Lines in the Sand Redux: A Plea to Type A Fundamentalists


The majority of the healthy remnants of historic fundamentalism today have settled into a kind of co-belligerency. That is, the theological sons and grandsons of the first generation of fundamentalism have perched onto one of two branches of the fundamentalist family tree. These two branches are what I call Type B and Type C fundamentalism. I noted several years ago that a third branch, namely the Type A branch often believe and act as if they, and they alone, represent the entire tree! Thankfully more and more are flying over to the part of our ecclesiastical bush that respects a certain heritage while at the same time respects an allowable diversity.

This kind of C/B relationship was on display this last year when Mark Dever shared a platform with leaders such as Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran and Tim Jordan. Another example of how that relationship continues to emerge is the incredible overlap of what a healthy and biblical evangelicalism looks like as defined by Kevin Bauder and then by Al Mohler in Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. One more example of this has been the explosion of interaction between Type B and C fundamentalists at conferences such as Shepherds and T4G. Certainly there continues to be a few differences between a Type B and Type C fundamentalists, but frankly there are far more differences between Type A fundamentalism and the B/C co-belligerency than there are differences between the B and C brethren themselves.

Lines in sand

Years ago I developed and presented a kind of taxonomy primarily for those within my own ministry. At the time I was wanting to hold on to the fundamentalist label but, for a variety of reasons, felt I needed to distance myself from many who used the same tag. I believed the taxonomy helped me do that in a way that could be understood by both those who grew up in the movement as well as newcomers (or onlookers). The result was the identification of Type A, B and C fundamentalism. I explored these categories several years ago in a series of articles entitled, “Three Lines in the Sand.” An earlier article entitled, “A Line in the Sand,” focused on the differences between Type A and B fundamentalism. “Three Lines” expanded to include Type C fundamentalism.

Several aims motivated that effort. First, I wanted to explain the similarities and differences within the fundamentalist heritage. Second, I wanted to defend the idea that there were occasions when A, B and C fundamentalists could have a meaningful koinonia (fellowship). I also believed (and still do) that there might be other times when (in the words of Mark Dever) a particular group should stay within its fence, while keeping that fence low enough to shake hands over. A third purpose was to explain to friends and family why I had departed the frigid ice-caps of Type A fundamentalism for the warmer waters of Type B—and why I wanted them to do the same!. Finally, I wanted to offer a kind of public rebuke against certain forms of Type A ecclesiastical nonsense that had wounded sheep near and far. I supposed this would probably be my only chance to lovingly smack the offenders all at once. I worked hard to speak truth in love but I’d been slightly irritated at certain Type A behavior for years.

From my earliest days in ministry training, and then vocational service, I had issues with the Type A status-quo. First, I have always been a Baptist who loves the doctrine of individual soul liberty and who is something of a maverick. I’ve always felt that this combination caused conflict with the Type A guys. They often want leaders coming up to follow the primary leader’s thoughts about this and that, and they frankly frown on mavericks who develop their own ideas. I had long been a believer in biblical authority—that is, when a leader tries to lead with authority that does not come from Scripture he is someone to be avoided. About the same time I began learning about the reformers and puritans and began to compare what I saw in Type A fundamentalism with a version of Christianity that was consistent with the sola’s of the reformation. The result was growing suspicion toward certain sub-culture norms in the movement of Type A fundamentalism.

Over the last few decades of ministry I have become convinced that the Type A fundamentalist’s aim to separate from all evangelicals or evangelicalism carte blanche is at best, biblically unhealthy and, at worst, sinfully schismatic to the body of the Christ. Not only have they thrown the poor baby out with the bathwater; but they’ve also condemned the whole nursery as if it was contaminated with some kind of an ecclesiastical leprosy! You slapped the initials “NE” (New Evangelical) on the poor baby’s forehead just knowing that eventually he’d be the next Billy Graham!

Some Type A’s might object that this means I must be for ecumenicalism, because they have been trained to think in the “us vs. you” mentality. They demonstrate the fallacy of the excluded middle. There is a third option that is better than “we separate from everybody or we separate from nobody.” That third option is we cooperate with brothers who love the gospel and are walking in obedience to the teachings of Scripture, even if they aren’t in our “camp” or “group.” You would think this reality would be near the Christianity 101 level.

After the articles appeared several years ago, I realized there had been some unintentional “friendly fire,” so I gently apologized where my taxonomy overlapped edges that they should not have. Looking back at my attempt, I’m actually grateful I was able to say what I needed to say. All in all, I remain in basic agreement with my presentation as it appeared then. Bob Bixby made a similar appeal about the same time in his discussion of “The Emergent Middle.” For the sake of those who are unfamiliar with my taxonomy, the following is a limited presentation of the position.

