Now, About Those Differences, Part One

NickOfTime

Why This Discussion?

Some weeks ago I wrote a piece expressing appreciation and even admiration for the contributions that conservative evangelicals are making to the Christian faith. Many people have replied, both publicly and privately, both agreeably and disagreeably. Leaving aside the most hysterical evaluations, responses have generally fallen into four categories.

First, some have questioned whether particular individuals or institutions should have been listed as conservative evangelical. According to this response, some of the evangelicals whom I listed are not so conservative after all. To this criticism I reply that my direct knowledge of some individuals and organizations is less complete than my knowledge of others. It is entirely possible that a few of these people may be less conservative than I had understood them to be.

Since my main concern was with conservative evangelicalism as a movement, however, the inclusion or exclusion of a few names does not fundamentally alter my conclusions. In other words, the first criticism is not directed against the argument itself. The remaining criticisms, however, go to the heart of the matter. Let me put them on the table, and then I can evaluate them together.

Second, some have praised my essay for what they took to be its blanket endorsement of conservative evangelicalism. These respondents seem to believe that no appreciable difference exists between conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists. In my article they read agreement. They welcomed my observations as a legitimization for abolishing whatever barriers inhibit fundamentalists from fully cooperating with conservative evangelicals.

Third, some were alarmed by what they took to be my blanket endorsement of conservative evangelicalism. The concerned parties are typically fundamentalist leaders who are distressed about the tendency of young men to leave fundamentalism for conservative evangelicalism. They feel that I have failed to point out the differences between the two groups. They seem to think that fundamentalism will retain its next generation of leaders only if we can become more critical of conservative evangelicals (or of their commonly-held doctrines, such as Calvinism or Lordship Salvation).

The same parties were concerned about the criticisms that I offered of some versions of fundamentalism. They seem to believe that, by being willing to recognize the errors of some fundamentalists, I was imputing these errors to all of fundamentalism. Evidently, they hope that if we pretend not to notice the ridiculous behavior on the far Right of fundamentalism, then the next generation of leadership won’t notice it either.

Fourth, some readers expressed substantial agreement with the essay but registered apprehension that it could be misunderstood. Their concern is that people on both sides will see in the essay only what they want to see. People on both sides will use the essay only to prove a point that they are already trying to make. While they accept my conclusions privately, they fear that nothing good will come of the discussion. Fundamentalism will only be further divided by it.

Of course, misunderstanding is always a possibility. Wrong interpretations become more likely as emotional involvement rises. Some people are overjoyed at what they think an author might be saying, while others are alarmed at what he could be suggesting. Not surprisingly, these misunderstandings have occurred with my essay.

In order to avoid those misunderstandings, I attempted to articulate the differences between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. Here is what I said.

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.

This statement is, I believe, reasonably clear. Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are not the same. At least these four differences stand between them.

I think that these differences are worth exploring. Over the next several essays, I intend to explore them. But to examine them effectively requires a presumption of good faith. Therefore, before I begin let me make two statements.

First, to conservative evangelicals and their admirers, I want to affirm that I wish only the best for the conservative evangelical movement. I have no desire to produce propaganda to debunk conservative evangelicalism. I also do not desire to hurt the ministries of conservative evangelical leaders. On the contrary, I want them to prosper.

I do wish to understand the extent to which fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals presently hold the faith in common. This “holding in common” is what the New Testament calls koinonia or “fellowship.” In order to understand the limitations of our fellowship, we must also understand what we do and do not hold in common.

Second, to those who wish to reclaim and strengthen authentic fundamentalism, I affirm that I share your goal. In fact, I am committed to this goal whether or not a fundamentalist movement actually exists today (some have suggested that it does not). Even if the movement has vanished beyond recovery, fundamentalism is still a great idea. The fundamentalist idea is worth believing and worth articulating.

Ideas, however, are like bodies in one way: they must not be identified with their appurtenances. A body may contain phlegm, pus, or even tumors. These substances may be in or on the body, but they are not part of the body. One does not strengthen the lungs by filling them with more phlegm, nor should one seek to nourish pus or tumors. Their presence is a mark of a diseased body.

