Don Johnson responds to Bauder on Separation

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Jay's picture

This convergents article mess is the gift that keeps on giving.

Rather than move to a middle ground between Conservative Evangelicalism and fundamentalism, I think the Convergents are trying to converge with Conservative Evangelicalism. To do so, they must jettison the idea of separation from worldliness at many levels (music, alcohol and other social issues, are examples) and the idea of separation from broader levels of cooperation with error. In this latter category, they will have to be open to cooperation with charismatics and their sympathizers who promote ongoing revelation and they will have to be open to ecclesiastical entanglements that are represented in the Southern Baptist Convention, Together for the Gospel, and The Gospel Coalition among others.

-Don Johnson

Johnson's position is not that difficult to understand:

  • 'True Fundamentalists' don't listen to 'bad music' (however that is defined), don't drink alcohol, and keep the same IFB cultural norms that have prevailed within IFBism for decades. 
  • Any dalliance with those things is proof that you either don't understand God's Word OR are in rebellion against God's laws / principles / men. 
  • Anyone who questions those norms is either not serious about the bible OR unwilling to obey what they have been taught.

It's not very hard at all...it's confusing sometimes, sure, but that's because people are looking for more substance to the discussion.  At the end of the day, those are the talking points that Don (and many others) repeatedly falls back on and has used for years.

It's also confusing because Bauder and Johnson are comparing cats and dogs in a discussion about animals while using the same terms with different meanings.  There are some similarities - both sides will separate, for example, and they will both do it because of core convictions - but that's as far as they can go together in a broader discussion on separation.

"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

Bert Perry's picture

Why not just give a definition of "convergentist" instead of simply suggesting "Bauder ought to know"?  It's not like you've got to do definitions ad nauseam like Hobbes did in Leviathan or anything--just say what you mean by "convergent" right out there and be done with it.

And really, the degrees of separation have gotten to be a comedy of errors, really, as otherwise fundamental people separate on Bible translations, whether women can wear pants or men can play cards (even without gambling), the whole nine yards.  Whatever happened to separating on Gospel issues?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Don's response is very odd:

 

"I did not define what I meant by anti-separatist, but I think brother Bauder is well aware of what I mean by separatism "

"It might not be clear to brother Bauder, but I think we have been pretty clear about what we mean"

"I think the Convergents are trying to converge with Conservative Evangelicalism"

"I think brother Bauder knows all this, but for some reason he wants to stir things up"

" but I don’t think he actually embraces it wholeheartedly himself"

It is a failure to clearly articulate a position, and understand the situation.  Just a lot of "I think".  It seems like two people talking past each other.  I think it all comes down to this.  Convergents - if this is what they are now called - believe wholeheartedly in separation around a very well defined core fundamentals.  The challenge is that this separation doesn't have the same exact practical line (even though the fundamentals are primarily the same) as the old guard of fundamentalism.  Therefore, since the line has moved, there is a great cry from the old-guard that everyone is slipping, instead of having a good discussion on whether the old line was really proper, and continues to be proper almost 100 years later, or if the movement of the line really waters down the fundamentals.  Maybe, and I know it probably sounds like heresy to a few, the re-evaluation of the line actually strengthens the Gospel.

TylerR's picture

Editor
Don Johnson's picture

I commented on Tyler's site to say that he totally misses the point, if I was saying what he was saying I was saying, I'd agree with him.

However, Tyler and I are talking to each other off line and are building a friendly relationship. I hope it continues.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

See Don's comment at my blog. I disagree with him, but I'm basically done with this topic. Don and I are corresponding on a related topic which may be more constructive. There is also an interesting historical article coming out on new evangelicalism for Theology Thursday, either this week or next, which may steer this whole thing in a more constructive direction.    

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?

Jay's picture

Don can even skip the examples - just give us something to define his terms better.  Right now it seems like Don's position would be "Well, you know who the convergents are."  I'm sure Don knows who they are, but everyone I've seen here has no clue, which leads into this next section...