Type A fundamentalists are those fundamentalists who emphasize a first and second degree separation with militancy. Typically with these brothers, fellowship or separation is an “all or nothing” proposition. Another common characteristic with this group is a kind of sub-culture identity that not only separates them from the secular world but from the rest of evangelical Christianity. There is very much an “us vs. them” identity. Type A men would in the main not view Type C men as fundamentalists. This is probably the chief difference between Type A and Type B fundamentalists. Type A fundamentalism holds that it needs to not only protect the gospel but a specific set of sub-Christian ecclesiastical practices and forms that are especially clear in the typical Type A congregation’s corporate choice of music.

Type B fundamentalists like myself, while growing up under and holding on to much of the heritage found in Type A fundamentalism, do not believe the Scriptures teach an “all or nothing” approach to separation and unity. Type A’s generally feel that there simply is really no arena where they could have any kind of real ecclesiastical co-work with a conservative evangelical. Type B’s disagree. We believe there a variety of occasions where fundamentalists can and should have co-ministry with those that self-identify as conservative evangelicals. This is especially true of those evangelicals who are militant and even separastistic. The recent flap over the Elephant Room “second edition” demonstrates that many conservative evangelicals know how to be both militant and even separatistic from other evangelicals when the gospel or orthodoxy is blurred!

Type C fundamentalists are evangelicals who, while not participating in the more Type A or Type B fellowships and not calling themselves fundamentalists (mainly because of the way many in Type A and Type A+ fundamentalism believe and behave), are in fact part of the fundamentalist heritage because of their gospel militancy, their clear commitments to the fundamentals of the faith and the veracity of Scripture, and their willingness to do “battle royal” against an ecumenical agenda. Examples of this approach include men such as John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Mark Dever and a host of younger men who are clear on the gospel, clear on truth and willing to stand especially against evangelicals who are spineless—or clueless—on theological veracity.

In some ways the modern Type C fundamentalists remind me of the earliest of the fundamentalists. In 1920 the Fundamentalists Fellowship was comprised of a group of militant evangelicals who contended for the faith on the inside of the Northern Baptist Convention. Some of these men eventually left, but some men (such as W. B. Riley and the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis) stayed within the NBC and fought for the sake of the gospel on the inside of the denomination. The recent victory of the conservative resurgence in the SBC demonstrate that indeed God can and does use men who are true to the faith and choose to stand and fight for the faith. So the Type C fundamentalists remind us more of the original fundamentalists that we who are already ministering outside of any real formal ecclesiastical connections with evangelical associations.

Today there seems to be little difference between the Type B and Type C fundamentalist. There are some differences. Kevin Bauder has mentioned a few differences that I think are helpful. The biggest difference seems to be that the Type B fundamentalists have fundamentalist-movement roots and the Type C fundamentalist has evangelical roots. There continues to be a little suspicion when the two groups come together. In the back of his mind, the Type B guy remembers that his Type A friends just know that this Type C guy is a compromiser! In the mind of the Type C guy looking at the Type B guy, he remembers that his evangelical friends are very sure that this Type B guy (because he still “sort of” connected to fundamentalism) must be an idiot! Other than that, there really is little difference. For the most part Type B and C ministries pretty much use the same teaching material, have the same theology, practice similar approaches to leadership, enjoy similar taste in Christian music and have a similar mind-set about how a Christian can be committed to Christ and His Kingdom and yet live in this society and culture at the same time.

Without being mean-spirited here, I would have to say I still prefer the Type B world to the Type C world. A clear example of that was my recent participation at Heart Conference with Northland International University. Frankly, as much as I love John MacArthur and the annual line-up at Shepherd’s Conference, I still prefer the bright lights of Type B fundamentalism that we enjoyed in Dunbar. The preaching by Dan Davey, Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Sam Horn, Tim Jordan, Matt Olson and Doug McLachlan was the best I’ve ever heard in any one conference. So while I really enjoy being with the Type C fundamentalists, and while I have more in common with the Type C guys than I do the Type A guys, (for the three of you who care), I still remain a Type B fundamentalist. I think our relationship with the Type C’s will continue to be something of a co-belligerency. It may be that eventually the B/C relationship will be one. I don’t think we are there yet.

To be honest, when I wrote “Three Lines in the Sand,” I pretty much had determined that both my view and my ministry would be rejected by the majority of the fundamentalist world. Now, just a few years later, my view is in the majority. Much to my surprise and thrill (and frankly shock) a consensus has formed amongst those of the balanced and non-KJV-only wing of fundamentalism to—to one degree or another—reach out to various conservative evangelicals. Most of the leaders of significant ministries within Type B churches, seminaries and other ministries are admitting either privately or publicly that some kind of a relationship is not only unavoidable but necessary for the day and age in which we live. I have no words to express how grateful I am for how things have developed.

