An Open Letter to Lance Ketchum

NickImage

Dear Brother Ketchum,

Over the past couple of months my attention has been directed to several of your writings, some of which mention me. While I do not make a practice of responding to unsolicited criticisms, two factors have influenced me to write to you. The first is the fact that we have labored together in the same corner of the Lord’s vineyard and have come to know each other well enough to speak frankly. The second is that, while I know you to be an honorable man who would never willingly misrepresent a brother, your recent writings have contained a sufficient number of misunderstandings that I have heard people question your credibility. So I am writing to you simply to set the record straight, I hope in a way that is charitable.

One of your concerns is that you believe you have been ridiculed, particularly within the Minnesota Baptist Association. You state, “I have talked to a few men in the leadership of the Minnesota Baptist Association of churches regarding these issues. My comments were received with a smirk of derision and ridicule.” Since the only board member of the Minnesota Baptist Association whom you mention by name is me, people are likely to infer that I have ridiculed you, or perhaps that I have encouraged others to ridicule your pronouncements.

Actually, I don’t recall having heard you ridiculed, either in public or private, by any board member or pastor of the Minnesota Baptist Association. Personally, I respect you too much to subject you to mockery. I have witnessed God’s grace in your life. I have watched you face severe trials with equanimity, treat opponents tactfully, and persevere both in faith and in ministry. While we disagree about some issues, I believe that you are a man of honor and a man of God. If I heard someone attack your character, I would want to be one of your defenders.

As you know, however, defending a man’s character is easier than defending his every pronouncement. For example, you recently complained that someone ridiculed your article on the Hegelian dialectic. Yet your description of Hegelian dialectic contains little that would be recognized by anyone who had perused a serious book about Hegel, let alone read Hegel himself. Consequently, I find that you have left me with no answer for those people who wish to ridicule it.

The same may be said of your remarks about John MacArthur. You state, “John MacArthur is a hyper-Calvinist, believes in Lordship salvation, Presbyterian polity, uses CCM and Christian-rock in his church ministries, and is undoubtedly a New Evangelical.” Some of your allegations are certainly true: for example, John MacArthur does believe in Lordship salvation. Some are beyond my knowledge: I really do not know whether MacArthur uses CCM or “Christian-rock” in his church ministries, though I know of many fundamentalists who do. (The only rock concert to which I’ve ever taken my wife—inadvertently—was a chapel service in one of the King-James-friendly Bible colleges). Some of your observations are simply not accurate. MacArthur’s polity is not so much Presbyterian as it is Plymouth Brethren. No historic definition of hyper-Calvinism can imaginably be applied to MacArthur. Only the most pejorative standards would classify him as a New Evangelical. When people ridicule you for making such accusations, it becomes very difficult to defend you.

As I recently glanced through your writings, I discovered that I myself had been similarly misinterpreted. For example, you stated that I have “regularly criticized people for criticizing Reform [sic] Theology, especially Reformed Soteriology. Under [Bauder’s] paradigm, anyone believing that Reformed Soteriology is unscriptural, and is [sic] willing to say that publicly, is outside of his acceptable Fundamentalism.” Well, there is a grain of truth here. I have on a couple of occasions said that we do not need to fight about Calvinism. But the fact is that I myself believe that some tenets of Reformed thought are unscriptural, and I am willing to say so publicly. For example, I do not believe in Limited Atonement as it is traditionally defined. I have actually written about some of the areas in which I differ with Reformed theology, and I see no particular problem in allowing others to express their disagreements as well. The question is not whether we may disagree, but how. The kind of disagreement that would label John MacArthur as a hyper-Calvinist is clearly not helpful. It is the kind of thing that invites ridicule. Though I disapprove of aspects of MacArthur’s soteriology, disagreement does not deliver me from the obligation to represent him fairly.

The same can be said of the following sentence:

When professed fundamentalists such as Dr. Kevin Bauder, Dr. Douglas McLachlan, Dr. Timothy Jordan, and Dr. Dave Doran begin to defend men like Al Mohler, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Mark Dever, C.J. Maheney [sic], and Rick Holland (to name a few), it becomes very apparent that there has been a considerable change in direction regarding the practice of militant separation.

You seem to think that it is unacceptable to defend men when they are falsely accused. Well, I am willing to defend these men from slanders against their character or false statements of their views, in the same way that I am willing to defend you. Nevertheless, at a great many points I have challenged their views: in some cases over miraculous gifts, in other cases over church polity, in yet others over contemporary methodologies. I have attempted to persuade them that fellowship and separation involve more than simple adherence to the gospel (some of them already understand this to varying degrees). I think that I can defend their character while disagreeing with some of their theology, just as I do with you.

If you scold a child for everything, then she will pay no attention when you scold her for the thing that matters. Something like this has happened with the incessant fundamentalist scolding of conservative evangelicals. If you want to open the way for competent fundamentalists to articulate our differences with conservative evangelicals, your best approach is to expose and reprove fundamentalist periergazomenous* whose only spiritual gift appears to be censoriousness.

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you…though we are speaking this way” (Heb. 6:9, NASB). You are an honorable man, and that is why I have felt comfortable offering both clarification and exhortation. I trust that you take my words in the charitable spirit in which they are intended.

