The Golden Goose that laid the Plastic Egg - Random thoughts on the FBF meeting and questions concerning the expanding of fund

The Golden Goose that laid the Plastic Egg: Random thoughts on FBF Fundamentalism and questions concerning the possibility of an “expanded” fundamentalism to some who refuse the title.

I’m in Colorado at my “in laws” in between Farmington NM and Durango CO. I missed the FBF in Chicago. I soooooo wanted to be there. I’ve been catching up with the national FBF with what I can from a variety of sources. Well, I guess the atmosphere was a times “tense.” I guess the FBF decided not to deal with the issue “head-on.” I really wish they would have just taken off their ties and said, OK……some of us believe that the way “so-in-so” dealt with topic X was legit……others believe it wasn’t. Let’s roll up our sleeves and go back and forth here. Let’s find a consensus based on Biblical principle…..I guess we didn’t do that. I’m hopeful I’m wrong and there was more substance that was spent on the controversy. It looks like instead of a golden egg, attendee’s were given a plastic egg. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the Calvinism issue (that’s already been handled in other forums to such a degree that I don’t think I have anything to add). I do want to comment on fundamentalism and the possible “new-connections” with elements within healthy and militant evangelicalism.

I've said this I don't know how many times, in a variety of places and settings. I have really enjoyed getting to know Ed via online (looking forward to meeting him sometime) and so I will repeat what I've said before especially in connection to his thread.

Choice B - If fundamentalism is orthodox Christianity with a militant commitment to the gospel, then "yes" there are a "ton" of fundamentalists out there that simply do not go by the term (out of ignorance or choice.... probably choice!).

Choice A - If fundamentalism is a specific sub-culture with a specific application to a specific approach to separation (and especially to what’s called 2nd sep), and with a specific self-identity then no. You have to agree with the sub-culture (to one degree or another), you have to practice separation as the group does.....and you have to participate with the sub-culture.

I think these are our two choices friends.

I choose "B" because it is best historically and in my opinion philosophically closer to the teachings and "feel" of Scripture. I've argued both historically and Biblically/Philosophically on this before.

90 years ago, when guys started using the term a fundamentalists simply agreed to the nature of Christ, the gospel, the Scriptures and were "militant" about "the faith." Some of the men demonstrated their militancy by coming out of groups (these were separatists such as found with the IFCA, GARBC, etc....). Others were non-conformists warriors battling it out on the inside of groups. Such was the Fundamentalist Fellowship within the Northern Baptist Convention. Now for sure, many of these men eventually became separatists. However, many men stayed in and fought to the bitter end. The point is many men who did not call themselves fundamentalists per se, where indeed orthodox and militant and where viewed as fundamentalists (especially by the liberals or moderates who encountered them at the annual denominational "fist fight!"). By the way if those liberal ghosts could come back from eternity, they frankly would be embarrassed by those who would accuse these non-conformists militant Type C evangelical/fundamentalist types as not being fundamentalists enough.

If that was the history, then why is this even an issue? Good question. Here's why this is an issue:

Essentially what happened is that because too many evangelicals swallowed the new-evangelical ethos, fundamentalism became in the main "separatists." In a sense they won the "tug-of-war" between the "separatists" and "non-conformists" within the fundamentalists "framework" because too many of the "non-conformists" began to conform and stopped being vigilant and/or militant. It gave non-separatists a black eye and the leading "sub-movement view" is that non-separatists are automatically and with "apriori-conviction" tagged as non-militant. I would be quick to say that the majority of non-conformists were indeed too slothful (especially in those days) and not as discerning as they should have been about evangelical "compromise." However, even in those days there were many bright lights of militancy that were clear on ecumenicalism, liberal-seminary garbage, and even the dim future look of rescuing society from itself.

A part of the story here that's not been told like it should be told:

One part of the story that separatists have almost never admitted that the Type C (what I call them) "militant evangelicals" who were hesitant about the (what I call) the Type A culture (that was already showing signs of hyper-separation in the 50's and early 60's) were essentially shoved out of the movement (By the way, I have evidence of this in the forms of letters, minutes from association meetings, etc... Not only do I have evidence of the Type C's were in many cases shoved out of the movement....frankly I have first-hand accounts of men who weren't loyal to the regional fundamentalist "war-lord" and were shoved out even though they did agree with the local version of fundamentalism (i.e. - See a historcy of Minnesota Fundamentalism!...and before I get the emails...I pastored a Bible Church in central Minnesota where half of the congregation in one form or another had a front row seat of all the "Minnesota mess").