This brings us to the challenge of the present article. I once again would like to urge our friends in Type A fundamentalism to consider (or reconsider) a better approach than your present trajectory. In one sense I don’t think any of us who are Type B or Type C fundamentalists have a problem with your not enjoying venues such as the Shepherd Conference or T4G. We don’t have a problem with your continued use of the KJV. It’s a beautiful translation of God’s Word! We don’t have a problem that you continue to use conservative music in your worship services. We are refreshed that you continue to encourage brothers and sisters to hold the line on modesty in the present Corinthian culture. The problem and puzzle is not really that you will remain more separatist than we are. The confusion is that you would reach out to the unhealthy branches of hyper-fundamentalism (A+ fundamentalism) as a place to hang your bird house.

What would be better is for you to allow us who are to your left to have an occasional cup of coffee and prayer time with some that you might not fully understand, than for you to run away from us and bolt towards those who are guilty of everything from Pelagianism, to sacramentalism (angels took the blood to heaven and sprinkled on a literal alter?), to a bibliolatry (the worship of the 1611—didn’t that include the apocrypha?), to “decisional regeneration” that rejects biblical repentance, not to mention the almost common occurrence of pastoral and spiritual abuse that takes place at the hands of these hyper-fundamentalists!

Here’s the appeal: It’s really time for you guys to choose which way you’re going to head! A well known national fundamentalist fellowship of Baptist separatists have recently been sharing their angst that some of us Type B fundamentalists are reaching out to the Type C’s. Meanwhile various leaders who have been connected with this group continue to reach out to ministries characterized by a Type A+ approach to ministry. OK—that’s just confusing, and frankly it undermines just about everything you guys say to us when we reach out to men like Dever or MacArthur. It looks like the Type A guys have three choices:

  1. Go ahead and separate from everyone (which some of you seem to enjoy!). Separate from the A+ guys (which is often right because many of them are not orthodox!). Withhold (or at least undermine) koinonia also from the Type B guys because we have some connection to the Type C guys. So there you are under your juniper tree with Elijah complaining everyone else is worshipping Baal!
  2. Link up with the A+ guys!
  3. Consider that perhaps The B/C guys really do love Jesus, His Word, His Church and in fact are co-belligerents with the gospel. (I would recommend option 3!).

One more note. This really isn’t meant to be incendiary, but in case you A guys don’t know, we B and C guys aren’t really worried or even waiting for you to make up your mind. We have a mission and there is an urgency and were moving on. But if you ever want to join us, you can expect a warm and genuine hug from at least one of us.

[node:bio/joel-tetreau body]

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Aaron Blumer's picture


I really don't know where I could put myself in this taxonomy.
I like that "Type A" doesn't sound pejorative (and who wants to be a "C"... too close to D or F), unlike some other analyses I've seen.
But the "Type C" guys don't even consider themselves fundamentalists. I agree with them, so that would seem to make me an "A."
But I'm not KJVO, anti-Calvinist, revivalist, or inclined to think the CEs have cooties. I'm quite convinced that proper worship cannot accommodate the cultural trends of the last few decades, but think this is true of much of the work of the last century as well.

And I really don't see either (a) the supposed inevitability or (b) any substantial benefit to making common cause with the "Type C" ministries. I might have more in common w/the "Cs" than the "A+" ways of thinking, but that's hard to evaluate since the axes are completely different. The "A+" stuff that bugs me is more irritating most days, but that doesn't mean it's more substantial. I don't make common cause with them either.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jay's picture

Hey Joel-

I saw this today (came in my inbox), and I'm pretty sure that you would classify this as an A+ Fundy.

When I find a preacher who is playing games with Biblical separation and who is showing signs of rejecting it, I refuse to have anything to do with him as far as ministry goes. I am not going to join his church. I’m not going to preach in his church. I am not going to preach with him on the same platform in meetings. And I am not going to preach in churches that would have him!

Yea, that is narrow and strict and I sincerely and earnestly wish it weren’t necessary, but I believe it is necessary to cut off the effect of compromise.

Compromise is a communicable disease!...

...There are a lot of compromised preachers in Independent Baptist churches who are saying it is OK to lighten up on separation. They say that music is largely an issue of taste, that teaching the biblical principles of modest dress is legalism, that it is fine to take the youth group to Dollywood and initiate them into Hollywood.

Their theme song is “lighten up, don’t be so strict, so narrow. Let’s be separatists but let’s not go overboard with it. Let’s not be fanatics. Surely, it can’t hurt to read the ‘conservative’ evangelicals and use their materials and follow their blogs. Do you want us to be ignorant? And if we don’t lighten up, we’ll lose the kids.”

I don’t want anything to do with that crowd! I believe that if you “lighten up” on biblical separation you will definitely lose the kids. You will lose them to the world and to the contemporary emerging philosophy.

I am convinced this thinking is wrong, that it is compromise, and I don’t want to be affected by it.

Even if I could associate with such men without being personally affected, which is probably not possible, what about those who are observing my example? I don’t want to risk having our church members influenced by my association with compromising preachers and churches.

Biblical separation cannot be maintained without a real campaign. A separatist stance will only be maintained on purpose and at a cost, but it is worth it.