With affection,

Kevin

Notes

*—see 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Untitled
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Thy Name, O Christ, as incense streaming forth
      Sweetens our names before God’s Holy Face;
Luring us from the south and from the north
      Unto the sacred place.

In Thee God’s promise is Amen and Yea.
      What are Thou to us? Prize of every lot,
Shepherd and Door, our Life and Truth and Way:—
      Nay, Lord, what art Thou not?

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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GregH's picture

A year or so ago, I got a Facebook request out of the blue from Lance Ketchum. I did not know him or even know who he was but I accepted it. Not long afterward, he posted some statement about ultra-conservative and indefensible statement music and I responded (very politely) in the ensuing debate to point out a problem in his thinking.

Interestingly, he fired back and promptly unfriended me. That did not bother me so much because I did not know him in the first place but I did respond once more on the thread and mention how rapidly I had gone from "friend" to "unfriend." His response? He unfriended me because he was practicing Facebook separation on me.

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

 

JohnBrian's picture

GregH wrote:

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

I had a FB friend do the same to me. He wrote something provocative; I responded; others engaged my response; I responded some more; he deleted all my responses but none of the others (which made the thread unintelligible) then unfriended me.  Fortunately I had saved all my comments in Word, so posted my comments on my own blog!

 

He refriended me some time later.

 

p.s. doesn't the book of Hebrews have something to say about not being able to refriend on FB after one has unfriended on FB!

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Mark Mincy's picture

GregH wrote:

A year or so ago, I got a Facebook request out of the blue from Lance Ketchum. I did not know him or even know who he was but I accepted it. Not long afterward, he posted some statement about ultra-conservative and indefensible statement music and I responded (very politely) in the ensuing debate to point out a problem in his thinking.

Interestingly, he fired back and promptly unfriended me. That did not bother me so much because I did not know him in the first place but I did respond once more on the thread and mention how rapidly I had gone from "friend" to "unfriend." His response? He unfriended me because he was practicing Facebook separation on me.

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

 

 

This is so sad.  I'm sorry you had to experience such silliness.  It is examples such as this that are the reason I rarely identify myself with the word "fundamentalist" anymore.  This type of "separation" trivializes a very grave issue and ultimately makes a mockery of true, Christian community.  

 

 

Mark Mincy

GregH's picture

Mark Mincy wrote:

GregH wrote:

A year or so ago, I got a Facebook request out of the blue from Lance Ketchum. I did not know him or even know who he was but I accepted it. Not long afterward, he posted some statement about ultra-conservative and indefensible statement music and I responded (very politely) in the ensuing debate to point out a problem in his thinking.

Interestingly, he fired back and promptly unfriended me. That did not bother me so much because I did not know him in the first place but I did respond once more on the thread and mention how rapidly I had gone from "friend" to "unfriend." His response? He unfriended me because he was practicing Facebook separation on me.

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

 

 

This is so sad.  I'm sorry you had to experience such silliness.  It is examples such as this that are the reason I rarely identify myself with the word "fundamentalist" anymore.  This type of "separation" trivializes a very grave issue and ultimately makes a mockery of true, Christian community.  

 

 

Thanks, but no need to be sorry. I found it a bit humorous. Smile

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Don,

Your questions are fair, if perhaps only partial. Let me do my best to respond to them.

You have a series of questions about the Lansdale meeting. Let me separate them in order to provide answers.

(1) Do I think the meeting had much of an effect upon Dever? Well, I think that it certainly heightened his awareness of some issues and made him more accountable for his handling of them. You need to understand, however, that the minds of thoughtful people (and Dever is a thoughtful person) are rarely changed as the result of a single conversation, article, book, or argument. Mature thinkers always have a whole list of tensions and unanswered questions that they are trying to work through, any one of which has the potential radically to realign major segments of their understanding. The way to change minds is to sustain a conversation that will, over time, deal with objections, exceptions, qualifications, nuances, and contrary evidence. Mature people do not just abandon their position because a good argument comes along. They take the time to weigh it, dissect it, investigate its foundations, and measure its implications. Do I think that Dever and other conservative evangelicals doing these things? Absolutely.

(2) Did my view of Dever change as a result of the meeting? Well, yes. I was extremely impressed with his grasp of New Testament polity has understood historically by Baptists. One of the problems that we face in Baptist Fundamentalism is the high proportion of ministers who have been trained either in interdenominational or in imperialist institutions (or in both at the same time), and who consequently lack a real grasp of New Testament ecclesiology and church order. I grew up in a Fundamentalist environment that prized the Baptist distinctives and that emphasized some of the same things that Dever is now saying. Listening to him was, in a certain sense, like a trip down memory lane. I thought I could hear echoes of Robert T. Ketcham, Paul R. Jackson, and Joseph M. Stowell, Jr. Of course, Dever probably never read any of those men, but he and they have read the same things. And these are things that churches within Baptist Fundamentalism desperately need to remember. [The one exception is his making plural eldership virtually a New Testament requirement for every church.]

(3) How hopeful am I that Dever and other conservative evangelicals will come to a better understanding of separation? About as hopeful as I am that the FBF will. There was a day when I would have said it could never happen in either direction, but I am now watching it happen in both. On the FBF side, I am tremendously encouraged by the voices of some of the present leadership, including some of the things that John Vaughn has said privately. When I look at leaders like Mike Harding, Rick Cross, Aaron Young, Mark Minnick, Ken Endean, or Stephen Jones, I am extremely encouraged. These guys get it. While I would never suggest that they endorse my every decision, I see myself as right where they are. They and men like them represent the voice of reason within Fundamentalism today.

