Bixby's take on Northland

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Greg Long's picture

I know I'm not adding much in the way of discussion, but all I can say is...

I don't know much about the specifics of NIU, but what Bob has to say about fundamentalism is right on target.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Todd Himes's picture

My post isn't going to add much either, but here goes...

I'm what some would call a young fundamentalist. [I'm 38 yrs old - 38 is still young, right?]   I agree with Bixby.

Bixby's post NAILS why many young (& old) fundamentalists look at much of the rest of fundamentalism, including IFBism, say 'Yuck', and walk away...

 

Edited to add:

And, exactly why a young, unsaved & atheist friend of mine, in a discussion about spiritual matters, once pointed right at IFBism, and said 'Why would I want THAT?'

Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.

mmartin's picture

Bixby said, "Fundamentalism, despite the best efforts of some very gifted men to say otherwise, is an ideological movement premised on the doctrine of secondary separation."

That is a spectacular overstatement! 

It is not a movement based on secondary separation.  Sure, separation does exist, it has to exist.  But, that is not the primary focus of fundamentalism.  I thought the premise of fundamentalism was the Lord, and being faithful to the doctrines taught in the Bible.

Have fundamentalists taken the issue of separation unnecessarily too far.  Yes!  And I think there is room for that group to loosen-up, but that is Not the premise of that group.   

Let's be honest, those to the left of traditional fundamentalists do practice secondary separation themselves.  In the case of NIU you cannot say that people didn't separate from NIU, not the other way around.  Even those to the left of fundamentalism will exercise secondary separation from those to the left of them.  All groups practice and are defined by separation from something.

This harping and whining and fussing about fundamentalists and their hang-up with separation is frankly tiresome.  Especially since it is coming from people who in fact practice secondary separation themselves.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Bixby's post NAILS why many young (& old) fundamentalists look at much of the rest of fundamentalism, including IFBism, say 'Yuck', and walk away...

It is a fundamental mistake to speak of fundamentalism as if it is a denomination to walk away from. Lance Ketchum comes close to this in his recent article. Fundamentalism is more aptly defined as a philosophy of ministry, characterized by militant separatism from apostasy and disobedient brethren, and defense of orthodoxy Christianity.

The rub is that the definition for "disobedient brethren" is subjective. However, the philosophy of fundamentalist ministry is certainly not something to "walk away from." You may wish to disassociate yourself from certain elements within fundamentalism whom you honestly and Scripturally (Titus 3:9-11) feel are intentionally divisive and troublesome, but I question whether these "young fundamentalists" truly abandoned a militant philosophy of ministry.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dmyers's picture

“In the words of Professor R. B. Kuiper, ‘The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids.’”

Bixby's quote of Kuiper caught my attention because of an example in my neighborhood.  The pastor of the local KJVO church -- a proponent of Crown College and West Coast Baptist College -- forbids his members from using non-KJV translations, forbids his female members from wearing pants, etc.  Yet he permits women to divorce husbands who have at any time in the marriage used pornography, on the grounds of "mental adultery" (looking after a woman to lust after her, per Matt. 5:28), and he permits such women to remarry (and to use the church facilities to do so).

Leaves me shaking my head.  But apparently Kuiper anticipated this conundrum (and many others like it).

Mike Harding's picture

Tyler,

 

Technically, second degree separation is separating from those who, though orthodox themselves, will not separate from apostates.  On that basis most of us, including the author, believe and practice second degree separation.  Where we don't agree is regarding what levels of cooperation are legitimate with those whom we may disagree on other important matters.  That is never going to be settled this side of heaven.  There are departing "brethren" (those who once claimed the orthodox doctrines of Scripture but then denied them in doctrine and practice, i.e. "apostates"), disobedient brethren (those who willfully practice their faith contrary to apostolic instruction and practice), and disagreeing brethren.  Much of our restricted cooperation (not "separation" per se) falls on the third category based on the intensity of the the issue and the relevancy it has to the particular ministry.  This is where much of the variation occurs.  I have appreciated your comments in the other threads.  Keep up the good work.

Pastor Mike Harding

Mike Harding's picture

Dmyers,

 

Run from that ministry like you would run from poison, shaking your head and the dust off your feet.

Pastor Mike Harding

WilliamD's picture

When Fundy defenders say that Fundamentalism isn't like a denomination because everyone is independent and it's just a philosophy of ministry in which separation is only ONE of it's tenets, I have to laugh out loud. They're like the defenders of Islam when they say "Radical terrorists are only a small minority! They don't represent true Islam"   

Ya, but they make the most noise and thus define the rest of them in the eyes of the public. 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have briefly described the historical roots of both fundamentalism and evangelicalism on Si in recent weeks. If you would care to interact meaningfully with historical facts, I invite you to do so. If not, I'll have to dismiss your comments as irrelevant. Not trying to be malicious, but there it is nonetheless. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

iKuyper's picture

TylerR wrote:
It is a fundamental mistake to speak of fundamentalism as if it is a denomination to walk away from.