I commented on Tyler's site to say that he totally misses the point, if I was saying what he was saying I was saying, I'd agree with him.

I'm really confused by this.  More than a few people have read and replied to what Don wrote (either here, on his blog, or in the original Frontline article), and almost all of us ended up at the same conclusion with TylerR.  I know I did, and I have been saying that this was Don's position before this latest article came out.

Don's reply is generally something along the lines that that everyone else is misunderstanding or missing his point.  Or that we're deliberately attacking Don and distorting what he says instead of replying to what he actually wrote.

Am I missing something here?  Is there something that I'm doing wrong? Is it just me?  

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

I am trying to figure out why most of the posters on this thread care what "convergents" means or who they are? From what I can gather, all of you disavow most of what the FBFI stands for. Tyler openly has said as much.Others of you have said in the past that you used to be in the FBFI orbit but left a long time ago. More were never in the FBFI orbit by your own testimony.

So, why do you care if a group who you reject as being in error (and every time FBFI comes up at SI there are posts about how people think FBFI is in error) says you are wrong and calls you convergents?

My guess is, if you are asking yourself, who are the convergents? IT IS YOU. At least that is what the FBFI thinks. Own it! If you think alcohol is ok in moderation, you are a convergent. If you think John Piper is the cat's meow, you are a convergent. If your favorite theological flower is the TULIP, you are a convergent. If you ask yourself "what would Mark Dever do?" at his church, you are a convergent.

It really is that simple.

The important thing, at least in my mind, has been missed during this entire topic discussion. In the FRONTLINE edition about convergents they say the articles are written to people "thinking of leaving" the FBFI and going to a conservative evangelical model. They were not trying to justify their position to people who gad ALREADY LEFT. They said that specifically. Since most of the people who are posting above are "already lefters" from the FBFI position, they were never talking to you in the first place!

Why can't we all accept that and move on?

Mark

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, I would tend to agree that we can infer that refusing to separate on certain social issues is a critical part of Don's definition, as it were, of "convergent."  I would add as well that a certain position on divine sovereignty and Calvinism places one in that camp as well.

That conceded, let's flip your challenge on its head; why doesn't the FBFI say this explicitly?  Why don't they "own it"?  They've got something they believe is a critical part of theology, and they're being cagey about the matter?  It is as if a young man tried to propose to his beloved without saying "will you marry me?", really.  

And really, this is perhaps as big an issue, or maybe even bigger, than the controversy over social issues and the bloom and bulb.  Being cagey in this way and expecting people to "get it" is not going to be limited to these issues, but will rather tend to pervade every bit of rhetoric, including the ordinary Sunday Sermon; and I'm thinking it comes close to a violation of Romans 10:14 in that regard.  At the very least, being cagey and requiring people to "get it" is a recipe for people not "getting it" and coming into massive conflict with those who think they do.  Yes, I'm saying that a lot of the fights and "Baptist church plants" (church splits) are due at least in major part to this tendency.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

I cannot speak for Don. I do not speak for the FBFI. I suspect Don is being polite. He is much more diplomatic than me. I also suspect there is a little theological "battle" with Bauder, but that is my guess.

My point is the obvious. It is as plain as day. If any FBFI member reads the SI posts for some time, and they were of the standard FBFI positions, they would conclude the SI posters are in the category "convergents" or else full-blown conservative evangelical.

 

Jay's picture

Mark, many people here that have left the FBFI did so because they didn't see the value of 'joining' the FBFI.  There was an entire thread that revolved around that discussion back in 2013.  There was another thread about that in 2014. This is part of the reason why Pastor Sweatt's sermon from 2009 made a big splash - because the FBFI gave a platform to a speaker that explicitly linked Calvinism with heresy.  That's not a position that Fundamentalists have ever taken (unless you want to veer into the hyper-fundamentalist camps); people wanted to know if the FBFI found itself at fault (it didn't) and if they would do anything about it (they issued a very weak statement that is sort of an apology).