Having said that, I am also encouraged by some of the things that I have seen on the conservative evangelical side. When James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll took an essentially neo-evangelical position in the Great Elephant Room Fiasco, Dever did the right thing and separated. Phil Johnson, Carl Trueman, and others went ever further, spanking MacDonald and Driscoll publicly at a time when their conduct demanded it. While I am not where those men are on some issues, it is not an accident that MacDonald excoriated them as “discernmentalists.” For a while, they were looking downright Fundamentalistic. I am not prepared to embrace them at every level, but I am also not prepared to allow them to be treated like enemies of the faith.

I’ve not yet dealt with all your questions, but this is probably enough for one post. I’ll try to get to the rest before the day is out.

Please keep in mind as you read that I am giving you off-the-cuff answers here, and that I am speaking in very broad generalizations. If you press me, I’ll want to qualify them in all sorts of ways.

Kevin

G. N. Barkman's picture

I find this article and comment thread both informative and encouraging.

We keep coming back to the same unanswered question, namely, "What is a Fundamentalist?"

It seems clear that Lance Ketchum excludes from his definition of Fundamentalist those who hold to historic Baptist Calvinism, as ably noted above by Mike Harding, among others.  Is Ketchum aware that Calvinist Baptists have been a large segment of historic Fundamentalism from its beginning?  Does he care?

It seems to me that until we can have a commonly accepted definition of Fundamentalism, we will continue shouting at and past each other.  Fundamentalism has a noble history that needs to be understood, appreciated, and continued.  Many present day Fundamentalists seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot.

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

Hi Kevin

Thanks very much for taking the time to answer. I agree that it takes time for men to change their opinions. I am less optimistic than you appear to be regarding individuals like Dever. Part of the motivation behind my questions is that after the Lansdale conference, I thought you were saying some things that sounded like you were less optimistic coming out than  you were going in. I wondered if I was reading too much into what you were saying, and perhaps I was, given your answers here.

In any case, I look forward to the rest as you have time.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Andrew Henderson's picture

Don,

I was not trying to trap anybody. I think the first question was very relevant, but I will drop it. Perhaps this question is better - "If Mark Dever (and the only reason I mention him is because you did in your first response given) were to come to you and ask what he would need to do to be accepted as a fundamentalist, how would you respond?" You made it very clear in your initial post that men like Dever hold to an un-biblical or at least less-biblical position than you and others do. That is what I am responding to. So I am simply asking how you would respond to that question if it was posed to you?

 

 

Andrew Henderson

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Don,

Let me resume where I left.

(4) Having asked about the Lansdale meeting, you enquire more broadly whether I think my interactions with conservative evangelicals are having a positive effect upon them. Let me answer this question in three ways. First, I think that you are overrating the number and quality of my interactions with conservative evangelicals. They are busy men, and so am I. Furthermore, we are busy with different things. Unless something occurs that brings us together, we simply do not see one another or talk to each other. The truth is that I have never initiated any of those conversations (except for one or two where I was going to be offering critiques, and allowed them to see the critique and challenge it before I published it). Every formal conversation has been initiated by someone else, and, virtually without exception, has involved some explanation or defense of the Fundamentalist position. I think that most of what conservative evangelicals know about me, they get from reading what I have published. Truthfully, I have not sought out interaction with them, but I refuse to run from it either. It is an honor to have the opportunity to defend biblical Fundamentalism before those who either reject it or who do not understand it.

Second, yes, I do think that these interactions (such as they are) have a fairly positive influence—more in some cases than in others. The problem is that it’s not always clear where the influences are coming from, so I’m reluctant to claim credit for good decisions to which conservative evangelicals have come. At minimum, however, I hope to reinforce those decisions and to encourage further good ones. Just one example: years ago, Al Mohler was one of the signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, which resulted in his extending Christian recognition to Roman Catholics. Mine was only one of a host of voices that questioned the theological integrity of this decision. I highly doubt that my small contributions had much (or even anything) to do with Mohler’s change of mind about the Manhattan declaration, but he himself later acknowledged that it had "crossed the line into an unwarranted and unbiblical recognition of the Roman Catholic Church” (Spectrum, 85). Someone influenced him positively, and I’m happy to cheer the result.

[Nota Bene: there is a biblical term for this kind of change of mind. That term is metanoia, and it is ordinarily translated by the English word repentance. In other words, Al Mohler has indeed biblically repented of his signing of the Manhattan Declaration. If you should ever read someone who says that he has not, then mark that person down as either uninformed or mendacious. If mendacious, then that person is not only a liar, but also a character assassin (or, if we take Jesus’ word for it, a murderer). You should keep that assessment in mind when you read whatever else he says. Such dishonorable persons warrant biblical separation. No good-faith conversation with them is possible.]