Not really.

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes, really.

Could you please be more specific? The conversation could take a while if we go on like this. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

iKuyper's picture

TylerR wrote:

Yes, really.

Could you please be more specific? The conversation could take a while if we go on like this. 

Lol.

You should be postmodern enough to understand that what we mean by "denomination" also means "functions as a denomination."

Ecclesia semper reformanda est

mmartin's picture

Bixby mentioned that along with Dr. Olson other members of the administration were let go as well.  Who else besides Dr. Olson in the Administration was dismissed?

Ron Bean's picture

iKuyper wrote:
TylerR wrote:

Yes, really.

Could you please be more specific? The conversation could take a while if we go on like this. 

Lol. You should be postmodern enough to understand that what we mean by "denomination" also means "functions as a denomination."

 

Phrases like "our" schools, "our" churches, and "our" missionaries sound like it.

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

jcoleman's picture

mmartin wrote:

Bixby said, "Fundamentalism, despite the best efforts of some very gifted men to say otherwise, is an ideological movement premised on the doctrine of secondary separation."

That is a spectacular overstatement! 

It is not a movement based on secondary separation.  Sure, separation does exist, it has to exist.  But, that is not the primary focus of fundamentalism.  I thought the premise of fundamentalism was the Lord, and being faithful to the doctrines taught in the Bible.

Have fundamentalists taken the issue of separation unnecessarily too far.  Yes!  And I think there is room for that group to loosen-up, but that is Not the premise of that group.   

It may not have started out as a movement that way, but Bixby is certainly right: it has become an ideological movement with its fundamental assertion being separation.

The Bible emphasizes unity and talks about separation as an expression of unity. Fundamentalism has inverted that. And separation is rightly viewed as its core premise because it's really the single thing that differentiates it.

Steve Newman's picture

Permit me as an IT worker for the past 25 years to use a technology illustration. I've worked a significant amount in network security for organizations of many different sizes. Managing the information for a company has been my concern for a number of years. Information is the property of the company, and needs to be protected. Security threats are from the outside (firewalls, etc. are needed for protection), from the inside (corporate IT policies and procedures must be documented and followed), and anyone who has high access to information needs high standards of trustworthiness. 

Here we are talking specifically about threats from the outside. How does a firewall, for example, keep threats out? First of all, what is allowed to come in is limited. Only things that match a certain rule set are allowed in and out. This eliminates much extraneous traffic that is blocked. Traffic that is originated from the inside is allowed out within some rule sets, but that traffic is examined for safety from viruses, etc. as it goes in and out. Because you would rather keep a virus out then have to fight it when it gets in. If you think your antivirus program is going to stop it, you are sadly mistaken. Viruses are written to get around them all the time. 

I would liken the Bixby approach to opening up and not examining closely what comes in. He is really saying, let all the traffic come in, and we will sort out what we want to keep and what we don't. The truth is that we all have rule sets that keeps some stuff out. If you let it all in, you don't know what kind of damage is going to be done, how many hours of "cleaning" are going to be necessary to rid the more virulent strains of error, and how what is unique and proprietary to your "body" is going to be compromised. 

Fundamentalism is part of my "firewall" that helps me to calibrate what comes in and goes out. Granted, I don't have nearly that level of control. Nor do I have the ability to do all the due diligence on all the things that could come in. It seems that there is kind of an "open source" assumption being made about evangelicalism, even that which is conservative. It's free, but what does it cost you? What unintended and intended consequences are going to come of it? 

I can't agree with the "let it all in, then sort it out" viewpoint. Scripture has plenty of references as to why we shouldn't let everything in. We do need to have "firewalls" and "filters" in this day and age of error. 

Don Johnson's picture

Fundamentalism at its heart is a commitment to militancy for Biblical truth which sometimes results in separation. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

You illustration brought me back to my physical security days! We called the concept "defense in depth," which is essentially a layered defense of physical security and electronic security systems to protect an asset. I had a nifty graphic somewhere, but I can't find it now. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

DLCreed's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Fundamentalism at its heart is a commitment to militancy for Biblical truth which sometimes results in separation. 

Bro. Johnson,

I hate to be a spelling Nazi, but you misspelled "stridency" in your post.  It is not spelled "m-i-l-i-t-a-n-c-y".

But that's a very common mistake among the fundamentalists after whom I've followed most of my life.

Doug

mmartin's picture

Regarding the various groups of Christians on the right/left spectrum, EVERYONE practices secondary separation whether they admit it or not.