In other words after Billy Graham, Fuller Seminary and Christianity Today; The Big Guns of Fundamentalism in those days essentially put a rhetorical gun to the head of the Type C's of the day and said, "Choose!" You must either be with us or you are with them!

The problem was/is that many of these men were not with them, but they weren't with Billy either! It was and is possible to be an evangelical brother, who loves the Scriptures, is orthodox, is separated both ecclesiastically and personally from sin, and yet not participate with either ecumenicalism or hyper-fundamentalism.

Back to these non-conformists evangelicals. Already in the 1970's you began to read statements from some of the original new-evangelicals that their original strategy of infiltration both theologically and culturally were flawed. By the late 1970's the fight was on in the SBC over an authoritative Bible and an orthodox/militant gospel.

In the years since a re-birth of non-conformist fundamentalism has emerged. I call this Type C fundamentalism. These are fundamentalists who battle on the inside of groups that have other types of evangelicals in them (groups such as the SBC, CBA, etc....). My contention is that my Type A friends who insist that the SBC and CBA conservatives are not fundamentalists say that because our baseline is different. Look at the beginning of this post. I've suggested that if my baseline is right (orthodox and militant) then these men must indeed be considered our fundamental brethren. If the Type A view is right (orthodox, a certain approach to separation, commitment to a sub-culture, etc....) then indeed these men while considered brethren cannot be considered fundamentalist brethren.

I prefer the historical view. I do that in part because I see a mystical tension in the Scriptures. A tension between unity and separation. My concern is that Type A fundamentalism has dumped the tension. "When in doubt separate!" That's a problem for me because I'm not sure that's the right answer. That's almost as naive as the assumption that "if in doubt.....fellowship!" I also say this because I believe their was a time in the late 70’s that the main of Fundamentalism turned their backs on dear brothers that could have used their help in the “battle for the Bible” as well as other opportunities for co-labor (and by their admission wanted help from the white-hats of the fundamentalist movement).

Look people.....Fundamentalism isn't warm and fuzzy right now. I'm not even talking about the "Cold War Feel" that has existed between the Type A's towards guys like me and Bixby (Type B's) or between the Type A's (like Chuck) and Type C's (like Mac). I mean you Type A's can't even get along. Exhibit A – The recent FBF “thaw” you all enjoyed the last few days.

I can tell you exactly why fundamentalism smells like a rotten egg right now....Because we've added to the sine-quo-non. Yep....keeps growing and growing like the wart on the end of the nose of the Wicked Witch of the East (Not equating anyone from the FBF to the Witch….just a figure of speech). In the early days all a fundamentalist needed for real unity, Was an orthodox view of Christ, the gospel, the authority of Scripture on the one hand and a view of apostasy in the other. Today for too many fundamentalist you have to do that plus agree with 14 other essential doctrines, plus you have to a certain approach to anyone who doesn't call himself a fundamentalists, cut ties with any sort of music that wasn't written prior to 1850, or that hasn't been approved by musicians who trace their lineage to one degree or another to Frank or Ron (no offense to Frank or Ron!), demonstrate a pedigree that includes two or more degrees from one of seven accepted institutions and most importantly a little black book in your mind that can regurgitate the right names, friends, and other impressive facts that will open certain internal Type A, fundamentalist doors of opportunity (i.e. politics!).

What I hear type A's say is "Joel you don't understand....we had a common enemy in those days....Liberalism....we don't have a common enemy today." Give me a break! Francis Schaffer (one of those Type C fundamentalists who would have been strong-armed by the early separatist-fundamentalists of the late 50's and early 60's) prophetically nailed the tail on the donkey's behind 30 years before evangelical-postmodernism showed up. With post modernity we have ample "cause" to have a new coalition of militant and discerning evangelicals working with theologically oriented and truly spiritually minded fundamentalists.

