Resolutions on Fundamentalism, Part 2

The ACCC adopted four resolutions on fundamentalism at this year’s conference. The Resolution on Instances of Abuse wihin Professed Fundamentalism posted here earlier this week. Two of the remaining resolutions appear below.

Resolution on Cherishing the Heritage of Biblical Fundamentalism

Resolution 11-01

When exhorting his readers to patient endurance of the race set before them, the author of Hebrews affirms the importance both of looking ahead and of looking back. Looking ahead the believer must depend upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Author and the Finisher of our faith, and looking back he must draw encouragement and inspiration from a cloud of witnesses that once preceded and now encompasses him (Heb. 12:1-2).

The faithful men and women of Hebrews 11 comprise this cloud of witnesses: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and the patriarchs, Moses, Rahab, and others. Time would not allow the author to go on listing all the names (v. 32), so he summarizes their character by referring to their accomplishments (vv. 33-39). They were fallible servants of the Lord, but that is not the focus of this passage. Instead, an abundance of past-tense verbs expresses the affluence of the author’s appreciation for these true heroes of the faith.

This appreciation for the past enjoins us in the present to a similar faithfulness, for the author explains that, apart from us, the work of predecessors cannot be perfected (v. 40). We follow in their train. In addition, the appreciation for the past expressed in Hebrews extends not only to distant Biblical history, but also to more immediate examples, the pattern of those who spoke the Word to us (13:7-8). We are to remember with thankfulness their leadership, value the results of their ministry, and imitate their faith. Cherishing the heritage they provided for us reflects the immutable character of the Lord we serve, Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and it safeguards against the temptations of varied and strange teachings (vv. 8-9).

Entrusted with the legacy of faithful examples over 70 years, the American Council of Christian Churches occupies an especially privileged position as the beneficiary of patterns to remember and convictions to emulate. Our predecessors were unashamed Biblical fundamentalists from multiple denominational expressions of Protestantism, whose unification around separatist convictions has contended well for the faith entrusted to them, “avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so-called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21).

Therefore, the delegates to the 70th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches, meeting October 18-20, 2011 at the Bible Evangelical Methodist Church of Lancaster, PA, express together profound thankfulness and deep appreciation for faithful men who have gone before us, giving us a pattern of separatist convictions to follow. We further resolve never to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of the godly convictions of our predecessors, but rather to join with them in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (2 Tim. 1:8-12), to affirm with them that the One whom we have believed will keep us against that day (v. 12), to hold fast, as they did, the standard of sound words which we have heard (v. 13), and following their example, to guard through the Holy Spirit in our evil day this trust for the generations that follow us in the will of the Lord (v. 14).

Resolution on the Multi-Denominational Heritage of Biblical Fundamentalism

Resolution 11-02

With his prayer for the Ephesian believers, the apostle Paul addressed the One “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:15). It is in this name, Holy Father, that those who have been given to Christ are to be kept as one, even as they are sanctified in the truth (John 17:11). Whereas denominational labels within the spectrum of Protestantism correctly identify important details of differing convictions, basic agreement regarding the “weightier matters of the law” has bound these traditions together as a common echo of the first century Church’s apostolic faith (Matt. 23:23).

As a clearly identifiable movement, Biblical fundamentalism is not yet 150 years old. In its earliest phases, it gave voice to the foundational doctrines taught in the Bible and did so without reference to any particular denominational perspective. The earliest conferences, beginning in 1876 at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, focused on that which various denominational groups held in common. It was the heritage, they argued, that had come down through the generations from the ministry of the apostles of Christ. As J. Gresham Machen observed, the movement was not the latest of a series of new “isms” but the restatement of the historic Christian faith.

Thus, there were Presbyterians and Methodists as well as Baptists from various fellowships that led the call for a return to the fundamentals of the faith. The latter part of the 19th century was a time of religious upheaval. The rapid acceptance of Charles Darwin’s ideas following the publication of his Origin of Species in 1859 together with the effects of German rationalism in theology produced a severe challenge to those who insisted on maintaining the orthodox doctrines taught in the Word of God.

