Now, About Those Differences, Part Six

NickOfTimeRead Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Standards of Conduct

When evangelicals think about fundamentalists (which is not often), they typically consider them to be rather legalistic. When fundamentalists think about other evangelicals (which is nearly constantly), they usually consider them to be quite worldly. The purpose of the present investigation is not to endorse either indictment but to identify what each party has in mind when it levels its accusation against the other.

What do fundamentalists perceive about evangelicals that seems worldly to them? What do evangelicals see in fundamentalists that seems legalistic? The answer to these questions primarily revolves around two areas: (1) standards of conduct, and (2) methods of ministry. Each of these areas is significant enough to warrant at least one essay of its own.

By “standards of conduct,” I do not mean to suggest that one party possesses standards while the other does not. Both parties agree that the Bible says something about how people should live. Both parties recognize that biblical commands and principles, rightly applied, require or prohibit particular activities. Both parties will, at some point, use some external standards of conduct as mechanisms by which to gauge spiritual wellbeing.

Making such evaluations is not necessarily legalism. Legalists believe that their external conduct actually secures some measure of standing with God. That is a different matter than recognizing that external conduct often reflects one’s relationship with God.

Suppose we hear about a professing believer who has been sticking up gas stations and liquor stores in order to support a meth habit. Most evangelicals would be as quick as fundamentalists to recognize that something is awry in this person’s spiritual life. The external conduct yields evidence of an internal deficiency of some sort.

In fact, evangelicals may be quicker and more decisive than some fundamentalists in making moral judgments based upon external conduct. In one instance of which I have personal knowledge, an evangelical leader had been caught in adultery. He went to another evangelical leader to confess his sin and ask forgiveness. The response he received was, “You have betrayed our Lord and our cause. Don’t come to me for absolution.”

Whether or not this was the correct response, it was certainly a strong one. I suspect that most fundamentalist leaders would have been milder. Of particular importance is the fact that it was a response to external conduct.

So what is it about standards of conduct that sets fundamentalists apart from other evangelicals? That question has three answers: revivalistic taboos, rejection of contemporary counterculture, and the use of second-premise arguments. In these matters, fundamentalists do differ from other evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals, to varying degrees.

By revivalistic taboos, I mean standards against activities such as theater, dancing, card-playing, drinking alcohol, and smoking, among others. These taboos are labeled “revivalistic” because they were preached and promoted by the revivalists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Other Christians often disagreed with them. For example, J. Gresham Machen was a fan of Charlie Chaplin and went to see his movies. The Princeton theologian Charles Hodge wrote vigorously against the demand for total abstinence from alcohol. Some early American Baptist preachers actually received part of their compensation in whisky!

Throughout the 20th century, most fundamentalists tended to see these activities as intrinsically worldly, and many still do (I am not at this point expressing my own opinion about the taboos). Therefore, such fundamentalists necessarily see a person who indulges in these activities as worldly. They reason about revivalistic taboos in much the same way that they reason about larceny and adultery.

In general, evangelicals abandoned the revivalistic taboos more quickly than fundamentalists did. This created a situation in which many evangelicals were playing cards, smoking pipes, drinking beer, going to the theater, and waltzing or twisting while most fundamentalists still viewed these activities as worldly. The fundamentalist conclusion, of course, was simply that evangelicals were worldly. The evangelical reaction to that conclusion was that fundamentalists were judgmental, focused on externals, and probably legalistic.

This judgment was aggravated by the fact that some fundamentalists went well beyond the traditional taboos in their denunciation of worldly activities. These fundamentalists made up prohibitions that can most charitably be described as “idiosyncratic.” Not infrequently, fundamentalists became so closely identified with these external demands that it seemed as if they thought of “the standards” as the most important aspect of Christianity.

The situation was further complicated by the massive cultural shift that began during the 1960s. Often called the “counterculture,” this shift changed the way that people viewed politics, economics, entertainment, race relations, authority, sexuality, religion, and substance abuse. At each stage of its development (from hippies to punks to Goths to hip-hop), the purveyors of the counterculture have invented or adopted their own emblems of identification and modes of expression.

To paraphrase H. Richard Niebuhr’s typology, fundamentalists have tended to position themselves as “Christ against counterculture,” while evangelicals (at least from the early 1970s onward) have tended to practice “Christ of counterculture” (to be fair, they would probably have seen themselves as “Christ redeeming counterculture,” but the distinction was not often evident in practice). Evangelicals have been more focused on relevance and on supposedly redeeming the (counter) culture, while fundamentalists have seen various countercultural expressions as a rejection of authority, including divine authority, and an exaltation of sensuality through illicit sexuality or inebriation.

In other words, evangelicals have tended to embrace the latest manifestations of popular culture. Fundamentalists, however, have seen the counterculture as particularly worldly, and they have tended to resist the expressions of the counterculture even after those expressions have become mainstream. To evangelicals, fundamentalists have seemed unnecessarily restrictive, overly occupied with externals, and probably legalistic. To fundamentalists, evangelicals have appeared unwarrantably concessive and, therefore, worldly.

Over time, what was the counterculture has become the mainstream popular culture. The only thing that sells better than a bad-boy image is sex, and the counterculture offered plenty of both. Each succeeding wave of the counterculture is first brandished as obnoxiously cutting-edge but then gradually accepted across American civilization. What begins as extreme becomes mainstream.

Of course, once a phenomenon becomes mainstream, it is much harder to reject. In fact, it may completely lose its countercultural significance. Flared pants and wire-framed glasses were tokens of rebellion in the 1960s, and I can remember hearing sermons preached against the wickedness of “bell-bottoms.” During the 1970s they became mainstream and lost their significance, which meant that they were now safe for most fundamentalists to wear. By the 1980s they were out of style and no longer an issue, even for fundamentalists.

