and the "iron sharpening iron," I wonder where all this is going, or how much value it really has.
We talk sometimes as if we are addressing a denomination which is considering joining in communion with a sister denomination -- like there is some big secret just around the corner (or in the closet) waiting to be revealed.
What, pray tell, does tearing down the wall look like? A couple of guys boarding a plane and going to Shepherds Conference??
In reality, fundamentalist churches, schools and ministries have been cooperating with their CE counterparts for a long, long time on many levels. The lines have been blurred, not solid, probably since the beginning. I could give lots of examples, but is there really a need?
Many of us like Bauder's article and/or marvel at the fact that a man in his position had the courage to reduce some of these things to writing, but I guess I have to ask -- what are we arguing for or against?
What, if anything tangible is going to change?
Am I missing something here? Really -- am I missing something??

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

Greg Linscott's picture

Immediate Dismissal...

That's what I see could (and should) change, Paul.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Can you elaborate?

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

Jamie Hart's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Immediate Dismissal...

That's what I see could (and should) change, Paul.


Amen, Pastor Linscott...
And the results are very dangerous for the church, IMO

Greg Linscott's picture

Short answer (going to a missions banquet)... there is a tendency to make rush assessments and assumptions, often accompanied by hostility. Those need to stop- even as one might also realize that the differences might limit the ability too cooperate.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul J. Scharf's picture

But you are talking about heart attitudes and spiritual priorities...not organizational structure. There is no way to determine, mandate, enforce -- or even measure -- such a change.
Maybe I am missing some of the emotion in this conversation because I was not raised a fundamentalist. I have pretty much always had the attitude you guys are arguing for. The only time I felt peer pressure to conform differently -- at least that I gave into -- was for a time in college. After a while I realized how destructive that was.
For my part, I have already "torn down the wall" by determining where I will invest my time and energy... To use political terms, I vote with my feet and my wallet.

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

Aaron Blumer's picture

To Brian E... (http://sharperiron.org/article/lets-get-clear#comment-10949) A major point in the essay seemed to me to be that the wall has already long been crumbling, partly because it was so thin to begin with.
And, though I know lots of fundamentalists who attend the CE's conferences openly, I don't know of any who have done so "secretly." (But then, if I knew, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it? Nobody's asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement or anything.)

As for me, I haven't made to any of them yet. I've had other priorities. Maybe one of these days. I appreciate a lot of what the CE's have done and do, but I'm not enamored or enthralled or anything. It might be nice to make it to Shepherd's or T4G or etc. one of these years, but so far I've not been able to convince myself it's worth going all the way to CA (or anywhere else more than two states away) for.

So, I wish them continued success in the good they do (and hope they'll do some rethinking soon on the other stuff) and otherwise mind my own business.
What if everybody just did that? It's not as exciting as "tearing down walls" and stuff (and way less exciting than lobbing rhetorical grenades at them) but it's fair and doesn't erase anything important.
(Come to think of it... this is pretty much what both Bauder and Doran are saying, isn't it?)

Jamie Hart's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
But you are talking about heart attitudes and spiritual priorities...not organizational structure. There is no way to determine, mandate, enforce -- or even measure -- such a change.

Paul...paraphrasing Inigo Montoya, "I don't think you mean what you think you mean."
I'm sure you are not saying good debate (like this) can't help people change heart attitudes...or that you can't see or measure that change. Debate such as this was the beginning of such changes in my life. I had to think and defend my views...and couldn't in some cases which forced me to rethink. Debates like this on SI have helped refine several of my views. If we can effect some change in the hearts of some people, isn't this a worthy conversation?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

You are correct, I don't disagree with any of that. That part is fine -- and I am not trying to stifle the conversation at all.

I just don't think I know what "tearing down the wall" looks like.

Let's say some little "KJV-inspired"Bible college brings Jonny Mac in to be their conference speaker next year.

Would that signal that "the wall is coming down"? Maybe, but in an official sense it wouldn't really mean anything.

Fundamentalism is not a denomination -- it is at best a philosphy or worldview construct. So there is nothing to tear down...

To say something similar in a different way -- I know a bunch of IFCA guys who are as comfortable at "___ Baptist Bible College" as they would be at Shepherds Conference. And they don't go through any mental gymnastics trying to figure out whether the crowd is CE, Baptist, etc.

They wouldn't even dress differently...

Assistant: Dr. John C. Whitcomb — Writer: Regular Baptist Press, Answers Magazine — Associate: IMI/SOS Int'l

iKuyper's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Fundamentalism is not a denomination

Well, TECHINICALLY it is NOT but PRACTICALLY it is. We fight for who's in it and who's not. We differentiate SBC from IFB. We have our colleges and seminaries. Our mantra is independence. But really? Do we do things out of independence? Yeah right. Hegemony is forceful in IFBdom.

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

Susan R's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
... there is a tendency to make rush assessments and assumptions, often accompanied by hostility. Those need to stop- even as one might also realize that the differences might limit the ability too cooperate.

I think what Fundies lost somewhere along the way is that one of the goals of separation is restoration. We're very skilled at separating, but a major component of separation has been, in my experience, an overt hostility, when we are actually called to be meek and introspective when such a step must be taken. (Eph. 4:1-3, Gal. 6:1)

2Th 3:14-15 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

It's just as wrong to think we're David and everyone who doesn't agree with us is Goliath (OFF with his head!) as it is to be kissy-face with every heretical system that comes down the pike. Extremism isn't by default a sign of dedication to spiritual and moral purity. IFBism in my formative years was the poster child for this verse:

Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

IFBism's 'life verse' should be-
Heb 12:12-13 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

What lacks IMO is the depth and strength that spiritual discernment and maturity offer. Weak doctrine leads to weaker practice, and then all you have left is the window dressing- the right music, the right clothes, the 'right' associations... but no ability to help anyone else, because if you bend down to help someone you 1) might get your hands dirty and someone might see your dirty hands and think you are one of THEM 2) you are going to fall off the cliff yourself because your spine is made of Jell-O.

I was telling my dh last night that few things bug me more than when someone says they won't read any other book besides the Bible- and this is said to impress folks with the depth of their spirituality. I just about lose my salvation when I hear that. And what's really scary is when you know that person spends anywhere from 4-6 hours a day in front of a television. But I've been in groups where someone who said that was greeted by oohs and aahs... http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sick007.gif[/img ] That's the kind of -ism I'd like to see not only torn down, but incinerated and the ashes blown into space.

And maybe that's where CEs have come in and shown Fundies up- I see an emphasis on being well-read, studying beyond the pages of The Daily Bread, and testing the waters, even when the testing looks like insubordinate questioning. Our faith and practice is only as good as our ability to withstand some poking and prodding. If we've got beliefs of substance to stand and defend, then let's- and welcome the testing of our defenses.

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