Much of what transpires under the name of fundamentalism is not the idea, but rather appurtenances. If fundamentalism is going to be made healthy, it needs a good expectorant. A few boils need to be lanced. Perhaps some tumors will require surgery. These procedures may cause discomfort, but they are done for the health of the body.

Someone who criticizes the phlegm and pus may not hate the body, but rather desire its health. Someone may lay a tumor bare because the tumor disfigures and threatens the body. The body is healthier without it.

I write first as a lover of the idea of fundamentalism, though not as a blind lover who cannot perceive the appurtenances of the movement. On the other hand, I write as a friend and admirer of conservative evangelicalism, though not as a party loyalist. In an ideal world these would be a single movement. I wish that they were now. I am not so naïve, however, as to believe that the differences between them should simply be ignored by either side.

Whether or not some rapprochement will occur between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals is more than I can guess. Some fundamentalists seem to entertain a hope that the two can be brought together. Too often, however, their efforts are dogged by the fact that they have not seriously considered the differences that actually exist.

Therefore, an examination of those differences is highly relevant right now. Such an examination is what I propose to do. I hope to say just what the differences are, how characteristic each difference is, and how serious the differences are both singly and together. But before proceeding with that discussion, it is necessary to spend a moment considering the problem of how differences in general are to be weighed.

Hark the Glad Sound
Philip Doddridge (1702-1751)

Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes,
The Savior promised long;
Let every heart prepare a throne
And every voice a song.

He comes the prisoners to release,
In Satan’s bondage held.
The gates of brass before Him burst,
The iron fetters yield.

He comes from thickest films of vice
To clear the mental ray
And on the eyeballs of the blind
To pour celestial day.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure,
And with the treasures of His grace
To enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
Thy welcome shall proclaim
And heaven’s eternal arches ring
With Thy beloved name.


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 19 Comments

Steve Newman's picture

I'm looking to try and understand the objections of fundamentalists vs. conservative evangelicals in these areas that get called "Calvinism" by fundamentalists. Are the differences really theological, where perhaps we should be calling this dispensational vs. reformed theology? Or are the differences more pragmatic, where we would say fundamentalists are against "easy-believism"?
One of the sources of reformed or "Calvinist" thought have been in the area of counseling, where nouthetic counseling became a de facto standard for fundamentalists after many years of being really clueless about personal counseling. I believe there is an attraction for fundamentalists in the highly regimented system of reformed theology. Also, there is an attraction in being able to preach more "allegorically" that appeals to many as well.
I'm a fundamentalist and pleased to say so. There are things that we can learn and be encouraged about by conservative evangelicalism. We do need to be more thoughtful and show that we have a grasp on theology. We need to expand our thinking beyond the gospel to improving discipleship and Christian living. I'm ashamed of how many people pass through fundamental churches and pass on by because they are not growing spiritually and are not being challenged and helped. I defiintely think we should be able to borrow from the best of evangelicalism (while giving credit and theological disclaimers). There are many infections of pride and empire-building in fundamentalism. Yet we do have to retain an infrastructure for the future.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Looking forward to future installments.
What complicates things is that when we talk about "fundamentalism," it's increasingly hard to generalize because of the many changes to both the idea and the movement since the 1930's. For example, dispensationalism was not a fundamentalist distinctive but gradually has come to just about be one--certainly in the minds of many.
But there is more than one axis here: the dispensational vs. covenant hermeneutical systems are one axis, the Calvinist vs. Arminian soteriology axis is another. The two are not unrelated, of course, but there have always been soteriologically calvinistic dispensationalists and non-dispensationalist Arminians (I'm using "Calv" and "Arminian" very loosely here... precision isn't important to the argument in this case). So if we want to understand where these questions fit in, it's worth the trouble to consider them separately as well as their relationship to one another.

Steve Davis's picture

I appreciate Kevin's willingness to take on these issues and set himself up for criticism. He wonders whether "some rapprochement will occur between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals..." I think it's undeniable that some rapprochement has taken place between many and will continue to accelerate. For many, and for example, it means that being non-Calvinistic is not the same as being anti-Calvinistic, being non-dispensational does not entail being anti-dispensationalist, being non-traditional does not necessarily lead to anti-traditionalism, and a non-cessationist position (barring the extremes) can cohabit with cessationism. We are way past acting as if these questions are so clearly settled or part of the “faith once delivered to the saints” that we can attack those who disagree with us and treat them as if they were in grave error and we hold the one and only biblical position. Of course, these questions may be settled in our own minds but our settled minds do not settle the questions.