This left fundamentalists in the unenviable position of adopting some of the very trends that they had earlier denounced. This was confusing both to evangelicals and to younger fundamentalists. Their confusion was not helped by the fact that fundamentalists were selective in what they chose to adopt. Flared pants and granny glasses were accepted in the 1970s. Moustaches were not accepted until the 1980s, and beards were outlawed on most fundamentalist campuses until the 1990s. The rock music of the counterculture (even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) has still not gained wide acceptance within fundamentalism. These choices must appear arbitrary to the critics of fundamentalism.

As we have seen, fundamentalists and other evangelicals first disagreed about the revivalistic taboos. This disagreement was exacerbated by their rather different reactions to the counterculture that emerged in the 1960s. The third difference, however, is the most serious. It is a difference over the use of second-premise arguments. That difference merits an essay of its own.

Epiphany
Reginald Heber (1783-1826)

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.


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.

11486 reads

There are 51 Comments

Don Johnson's picture

Though it may surprise many, I agree in the main with this particular edition of the series. The main point, I think, is contained in this paragraph and a half:

Kevin Bauder wrote:
During the 1970s they became mainstream and lost their significance, which meant that they were now safe for most fundamentalists to wear. By the 1980s they were out of style and no longer an issue, even for fundamentalists.

This left fundamentalists in the unenviable position of adopting some of the very trends that they had earlier denounced. This was confusing both to evangelicals and to younger fundamentalists. Their confusion was not helped by the fact that fundamentalists were selective in what they chose to adopt. Flared pants and granny glasses were accepted in the 1970s. Moustaches were not accepted until the 1980s, and beards were outlawed on most fundamentalist campuses until the 1990s. The rock music of the counterculture (even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) has still not gained wide acceptance within fundamentalism. These choices must appear arbitrary to the critics of fundamentalism.

I think these matters have been a sore spot within and without fundamentalism. Where there might have been a good reason to maintain a distance from some of these fads at some point in time, the reasons were either poorly articulated or not well thought through. The problem with the bellbottoms and wire-rim glasses (did people seriously preach against wire-rim glasses?) would have been a spirit of rebellion that may have accompanied them. It is the spirit of rebellion that is the problem, not so much the thing itself. However, two errors were made here: preaching against the thing itself as evil (then later adopting the thing itself and looking like a hypocrite), or maintaining the 'standard' long after the thing itself became 'normalized' and not an issue of rebellion.

I do have a few nits to pick in this article. One is the supposed mildness with which fundamentalists might react to an adulterous pastor. I don't believe that is true, not in the main at any rate. And the other is the term "revivalist taboos". I think "revivalist" has become kind of a swear word among the cool kids and code for "Finneyism". It is an unfortunate choice of words that makes any support of these particular standards a kind of heretical point of view from the get-go. It is my impression that conservative Christians have been against the theatre since the days of Tertullian at least. So to call all these things 'revivalist' seems to be a bit of 'poisoning the well' before any forthright discussion can happen.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Mike Durning's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Though it may surprise many, I agree in the main with this particular edition of the series. The main point, I think, is contained in this paragraph and a half:
...
I think these matters have been a sore spot within and without fundamentalism. Where there might have been a good reason to maintain a distance from some of these fads at some point in time, the reasons were either poorly articulated or not well thought through. The problem with the bellbottoms and wire-rim glasses (did people seriously preach against wire-rim glasses?) would have been a spirit of rebellion that may have accompanied them. It is the spirit of rebellion that is the problem, not so much the thing itself. However, two errors were made here: preaching against the thing itself as evil (then later adopting the thing itself and looking like a hypocrite), or maintaining the 'standard' long after the thing itself became 'normalized' and not an issue of rebellion.

I do have a few nits to pick in this article. One is the supposed mildness with which fundamentalists might react to an adulterous pastor. I don't believe that is true, not in the main at any rate. And the other is the term "revivalist taboos". I think "revivalist" has become kind of a swear word among the cool kids and code for "Finneyism". It is an unfortunate choice of words that makes any support of these particular standards a kind of heretical point of view from the get-go. It is my impression that conservative Christians have been against the theatre since the days of Tertullian at least. So to call all these things 'revivalist' seems to be a bit of 'poisoning the well' before any forthright discussion can happen.

I see exactly where Dr. Bauder is going with this, I think, and I have to applaud this sub-set thus far.

The "revivalistic" term is well-applied. Before the Calvinist resurgence, if you used the term "Fundamentalist" and "Revival" together, the thought in people's mind would not be Finney, but folks like Billy Sunday. Many of the extra-Biblical Standards, not to mention the "Christian Manhood" emphasis of Fundamentalism, come from Sunday and folks like him during the period of 1880 - 1930. Sunday and his ilk epitomize the kind of standards Dr. Bauder is addressing.

The counter-culture section is a great observation. I see that period as an opportunity missed by Fundamentalists and some Evangelicals. We had a segment of our population that was rejecting materialism and the evils of our culture and seeking a new way -- which they were confident had something to do with love. And instead of saying "You've got it partly right. Come in and let us show you the rest", we said "Get a haircut." Sure, there was rebellion in that group. And the communal living sex obsession thing was a big problem. But I think much of the problem was also the politics involved at the time. Some of the more extreme IFBx folk are still fighting the hippy movement, though it's mighty hard to find a hippy as such.