Because I have one foot and two toes in movement fundamentalism and three toes next to a growing group of Type C militant evangelicals, I very much care for the "white hats" in each house. I get very tired of listening to men who have never actually had a real conversation with men from the other side of the isle make character-judgments about other men.

I am also tired of two types of fundamentalists. I grow weary of the Type A's that think they have all of the younger fundamentalists "pegged." You with your arrogant pronouncements think you can just wave your hand above all of them and declare "new-evangelical," "compromiser," etc....My response to you is go ahead and separate from us. We'll make it without you.

The second group that gives me real pause, are young fundamentalists that want to peg every Type A fundamentalists who is more militant as you as "a jerk." Frankly I fear that those of us who set ourselves up in a position of superiority are frankly proud and carnal. Most of these men are probably at least three times as spiritual as you or I. Many of them fast, pray, witness and live honestly and rightly before a Holy God. Please.....just shut up! You're what 25? maybe 40? And you think you can teach these men who are 60 or 70 something they can't read for their own? Give me a break. Look, these guys have watched other attempts of "re-doing" fundamentalism crash and burn a few times. They very much have earned the right to warn us of the dangers of re-thinking fundamentalism. They're old, we're young....that means we respect them....period! No, you don't have to agree with everything they say. Yes, you are free in Christ to draw your own conclusions….but you and I better listen and we better be teachable, and we better not trust ourselves.

Uhhh....to answer David's question, "there is a cause." And the cause my friend is far larger than the student body enrollment of BJ, Northland or Central Seminary. It is far more important than the continued legacy of the FBF or any other group that considers itself to be "irreplaceable" for sake of the Kingdom.

Thanks for listening. Sorry for the length. I've not been saying anything for the last month. I've been sitting on this egg of my own. At least I have this in common with the FBF....I'm sure it's not golden....but it is indeed mine!

Well….tomorow we take the Lawn 4000 to Grand Junction. We then take my lawnchair to Rifle on Saturday. Back home on Sunday. Then out to Alpine AZ on Monday. Camp COWS from next Monday till Friday. A chance to read, pray, think and write (and maybe fish). What a thrill!

Straight Ahead!

With much love for all!

jt

2486 reads
Jay's picture

Quote:
Choice B - If fundamentalism is orthodox Christianity with a militant commitment to the gospel, then "yes" there are a "ton" of fundamentalists out there that simply do not go by the term (out of ignorance or choice.... probably choice!).

Choice A - If fundamentalism is a specific sub-culture with a specific application to a specific approach to separation (and especially to what’s called 2nd sep), and with a specific self-identity then no. You have to agree with the sub-culture (to one degree or another), you have to practice separation as the group does.....and you have to participate with the sub-culture.

I choose "B" because it is best historically and in my opinion philosophically closer to the teachings and "feel" of Scripture. I've argued both historically and Biblically/Philosophically on this before.


Joel, good post. I'm with you in the "Choice B" camp - this is basically the discussion that we had at SI 2 on 'idea' v. 'movement' fundamentalism.

I think that the attractiveness of MacArthur stems from the fact that there was a "Type B" fellow who said "Hang all the politics and alignments and let's just do what we're supposed to - serve the Lord." Does it make the typical IFB member crazy because here are people who are deliberately choosing not to further the 'movement'. So while the A's and the C's were fighting it out tooth and nail, the young un's [like me ] said, forget about it...I'm going where the Word is preached, souls are saved, and people are discipled.

I agree with you that the "golden goose" of the FBFI meeting was disappointing. I don't know if it's a plastic egg or a lump of coal yet, but I'll at least listen to the MP3's and see what remains of a movement I used to be proud of.

Congrats on your tenth anniversary at SEVBC. Looking forward to seeing you @ Shepherds2010, Lord Willing!

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jack's picture

Joel wrote:
I really wish they would have just taken off their ties and . . . .

I think the altitude is getting to Joel. Ties off? I'm not sure there's even a type for [I ]that[/I ] sort. Wink

T Howard's picture

Quote:
I mean you Type A's can't even get along. Exhibit A – The recent FBF “thaw” you all enjoyed the last few days.

Great, another IFB sub-culture is about to be birthed. Type A+ or A^2? Or perhaps we should just go with the bond rating system at this point: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C, and D.