In short, the significance of common ground centered on the authority of the Word is more important than theological mouvmental differences. The recognition of this truth allows us to discuss our differences in a lively manner and injects a dose of humility in our dogmatism. It enables us to enjoy fellowship and learn from godly individuals with whom we might disagree in some areas. It does not lead to cooperation or partnership in every endeavor although we should, as Kevin states, want others to prosper. The outcomes of these issues cannot be worked out on a national level. There is no movement, fundamentalist or conservative evangelical, which will speak for churches or establish the proper parameters to follow in order to be identified with right group. The issues will be worked on and out on the local level as leaders and churches determine, in examining Scripture, what fellowship and unity looks like with other churches in their locale. The outcomes will not please everyone looking in from the outside and that’s okay. On some things we can agree to disagree.

Charlie's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

But there is more than one axis here: the dispensational vs. covenant hermeneutical systems are one axis, the Calvinist vs. Arminian soteriology axis is another .... So if we want to understand where these questions fit in, it's worth the trouble to consider them separately as well as their relationship to one another.

I appreciate this insight, one which, I think, is difficult for Fundamentalists, whether "movement" or "idea." In fact, I think this is much more difficult for someone who is trying to hold onto "idea Fundamentalism" (IF) than it is for a regular movement Fundamentalist. Once Fundamentalism has been reduced to a single central idea, then it is only operating on one axis, the axis of separation. It CANNOT speak to any doctrines other than separation and maintain a consistent meaning. It is simply a category error to talk about Fundamentalist eschatology, or Fundamentalist pneumatology, or any other such thing, because that is a confusion of axes. Thus, the term leads logically to the very sort of thing most IF's are trying to avoid: a Fundamentalism measured entirely by separation.

This is why "Fundamentalist," as spoken of by IF's, needs to become an adjective modifying a more substantial identifying head noun. Especially in the IF sense, a church or school calling itself "Fundamentalist" is as meaningless as if it called itself "dichotomist." When we choose labels for ourselves, we want a label that gives a general sense of where we are on many axes of thought. Idea Fundamentalism ironically leads to "Fundamentalism" being even less useful as a descriptor.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Once Fundamentalism has been reduced to a single central idea, then it is only operating on one axis, the axis of separation.
On what basis would you say that fundamentalism has been reduced to a single central idea of separation. I don't think I have ever heard anyone suggest that.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I suppose the case could be made that it has become a "one idea" movement in a couple of ways a) by that one idea being just about all that was talked about when fundamentalists gathered as fundamentalists in the 70's and 80's. So never officially the only idea but emphasized to the point that this was the effect. b) by being just about the only idea fundamentalists really have in common anymore. But this would be an exaggeration/misperception fueled by "a." It's true that there has been some doctrinal erosion and the emphasis has not been on the fundamentals, but there is still a body of beliefs that IFs have continued to hold in common and that they "fight for" at least in sense of preaching them--and theoretically would fight for them in institutional/organizational ways if there were opportunities to do so.

So there may be a tendency toward a single axis, but I don't think what remains of the movement is really there, or that the idea has to go there. The word "fundamentalism" is not synonymous with the word "separatism."

Charlie's picture

There are two broad ways to define Fundamentalism, descriptively or prescriptively:

Any definition that appeals to social or historic realities as its basis is descriptive. One descriptive approach would be to take a poll of self-identified Fundamentalists, find out what they're like, and then construct the definition around prominent factors. So, using this method, we could come up with statements such as, "Fundamentalists don't listen to rock music." Another descriptive method is George Dollar's, in his excruciatingly poor historical work A History of Fundamentalism. He takes the Niagara Prophecy Conference of 1886 as the "Magna Charta" of Fundamentalism and assesses every figure based on their conformity or lack thereof to the doctrine expressed at this arbitrarily chosen event.