Don seems to equate going 'convergent' with sin, so his case ought to be very easy to make. Instead, we get articles in a magazine and online about 'them' with no clear definition of who 'they' are or what 'they' do; Unruh's article does at least tell us that 'convergents' try to wrest churches away from their constitutions and founding documents.  

Then, just to make life more interesting, Don uses his blog to insinuate that Dr. Bauder either doesn't know what he is talking about or that Dr. Bauder just ought to know what Don is talking about.  That's why I made the last comment I did.

If the FBFI is interested in retaining members, I don't think that insinuating their audience is composed of compromising and errant believers is the way to do it.  If the FBFI is interested in warning their members about 'sin in the camp', then it shouldn't require all this work on Don's part, and frankly, the FBFI has other things that they could and should be dealing internally first.

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

So, let me get this straight. A group you never belonged to and think is in error is not acting the way you want them to....

Do you see the problem here?

Ron Bean's picture

Why are people asking for names of convergents? Because some of us have been warned for years about "nameless creatures" outside the camp who were a danger to us. The result was a distrust of any person, school, ministry, or book that did not originate in our village. As I was told more than once, "If it's new or different, it's probably bad."

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

Mark_Smith's picture

I regret that you were taught that.

 

I never was. I look at what people believe and say. There are many that I get something from, say John MacArthur, with whom I do not agree with. Do I fellowship with MacArthur's camp though? Not so much.

SamH's picture

the Fundamentalists? According to this logic, simply by my asking myself this I am a Fundamentalist. 

It really is that simple.

[wink]

My guess is, if you are asking yourself, who are the convergents? IT IS YOU. At least that is what the FBFI thinks. Own it! If you think alcohol is ok in moderation, you are a convergent. If you think John Piper is the cat's meow, you are a convergent. If your favorite theological flower is the TULIP, you are a convergent. If you ask yourself "what would Mark Dever do?" at his church, you are a convergent.

It really is that simple.

SamH

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I cannot speak for Don. I do not speak for the FBFI. I suspect Don is being polite. He is much more diplomatic than me. I also suspect there is a little theological "battle" with Bauder, but that is my guess.

My point is the obvious. It is as plain as day. If any FBFI member reads the SI posts for some time, and they were of the standard FBFI positions, they would conclude the SI posters are in the category "convergents" or else full-blown conservative evangelical.

Mark, thank you for making my point.  Given that Don has not defined his terms, I believe that he is being cagey, while you think it is obvious from the context, and we (and others) are arguing about the matter.  This is exactly what I predicted in my comment earlier today--really it's a natural consequence of needless ambiguity.  Note that you as well are assuming with moderate confidence that another theological battle is going on with Dr. Bauder--we could even argue over that one, couldn't we?

This kind of needless ambiguity is a really, really bad habit, dear brother.  It sets people at each other's throats for no good reason.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

So, let me get this straight. A group you never belonged to and think is in error is not acting the way you want them to....

Do you see the problem here?

the point, Mark, is that many of us not in the FBFI camp are actually trying to help them out by encourage them to openly define their terms.  I disagree with a lot of what Don and others seem to be saying, but quite frankly, that said I still value the contribution those who taught Don and others made to preserving the fundamentals of the faith, and it's my desire to make this part of fundamentalism better.

Side note: I think the "convergentists" here need to figure out a secret handshake or something.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Side note: I think the "convergentists" here need to figure out a secret handshake or something.  :^)

If only the appropriate people knew who to shake hands with...but I think that if I'm guilty of being a convergent in Don's opinion, then I am going to hold out for a secret decoder ring first. Smile

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

This is my interpretation of the FBFI magazine articles. I do not represent FBFI in any way.

Do you despise FBFI but like Mark Dever, John Piper, and John MacArthur? You are a convergent.

Do you drink alcohol but not to get drunk? You are a convergent.

Do you love all the Getty music? Love the Sovereign Grace music? You are a convergent.

Would you rather go to Westminster Seminary than BJU? You are a convergent.

I could go on and on. I know this. You know it.

 

 

Ron Bean's picture

I would suspect that convergents don't despise the FBFI. Personally I appreciate their history and have many friends in their ranks.