Third, a conversation is not always for the benefit of the person with whom it is carried on. Sometimes it is carried on for the benefit of bystanders—of those who overhear it. Most of the reason that I get involved in these conversations is because they provide a platform to publicly articulate the case for biblical Fundamentalism (and, incidentally, against unbiblical versions that claim to be Fundamentalism). On my view, one of the worst things that has happened to Fundamentalism during the last half century is that we have only talked to ourselves, never allowing our ideas to be tested in the public square. That failure has left some very bad ideas unchallenged, while it has permitted the best ideas to seem weaker than they really are. I believe that this failure is one of the significant reasons that young men leave Fundamentalism for arenas in which they see their elders standing up and defending their principles against real opponents.

It’s one thing for someone to attack John MacArthur (e.g.) in the pages of a book that one has had printed by a vanity press and sells to his small circle of friends. It’s another thing to have to stand on the platform in front of MacArthur, explain your ideas, and show why they are better than his. People are most legitimately convinced when they see our ideas tested and vindicated.

By the way, I see that you’ve already replied to the first part of my answer. Let me finish answering your original questions, and then if time allows, I’ll circle back and try to engage your further observations.

Kevin

 

dgszweda's picture

GregH wrote:

A year or so ago, I got a Facebook request out of the blue from Lance Ketchum. I did not know him or even know who he was but I accepted it. Not long afterward, he posted some statement about ultra-conservative and indefensible statement music and I responded (very politely) in the ensuing debate to point out a problem in his thinking.

Interestingly, he fired back and promptly unfriended me. That did not bother me so much because I did not know him in the first place but I did respond once more on the thread and mention how rapidly I had gone from "friend" to "unfriend." His response? He unfriended me because he was practicing Facebook separation on me.

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

 

 

He broke fellowship, but he didn't approach you with one or two other friends first.  There might be a market here for a Fundamentalist facebook app here.  My concern would be have I properly unfriended people to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th degree?  What if Lance was a friend of someone who was a friend of yours?  Would it have been sufficient for Lance to just unfriend you?  Man, this whole internet thing, makes for a difficult life for fundamentalists.  Maybe we should step away from this technology?

 

http://youtu.be/1SmdPC9v5gk

JD Miller's picture

I wanted to thank Don and Kevin for their conversations in this post.  I believe it is helping us all to better understand both their positions and their concerns.  I actually have the same feeling about the conversations between Bauder and Dever.  Not only are Don and Kevin sharpening each others iron in these posts, but they are sharpening the rest of us as well.  Let us remember that if we all agreed on everything here, there would be no need to even have a conversation- we could just blog and have the rest click the like button.  I must admit I have learned a lot from the comments and responses here on sharper iron.  Let me not just thank Don and Kevin but all the participants on this site.

Brian McCrorie's picture

I attended the ATC Conference in Lansdale in 2011 when Dever spoke.  I had been greatly influenced by Dever in many things ecclesiastical through his 9 Marks and other books, particularly in the areas of church membership, discipline, and eldership.  We had even added a lay elder at Heather Hills in the month prior to the conference due to the instruction I had received from Dever and others on training and raising up leadership within the church. Since Calvary Seminary is my alma mater, I was delighted that they were hosting Dever.  I saw it as a good broadening of fellowship for fundamentalism, something I didn't frankly anticipate would ever happen.

The other men on the platform (Jordan, Harbin, Bauder, and Doran) were extremely charitable to Dever and vice versa in their public conversations.  However, they did challenge him publicly on various topics, like "why stay in the SBC," "why not pay all elders per 1 Cor. 9," etc.  I was pleasantly surprised at the public challenge b/c for a young fundy like me, it delivered some clarity on the distinctiveness between fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism which to me had grown somewhat muddy and limited to secondary separation and the like.

My esteem of Bauder and the others grew immensely at this conference, not because they had simply embraced a brother "outside the camp" but because they loved him and the gospel enough to challenge him, both privately and publicly, in a way that should set a model for all of us.

Brian McCrorie Indianapolis, IN www.bowingdown.com

Mark Mincy's picture

I echo Brian's thoughts in post #43.  I also attended the ATC conference in 2011 and came away thinking: "This is how these discussions should be!  Amicable, informed, and yet straightforward discussion on issues that we don't see eye to eye on." 

I also came away from that conference thinking that the fundamentalism that men like Dr. Bauder and Dr. Doran represent is absolutely a concept worth saving.  I thank them for their continued efforts in this area.

Mark Mincy

Barry L.'s picture

dgszweda wrote:

GregH wrote:

A year or so ago, I got a Facebook request out of the blue from Lance Ketchum. I did not know him or even know who he was but I accepted it. Not long afterward, he posted some statement about ultra-conservative and indefensible statement music and I responded (very politely) in the ensuing debate to point out a problem in his thinking.

Interestingly, he fired back and promptly unfriended me. That did not bother me so much because I did not know him in the first place but I did respond once more on the thread and mention how rapidly I had gone from "friend" to "unfriend." His response? He unfriended me because he was practicing Facebook separation on me.

So, you can call Lance's position a separatist or a factionalist if you want but in my mind, I have always considered him a pioneer "Facebook separatist."

Wink

 

 

He broke fellowship, but he didn't approach you with one or two other friends first.  There might be a market here for a Fundamentalist facebook app here.  My concern would be have I properly unfriended people to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th degree?  What if Lance was a friend of someone who was a friend of yours?  Would it have been sufficient for Lance to just unfriend you?  Man, this whole internet thing, makes for a difficult life for fundamentalists.  Maybe we should step away from this technology?