Any definition that starts with an abstract concept - an idea - is a prescriptive approach. A definition of this sort may be stipulated in ideal terms, disregarding whether or not such an entity has ever really existed in the world. So, if we stipulate that Fundamentalism is "belief in and militancy for the fundamentals of the Christian faith," then we use that definition whether or not it refers to any real entity. Of course, other definitions could be stipulated as well.

Here's the rub. Many of the conversationalists on SI are tired of what they perceive as baggage attached to Fundamentalism. So, they think they can drop it by moving away from a descriptive model - Fundamentalism is what Fundamentalists do - to a prescriptive model - Fundamentalism is adherence to this abstract concept I like. However, now there is a new problem. The current stipulated definition of Fundamentalism (belief + militancy) is really insufficient to give any concrete guidance whatsoever to an individual, church, or organization. The problem with your statement, Aaron, that "there is still a body of beliefs that IFs have continued to hold in common and that they 'fight for' at least in sense of preaching them" is that it is phrased in descriptive terms. The move to a prescriptive definition of Fundamentalism rules out those kind of appeals.

So, I think there is a fatal inconsistency in Bauder's series. Operating on a descriptive definition of Fundamentalism, someone could perhaps find dozens of differences between Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. However, operating on a prescriptive definition, which is what Bauder is arguing for, all the differences he lists are really non-differences except for his last, how to deal with apostates.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Don Johnson's picture

To reduce Fundamentalism to simply an idea does make it rather hollow, although I do think that there is a central ethos or philosophy that drives Fundamentalism and fundamentalists to do the things they do.

I also disagree with Bauder's definition of fellowship. He says:

Quote:
I do wish to understand the extent to which fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals presently hold the faith in common. This “holding in common” is what the New Testament calls koinonia or “fellowship.” In order to understand the limitations of our fellowship, we must also understand what we do and do not hold in common.

Bauder is wrong here. Fellowship isn't about 'what we hold in common". Fellowship in the New Testament is about partnership and cooperation, usually with financial considerations included. The fact is that we hold a lot in common with evangelicals much further to the left of us than the conservative evangelicals. We have a bit more in common with conservative evangelicals. But that isn't fellowship. That's just common theological agreement.

Most fundamentalists do not enter into ecclesiastical partnerships with conservative evangelicals. They don't do 'religious joint ventures' with them. In that sense, we have no fellowship with them, or very little fellowship at best.

I think that looking at fellowship as partnership/cooperation is much more biblical way to understand the word.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Paul J. Scharf's picture

"Hark the Glad Sound!" brought back wonderful memories. It is a great Advent/Christmas hymn which we sang often in the Lutheran church.

As for the article itself, I enjoyed it, but me thinketh that many dead horses already be beaten to death in the midst of discussing it. Me planneth to wait for the remainder of the series before me commenteth :bigsmile:

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Don wrote:
Fellowship isn't about 'what we hold in common". Fellowship in the New Testament is about partnership and cooperation, usually with financial considerations included.
I don't see the difference. When you partner you partner in something and when you cooperate you cooperate in some activity: in both cases you have an activity or property or something in common. But there is an objective fellowship we have by virtue of having beliefs in common, and I think this is what K. was emphasizing there. To a degree, that kind of fellowship occurs with or without anyone being aware of it. We have "the unity of the faith." But there is also the kind we intentionally choose when we share resources, activities, etc.

@Charlie... on the descriptive/prescriptive thing. I'm having trouble seeing the problem. To me, you have what Fundamentalism is in essence, and then you have what everybody does which more or less approximates what it is. So I guess maybe I'm saying I see it prescriptively as well, though I'm not crazy about that term, because it seems to focus on a feature that is not even necessarily part of it. That is, whether we're trying to prescribe something or not, is a separate question from defining what it really is in essence. Prescriptiveness might be a result I guess.

But really, I think we have it both ways. When we talk about the "movement" we are speaking of Fundamentalism descriptively and when we talk about the "idea," we are talking about it essentially ("prescriptively"). But if we're looking at history, the difference between the two disappears as you move back to the early days. So when we talk 'prescriptively" we are, at the same time, talking descriptively about the Fundamentalism of another time (yet still today in varying degrees, depending on where you look and when).