Separation is not the gospel and it is not the work of the ministry, but it is a divinely-ordained wall of spiritual protection against apostasy and the world. To reject “separatism” is to tear down this wall so that God’s people are no longer kept from the “good words and fair speeches” whereby heretics deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18) and no longer distanced from the siren call of the world (2 Timothy 2:22).

Is that correct?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

Joel Tetreau's picture

Aaron - Any taxonomy that tries to capture the kind of movement I'm trying to capture in 3 or 4 categories is going to be "general." There are plenty of guys who are Type B ecclesiastically who are Type A in music or whatever......great. I call you type F - "friend." The majority of fundamentalist I believe could say - I'm basically A-ish, B-ish or C-ish as Joel has described it. Do you believe you could have nothing with any evangelical in any ministry setting? - yes - (you are A) - no (you are B or C). In one sense this makes the tax easy.

Jay - quick thoughts on the article:

1. AB and C guys believe in Biblical separation - the issue is in the descript "Biblical Separation." The difference usually is in the implication or application of the doctrine. The brother in question here ends his thoughts well. Of course we need to protect the core of the gospel by way of separation. The point here is that all of us believe that. The "beef" is how we practice that conviction. If our brother wants to separate from other guys who apply or practice the doctrine differently then he does.....that's his prerogative.

2. There is plenty of hard preaching on modesty in all three groups - again the issue with the B and C guys is we want to make sure we honor the text of Scripture. If the Deut passage teaches modesty we don't want to say the Scriptures are saying it's evil for my wife to wear slacks - because the Scriptures do not teach that and simply cannot mean that. My wife can as easily be not-modest wearing a dress as she can wearing slacks. The point of the Deut passage is that men and women in the cov't community needed to demonstrate their commitment to separation from the heathen by not just Sabbath practice but in daily dress that was/is not only immoral but also clearly not trans-sex in nature. So the difference here is not that one group of fund are tighter on standards (Type A's ) and one is not as tight (B/C)....rather one group is careful with the teachings of Scripture to make sure "a text can only mean what it only meant.....and that a text cannot mean what it could not have meant"....and the other group is using the Scripture in such a way as to drive home a point, but without being careful with the original text/context. The ends here cannot justify the means. There simply is no way that this passage could mean it was wrong for Mrs. Moses to wear slacks - everyone was wearing a robe!

3. Hollywood - Frankly there is no doubt that too many churches and Christian families are being careless with the secular entertainment - I would say amen! Here again most in AB or C ministries would say Amen. The difference is in the application.

More responses later as I have time.

Straight Ahead!


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

JG's picture

I didn't know Dave Doran has repudiated militancy and "second degree separation." He might be interested in this, too. Has anyone told him? Smile Because he's clearly identified as one of those Type B guys, based on the second paragraph, and militant second degree separation is what (along with some other things) defines Type A....

Today there seems to be little difference between the Type B and Type C fundamentalist.

Do Doran and Bauder know this, or should someone besides Lou Martuneac tell them?

OK, now that I've had my fun with you, Joel, questions:
1. Is it ok for us to be militant separatists and still love and appreciate conservative evangelicals (your "C" guys) when they speak and do truth (and applaud them when they do) from our side of the fence, while keeping the fence up for good reason? If we do, are we A or B?
2. Is it ok for us to agree with the man Jay quoted that "compromise is a communicable disease" and yet be charitable in the way we build those fences? Is it A or B to do that?
3. Is it ok for us to agree with you that the B/C guys are co-belligerents for the Gospel and be glad they are, yet have enough concerns about factors in some of their ministries that we avoid linking up with them? A or B?

I think you'll say that's ok to do those things. I don't care if you tell me if it is A or B because those categories aren't in Scripture, and neither of them fit what I'm trying to be.

4. Is it ok for us to be militant separatist and still love and appreciate KJVO guys when they speak and do truth, and applaud them when they do?
5. Is it ok for us to be charitable in the way we build and maintain fences on that side of the lawn?
6. Is it ok for us to think anti-Calvinists and revivalists are co-belligerents for the Gospel and be glad they are?
7. Is it ok for us, if they don't burn our house and our fence down with a flame-thrower, to shake hands over the fence on that side, too?

Is that OK, or does that make us an A tending towards A+?

My biggest question:
8. Is it ok for us to mostly just not worry about all these conferences and parachurch organisations that give rise to all these questions and basicly just stick to loving and serving the Lord in our own church? Is it ok to limit fellowship (with those outside of our church) pretty much to those we are really in agreement with, because, really, we don't have time for a whole lot of extra-church stuff anyway?

Is that ok, or is that the horrible #1 choice you've described of separating from everyone because we enjoy it? Smile

Joel Tetreau's picture

Jim - hilarious!