 

http://youtu.be/1SmdPC9v5gk

 

On Linkedin they label connections as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.  You have to make certain that if you disagree with someone that is labled 2nd degree, you must cut off the 1st degree that connects you to them. I think 3rd degree is ok.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Don,

Now, for your next question:

(5) Do I think that my interaction with conservative evangelicals has had any negative consequences for younger Fundamentalists who are watching me? This is another question that does not permit a straightforward yes or no answer. It’s like asking whether the invention of the Internet has had any negative consequences for Christians. The answer can only be, Yes, of course it has. You could list the negatives as well as I can. Yet here we are, both of us employing the Internet in our conversation with each other. Evidently, we both have concluded that the benefits of the Internet (rightly used) outweigh its liabilities (wrongly used). I frame the answer in these terms because this kind of evaluation requires at least two judgments.

The first is the simple judgment of costs versus benefits. This is actually the easier judgment. All we have to do is to decide whether we get more out of the technology than it takes away from us. This is pure accounting.

The second judgment, however, has to do with intent, use, and consequences. I am referring here to what is sometimes called the “principle of double effect.” Sometimes when we do good things, bad things also result. Examples abound. An engineer designs a highway upon which some people are killed, but the highway may (mutatis mutandis) be a good thing in itself. A hostage is killed by sniper fire that is aimed at a terrorist, but the death of the terrorist may (mutatis mutandis) have been the best thing under the circumstances. A young woman takes her own life out of despair because the object of her affections has proposed to another woman, yet his proposal may (mutatis mutandis) have been a good thing in itself.

Our most virtuous acts may sometimes produce evil effects that, while real and perhaps even foreseeable, are not the intention of the act. The engineer was not trying to cause people to crash. The sniper was not aiming for the hostage. The young man was not hoping to drive a young woman to despair. In all three cases, the unintended effects might even have been predictable—but that does not mean that the action should never have been taken. By the same token, we might be able to foresee bad uses to which depraved people will put our virtuous words and deeds, but we may be right to speak and do them anyway.

To return to your question, a certain number of young men who grew up in Fundamentalism have become enamored with conservative evangelical leaders. At one level, that is understandable, for these leaders do a great deal of good. At another level, however, it is possible for their admiration to become thoughtless in a way that ignores or downplays real and important issues. If a young man is simply looking for an excuse to abandon the Fundamentalist structures in which he was reared, then I can foresee that he will use my words and deeds as part of his excuse to do so. When he does, however, he will have to ignore the limitations and parameters upon which I insist. In other words, he will have appropriated parts of my position while inconsistently ignoring other parts.

I concede that all of this is foreseeable. It is, however, beside the point. We are obligated to give an answer, not to merely ourselves, but to every man who asks a reason concerning the hope that is within us. This principle, I think, applies to anyone who inquires concerning any aspect of the system of faith. So, to put it bluntly, I am happy to go anywhere, any time to defend biblical Christianity (including Fundamentalism) for anyone. This is no less true in the case of brothers who are very like us than it is in the case of unbelievers who hate us.

At the end of the day, for every young man who uses me as his excuse to leave Fundamentalism, ten more find encouragement to stay and to try to build a Fundamentalism worth saving. Still, the question is not what Fundamentalism as a movement gets out of it. The question is whether it is the right thing to try to do. If so, then unintended secondary effects cannot make it wrong. The fact that sinful people can twist the truth should never stop us from proclaiming it.

More needs to be said along the lines of why young men are leaving Fundamentalism. It is not because conservative evangelicals are recruiting them—they are not. It is not because people like Doran or me are encouraging them to leave—we are not. If people like Dave or me thought that some version of evangelicalism was better, we could easily go there. No, I think that young men are leaving more because of what they perceive in Fundamentalism itself, and their perceptions are only enhanced by the fulminations of the periergouzomenōn. They find it impossible to stay within what they think is Fundamentalism, and they don’t know of any alternative other than some broader version of evangelicalism. Perhaps that is a topic to which we can return when I have finished answering your questions.

I am aware that I another question or so to answer, but I probably will not be able to get to it until tomorrow. Sorry for the interruption in conversation.

Kevin

Don Johnson's picture

Hi Kevin

Taking it slow is fine with me. Gives time to think it over and consider what you are saying. I'll hold any further questions or evaluations until you've finished.

Others are of course free to comment along the way, but I am really not trying to debate anyone, just thinking about this whole issue yet again. I agree that we need to talk more about it, and I hope this can be a profitable discussion for everyone.

In the meantime, I've spent most of the day doing chores around the house, got to use three different power tools - that makes it a good day any day of the week.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

In the meantime, I've spent most of the day doing chores around the house, got to use three different power tools - that makes it a good day any day of the week.

 


That, of course, is only true if the intended consequences or their use outweigh the evil, unintended consequences. In my case, that is rarely true, hence my power tools are a necessary evil, to be used only when absolutely necessary, with most of their time spent safely in the closet, and me very happy with that state!

Any day in which I have to use 3 power tools is as likely to be an unhappy day for the house as it is a good day.

Dave Barnhart

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Don,

Like you, I am more interested in just working through the questions than in debating. That's why I'm taking so long (and spending so many words) on them. It may very well be that the interaction will underline some inconsistency in my own thought, and I'll have to make adjustments. If so, it won't be the first time.