Dr. Bauder's assertion that adultery might be more tolerated among some Fundamentalists than some evangelicals might be with reference to some specific cases such as Jack Hyles. In that case, Dr. Hyles insistence on "Fundamentalist standards" caused many to retain him in their own view as a Fundamentalist despite his own alleged affair (for which their is extensive circumstancial evidence), the affairs of his son Dave (absolutely certain), and his toleration and rehabilitation of certain favored pastors also caught in adultery (by his own admission). The fact that many would now say "Oh, he was never really one of us" does not change the fact that few were saying it then.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The essay is a helpful analysis. Appreciate it.

Quote:
That is a different matter than recognizing that external conduct often reflects one’s relationship with God.

I think we need to define the nature of legalism a bit better. External conduct does more than reflect our relationship with God. Disobedience disrupts fellowship and damages character. So paying attention to externals is warranted by more than "symptom analysis" to reveal problems.

Don, about "revivalistic taboos." I don't think the term "revivalistic" can be dismissed as a pejorative buzzword as long as there are large segments of fundamentalists who proudly embrace the term. It's historically accurate, as the essay briefly explains.
My own reluctance on that point takes a slightly different form. Though the revivalists championed these concerns, they didn't do so in a vacuum. That is, their convictions about these things came from somewhere. I'd suggest that large numbers of believers had arrived at the "revivalistic" positions on these issues more or less independently. The revivalists rode the tide as well as adding substantially to it. So I tend to think the pre-revivalist quiet rejection of many of these practices was simply the result of discernment.

Prohibition for example... if it had actually worked, would anybody be looking down on the idea today? I wonder. The fact that the effort proved to be impossible to enforce is a separate question from whether society would have been better off sans booze if we'd been able to actually bring that about. So it was wrongheaded because a. it was impossible to do, and b. Finneyesque palagianism was behind much of it (many thinking that giving up booze was pretty much the same thing as securing a home in heaven). But hey, if there were not three bars in Boyceville, there's a good chance my next door neighbor would be alive today, and we'd still have a chance to reach out to him.

Anyway, I don't want to turn this into another alcohol debate thread. Just illustrating a point: the revivalistic taboos were not necessarily invented by the revivalists and were not necessarily merely "taboos" before the revivalists popularized them. (They were taboos after, in the sense that not much thinking went into them anymore)

But as a major fork in the road for fundamentalists attitudes vs. evangelical mainstream attitudes, I think KB's analysis here rings true.

MDurning wrote:
...materialism and the evils of our culture and seeking a new way -- which they were confident had something to do with love. And instead of saying "You've got it partly right. Come in and let us show you the rest", we said "Get a haircut."

Solid point. I think we did miss an opportunity. But it illustrates just how blind we are to cultural trends when we are in the middle of them. We see it clearly in hindsight.

Jim's picture

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/11/AR201006...

Quote:
On Jan. 16, 1920 -- the day before Prohibition became the law of the land -- America's triumphant "drys" were supremely optimistic about the future: "The reign of tears is over," evangelist [color=red ]Billy Sunday[/color ] told a revival meeting in Norfolk, Va. "[color=red ]Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent." [/color ]

Comments:

  • Re: "Hell will be forever for rent". Well that never happened!
  • Pertains to "revivalist taboos" (or some better term)
  • Relevant to one's view of changing either society as a whole or an individual. Is the best strategy to prohibit it? Warn against it? Et cetera
Don Johnson's picture

Mike Durning wrote:
Some of the more extreme IFBx folk are still fighting the hippy movement, though it's mighty hard to find a hippy as such.

You just don't live in the right part of the world.

Of course, the hippies today are balding or grey and have an emerging middle. But the tie-die and the hemp are still prevalent. Come visit Saltspring Island or Eugene, OR and you will find plenty. Go to any farmers market in the Northwest.

Mike Durning wrote:
Dr. Bauder's assertion that adultery might be more tolerated among some Fundamentalists than some evangelicals might be with reference to some specific cases such as Jack Hyles.

Bauder didn't say he was talking about Hyles, but I suspect he might have been. First of all, it is true that some segments blindly supported Hyles in spite of appearances. However, Hyles was strenuously opposed by many of his erstwhile friends including my pastor at the time. And let me point out that Hyles never sat in another pastor's office and confessed guilt. He stonewalled, which looked suspicious, but isn't proof. So while the Hyles incident does come to mind, it isn't the same thing as someone coming in and confessing, as Bauder's suggested scenario implies.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Don, about "revivalistic taboos." I don't think the term "revivalistic" can be dismissed as a pejorative buzzword as long as there are large segments of fundamentalists who proudly embrace the term. It's historically accurate, as the essay briefly explains.

In Bauder's usage, it is heavily connected to Finneyism, so I am suspicious when he says it. I agree with you that conservative believers arrived at these opinions more or less independently. Billy Sunday, et al, may well have been leading mouthpieces against these things, but he and others were not saying anything conservative Bible believers didn't already believe.

A side note on Prohibition, you should read a book by Hugh Johnson (no relation), a secular wine-enthusiast on the history of alcohol. In his book he has a chart that shows that Prohibition in fact did work. The per capita consumption of alcohol dropped precipitously and it took well over a generation for it to rise to pre-Prohibition levels after Prohibition was dropped. The main reason Prohibition was dropped was the government realized the mob was making money off of booze and the government wasn't getting a penny. And the publicity about the "failed" alcohol war against the mob allowed the public to buy it.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anyway, I don't want to turn this into another alcohol debate thread. Just illustrating a point: the revivalistic taboos were not necessarily invented by the revivalists and were not necessarily merely "taboos" before the revivalists popularized them. (They were taboos after, in the sense that not much thinking went into them anymore)

I agree with this point. I think that to the extent that Christians turn discernment into taboos, the Biblical rationale for discerning standards is lost. Some of these things seemed so obviously wrong that one generation wouldn't even answer questions from rising generations about them. This is a human problem, not a discernment problem.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

jimfrank's picture

If a reader checks the various "Fundamentalist" publications and websites such as The Sword of the Lord and Way of Life.org, he or she will find that these are Indpendent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) publications. Though they represent two factions within the Independent Baptist orbit, they are enough alike to merit comparison.