JG -
1. Yes, probably a gracious A guy - which there are plenty of.
2. You could believe that and be A, B or C.
3. Of course - again this is the view of gracious A guys.
4. Sure - as long as the KJV guys are not the non-orthodox version.....usually the non-orthodox KJV guys will have nothing to do with even a gracious type A guy unless you are non-orthodox as well. I think you A guys know what I'm talking about.
5. Please!
6. Great question and Yes! As long as the anti-Calvinism doesn't take you to the non-orthodox view of Pelagianism, that is as long as we preach the same gospel we can have some koinonia. I actually have another article I'd like to write no time soon - maybe 9 years from now - on how Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Dispensationalism and Reformed-ism ought to be working together in the main ..... to some degree.
7. Yes - talking to each other is far better than arson.
8. Bro - the local church is where it's at my man. We don't need the conferences. They are nice and it's fun.....but all we need is the Scriptures, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit and a local church that loves each other and is committed to the great commission. If I communicated that we “have” to hang here or there – that’s not the priority. The local church is the priority.

Straight Ahead bro!
ps - OK really that's all for now. Later guys.

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

Steven Thomas's picture

Joel, my friend, I found your taxonomy confusing when you unveiled it back in 2006 and find the redux no clearer. Since you pigeonholed me in the type A category years ago, let me direct my comments to that part of your post. To be sure, I have concerns about alliances being forged with those in your C category and, if acceptance of such alliances is the defining characteristic of category B, then I also question their wisdom in that regard. Yet, I know many in your type A who, while sharing these concerns, do not engage in ecclesiastical union with the so-called type A+; I know no one who imposes a binary "all or nothing" structure on relationships; and I have no idea how concern for cultural values, particularly communicated through the arts, can be characterized as "sub-Christian." In my opinion, your ABC categories are too simplistic and, frankly, too often wrong to be useful.

I think that your taxonomy--and all taxonomies, whether binary, tertiary, etc.--suffer from a tendency to impose a superficial analysis on complex issues that inevitably results in propagation of unfortunate stereotypes. This is not personal criticism because we have all probably engaged in this sort of thing at some point in our lives. I suggest that it would be more profitable to spend time talking to our congregations about specific issues rather than explaining and re-explaining categories that prove to be moving targets.

Steven Thomas

JG's picture

Joel, my friend and brother.

You used to call me a B when I said the things I've written here. I said I was B+ or A- back in the day, but you had me as a B. Now, you've got me as a gracious A. I don't think I've actually moved at all in the things you are talking about here.

You also, if I recall, drew rather sharper distinctions between B & C back in the day than you are now.

Your lines are moving. And since you were a B and are still a B, I sort of suspect you are moving, too. Maybe you hadn't noticed. Maybe you had, and think that move is good. I don't think it is good, but you'll have guessed that.

You are talking more like what you might have called in the past B- or even C+. I don't think, five years ago, you would have said that your C guys are the heirs of the original fundamentalists (not your exact words, but that's the general idea).

Maybe some of the movement is because men like Dever have perhaps moved a little bit in our direction. But I'm pretty sure from what you've written that you've moved in their direction, too. And I don't think your original intent with your taxonomy was to be moving towards anyone, but rather to be appreciating those other guys. Just something to think about.

In His love,

Shaynus's picture

I think the taxonomy is helpful as long as everyone understands that it's a shortcut. It's not meant to be nuanced. I would fit somewhere between B and C, and as Joel points out, much of this have to do with generation and personal history. I . . .

1. . . . grew up for 23 years at Bob Jones U. My dad is on Bible faculty. Therefore, I've had loads of interaction with various fundamentalists leaders of all types. I was able to travel with my dad sometimes to the various fundamentalist churches he spoke to, and when pastors would visit the University, they would often end up eating breakfast, lunch or dinner with my family. This kind of exposure made me thankful for the best of fundamentalism. But frankly I also saw some extremes I wasn't comfortable with, and some could be characterized as type A+.
2. . . . moved to Washington DC after school and was a member at Capitol Hill Baptist under Mark Dever for two and a half years. I found him to be eerily similar to what I was used to at BJU, just more Calvantistic, and less revivalistic, which was refreshing to be honest. I was able to help host Mark Minnick when he came to Capitol Hill to meet with Mark Dever. He expressed great appreciation for Mark, along with some concerns. Does that make Mark Minnick type B? He's definitely looks type A when it comes to cultural fundamentalism. This interaction made me thankful for the best of evangelicalism, and especially with Dever how good ecclesiology can correct extremes I saw in fundamentalism.
3. . . . am now involved in a church plant here in DC that was started out of Heritage Bible Church in Greer (Greenville), SC. It's fundamentalist and mostly type B, with some type A and C. They want to just get along and love each other. My pastors just got back from a pastors' conference there with Chris Anderson and they are bubbling with how much joy there is at Heritage and unity there is among the various church plants, some of whom are broader in their associations than Heritage can be.