Now, if you'd used three power tools and a firearm, that would have been a red-letter day.

Kevin

Shaynus's picture

Mark Dever was my former pastor, Ken Endean my uncle, and Stephen Jones my dad's boss, so I thoroughly enjoyed the comments section here, Dr. Bauder. They all "get it" of course. They get it differently based on past experience and context, but I do think God is doing something to unite certain people around certain truths. I think a great part of that is the incredible collapse of the culture. We find out what's really important in political and social times like this. 

Dr. Bauder, can I ask what encourages you most about the conservative evangelical movement? Is there any part of it in emphasis, tone or spirit that jumps out at you as more healthy than fundamentalism in a surprising way?

Andrew K.'s picture

If people like Dave or me thought that some version of evangelicalism was better, we could easily go there. 

...and find a much larger platform for their talents, might I add.

神是爱

Joel Tetreau's picture

So these are a few "random thoughts" and "observation" that come from both from my interaction with what's happening here in AZ and what I see in my regional ministry with "IBL West". Over the years of writing and interacting with this topic of the fundamentalists-conservative evangelical collaboration (The ABC thing and what Bixby calls the emergent movement) - I think around the country at least 4 things have happened especially from those who are some-what connected to what is loosely called "Young Fundamentalism"

1. First, many of us who grew up with a certain view of "no-connection" with anything outside of self-proclaimed fundamentalism have rejected that. Within the more seminary-trained, non-KJV only wing, the majority of us don't buy it. The result of that is that we are fundamental in idea but we simply do not work hard at ministering only with a certain type of ministry that calls itself by a certain "tag." I've said this before. We studied Greek, Hebrew, Theology, Church History, Exegesis and  Hermeneutics, then we applied those disciplines to questions like "is it exegetically plausible that we should have complete separation from guys like Mac - treating them as if they were guilty of Billy Graham kind of ecumenism?" or "Do the Scriptures give any evidence that certain fundamentalist sub-culture convictions on a variety of topics are consistent with the text?"

2. Second, many of us have had to think through where we stand within what I call the Type B/Type C coalition. For me and others while we have more in common with the Mac-Dever-Johnson kind of guys than we do with the Type A KJV preferred, "Greenville-music-only" kind of ministry;  many of us are still more comfortable with the philosophy and approach to ministry represented by Doran-Bauder-Jordan-Davey-Olson-Horn (yes there are minor differences between those guys but they basically take very similar stands). BTW - a major reason I still lean towards the B side of the isle is that in my opinion my dear friends in the C side are still too enamored by contemporary culture. That's a broad statement and maybe unfair - but it's my view. I would say that this area is one of the ways "we" help "them." We are slow to adapt to culture - they are too quick - in my view. (Of course I still use my Daytimer so one should take my view of this with more than a grain of salt!)

3. Third, many of us have determined to continue to have contact with a variety of "kinds" (even "camps" - a term I really don't like) of ministries - but at the end of the day I still prefer a modified version of fundamentalism that is exegetically & theologically careful, historically aware, not harsh but is open to having a certain kind of co-ministry with certain kinds of evangelicals......on certain kinds of occasions. I still say last year's heart conference with the B guys (which I'm missing right now!) had better preaching than even what I get every year at Shepherds - and what we get at Shepherds is fantastic!

4. In my view - when the "B" guys have "face to face" interaction with the "C" guys - man, our guys hold there own. They do more than that - they often carry the day. I would pay whatever and fly anywhere if we could line up the "B guys" with Mac, Dever, Mohler, RC Sproul, Piper and CJ and let them do exactly what they did in Lansdale. Having said that I appreciate what Kevin is saying about how we gain much from some of these dear cons evangelical brothers. There is no question that both sides do help each other (at least in my view).

It still remains my hope that the B and C worlds will continue to mix - I think for the strength of God's work. A fifth point here might be that the B and C worlds do mix "big time" in the trenches. That is we pastors in churches here and there all over the country - we are usually quick to meet for coffee and prayer and even an occasional joint ministry project with a dear Southern Baptist Brother, a Community Church Pastor or the Evangelical Free guy down the road that graduated from TEDS......and we still show up at the FBF or GARBC meeting with our more militant friends. I don't think this will end anytime soon. 

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;

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Dr. Kevin Bauder is not doing anything new that warrants the attacks against him.  Some of these writers out there would have us believe that fundamentalists never held some levels of communication and/or fellowship with conservatives outside of their camp.  It is just not true.  So, don't be gullible and fall for these writers who try to present what Bauder is doing as some type of surprise of an apocalyptic nature.

 

Fundamentalist history and Baptist history have always included men who were Calvinistic in their theology.  But, now these writers come along and present it as some another type of apocalyptic surprise when it is not.

