“We have to talk about how to face new challenges.”

"Sometimes we just need to wrangle through new issues to come up with some sort of common clarity. Fundamentalists of a century ago .... We now have to work through and clarify such things as marriage definitions, transgenderism, social media, and even the biblical data on race." - Kevin Schaal

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Aaron Blumer's picture


I'm encouraged to see this. The church is constantly in need of new faithfulness movements. In the early years, that's what biblical fundamentalism was about.

What Kevin seems to mostly overlook in this article though, is that fundamentalism didn't stay centered on opposing theological liberalism and cooperative evangelism. It soon fragmented over ever-smaller points of disagreement.

So BJU's movement toward "broader evangelicalism" should be seen in that light--though I don't know if Beale had that in mind. Any rolling back of the fragmentation over ever-smaller issues is a movement toward broader evangelicalism. It needed to happen, because what mattered about fundamentalism is that it was a faithfulness movement. And at this point in Christian history in the west, movement toward unity in essentials and away from militance over much smaller stuff is a faithfulness movement.

It's a faithfulness movement because unity matters and inappropriate strife among believers is nontrivial (e.g., 1 Pet 3:8, Gal 5:15). 

But it's a faithfulness movement for another reason: the landscape has changed. As Kevin pointed out, we've got new problems to confront biblically. It calls for new alliances, networks, cooperation. Those who want to be faithful to Scripture and the Christian way of life need each other.

Kevin should include Christian nationalism, culture war, and political engagement in his list of new challenges, though. We face dangers on both sides of the socio-political spectrum. The continued efforts of the left to redefine family, parenthood, sexual ethics, gender, and social justice are obvious. The damage the new right is doing through reactionism, nationalism and authoritarianism and, paradoxically, populism, hyper-individualism, and anti-government/anarchism is a weighty threat to Christian belief and practice as well--maybe a greater one, because it's easier to overlook it in our zeal to oppose the changes coming from the left.

I'm encouraged, though, because the fact that articles like this one are even being written now, with a "let's think and discuss" tone rather than a "let's classify and reject" (remember "pseudo-fundamentalist"?) shows that the faithfulness movement we formerly called (and some still call) fundamentalism has undergone some needed maturing.

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.