Current IFB thought revolves around their view of seperation. The Sword defines "ecclesiatical separation" as:

"WE BELIEVE that Christian believers and local, New Testament churches should be guided and governed by the Bible, and consequently, we believe it is imperative that we identify false doctrine and those who perpetrate it, and subsequently, stand separate and apart from them.

We welcome all who come to our doors, but we give no place on our platform to honor or to hear the opinions and the views of those who do not hold to 'sound doctrine.'

With this in view we oppose the widespread popular practice of ecumenism (getting theologically diverse groups together for the sake of fellowship, for the cause of evangelism, and for the exercise of their ministries together)"

The primary source of IFB separation is the King James Version, or as they prefer to call it, the King James Bible:

"The Holy Scriptures
WE BELIEVE the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, preserved for us in the Masoretic text (Old Testament) Textus Receptus (New Testament) and in the King James Bible, is verbally and plenarily inspired of God. It is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and altogether authentic, accurate and authoritative Word of God, therefore the supreme and final authority in all things (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Peter 1:21; Rev. 22:18-19)"

Pensacola Theological Seminary is a fountainhead of IFB pastors. Their Doctor of Ministry program offers a course on the use of the KJ in IFB churches:

"DM 707 The Bible Translation Controversy and the Principle of Separation (3) This course applies principles of separation to the textual translation issue from the standpoint of a pastor. Especially applicable to local churches, this course will enable pastors to help their lay people understand the textual issue. Students critique Westcott and Hort’s unorthodox beliefs, along with doctrinal deviations in the NIV and NASB"

Separation is the "hill" Independent Fundamental Baptist pastors have chosen to fight and maybe even die on. It is that important.

AndrewSuttles's picture

Since we are in an agreeing mood, I think we can all agree on the following -

Quote:
When evangelicals think about fundamentalists (which is not often)...

I'm not sure how Fundamentalists are viewed by Evangelicals. I would think most of them don't know what it is. Some are familiar with the Scofield Bible and associate it with that.

I'm glad Dr. Bauder centered his discussion around what he calls, 'standards of conduct'. This is a good dividing line, I think, as someone who has spent time in both types of churches. In a Fundy church, a pastor holds up standards for conduct. These are moral and social guidelines that everyone who 'wants to please Christ' or 'grow in Christ' will follow. I always believed that if I could look like a man, act like a man, not cuss, not drink or smoke, not listen to rock-n-roll (who listens to that, anyhow?), make all 3 services, witness to someone every week, and read by KJV every day, I had a good week. I met the standard - God was happy with me and I was growing as a Christian. In an Evangelical church, the word standard is foreign. I would think my Pastor's goal is to teach what he might call 'conviction.' In other words, each person should so walk with the Spirit, and should so understand his Bible, that he has the discernment to know what is right, and to feel convicted for doing what is wrong.

So how are Evangelicals doing? The movement is too diverse to say. In my present Evangelical church, folks are, on the whole, much more mature, Bible-centered, and conservative than those in the Fundamentalist churches I've been a member of. This is certainly not true in the main, however. It is probably true enough that one simply cannot paint with the broad brush that Bauder tries to do here.

I must say that Fundy 'standards' may be over the top, in some cases, but there is a large margin for safety in that. It is very insightful that Bauder mentions the cultural revolution taking place in the 1960s as an impetus to Fundamentalism. Wouldn't you all say that it is true that Fundamentalism has more to do with preserving traditionalism than battling for doctrinal truth?

Also, would anyone agree with me that fighting for social reform, moralism, traditionalism, was historically the battle ground of the liberal? Wasn't prohibition a liberal cause, initially?

Mike Durning's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/11/AR201006...

Quote:
On Jan. 16, 1920 -- the day before Prohibition became the law of the land -- America's triumphant "drys" were supremely optimistic about the future: "The reign of tears is over," evangelist [color=red ]Billy Sunday[/color ] told a revival meeting in Norfolk, Va. "[color=red ]Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent." [/color ]

Comments:

  • Re: "Hell will be forever for rent". Well that never happened!
  • Pertains to "revivalist taboos" (or some better term)
  • Relevant to one's view of changing either society as a whole or an individual. Is the best strategy to prohibit it? Warn against it? Et cetera

The next day, Billy Sunday trumpeted that they would have to close all the jails and prisons. That didn't happen either.

Jim's picture

AndrewSuttles wrote:
In a Fundy church, a pastor holds up standards for conduct. These are moral and social guidelines that everyone who 'wants to please Christ' or 'grow in Christ' will follow. I always believed that if I could look like a man, act like a man, not cuss, not drink or smoke, not listen to rock-n-roll (who listens to that, anyhow?), make all 3 services, witness to someone every week, and read by KJV every day, I had a good week. I met the standard - God was happy with me and I was growing as a Christian. In an Evangelical church, the word standard is foreign. I would think my Pastor's goal is to teach what he might call 'conviction.' In other words, each person should so walk with the Spirit, and should so understand his Bible, that he has the discernment to know what is right, and to feel convicted for doing what is wrong.

  • I don't think every fundamental church is like your description - at least in my own experience with fundamentalism.
  • But in what you describe, the Pastor functions as a Parent-Paraclete. Follow his rules and "God [will be ] happy with [you ]"

More on the parenting illustration. To my three year old the stove was always bad! Don't ever touch the stove. But when they are older you want them to use the stove!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

jimfrank wrote:
Current IFB thought ...
The primary source of IFB separation is...
Separation is the "hill" Independent Fundamental Baptist pastors have chosen ...