 

 

 

 

dgszweda's picture

For me personally, Joel hits it on the head.  For many of us, the drift is not to wholesale abandon fundamentalism and to fully embrace evangelical movements.  The enamoring is out of the fact that there is another group of people who don't talk and walk exactly like us, but are serious and intentional about the gospel.  What is encouraging for many of us are the interactions.  I would personally prefer to see something that fits in the middle between these camps.  There is a lot about fundamentalism that the younger generation doesn't like.  There is a lot of old baggage.  And that taints that movement.  There are also some concerns on the evangelical side that prevents us from just wholesale embracing this movement.  I think the interaction is good and healthy for all of the reasons that Dr. Bauder points out.  And I would prefer to see more of it.  I think there is a lot that movement can teach fundamentalism and there is a lot that fundamentalism can teach evangelicals.  I think we sit on a high horse when we think that we are compromising any of the Gospel by talking to these groups.  I think we need to start thinking longer term and about value and not get so hung up in "ancient" scare tactics that continue to loom around fundamentalism.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

As far as movements and 'abandoning Fundamentalism' goes- what is a family supposed to do when all the IFB churches in their area are dysfunctional in some way, or fail to engage with the text and context in their preaching and teaching? Then when that family visits other churches as a last ditch effort to find a local congregation, they find a couple of CE and Reformed churches who take very seriously the gospel, sound doctrine, the fruits of the Spirit as a measure of holy conduct (instead of the usual- pants and movies), and govern their church Biblically? Oh but wait- they are Calvinistic. That is supposed to be the kiss of death, when local IFB preachers are under indictment for sexual crimes, their wives and children are involved in immorality, their trustees and deacons are unethical, and they send out evangelists that have serious legal/criminal issues? 

You've GOT to be kidding me. 

This isn't just an issue for the big names who go to conferences and publish books and have popular blogs. This is a problem for moms and dads and young people who want to be able to worship in a relatively healthy church that loves and abides by the Word. 

Some of us haven't moved away from Fundamentalism- Fundamentalism left us. The measuring stick should never have become about movements and labels and camps, but a fidelity to Scripture. 

I appreciate Dr. Bauder's approach because it serves as a good example to Joe Sixpack (of Coca-Cola, of course) and Suzy Homemaker in how to handle those tensions and struggles with Biblical interpretation and application we have to face daily, as well as how to deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Agreed! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Don,

Sorry for the delay. I want to take time to get to your last question. Do I think that the effort to converse with conservative evangelicals would be worthwhile going forward, considering the results so far and the possibility of negative influence upon younger Fundamentalists? I suppose that I’ve already answered this question implicitly, but let me deal with it explicitly.

The basic question (is interaction worthwhile) is qualified by two possible objections: the lack of visible results outside Fundamentalism and the possibility of negative effects within Fundamentalism. Let me respond first to the objections, then deal with the question.

One objection is the lack of visible results in terms of seeing conservative evangelicals move closer to Fundamentalism. The problem is that visible results are always a hazardous indicator. For one thing, all results are not visible. How do you measure the number of Christians (whether evangelical or Fundamentalist) who did not engage in further compromise because of your teaching? You would have to know in which compromises they might have engaged.

As I expressed previously, I’m not necessarily looking for John Piper or Mark Dever to throw up their hands and say, “Woe is me! I’ve been so wrong all along!” What I am looking to do is, first, to stake out an “epistemological space” within which Fundamentalism is a viable option; second, to persuade evangelicals, incrementally and by sustained interaction, that a genuine separatism (not only separatism over the gospel, but also a carefully-articulated secondary separation) is most faithful to the biblical teaching of church unity and purity; and third (and perhaps most importantly) to provide a clear rationale for younger leaders to embrace the idea of Fundamentalism instead of simply abandoning it for whatever version of evangelicalism.

The second objection is that conversation with conservative evangelicals presents a hazardous example for younger Fundamentalists. I have already conceded that certain hazards do exist and that an unintended effect of these conversations may be to provide the excuse to leave Fundamentalism. In response, these are the factors that I consider. First, those who think that they can discover such an excuse in anything I’ve said are already disposed to leave Fundamentalism—in other words, I provide only the occasion, not the cause. Second, this number is much smaller than the number of those who will find in my teaching a rationale for embracing a full-orbed Fundamentalism. Third, to the extent that they do embrace a full-orbed Fundamentalism, they may be tempted to distance themselves from Fundamentalist institutions that send out an uncertain sound—or, worse yet, that send out a clear sound that is certainly wrong.

There is a difference, however, between abandoning institutions and abandoning Fundamentalism. The institutions are suffering right now, and what they are suffering from is not merely a problem of perception and image. Some Fundamentalist institutions need to exhibit genuine repentance and to initiate genuine change. The best way to make Fundamentalism attractive is not to throw mud at conservative evangelicals, but to clean the mud off of Fundamentalists. While I am merely an external observer, it seems to me that Bob Jones University is providing a healthy pattern for how that kind of change might occur.

You want to know who is most responsible for young men leaving Fundamentalist institutions? I'll give an example. When the FBFI met in Schaumburg, we had a number of young leaders from Minnesota who attended. They went with the best of intentions, but they left completely perplexed. On the one hand, they heard some very good, doctrinal, expository preaching (Minnick and Hartog, for example). On the other hand, they heard a couple of rants and a panel discussion in which several speakers demonstrated that they had virtually no idea of what worldliness was. When one of these young pastors approached a muckety-muck FBFI official with questions about this discrepancy, he was simply told that it was none of his business.