I can see Joel's taxonomy at work reasonably well in these parts of my own history. I've also found that really understanding another person's philosophy of separation can open up new friendships and appreciations where before none existed. For example, I was astonished one night at Capitol Hill when Dever highly recommended BJU professor Mark Sidwell's history of African American heroes of the faith "Free Indeed," and I'm also encouraged by the vast selection at the BJU Campus Store of books by good conservative evangelicals like Dever, Mohler and others. With new friendships come new influences. Dever's writing can help baptist ecclesiology within fundamentalism, and fundamentalists can (and I think have) positively effect the thinking of evangelicals on separation.

Anyway, thanks Joel for the article it helps me understand some of your posts in different areas of SI.


Aaron Blumer's picture


Jim Peet wrote:
I envision the Missionary questionnaire being one page longer

Jim, the font looks exactly like some missionary (and pastoral candidate) questionnaires I've seen. Biggrin (I didn't know it was possible to create that look without making a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a mimeograph)

As for the scale, I guess I'm probably a B+ most days, but it depends on who's in the room and what we're talking about. When facing really dogmatic A's, I find myself dropping into the C- range for the sake of argument. And if I'm with C's who are doing a lot of talk against "the American dream" or advocating giving-based economies or just doing really sloppy lump-and-dump of all the As and Bs, I find myself flirting with A+ territory.

I like to think I'm opposed to wherever the weak argument is at the moment. But maybe I'm just a curmudgeon.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mike Harding's picture

As an active member of a baptist, separatist fellowship I believe most (not all) of us in leadership understand the danger of the hyper-fundamentalist, KJV-Only, easy-believism men. Some of us have spoken up clearly at important meetings regarding these issues. On the other hand, there is a relevant danger in covenant theology, hyper-Calvinism, and a hard Lordship emphasis that could easily lead to a new perspective on Paul position regarding the gospel. Just for the record I hold to a Calvinistic view of soteriology and believe that the Lordship of Christ is a vital part of the content of saving faith. There are land mines everywhere. We have to walk circumspectly. Thus, I could never reduce the complexities to a taxonomy. Regarding the men you mentioned at Heart Conference, I see significant differences even among their own individual ministries. I have much greater confidence in some than I do others.

Lifestyle issues are a part of being a separatist. Though we will never all fully agree on our particular applications, we should all be committed in principle and practice to holiness, purity, separation from worldliness, and worshiping God in a sober manner that is pleasing to God characterized by sacrificial love, true reverence, awe, and godly fear. I get nervous when some leaders in our circles blatantly declare they are "not cultural fundamentalists" or become virtual agnostics and/or mystics when it comes to the musical approach we take in our worship services. As is evident the taxonomy does not work in describing myself. How could it work in describing others?

Pastor Mike Harding

Jim's picture

I'm not a fan of Joel's Taxonomy. But I'm a rabid Joel fan! Smile

My own preference for self is to be identified by my doctrinal statement (link below my signature) and practice (church membership)

I see epic failure in the labeling and the pigeonholing associated with taxonomies.

I can say that outside of ecclesiastical circles (where I spend most of my time!) the term "fundamentalist" either does not communicate clearly or has negative excess baggage for the gospel (speaking specifically of the term ... not the ideal)

In that sphere (outside of ecclesiastical circles) I find myself using the term "conservative Christian".

Conservative meaning: the truth has been revealed ... my duty is to conserve it ... not to invent or re-invent it

I can't put my finger on it but the Bauder taxonomy that he did 4 or 5 years ago is very helpful.

Don Johnson's picture

For those who remember, my heading is a joke I made with Joel when he first wrote about this idea. My criticisms remain the same. As several have said, way too simplistic, and, I think, naive when it comes to the Type C. If by this you mean the Mohlers and Devers et al, these men don't consider themselves fundamentalists. They have said some nice things about fundamentalism but make it clear they don't want to go there. It is hardly helpful to mischaracterize them as such. It seems more of a way to salve a guilty "B" conscience than anything else.

*This comment brought to you by the letters, A, B, and C

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

What I mean when I think of cultural fundamentalism is an excessive preoccupation with hot-button issues that are then taken as code for holiness. In my mind, the term isn't the same is conservative living. To me, it's entirely possible to advocate a conservative lifestyle on biblical grounds and not be a cultural fundamentalist. When I think of term I'm thinking of those who adopt the culture of fundamentalism without really thinking it through. Some have had it beaten into them that jeans are evil so strongly that they really haven't given it much thought, and just don't wear them. I think it's a lazy kind of Christian living that needs to be challenged. Modesty? Always. Pants on women? Couldn't care less as long as it's modest.

Joel Tetreau's picture

Thx guys for the notes. A few counter-thoughts:

1. So Jon....I don't think it's possible for any of us not to move. I've not moved in my desire to be gospel-based, Christ-honoring and Biblically based. At 43 I probably will do a few things or not do a few things I did or didn't do when I was 36. Guilty.

2. Actually I think I'm clearer on this than I was a few years back. Initially I tried to import the decision-making process directly into the ABC classification....and while I'd say the DM "feel" reflects at least indirectly on the ABC thing - I tried to keep it out this time.