Jack's picture

[Quote=T Howard ]Or perhaps we should just go with the bond rating system at this point[/Quote ]

That would make separation aplication easier - if you're below investment grade (i.e., a "Junk Fundamentalist"), I think you're gonna get separated from.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Joel and all the brethren,
Philippians 2:1-10 comes to mind as I read Joel's concerns. We need to esteem others better than ourselves and empty ourselves in humility in such a way that Jesus Christ, Who has a Name above all names, receives the glory.

Once Jesus is receiving the glory, we will be careful to avoid the extremes.

We need a season of humbing ourslves before God. He is doing many things in our churches, fellowships, and other instituions that ought to drive us to our knees.

The stinch in the air is not rotten eggs. It is rotten arrogance. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

Matthew Richards's picture

thank you Joel for the post--I find myself agreeing with so much of what you post. I especially like the reminder at the end that we need to respect and offer grace to the older "type A" fundamentalists--I need to keep working on this for sure.

Matthew Richards

tlange's picture

For writing the piece above and setting the record straight! Amen and Amen!

Joel Tetreau's picture

Friends,

Thanks for the interaction.

Straight Ahead!

jt

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

mmarprelate's picture

I had a fairly extended conversation this week with an older Type-A, who is also a leader in the movement. He recognizes and wrestles with the problem of what Joel calls the Type-C's. I asked him if it was possible to view the differences in views on separation between brethren who *all* consider themselves as separated as similar to the differences between baptists and presbyterians. He did not want to commit to an answer, but recognized the validity of the question.

While many of the type A fundamentalists are very brittle in their attachment to their position, I believe the leadership (of the FBFI and many of the fundamentalist organizations) are pondering the issue and in the long run will develop a consensus. Fundamentalist and Evangelical are terms that once synonymous, because the grouping contained most Biblicists. The trend now moving back in that direction and most of the current Biblicists are trying to figure out how to come to terms with it.

MM

Mike Harding's picture

Most people who write about the FBFI have little direct knowledge of what goes on in their meetings and board meetings. The facts are that the FBFI has a moderately Calvinistic, classical dispensational, Baptist, separatist doctrinal position. The tension in the FBF is that some in its ranks do not agree fully with the Calvinistic and pro-Lordship statements. This is unfortunate. Dr. Pickering wrote a large segment of that doctrinal statement. Frankly, if men in the FBFI don't agree with the soteriology contained in the FBFI doctrinal statement, then they should line up with the Sword. The SOL has been anti-Calvinistic and anti-Lordship for a long time. We all agree that Mac and Piper sometimes make provocative statements that we would not affirm. Even Mac has had to retract some of those statements in "Hard To Believe". However, the basic soteriology position of the FBFI and Mac are very similar, though not identical. The opening message at the FBFI meeting in Chicago did not represent the consensus of the board. This was very unfortunate. We have doctrinal statements for a reason. They help us to resolve disputes when they come up. Pastor Vaughn wisely read our doctrinal statement at the board meeting and reminded all of us that we are bound by its clear tenets.

As far as the Conservative Evangelicals are concerned, we all agree that we are not to fellowship with apostates and those who maintain ecclesiastical relationships with apostates. In principle we all believe that we are to be separate from worldliness, false teachers, and willfully disobedient brothers. The issue we struggle with is when does a brother genuinely qualify as a willfully disobedient brother. Some of us like Sam Horn, Mark Minnick would not view all disagreement as disobedience. Others come close to that line. I think this is where discussion must take place. I advocate hopefulness and discernment.

Pastor Mike Harding

Joel Tetreau's picture

Mike,

I'm thrilled to read your post. Amen and Amen! Blessings on you guys as you wrestle "principle-isms" from the text and a apply that to militant men who might not be as separatistic as you guys are. I'm very thrilled to see this. You have no idea.

Straight Ahead!

jt

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

Ron Bean's picture

Thank you, Mike.

Could it be that the "caricature of Calvinism" has created an atmosphere in which the moderately Calvinistic doctrinal statement of the FBFI is not considered as such because it doesn't fit the definition promoted by anti-Calvinistic brethren?

I've encountered churches with strongly Calvinistic doctrinal statements (Philadelphia Confession) whose pastors and people were strongly against Calvinism.

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