That episode was followed by Rick Arrowood's refusal (based, I believe, on bad information and false perceptions) to allow Central Seminary space for a display at the FBFI conference. He was within his rights as a pastor to decide who could appear in his church--no problem there. But what happens to the second F in FBFI when this sort of thing occurs? That one decision probably did more to blacken the name of the FBFI than almost anything that has occurred in the past decade. Is it any surprise that I cannot persuade Minnesota pastors to take any interest in the FBFI?

That’s just one illustration. The fact is that every time some blogger hammers Doran or Jordan, every time some preacher rails against them in a sermon, or every time some fellowship passes a resolution against them, these objectors convince another contingent of young leaders that Fundamentalism isn’t worth wasting time on. I’m not talking here about those who raise reasonable questions, as yours have been to me. Every one of us should value the sharpening effect of thoughtful interlocutors. I’m talking about the (funda)Mentalist types who, like Patrick Jane, seem to possess some uncanny ability to read minds and to tell you what Olson or Davey are really thinking or trying to do. The only problem is that they almost always get it wrong.

By the way, I’m also regularly targeted by these types. Personally, I love it! They can’t hurt me (or Doran, or Jordan, etc.), but they give me loads of free publicity. They help me sell more books than my publishers do. Furthermore, because their attacks are so clearly out-of-bounds, they gain sympathy for me that I could get in no other way. At the personal level, I’m actually grateful for their opposition. I don’t ever have to dignify them with a reply, but I come out the winner. The problem is that Fundamentalism comes out the loser, because too many people assume that they represent what Fundamentalism really is. For that reason, I grieve over the damage they do.

Let me put it this way. You want to help? Then spend less time worrying about me, and more time challenging . . . no, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction. Just spend more time challenging the periergouzomenous. They know who they are, and so do you.

Do I think that continued conversation with conservative evangelicals is worth pursuing? I’ll get to that question later.

Kevin

BrandonLee's picture

          I am a regular reader of sharper iron who doesn’t log in and post, but I feel compelled to comment on this topic because I am one of the young fundamentalist that has been affected by Dr. Bauder and Dr. Dorn. I am 31 years old and the pastor of a small church (about 140-150 Sunday morning attendance), in which I also grew up, that is a member of the GARBC and has a fundamentalist background. We are located about an hour from Cedarville University and a significant portion of our church members have graduated from Cedarville, so as Cedarville has become more broadly evangelical our church was influenced in that direction. I personally have an undergraduate degree from Cedarville and a master’s degree from Liberty.  I say all that just explain how I am very much a young church leader who grew up out of a fundamentalist background and was advancing fully into conservative evangelicalism.
        

         The one thing that stopped my progress in that direction was the discovery of the ministries of men like Dr. Bauder through his articles on here and Dr. Doran through his messages on sermon audio. Listening to and reading these men was honestly the first time I saw that the choice wasn’t between going all in with the T4G crowed or going all in with the Pensacola, HAC, KJV only, easy believism, anti-Calvinistic crowed. When the choices are between those two groups it is a no-brainer to with the conservative evangelicals. When I encountered Dr. Bauder and Dr. Doran I realized that those where not that only two choices, but there was a third option, a fundamentalism worth saving. That there are fundamentalist who are sound expository preachers, who are Calvinistic, who are thoughtful about translation  issues, and though they point out disagreements they don’t treat godly men like MacArthur and even John Piper as the enemy.
 

         Five years ago when I became a senior pastor I would have identified myself as conservative evangelical and rejected the label of fundamentalist. Now I describe myself as being on the boarder of conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism, right between John MacArthur and Mark Dever on one side and Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder and the like on the other side and my current movement is more toward fundamentalist side.

Brandon

 

Don Johnson's picture

I had to laugh at that one. You know, we Canadians just don't get the American fascination. That's not to say there aren't gun owners and users here, but most of us don't possess them. I think I might have shot a firearm maybe twice in my life. Can't recall any more than that.

But I digress. I will work on a reply... copied out your original article, my first set of questions and your replies. At 10 pt Arial single spaced it works out to 6.5 pages so far. But first I am preparing a Bible study on Isa 32 for tonight. Will get back to you later on all that, and it sounds like you have at least one more reply coming my way so I may wait till that arrives before starting another round (if you have time for more).

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

G. N. Barkman's picture

A few months ago, I attended my first annual conference of the ACCC (American Council of Christian Churches).  Registered delegates included Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Bible Churches, and I don't know what else.  I found Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, Calvinism, Arminianism, Pre-mill, A-mill, etc., represented.  But all were united in the defense of the historic Christian faith, and all enjoyed wonderful Christian fellowship together.  Nobody denounced anyone because of the differences listed above.  There was an implicit understanding that Fundamentalism has always embraced these variations.  This is what the Fundamentalist movement was like in the early years.  What happened?

G. N. Barkman

Jim's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

A few months ago, I attended my first annual conference of the ACCC (American Council of Christian Churches).  Registered delegates included Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Bible Churches, and I don't know what else.  I found Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, Calvinism, Arminianism, Pre-mill, A-mill, etc., represented.  But all were united in the defense of the historic Christian faith, and all enjoyed wonderful Christian fellowship together.  Nobody denounced anyone because of the differences listed above.  There was an implicit understanding that Fundamentalism has always embraced these variations.  This is what the Fundamentalist movement was like in the early years.  What happened?

 

About what happened:

  • Egos
  • Personalities
  • Machiavellian politics
  • Stupidity

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