3. A difference between me at 43 and 36 on this is I think that in the past if you took enough of a hard line on certain social issues, even if you could enjoy some level of "coop" w/ C guys I would have called you an A if a member of the Beethoven Group. So I've changed on that point. So if you have a guy like Steve here who is conservative on a variety of issues, but if he can have some level of coop w/ a Type C (which I don't think he will) in my book....he's a B, even if he's a bit tighter in music than I am. So....yes my view on this aspect of ecclesiology has moved a bit.....but that's OK because as we grow and learn our views on a variety of theological issues will "morph." That is normal and not at all sign of danger. So Jon....I would say you make more of that than you should. This is far more growing consistent in a view than the slippery slope thing.

4. So today......My view on this is
No fellowship with cons evang - A
Some fellowship w. cons evang - B
You are a militant cons evang who is militant - C

Steve - I can see how you don't like it......but, I'm not sure how this is too hard for you to understand because #1) you say it's too simple & #2) you're a sharp guy - you can get this.

5. In the last 5 years I remember teaching on this one time - it lasted essentially two weeks. I combined a Baptist history class with some teaching on fundamentalism.

6. For the two of you who are worried that this is all I talk about - uh - no. I recently finished a "verse by verse" exposition of the Gospel of Luke. I've preached or taught through serious issues facing Christianity - thankfully the taxonomy of where you are at on the "Tetreau scale" isn't nearly as important to God (or me) as your present state of "walking with the Lord."

7. The biggest reason I leave this discussion at the level it is - that is more simple vs. more complex - is (1) I prefer to be as plain as I can be on topics. (2) I'd rather have a few thousand brothers and sisters understand a simple presentation on that which is related to Biblical truth than to have only a few dozen people understand a topic at a much deeper where you need oxygen. Finally.....and most importantly.......(3) I'm just a simple guy....and I'd rather write something to help people vis-a-vis to wow people. I'm very convinced that contra Steve's view, this is helpful, accurate and has God's favor.

Straight Ahead!


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

Joel Tetreau's picture

You guys are hilarious - I love the Sesame Street and Soup jokes.....that's another difference. At 43 it's much easier to laugh at yourself. I think that's a good sign.

I didn't deal with the history of Type C....but real quick I essentially believe that the Type C guys are fundamentalist similar to the say the Acts 6 guys were deacons. In Acts 6 they are never called deacons.....but the evidence is overwhelming. The Type C guys do not claim to be fundamentalist but when you see historically what fundamentalism was and you compare the way these guys act.....I believe the evidence is overwhelming. These guys hold to orthodoxy and they are militant with the gospel - thus I call them fundamentalist - type C fundamentalist. I would also say evangelical guys like Schaeffer and Mac and the SBC conserv men in the late 70s' and early 80's mark the beginning of an identifiable “Type C mood” with the right wing of the evangelical movement.

Straight Ahead!


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

Shaynus's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
For those who remember, my heading is a joke I made with Joel when he first wrote about this idea. My criticisms remain the same. As several have said, way too simplistic, and, I think, naive when it comes to the Type C. If by this you mean the Mohlers and Devers et al, these men don't consider themselves fundamentalists. They have said some nice things about fundamentalism but make it clear they don't want to go there. It is hardly helpful to mischaracterize them as such. It seems more of a way to salve a guilty "B" conscience than anything else.

*This comment brought to you by the letters, A, B, and C

Actually Dever and Mohler DO think they're fundamentalists, if by that you mean a certain type, which is the entire point. There are different types. It's pretty easy to find on the Google information superhighway finding machine.

Incidentally, a parallel conversation might be the near total ineffectiveness of the term "fundamentalist."

Brandon Crawford's picture


Your categories are so inaccurate, unhelpful, and arbitrary. Why do you keep insisting on them? Is there some spiritual benefit to this project of yours that I have failed to see?

Joel Tetreau's picture

OK - not only do I have an article here, I'm a mod at SI - clearly not the most popular, but still I'm on the team. I'm like at the end of the really don't give poor Aaron hate mail. I actually was included in with the deal Aaron got from Janzy. When Janzy downloaded SI to Aaron - in the fine print J included, "you have to keep Tetreau!" That actually was the deal breaker for about 6 other potential owners here at SI.

To make it all right. We're going to keep record of two groups. Steve, Don and Brandon will get a dart board with my picture in the middle. Brandon's board will already have a dart right in the middle of my forehead! My man Shayne here will get a T-Shirt that says, "Joel rocks!" This has a picture of me in my Lawn 4000 going slowly up a desert hill.

Just let me know which category you want!

Oh man......I think I'll do this again in about 15 years.

Straight Ahead Ahead everyone! Smile


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

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Here is a link to a discussion on hyper-separatism that took place in a church between Todd Friel and Phil Johnson. Beginning at 33:00, their discussion is directed towards the issue of secondary separation. I would love for you to watch it and share your input. I believe it is pertinent to this thread.