I also know FBFI members who like Dever and the rest, use some Getty and SG music, and went to schools other than BJU. Usually they qualify these practices with some sort of disclaimer. 

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

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, keep in mind that the descriptions you're giving describe the vast majority of Christians who say they affirm the Fundamentals, probably including a hefty portion of Catholics to boot.  It's so vague as to be meaningless.

Really, if Don wishes to argue against beverage alcohol, modern music, Calvinism, and the like, he's welcome to do so, but lumping it all together as if it were a monolithic movement is just odd.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

So, let me get this straight. A group you never belonged to and think is in error is not acting the way you want them to....

Do you see the problem here?

Actually, Mark, I thought about joining the FBFI this year so that I could read the latest Frontline with all this convergent news, but I decided against it.  The discussion here is far more interesting.

If I didn't care about the FBFI, I wouldn't be talking about this.  I just wish the FBFI would stop sniping at imaginary enemies and start focusing on more important things.  I've said that for years - go back and skim the threads I linked to in my previous post.   

Tolkien put it best - "We are all friends here. Or should be; for the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward, if we quarrel." (The Two Towers).

"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

Andrew K's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

This is my interpretation of the FBFI magazine articles. I do not represent FBFI in any way.

Do you despise FBFI but like Mark Dever, John Piper, and John MacArthur? You are a convergent.

Do you drink alcohol but not to get drunk? You are a convergent.

Do you love all the Getty music? Love the Sovereign Grace music? You are a convergent.

Would you rather go to Westminster Seminary than BJU? You are a convergent.

I could go on and on. I know this. You know it.

 

 

-no

-no

-no

-yes.

Betcha I'd still be considered "convergent." ;) 

 

Jay's picture

I was reading this discussion earlier today and these verses came to mind when I was re-reading Mark's definition:

  • Do you drink alcohol but not to get drunk? You are a convergent.

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’  For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” -Luke 7:31-35

  • Do you love all the Getty music? Love the Sovereign Grace music? You are a convergent.

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” -Luke 19:33-40

Mark, I would strongly consider re-thinking your definition if I were you.  

"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

SamH's picture

then it is back to "are you in the right 'camp,' or are you associated with the right people? 

I had thought someone had moved beyond this? 

What if I rather had attended DBTS (over BJU)?

But, now we have some working definitions, correct?

Mark_Smith wrote:

This is my interpretation of the FBFI magazine articles. I do not represent FBFI in any way.

Do you despise FBFI but like Mark Dever, John Piper, and John MacArthur? You are a convergent.

Do you drink alcohol but not to get drunk? You are a convergent.

Do you love all the Getty music? Love the Sovereign Grace music? You are a convergent.

Would you rather go to Westminster Seminary than BJU? You are a convergent.

I could go on and on. I know this. You know it.

 

 

SamH

Bert Perry's picture

Given the history of this, I'd like to propose another definition.  Mark's got a good start, but as I pointed out earlier, it includes the vast majority of the Bible believing world and thus has a lack of specificity.

I would submit this definition: A convergentist is a person within a traditional fundamental church who seeks to change that church to align more with conservative evangelical churches in terms of theology and culture.  Specific areas of change he may be working for include, but are not limited to, modern music in the church, acceptance of beverage alcohol, "New Calvinism", and the acceptance of non-fundamental colleges as viable places for young people to study.

That narrows it down quite a bit, I think, but it still suffers from the question of whether it is "or" or "and"; that is, does it suffice that a person has one or two characteristics, or is it necessary to do the full Mark Driscoll/CJ Mahaney to get into the club?  Then there is also the question of whether the signs (and wonders?) of convergentism are uniformly bad.

And in that light, unless we can draw a firm connection between these factors, I'd encourage (again) FBFI to address them individually, defining their terms.  Otherwise we are all going to get pretty muddled in our thinking.

On the light side, I only score 1/4 on Mark's scale.  I don't know that I get that decoder ring, or to learn the secret handshake.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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