Biblical fundamentalism was from its inception a movement to reassert the weighty matters of Holy Scripture in the face of the tidal wave of skepticism. Thus, Biblical fundamentalists, whatever their denominational distinctiveness and convictions, agreed to stand together on, among other things, the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, the creation of man by God’s direct act, the historicity of Adam’s fall into sin with all its theological consequences, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His deity, the blood atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners, His bodily resurrection on the third day, His ascension bodily into Heaven, and the certainty of His second coming.

Biblical fundamentalists also emphasized that it was necessary for sinners to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and that those who were converted to Christ would demonstrate that transformation through an increasing holiness of life in this world. Recognizing that, on less-weighty aspects of Biblical teaching, those who held to Biblical authority at times disagreed, Biblical fundamentalists resolved that they would emphasize the weighty matters on which they all agreed, and they would not consent to using their lesser disagreements as tests of Christian fellowship within the parameters of obedient orthodoxy. In regard to these issues, they resolved to respect the ability of brethren to disagree without surrendering their own denominational convictions or experiencing the condemnation of others.

In 1941, the American Council of Christian Churches was formed as an explicitly multi-denominational organization with a clear doctrinal statement that represented a vivid understanding of the foundations of Biblical fundamentalism. In spite of various attacks launched against the ACCC over the last 70 years, the organization has remained true to its founding purpose. It exalts the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only hope for the salvation of sinners. It exposes the work of theological apostasy, such as that of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. It rebukes the work of those who seek accommodation with promoters of that apostasy. And it expounds the Holy Scriptures as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

Therefore, the delegates to the 70th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches, meeting October 18-20, 2011 at the Bible Evangelical Methodist Church of Lancaster, PA, resolve with gladness to value and to maintain the multi-denominational character of the Council, as the Lord enables, and to promote in every obedient way possible the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We resolve to respect each other in the highest expression of Christian love and brotherhood and to stand with each other against every devilish device as we contend earnestly for the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

(The Resolution on Misinterpretations of the Heritage of Biblical Fundamentalism and other resolutions are available at the ACCC website.)

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There are 11 Comments

Jim's picture

This resolution - Resolution on the Multi-Denominational Heritage of Biblical Fundamentalism - is an important reminder that fundamentalism is not baptist specific. I appreciate this resolution!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'll second that.
I'm emphatically Baptist... but glad not everybody is (if nothing else, it's just more interesting that way).

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

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron,

If you are confident you have come to a biblical position, how can you be glad when others come to different positions?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not convinced of all the distinctively Baptist ideas with equal certainty. The fundamentals are clear, so we don't really arrive at them by weighing evidence, but many of the other things we believe are built on an inductive process... and the result is probability.
So, for example, though I believe immersion of adults is the proper way to execute baptism, I can understand the opposing arguments well enough to grant that there is at least some probability that they are right and I'm wrong.

How this works is easier to see with things like eschatology, because people nowadays seem to be less inclined to dogmatism on those points than in the past... and less emotional about disagreement. So I take the position that Christ's return includes an early phase of taking up His church and a later phase of His arrival on the earth to conquer and reign, and that these happen about seven years apart, etc.
But I have to grant that I only see this understanding is very probably correct. (Less probably than believer's baptism).

I'm not sure I'm putting it very clearly here but the gist is that there are the certainly's and the probably's and with the latter, I appreciate the efforts of those I disagree with.
(Even with some of the certainly's, I find some of those I disagree with interesting. So I guess I simultaneously hope they change their minds yet enjoy that they haven't yet.)

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

Rolland McCune's picture

Since the infidels and apostates of liberalism spread their unbelief interdenominationally, and the disobedient Christians of the New Evangelicalism operated on an interdenominational front, fundamentalism by default operated in the same venue. I am not an interdenominationalist but understand the course of the fundamentalist battles.