Here is the link -!

JG's picture

Brandon Crawford wrote:

Your categories are so inaccurate, unhelpful, and arbitrary. Why do you keep insisting on them? Is there some spiritual benefit to this project of yours that I have failed to see?

It shows the utter futility of putting people in categories that they don't accept themselves, unless those categories are Biblically defined (sinner, saint, false teacher, etc).

In that regard, the category of New Evangelical has pretty much outlived its usefulness. Nobody calls themselves that any longer.

And the annoying thing about categories is that people change what they believe and do, and mess up your categories.

Perhaps we should rely less on labels and categories and assess rather what individual people believe and do....

Paul J. Scharf's picture

You might be Type A if ____________________________________.

You might be Type B if ____________________________________.

You might be Type C if ____________________________________.

Cool :bigsmile: H:) :X

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Joel Tetreau's picture


Here you see conservative evangelical guys wrestling with the right and wrong approach to what has been called, "secondary separation." I thought it was a good discussion. It adds weight to my view - in my view.


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

Shaynus's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:
My man Shayne here will get a T-Shirt that says, "Joel rocks!" This has a picture of me in my Lawn 4000 going slowly up a desert hill.

I'm afraid I can't go along with you and your "rock."

Steven Thomas's picture

Are you really prepared to classify me as a B? You said,

So if you have a guy like Steve here who is conservative on a variety of issues, but if he can have some level of coop w/ a Type C (which I don't think he will) in my book....he's a B

Your caveat shows that you are not serious about that, but I fear that those who know me will overlook the caveat and never let me forget that I am a B in Joel's book! Let me suggest that the fact you could even make such a statement, dubious intent notwithstanding, actually proves my point. Your taxonomy simply does not work.

Steven Thomas

dcbii's picture


I agree that categories are often useless, and yet we will continue to use them as a shorthand anyway. To those of you who think the A,B,C categorization is completely useless, I think it's no more useless than the other categories we have used for years.

Start with fundamentalism, the one label that is (mostly) supposed to join people on this forum. We know the original 1920's meaning, and the 1950's meaning, but it now has so many different meanings that it is really unhelpful, except as a shorthand to those of us who already understand the context. And still, we argue over the definition, and who is in and out anyway.

Many of you who would disagree with Joel on the ABCs, would still hold on to your "baptist" label. However, when some churches (like at least one in my area) that call themselves baptist are as liberal as the mainline denominations and will marry gays, etc., I would argue that the label has outlived its usefulness, and again, is only helpful as a shorthand, but not as a very good category. I know baptists who run the spectrum from reformed to almost Pelagian. Which one is the real baptist? If it doesn't work, shouldn't we drop the label completely?

Even 6 years ago, we argued over the type-A (or A+, A++, etc.) classification including such various positions as KJVO, easy-believism, no modern music of any type, no expository preaching, belief in the absolute authority of the pastor, etc., etc., and yet these different positions often represent very different groups, some of whom consider even fundamentalism to be a weaker form of evangelicalism, and most of them certainly separate from each other. Again, though, the type-A+ classification can be a handy shorthand for those who believe in the same core doctrines as the type B's, but who believe separation goes much further, and is much more absolute than the B's do.

I would probably put myself in the A- to B+ category depending on the day, though like Aaron, when arguing with A++ types, I want to join the C's in defense.

All this to say, yes, these labels are not by themselves enough to "pigeonhole" someone in every area of their beliefs, but like the other labels we use, they can be used quite well as long as we understand the weaknesses. People will always be unique, and there is not one of us here that agrees with everyone else here on every issue, though I would assume the core issues we do agree on are the ones in the doctrinal statement, since you have to sign it to participate here. Any system that would accurate describe every one of us, would be so unwieldy, that no one could possibly use it, so we will end up using the simpler methods, no matter now flawed they might be.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Tetreau's picture


I really don't care if you, Scott squared, Harding, Kevin and the rest of the "Beethoven group" have a hymnal that has 22 and 1/2 songs that make the cut! Bro - if you will demonstrate a Biblical perspective on a conservative militant evangelicals and make that known in the execution of your ministry I'll call you a Type B fundamentalist until the cows come home....even if all you know about "praise and worship" music is something a kin to a "gregorian chant." No "doubious intent" here - just "bated breath" my man!

btw....If you don't - I'll still call you brother - and won't loose any sleep either way.

Straight Ahead!


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

Steve Davis's picture


I too have been encouraged by some of the crossover from different orbits. Yet it is often couched in ways to assert that nothing’s really changing when it is obvious that so much needed to change particularly in the area of unbiblical separation. I will be more encouraged when what has taken place at the conference level takes place on the local level. As for me, I wouldn’t describe myself as A, B, or C. It makes so little difference in day-to-day ministry.

Grace & Peace,



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