Greg Long's picture

Mmartin (and those who have made similar statements):

That statement means nothing. It is like a Jehovah's Witness saying "I believe in Jesus, too." What is meant by "believing in Jesus" and who the Jesus is who is being believed in...well, the devil is in the details.

So, even if it WERE true that all Christians practice secondary separation (and I don't think it is--separation, yes, but secondary separation, no), there is a world of difference in how various Christians practice that separation. Otherwise fundamentalists wouldn't get so upset over those evil neo-evangelicals who don't practice the right kind of separation!

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

KD Merrill's picture

He's wrong about separation being the primary assertion of fundamentalism. 

As I understand it, fundamentalism's primary assertion is that man's chief end is the glory of God.  Everything else falls into line based on that premise.  

Evangelicalism's primary focus, however, is gospel-centric and missional in philosophy.  An article in the Christian Post stated, "Rather than being program-focused, the missional church prides itself on being people-focused."  In other words, evangelicalism is humanistic in its very nature, thereby contributing to its high degree of comfort with pragmatism and compromise.

Just my two cents.

Doug

 

Andrew K.'s picture

KD Merrill wrote:

He's wrong about separation being the primary assertion of fundamentalism. 

As I understand it, fundamentalism's primary assertion is that man's chief end is the glory of God.  Everything else falls into line based on that premise.  

Evangelicalism's primary focus, however, is gospel-centric and missional in philosophy.  An article in the Christian Post stated, "Rather than being program-focused, the missional church prides itself on being people-focused."  In other words, evangelicalism is humanistic in its very nature, thereby contributing to its high degree of comfort with pragmatism and compromise.

Just my two cents.

Doug

 

Hmmm... that sounds familiar.

Many Conservative Evangelicals are Reformed and, strictly to loosely, affirm the WSC or the London Baptist Confession. Maybe fundamentalists don't have the corner on doxological teleology after all?

神是爱

TylerR's picture

Editor

As I understand it, fundamentalism's primary assertion is that man's chief end is the glory of God.  Everything else falls into line based on that premise.  

Conservative Christians of many theological stripes would agree that God's will is done for His own glory. It is an error to restrict this Biblical truth to fundamentalists only. On the matter of God's glory, I came across this during my reading through Ezekiel a few weeks back that is pretty definitive:

Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes (Eze 36:22-23)

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

I agree with Andrew and Tyler. That is not and never has been the distinguishing mark of fundamentalism (even if most fundamentalists would at least give assent to that statement).

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

PhilKnight's picture

Steve,

I too am a computer scientist with 25+ years experience.  Your analogy is useful, so let me extend it a bit.   Reading your post brought to mind the early part of  my career when I worked as an operating system developer.  My employer at the time developed a B2 secure version of our operating system (i.e., for the non-computer scientists, think very, very stringent security for "CIA-like" uses).   Once developed, the company attempted to go beyond the very narrow government sub-market and this system commercially.  It didn't work.  Primary reason?  The paranoid nature of the security mechanisms made it so onerous to use that it wasn't practical.

In the case of virus threat protection, there is a tradeoff between effectiveness and utility in setting the sensitivity of  filters:   Make the filters too stringent, and the software starts to identify things as "threats" things that are legitimate; not sensitive enough, and you'll have to deal with some intrusions.  The problem many have with Fundamentalism is that often our "filters" have been far too sensitive.   What happens  too often in fundamentalism is that what passes for "discernment" is really just very rough "pattern matching."   Said another way, many of the "filters" we put up are based more on subjective, cultural, non-descript sensitivities and biases rather than any real biblical discrimination.  It is generally fine use that sort of rough "filtering" merely on a personal level when trying to decide whether our conscience allows us individual liberty to engage in a particular practice.  (It is fine to be restrictive and severe with ourselves.  That's following Romans 14.)  However, if we are going to withdraw fellowship from other Christians, there needs to be much more scrutiny.   We are not dealing with inanimate viruses, we are dealing with men and ministries who have reputations, and it is a sin to create visible division between us and other believers just because our highly-granular "pattern matching" filters happened to go off.   If we are going to rebuke others we have, minimally, the burden of proof to demonstrate from the Scriptures that their practice is clearly wrong.  (That's also following Romans 14.)

Unfortunately, what has sometimes happened in fundamentalism is analogous to what would happen in the computer world if a single, influential computer had a defective, too-sensitive virus filter which falsely identified wholesome and useful software as a potential threat, then broadcast that information to all the other computers in its network, who  then with little scrutiny  added it to their potential threat list.  (Forgive the run-on sentence.)  To take it further, suppose that, after that, the computer that initially identified the "threat" then  tried to find all other computers that had loaded that particular software,  marked them as "tainted," then also broadcast that list to all the computers in its network.  Then, each of them  proceeded to block all communication with any other computers on the "suspected list."    If this continued, eventually, non of the computers would be talking to one another.  Someone with discriminating judgment would have to come in, assess the real threat, get the computers to "agree" to get things started back up.