Steve Davis wrote:
On some things we can agree to disagree.
An optimist! Appreciate that.

Don Johnson's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Don wrote:
Fellowship isn't about 'what we hold in common". Fellowship in the New Testament is about partnership and cooperation, usually with financial considerations included.
I don't see the difference. When you partner you partner in something and when you cooperate you cooperate in some activity: in both cases you have an activity or property or something in common. But there is an objective fellowship we have by virtue of having beliefs in common, and I think this is what K. was emphasizing there. To a degree, that kind of fellowship occurs with or without anyone being aware of it. We have "the unity of the faith." But there is also the kind we intentionally choose when we share resources, activities, etc.

First, Kevin is claiming to be giving the Biblical meaning of the term, see his quote again:

Kevin Bauder wrote:
I do wish to understand the extent to which fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals presently hold the faith in common. This “holding in common” is what the New Testament calls koinonia or “fellowship.” In order to understand the limitations of our fellowship, we must also understand what we do and do not hold in common.

Fellowship in the NT doesn't mean simply that we hold things in common, it means that we join in activities, enterprises, etc, because of what we hold in common.

You are confusing the English word 'fellowship' with the Greek word 'koinonia'. The meanings are not the same, although there is some overlap.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Brian Ernsberger's picture

While I do not want to get off topic on this post, Don has touched on something that is a common modus operandi of Dr. Bauder's; a slight redefining of terms, usually to suit his argument on a particular issue. In looking in the lexicons one does not find, "holding in common" as a definition of koinonia. To quote from BDAG third ed., 1) close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship, 2) attitude of good will that manifests an interest in a close relationship, generosity, fellow-feeling, altruism, 3) abstract for concrete sign of fellowship, proof of brotherly unity, even gift, contribution, 4) participation, sharing. Thayer defines it: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; 1) the share which one has in anything, participation, 2) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy, 3) a benefaction jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as an embodiment and proof of fellowship.

As Don pointed out, "Fellowship in the NT doesn't mean simply that we hold things in common, it means that we join in activities, enterprises, etc, because of what we hold in common." There is a great difference between these two ideas, "holding in common" and "fellowship," and Dr. Bauder has either knowingly or unknowingly sought to blur that difference.

Charlie's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

@Charlie... on the descriptive/prescriptive thing. I'm having trouble seeing the problem. To me, you have what Fundamentalism is in essence, and then you have what everybody does which more or less approximates what it is. So I guess maybe I'm saying I see it prescriptively as well, though I'm not crazy about that term, because it seems to focus on a feature that is not even necessarily part of it. That is, whether we're trying to prescribe something or not, is a separate question from defining what it really is in essence. Prescriptiveness might be a result I guess.

Again, how do you know what Fundamentalism is "in essence"? Does a survey of all those who have claimed the name Fundamentalist reveal approximately Bauder's definition? I sort of doubt it. I think that to a large extent Bauder is hijacking a term for rhetorical purposes. Here is George Dollar's definition from A History of Fundamentalism: "Historic Fundamentalism is the literal exposition of all the affirmations and attitudes of the Bible and the militant exposure of all non-Biblical attitudes." Now, I happen to think this definition is absurd, as anyone who disagrees with Dollar's catalogue of "all the affirmations and attitudes of the Bible" cannot agree to the definition. But the important thing is that Dollar's similarly ahistorical, prescriptive definition of Fundamentalism moves in an entirely opposite direction from Bauder's. On what basis should I prefer Bauder's definition to Dollar's?

I think what Bauder is doing is creating an ideal model for Christianity and dubbing it with the name "Fundamentalism," thus appropriating the label from the Fundamentalism that actually exists, which is not an idea but a group of real churches, schools, individuals, parachurch ministries, etc. that do not conform to his standards. He is defining, if anything, what he thinks Fundamentalism ought to be.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
Fellowship in the NT doesn't mean simply that we hold things in common, it means that we join in activities, enterprises, etc, because of what we hold in common.