It's pretty hard to generalize accurately about what independent fundamental Baptists believe.
For whatever anecdotal evidence is worth, I've been a member of 8 or 9 IFB churches. None of them were like that, though we did all believe in separation from apostasy and certainly had no part of ecumenical evangelism or other ecumenical efforts.

But beyond the 8 or 9 I've been a member of, I've had contact with quite a few more which also do not fit that description.
So some are like that, some aren't.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Kevin T. Bauder wrote:
This judgment was aggravated by the fact that some fundamentalists went well beyond the traditional taboos in their denunciation of worldly activities. These fundamentalists made up prohibitions that can most charitably be described as "idiosyncratic." Not infrequently, fundamentalists became so closely identified with these external demands that it seemed as if they thought of "the standards" as the most important aspect of Christianity...This left fundamentalists in the unenviable position of adopting some of the very trends that they had earlier denounced. This was confusing both to evangelicals and to younger fundamentalists. Their confusion was not helped by the fact that fundamentalists were selective in what they chose to adopt.

In my humble opinion, the really big problem in the way fundamentalists handled the counter-culture was not so much that they acted, but that they reacted, and over-reacted at that. In reacting to the hippy culture of the 1960s, they tried to take people back to a time which, based on my limited knowledge, never really existed -- other than as an imaginary ideal.

I come from a very conservative family heritage in a conservative part of the country, and in my limited knowledge of history, there never was a time when (modest) pants on women in the appropriate setting were an issue -- until fundamentalists made it one. Same with moustaches, beards and a host of other non-issues. There never was a time when men walked around in long-sleeve white shirts and ties, buttoned up tight, with suit coats on, in 90-degree heat. Those are ridiculous standards to attempt to uphold.

Fundamentalism hamstrung itself by veering from teaching the Bible into trying to evaluate such "taboos," and I am not convinced that it has yet totally recovered. Rather than confessing and forsaking such inanity, fundamentalists instead tried to "baptize" these "taboos" under the labels of "standards" and "convictions" -- the differences between which were never either clear or Biblical.

In the process, MANY young people grew disenchanted with the whole process and voted with their feet. Sad to say, much of my generation is lost to the cause of real fundamental Christianity.

Recognizing that the next generation is too shrewd and (especially) technologically savvy to tolerate the status quo, many fundamentalists are now changing their methods of operation without honestly confronting these errors of the past. Is this a case where a little (more) confession might be good for the soul?? :O

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Brian Ernsberger's picture

Some of you are missing a point on the 60's counterculture hippies and some of that, I would say, is because you only know about it as history apart from your own experience (in other words you are too young to have seen it first hand or remember it). While I am not old enough to have been a hippie, I am old enough to remember. Every one of you have glossed over what it was all about. It was not about "seeking love" as one suggested. It was a rejection, almost across the board, of everything the American culture saw as right. They were disestablishmentarianists. Whatever was the established, accepted norm they countered it, they were against it. Police officers became "pigs," or "fuzz" or other derogatory names. The institution of marriage was attacked with their "free love." I witnessed this not as a believer but an unbeliever and continue to see the damaging effects that that counterculture did and continues to do to the American culture. Even as a young unbeliever I recognized the wrongness that was and is inherent with that counterculture. I thank God that even though I had been brought up in an unbelieving home through that time, my parents sought to instill in a proper respect for those in authority, and what we have come to call traditional American values.

AndrewSuttles's picture

Sometimes I post things that stereo-type the Fundy churches I've been associated with and folks respond, 'my church isn't like that.' I'd like to say first of all, that I have wonderful memories of the Fundy churches I've been a part of and I'll be a part of again the next time I'm relocated to an area where a Fundy church is the best one around preaching the Word of God. Secondly, I'm thankful that not all churches have the same shallow, sometimes even circus-like, revivalist mentality as ones I've been familiar with. I'm sure many (perhaps most?) are better than that. It's never fair to make such generalizations as I have. On the other hand, comments in this series treat Evangelicalism as though it were one large monolithic movement and it is certainly not. I think we, as Fundamentalists, should use our efforts to defend the purity of the gospel, preach against worldliness, and defend the fundamentals of the faith. I think we can do that without having the arrogance and 'Baptist Enquirer' mentality that tends to pervade our movement.

Don Johnson's picture

AndrewSuttles wrote:
On the other hand, comments in this series treat Evangelicalism as though it were one large monolithic movement and it is certainly not. I think we, as Fundamentalists, should use our efforts to defend the purity of the gospel, preach against worldliness, and defend the fundamentals of the faith. I think we can do that without having the arrogance and 'Baptist Enquirer' mentality that tends to pervade our movement.

Hi Andrew

Surely you would say that there are sufficient characteristics in each group (I hesitate using the word movement because as we are now told, there are no movements any more)... but there are characteristics in each group that broadly and generally speaking do categorize quite disparate individuals as one or the other, right?

In other words, we can say there are characteristics about Christianity Today crowd and the T4G men that identify them all as evangelicals. And on the other hand, there are characteristics about Hyles type churches and say, Inter City Baptist in Detroit that would generally categorize them as fundamentalists. Now obviously there are big differences between the 'extremes' I mention. But when we are having a discussion about the broad generalities, we have to use generalizations. Otherwise we will get bogged down in a morass of exceptions, anomalies, and other odd ducks.