I heartily resonate with the objectives and service of the ACCC, its leadership and this resolution in particular. It is a biblical, kind, objective expression and, as such , should stand as an example of the gentle spirit mandated for today's controversies in fundamentalism. But, the ACCC had and has its militantly agressive leaders who do/did not simply toss resolutions at the foes of the Cause. The resolution here wisely chose not to mention, much less accentuate, some of the headaches it has had to endure internally. Instead it acknowledged past fundamentalist leadership for its contributions and, in the spirit of Hebrews 11, thanked God for our heritage without demonizing or exhuming anyone or their personal foibles and sins.

I am not really surprized but am disheartened not to see expressions of appreciation for the resolution from the younger heirs of the labors of the ACCC and similar organizations. Could it be that too many are counting on change you can believe in or an audacious hope for a new fundamentalism or expression therof, and do not know of or believe that anything really good came out of Collingswood, 21st and Fremont, Greenville, old Winona Lake, et al?

Rolland McCune

Jim's picture

Who said:

Quote:
I am not really surprized but am disheartened not to see expressions of appreciation for the resolution from the younger heirs of the labors of the ACCC and similar organizations.

  • Well first of all I appreciate Ralph Colas and the ACCC
  • I suppose at 62 I'm not the "younger set"
  • I suggest that if the ACCC wants to reach the younger set, they need to update the ACCC website with RSS feeds, articles by Ralph Colas, etc
Rolland McCune's picture

Jim:

The point about the ACCC updating its website would be well-taken, I'm sure. But I suspect that the ignorance of the younger set goes far beyond that, from not being taught or informed in their educational and religious circles to the negatives that are being propogated abroad about the ACCC and historic fundamentalism.

Rolland McCune

SDHaynie's picture

Thank you Dr. McCune for your observation. I share your concerns. At 48, I am younger than the generation of the "warhorses" of fundamentalism, or even the generation that followed them, but I am too old to be considered a part of the "young fundamentalists." However, I do see in both my generation as well as the generation after me more of a willingness to criticize than cherish the heritage of fundamentalism. I agree with your reasons for this happening. Do we need to be honest? Absolutely. But at the same time as we spit out the bones, can't we enjoy the meat?
I have had the opportunity to study the history of fundamentalism a great deal, and I for one thank God daily for the rich heritage we enjoy. And I thank God for those "warhorses" that I have had the privilege to cross paths with...each of them I have seen criticized here in SharperIron and in other venues, but each has left a positive influence in my life.

Shawn Haynie

Paul J's picture

Does anyone know what the circle of influence of the ACCC is? It does not seem to be very far reaching so I was wondering what the possible impact of a resolution might be. It seems very limited from my perspective. This is not a criticism but merely a question.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

That's a good question. I don't know how many congregations and ministries have connections to ACCC now. You might be able to find that info at their website http://www.amcouncilcc.org/main.asp
But I'm not sure that info is there anywhere.

I do think there is contact info at the site though, so you could probably inquire and get an idea from them that way.

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

Jay's picture

Rolland McCune wrote:
Jim:

The point about the ACCC updating its website would be well-taken, I'm sure. But I suspect that the ignorance of the younger set goes far beyond that, from not being taught or informed in their educational and religious circles to the negatives that are being propogated abroad about the ACCC and historic fundamentalism.


Dr. McCune-

Your point is well taken.

I cannot speak for all on this site, but my family comes out of the hyperfundy, Schaap/Hyles wing of fundyville, so there's a LOT of excess baggage there that has really hindered my family's interest and respect for the Fundamentalist movement, and it probably colors my judgment at times, esp. when I see the same kind of foolishness being needlessly repeated. I do agree with you that the negative is commonly played up, so maybe - and I'm not saying this to ask you to do it, because I know you have a lot of things on your plate - it would be helpful for your and/or others to remind the "youngers" of those battles that were fought, lost and won. Give us some of the positives to counter the negatives, know what I mean?

They say that it takes seven positive compliments to negate the effect of the one negative. Perhaps we need some more 'positive' stories to counterbalance all the "What were they thinking?" stories out there.

"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

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