Lesson:  We need to be very careful in establishing our "filters" for fellowship, and when something makes our "filters" go off, we need to examine the "potential threat" very carefully before we broadcast warnings.   Just because something shares certain characteristics of a legitimate threat doesn't mean that it is itself a threat.  It depends on which characteristics are shared.   Pattern matching is not necessarily discernment, and correspondence is not equivalence.   Good biblical discernment requires "distinguishing between things that differ" and also distinguishing between different types of differences.   Some differences are insignificant, and all significant differences are not of equal significance.

As Mike Harding's earlier post pointed out (quite usefully), God   commanded us to separate from "departing" and willfully "disobedient" brethren.  [And, thankfully, God also provides  us with due process to follow when we do so.]  In addition, we must distinguish between "disobedient" brethren and the third category Mike points out, "disagreeing" brethren.    I believe that it is in distinguishing between those last categories that many fundamentalists have created unnecessary division and confusion.   "Disagreeing" brethren necessarily have some limitations in their fellowship (see note below), but that is not the same as separation (in the sense of complete disfellowship).    In my opinion, in many elements of fundamentalism an over-emphasis on separation has led to many sincere believers so steeped in a "stricter is always better," "avoid the slippery slope" mentality that they develop a skittishness which causes them to separate instinctively purely as a protection mechanism.  In other words they are motivated more by fear than biblical discernment, and that leads to an imbalance.  God's exhortations to brethren to be unified are just as important as His commands to separate, when necessary.    And we should be just as cautious about creating unneeded division as we are about neglecting needed separation.   To paraphrase one pastor I know:   =God's standard is the pinnacle; the "slippery slope" is on both sides (i.e., both the right and the left).

*Note: By definition, the extent of our fellowship corresponds to the areas in which we agree.  Kevin Bauder and others in Fundamentalism have done an excellent job articulating the concept of limitation of fellowship for disagreeing brethren over the last 5+ years or so in a way that I feel has greatly aided the discussion.   

Philip Knight

PhilKnight's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Fundamentalism at its heart is a commitment to militancy for Biblical truth which sometimes results in separation. 

 

Albert Mohler's courageous purge of liberalism from Southern Baptist Theological seminary demonstrated that he has a Christian belief system that, "at its heart is a commitment to militancy for Biblical truth which sometimes results in separation."   (Calling out liberal professors and forcing them to either resign or face a heresy trial is quite militant.)  Mohler, however, would not consider himself to be a fundamentalist, and neither would the overwhelming majority of fundamentalists. 

I'm not trying to be argumentative.  Just pointing out that militancy leading to biblical separation is not exclusive to fundamentalists.  More definition is needed.  (And I've read enough of your correspondence here to know you already know that.)

Philip Knight

TylerR's picture

Editor

I suppose Mohler's purge of liberalism in the SBC could be seen as characteristic of the early fundamentalists, who attempted to purge liberalism from within their Seminaries, denominations and missions boards. I know next to nothing about the SBC or Al Mohler (beyond reading the occasional article) so I cannot comment any further on the parallel. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

Tyler: the difference is, Mohler was successful (at great risk to himself and his career).

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Steve Newman's picture

Phil,

Thanks for extending the analogy and for your input. I'm going to drill down a little more and I think you'll be with me on this. 

You are correct that any firewall needs to have tweaks in order to be effective. In fact, they are deliberately "Gestapo-like" out of the box, because they are erring on the side of caution. There are different ways to "loosen up" the filters in order to allow people to do the work they need to do. There are a number of ways to do this - either by allowing "categories" of things in, or by making "exceptions" for specific needs. Where believers may be having problems is that categories of content is coming in that did not used to get by the filter. For some, they have either not been evaluated or have been evaluated and found wanting. Many would rather make an "exception" (i.e. for Scott Aniol in the SBC) than to roll back a whole category.

Does it mean that it is "paranoia" to have lots of filters? Not necessarily. Talk to someone who has had their identity stolen, or a company whose main salesman left and took all their sales leads to a competitor. Many today are not security conscious at all on their computers. So many today don't seem to think they need any cyber or spiritual "filters" at all. 

I do agree that there are pitfalls on the left and right, but one needs to know the risks in moving one direction or the other. 

I guess I'm going to disagree with Bixby, et al as far as their focus to some degree as well. My focus isn't the Church, it's the Lord and church I pastor. The Lord is the head of the Church, and it won't meet together until we meet in the presence of the Lord. The Lord is the head of the church He has allowed me to pastor, and He has given me responsibilities and guidelines there. The responsibilities I have toward all believers are real but vague. Is God's work supposed to be producing leaders for the Church, or for churches?

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