As for your prescription for fundamentalists, I might quibble and say that we are interested in trying to preserve the purity of the church not just of the gospel. But be that as it may, I think we can do the things you say without being arrogant, but we can't do them without dealing with specific names and current events. When current names, trends, events are likely to impact our people negatively in some way, we have to be aware and deal with it appropriately.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
I come from a very conservative family heritage in a conservative part of the country, and in my limited knowledge of history, there never was a time when (modest) pants on women in the appropriate setting were an issue -- until fundamentalists made it one.

Paul, this just isn't so. In general women never did wear pants in Western culture until they started going to work in factories during WW2. It was a major issue among secular society as well as Christian society. This from Wikipedia:

Wikipedia wrote:
Although trousers for women in many countries did not become fashionable until the later 20th century, women began wearing men's trousers (suitably altered) for outdoor work a hundred years earlier.

Starting around the mid 19th Century, Wigan pit brow girls scandalized Victorian society by wearing trousers for their work at the local coal mines. They wore skirts over their trousers and rolled them up to their waist to keep them out of the way. Although pit brow lasses worked above-ground at the pit-head, their task of sorting and shovelling coal involved hard manual labour, so wearing the usual long skirts of the time would have greatly hindered their movements.

See more on this [URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trousers#Women.27s_trousers ]here[/URL ].

I agree that in our zeal for what was at least perceived as wickedness, some may have over-reacted, but women's trousers (to use the Wikipedia term) are a relatively recent development.

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Same with moustaches, beards and a host of other non-issues. There never was a time when men walked around in long-sleeve white shirts and ties, buttoned up tight, with suit coats on, in 90-degree heat. Those are ridiculous standards to attempt to uphold.

Aren't you over-reacting a bit yourself here? I have seen some pictures of 1890s or 1910s farmers in all the heat and humidity of the South working in their fields with long sleeve shirts buttoned right up and long pants. (I'm sure they didn't wear suits in the fields.) But my point is that "never" is a pretty broad brush. These standards weren't just made up out of thin air.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Don,

Maybe you should not have quoted a source that PROVES MY POINT Bleah

OK - pants on women were an issue before the mid-1800s. Then, jump ahead 100 years and fundamentalists made it an issue again. My mom went to high school in the late 40s/early 50s, and girls wore jeans for sports, recess, etc. She also grew up wearing jeans on the farm. (BTW, she was brought up in a very staunch evangelical church back then.)

Yes, people dressed up more in general back then (i.e., the high school kids on Leave It To Beaver), but I would be willing to wage the debate that women wore dresses because they were dressy -- not because wearing pants had an immoral component to it.

Sorry, but this is one of the DUMBEST issues anybody ever thought of picking up; I don't think you are going to convince me otherwise. The first time I heard a fundamentalist talking about no pants on women, I thought it was some kind of a weird joke.

My point is simply how tragic it is that fundamentalists allowed themselves to be derailed from teaching Biblical truth into this kind of nonsense.

I don't think I am over-reaching. To this hour there are people in "our circles" who are driven to keep these kinds of "standards" -- even if it means causing someone who is truly weak in the faith to actually stumble -- standing Rom. 14:1 on its head. :cry:

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Don Johnson's picture

Please explain how the Wikipedia article proves your point. I don't see how it does. The whole idea of women wearing pants was a departure from the norm. Initially it was shocking to people who weren't fundamentalists. That seems to demolish your point, not make it.

Or perhaps I am missing your point. You seem to be saying that no one else in the world ever thought of this as an issue, implying that fundamentalists basically made it up. Your words again: "there never was a time when (modest) pants on women in the appropriate setting were an issue -- until fundamentalists made it one"... I just can't see how you can say this is an accurate statement.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
I just can't see how you can say this is an accurate statement.

That is my point -- I am saying that is an accurate statement. At least in modern history (since WWII), this was an issue artificially created by fundamentalists -- causing much strife and division -- which cannot be tied to any Biblical moorings -- unless you also want the men to go back to Biblical days and gird up their loins. Cool

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Don Johnson's picture

Well, I guess we are at an impasse then. I think your view is totally incorrect.

Not sure what else can be said. Even if you attempt to narrow history down to just 'modern history', i.e., since WW2, you are actually still wrong. I am a bit younger than your mom, but the introduction of pants was controversial among more than fundamentalists... I didn't grow up among fundamentalists. I went to public school. Believe me, it was controversial.

But I guess we can move on, this is a very small point in the overall question. I'll leave it to the rest of the commenters to see what we have been up to late at night. West Coast blogging allows us to carry on and really surprise them in the morning.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Becky Petersen's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:
I just can't see how you can say this is an accurate statement.

That is my point -- I am saying that is an accurate statement. At least in modern history (since WWII), this was an issue artificially created by fundamentalists -- causing much strife and division -- which cannot be tied to any Biblical moorings -- unless you also want the men to go back to Biblical days and gird up their loins. Cool

I'm not "skirts only" but not sure, Paul, that your point is accurate. It depends on what you mean by "modern". My girls, who are trivia buffs, told me that with the Dick Van Dyke show, Laura could only be seen in one scene/setting in each show in pants, because it was too radical. But that may not be considered modern--we're talking black and white tv!

But it has been since WW2.

Jeff Brown's picture

Kevin, I think you need better nomenclature here. Preachers and religious historians identify certain behaviors that have been preached against as "Revivalist" because that is about as far back as their history takes them. Take one "taboo" mentioned: dancing. John Calvin was an ardent opponent of it. Most of the Puritians in England were of the same persuasion. On the continent of Europe, the Roman Catholic group, the Jansenists (Calvinists) were opposed to dancing. In North America, Increase Mather wrote a long treatise against dancing in the late 1600s. His son, Cotton Mather was just as outspoken against it. In the early 18th century of Philadelphia dancing was frowned upon. This is primarily because the quakers were against it. George Whitefield preached repeatedly against dancing. In the late 18th Century, Francis Asbury was one of its firmest opponents in North America. These all preceded anything resembling a fundamentalist movement. And opposition to dancing preceded the revivalists Whitefield and Asbury. When Evangelicals opposed dancing, which most of them did before 1960, they were merely continuing a centuries-old conviction that was strong within the Calvinist and/or free-church heritage.