I'm not sure you understood my response. My point was that activities, enterprises, etc. are also "what we hold in common." Holding in common is the meaning of the term. It does not distinguish between activities, enterprises, money and other things that may be held in common, like beliefs, knowledge of Christ, and the Christian way of life.
For example,

1 Jn 1:7 ~7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 Co 1:9 ~9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Charlie, I think the answer lies in the nature of the word. If we accept that words mean things, we use a word that properly fits what we're using it for. So here, it would be fundamentals. But the fact that people disagree about the history and definition does not mean a definition does not objectively exist. Part of Kevin's challenge, I guess, will be to argue that his definitions of the idea and movement are accurate and readers will have to decide if they find him persuasive.
Personally, I think only the fringes of the definitions are very debatable. The rest is fairly obvious.

Don Johnson's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'm not sure you understood my response.

That is entirely possible.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Holding in common is the meaning of the term. It does not distinguish between activities, enterprises, money and other things that may be held in common, like beliefs, knowledge of Christ, and the Christian way of life.

I don't think this is right. The meaning is more than merely holding in common. Of course, commonality is part of the root meaning, but koinonia means more than that. I don't have access to my digital Kittel right now, but I'd refer you there for much more on the subject. (it begins on p. 797 of vol 3) note especially the summary for koinonia given on p. 798.

I am saying that to reduce the meaning to merely "having things in common" severely dumbs down the word. We also have things in common with evangelicals much further to the left than those called 'Conservative Evangelicals'. Kevin's suggestion that we need to search out what we have in common with the CEs is equally applicable to those further left, if that is all that fellowship means. And I would suggest that this 'seeking out commonalities' is at the heart of the new evangelical philosophy.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

More on the definition of koinonia... what about 1 Jn 1:7, 1 Co 1:9 and other passages like them? Do they not indicate a fellowship that consists of having Christ Himself in common?

As for seeking out commonalities, I don't personally see why it could be bad to do that even in reference to folks further left. That is, it's always helpful to bring what we disagree about into sharp relief by acknowledging what we do not disagree about. It makes the debate clear, which ought to be the desire of anyone who is interested in pursuing the truth.
There are real brethren that are on the far left end of the evangelical spectrum. With these, all other brethren have a certain fellowship even if they never meet or speak to each other. They have "the fellowship of His Son."

It's not identifying points of agreement that has ever been the problem, but rather, danger lies in forming joint ventures. But in theory, danger lies also not forming joint ventures/cooperating when we should. (I say 'in theory' because I've always found the case for that to be rather thin. But I do believe there is danger in not acknowledging real unity where it exists. But having unity/objective fellowship does not require joining hands in this activity or that--active/subjective fellowship--and I'm generally skeptical of what's to be gained by that. ... though admittedly it's very cool to hear hundreds or thousands sing a great hymn vs., say, 35. But I'm not sure the coolness there is really anything more biblical or more Christian or more God-exalting. But it sure is stirring!)

Joel Tetreau's picture

Kevin,

I'm sorry you have clarify and clarify and clarify. I thought you were pretty clear the first time. My guess is some guys will cry "wolf" no matter what you say as long as you say things they would not say. I've come to the conclusion that we need to put down the boxing gloves with the conservative evangelicals. It get's us nowhere. Not to say that there can't be benifit in thinking through issues and talking about them but at some point in time wow....we have to move on. Just like not all evangelicals are equal....not all "truth" is equal. Too many fundamentalists want to talk and talk and talk about evangelicals. I think they talk more about evangelicals than they do our Lord! People, move on. I believe our focus on the Scriptures, the gospel, missions, holiness, reaching out in disicipleship, etc....is far more important than fund vs. evang. Frankly most of our families in our churches could almost care less about "this group" vs. "that group." Again, not saying there isn't some importance here, just not at the level that many of us think it is.

I think for the most part, all sides understand the similarities and differences between the main of fund and the main of evang. Your point is well taken. Not all conservative evangelicals are created equal. I have appreciation for most of them. There is a portion of them I can have some co-ministry with and so when the occasions arise that we do that, we do that. The evangelicals that are too different we simply move on grateful that they preach the gospel and remembering that they are not the enemy. I'm not sure why this is hard for us.

Straight Ahead!
Phil 3:12-14

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;

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