Jeff Brown

AndrewSuttles's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
...we are interested in trying to preserve the purity of the church not just of the gospel. But be that as it may, I think we can do the things you say without being arrogant, but we can't do them without dealing with specific names and current events. When current names, trends, events are likely to impact our people negatively in some way, we have to be aware and deal with it appropriately.

Understood Brother Johnson.

Thanks

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Becky Petersen wrote:
Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:
I just can't see how you can say this is an accurate statement.

That is my point -- I am saying that is an accurate statement. At least in modern history (since WWII), this was an issue artificially created by fundamentalists -- causing much strife and division -- which cannot be tied to any Biblical moorings -- unless you also want the men to go back to Biblical days and gird up their loins. Cool

I'm not "skirts only" but not sure, Paul, that your point is accurate. It depends on what you mean by "modern". My girls, who are trivia buffs, told me that with the Dick Van Dyke show, Laura could only be seen in one scene/setting in each show in pants, because it was too radical. But that may not be considered modern--we're talking black and white tv!

But it has been since WW2.


My daughter was listening to an Enola Holmes mystery on audiobook while we were cleaning the kitchen, and Enola (the little sister of Sherlock Holmes) comments on the shocking appearance of a female character in pants. There was something in the storyline about women who dressed like men, and Enola hopes that she does not have to lower herself to that point in order to solve the mystery. Nancy Springer is not a Christian author either.

Fundies may have been guilty of bringing up an 'old' subject, but they certainly didn't invent it. I think the furor over pants did detract from the legitimate issue of modesty though. Modesty is as much about one's heart attitude as about the length of the skirt or the fit of the blouse. What I saw growing up Fundy was alot of behavior modification instead of discipling and mentoring. If you got the look right, no one paid much attention to what you did. The problem is with the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction- supposedly now if your heart is right, your appearance doesn't matter. It's another cliff on the other side of the bluff, but a cliff is a cliff, and don't people ever get tired of climbing up and jumping off?

I was thinking when reading this article about the prohibitions against movie theatres and the advent of the VCR. Back in the day, it was 'worldly' to go to theatres or have HBO piped into your house, but around the time Betamax bit the dust, more and more conservative Christians had VCRs and were hanging out at Blockbuster. Nowadays it seems everyone has a DVD player, and with a [URL=http://www.clearplay.com/ ClearPlay[/URL ] you can watch ANYTHING because it filters out all the ooky stuff. So- what was the premise for labeling movies as 'worldly'? The lifestyles and worldviews of the people who create them? The actual content? Paying $7 for a bowl of popcorn? The big flip-flop on that score is an illustration of how Fundies who don't really know why they oppose something end up looking hypocritical.

Bob Hayton's picture

In the late 1980s (or was it even the early 1990s), my dad wouldn't let my brother and I get wire-rimmed glasses, because he wasn't sure they were accepted by the leadership of the school we attended (and at which my Mom was a teacher).

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Brian Ernsberger wrote:
Some of you are missing a point on the 60's counterculture hippies and some of that, I would say, is because you only know about it as history apart from your own experience (in other words you are too young to have seen it first hand or remember it). While I am not old enough to have been a hippie, I am old enough to remember. Every one of you have glossed over what it was all about. It was not about "seeking love" as one suggested. It was a rejection, almost across the board, of everything the American culture saw as right. They were disestablishmentarianists. Whatever was the established, accepted norm they countered it, they were against it. Police officers became "pigs," or "fuzz" or other derogatory names. The institution of marriage was attacked with their "free love." I witnessed this not as a believer but an unbeliever and continue to see the damaging effects that that counterculture did and continues to do to the American culture. Even as a young unbeliever I recognized the wrongness that was and is inherent with that counterculture. I thank God that even though I had been brought up in an unbelieving home through that time, my parents sought to instill in a proper respect for those in authority, and what we have come to call traditional American values.

I appreciate this for filling out the counter-culture part of things.
It's interesting that Bauder's view of culture in America today is that it is basically a continuation of the counter-culture. If he's right, that has pretty big implications.

Anyway, to Brian's point: I think the observation that the hippies were looking for love is not at odds w/the fact that it was about [URL=http://www.thefreedictionary.com/disestablishmentarianism ]disestablishmentarianism[/URL ]
Both are true. Part of the philosophy was that love is what life is all about and "the establishment" is the enemy of love. So the rebellion against all norms was widely viewed as a pursuit of the ideals of love and peace (let's not forget about the peace part!)

But I think Bauder's point there is that the counterculture was about rejecting Christian roots as well. It was a fork in the road for our culture after which everything moves further and further from efforts to "be Christian" in our culture. Though what came before it was only "Christian" in varying degrees, Christian ideas (and ideals) were the biggest single influence, I'd suggest. Modernism unraveled much of that in the 40s and 50s, but with the counterculture, fleeing from Christian roots became official. Traditional Christian ways were part of "the establishment."

I think fundamentalism was right to be antidisestablishmentarian (I've been waiting for years for an excuse to use that word! Biggrin ). But yeah, there was much ill-conceived reaction and overreaction, etc. And wasted opportunity, too... probably because we had an exaggerated view of the Christianness of our culture at that point in time. "Christianity" and "American traditions" have never been synonymous... but before the 60's they were at least mostly friends.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Becky Petersen wrote:
Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:
I just can't see how you can say this is an accurate statement.

That is my point -- I am saying that is an accurate statement. At least in modern history (since WWII), this was an issue artificially created by fundamentalists -- causing much strife and division -- which cannot be tied to any Biblical moorings -- unless you also want the men to go back to Biblical days and gird up their loins. Cool

I'm not "skirts only" but not sure, Paul, that your point is accurate. It depends on what you mean by "modern". My girls, who are trivia buffs, told me that with the Dick Van Dyke show, Laura could only be seen in one scene/setting in each show in pants, because it was too radical. But that may not be considered modern--we're talking black and white tv!

But it has been since WW2.

Thanks Becky!

There is no doubt that the culture has changed on dress issues over the last 40 to 70 years. My point is that the issue of pants on women was never a Biblical issue (Deut. 22:5 notwithstanding), and further, it could be argued that it was never truly even the cultural issue which some fundamentalists made it out to be. It was, at best, a cul-de-sac that fundamentalists drove into when they turned off their GPS (Global Providential System -- read Bible).

The first time I heard someone make the argument about no pants on women from Deut. 22:5, my jaw dropped. Did they really want to go back under the Old Testament Law (Acts 15:10)?? I grew up in a traditional, conservative home, and my mom and grandma (who were not feminists in any sense of the word) almost always wore pants through my whole lifetime. My mom wore pantsuits to church because she played the organ, and she always wondered why it would be more modest for women to have their legs uncovered with a dress.

I was told 20+ years ago that "no pants on women" was a conviction or a testimony issue, but now it has conveniently disappeared from most people's consciences with no explanation. Why?? Now many of these same people are promoting Sarah Palin and her "Momma Grizzlies" (pro-life feminists-?) as the next great hope for America. What is wrong with this picture?? :tired:

Again, my main point is how tragic it is that fundamentalists allowed themselves to be derailed from teaching Biblical truth into this kind of of malaise. So many in my generation (late 30s, early 40s) who have left the movement have been burnt over by these oddities of fundamentalism. If they are now in church on Sunday morning, it is likely in an emergent or seeker-sensitive setting because they are sick of carrying all the baggage. Many of those still looking at/for something deeper have gone off the other side of the road into Reformed Theology.

The way of Christ is "easy" and "light" compared to the rigors of Old Testament lawkeeping, which is not our means of sanctification (Matt. 11:28, 29; cf. Rom. 6:14).

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Brian Ernsberger's picture

Aaron, you are missing the point somewhat. The rhetoric of the hippies was "love" and "peace" but not in any traditional, normal way of defining those terms. Their love was lust and their peace was that which an eastern mysticism was expected to produce, especially if coupled with what drugs would induce. Those today who look back at the hippies and somehow think that we should be lauding them are looking at them through rose-colored glasses. An honest look at the hippies blasphemous portrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ in "Jesus Christ Superstar" should dispel any notion of any kind of sympathy for the counterculture that was the hippies.

I would agree with Bauder on his assessment that much of what has been counterculture is now mainstream. I would say that the time it takes to go from counterculture to mainstream is getting shorter and shorter. What was taking a decade or two to become acceptable is now taking just a couple of years.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, we're not talking about sympathy really. Just looking for what's useful. There's no question that the hippie ideology mixed all sorts of stuff together to form a very, well, intoxicating brew (or vapor, perhaps)... ideologically as well as chemically. Though the sort of love and peace they were looking for were befouled and twisted, it's not like there was nothing of the real thing in it. These are universal human longings. But let's remember, too, that the majority did not join the hippie movement. Rather, they pulled stuff they liked--such the ideals of love and peace, some music, some clothing, some lingo" but kept on working their establishment jobs, attending their establishment schools, and much of their establishment morality, etc.
Like most movements, you have a philosophical few behind it that embrace the "real ideology," and then millions who hold to some kind of diluted form of it.
It's a moot point now anyway. But I agree with the analysis that responding to the counterculture with "Get a haircut and a job!" rather than "Let me tell you what love and peace are really all about" was not the right response for the most part (not that I think most would have listened to the latter either, but some would have).
There were some who did take that tack and they didn't see what looks now like enduring success. But it's not ultimately about success.

I agree that counterculture is mostly mainstream. It's only "counter" now in a historical sense. It's the counterculture road, but further down it to the point that the fork in the road is really no longer visible.

rogercarlson's picture

Brian,
I don't think that is completely the point made. I will let Aaron speak for himself, but I have a thought. There was much in the hippy culture that was wrong and sinful, no doubt. But the thing I think is being missed is that we fundamentalists tend to dismiss bassed on silly things (wire rimmed glasses for instance). I always thought the unwritten ban by us on facial hair was silly and maybe even sinful if we tied it to being spiritual. When I grew my mustache about 4 years ago, a fundamentalist full-time christian servant felt they were wrong because they made men look like scoundrals. I said they made men look like men. If I weren't a firefighter, I would have a beard too, but breathing is not overrated. Smile I think what we should try to do with counterculture people is cease on where they "think" they are doing something good and turn it to a gospel opportunity. I don't think overall we do a good job with that in our movement.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just have to mention that I remember some folks arguing passionately in my presence (long before I had a beard) that Jesus never had a beard. They had some complicated way of getting around the reference to plucking in Isaiah 50:6.
But nobody thought Jesus having a beard was a problem in, say, 1860.
[img=200x250 ]http://www.q-aconsulting.com/snodgrass/IMG/GeorgeB%20Snodgrass.jpg[/img ]

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.