Dead Right - The Failure of Fundamentalism

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TylerR's picture

Editor

Johnson observed:

Now, you might think that a movement that was devoted to making a defense of fundamental doctrines would become the most biblically literate and theologically astute movement since the time of the Puritans. Fundamentalists should have produced the finest theologians, the most skilled Bible teachers, and the best writers. Fundamentalism should have been a literate movement— theological, devoted to doctrinal instruction, and (to borrow language from Titus 1:9) “able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Fundamentalism as a movement has historically exemplified none of those things.

I completely agree. The institutions which are characterized by sound doctrine and theology are rare. 

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?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Johnson continued:

My very first week at Tennessee Temple, they brought in a speaker who literally doused himself with lighter fluid and set himself ablaze while he preached on hell. He billed himself as “The Flaming Evangelist.” During the year I was there, our student chapels featured a nonstop parade of karate experts, gospel magicians, gospel clowns, young Jack-Hyles wannabes, and other assorted characters. The low point was one day when Robert Sumner came and in a 45-minute message attacked every one of the five points of Calvinism. He was arguing that sinners have it within their own power by a free-will decision to convert themselves—which, of course, is pure pelagianism; rank heresy. He would emphasize his weakest points by shouting louder, and that never failed to elicit a chorus of hearty amens. That kind of thing, sadly, epitomizes how most of the fundamentalist movement in America has dealt with the fundamentals of the faith. 

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?

Jim's picture

I do need to acknowledge that some of what I am going to say about the fundamentalist movement doesn’t necessarily apply to moderate fundamentalist groups like the IFCA and the GARB.

I say that because I know some of you guys are there, and I don’t want you to feel too targeted. I do recognize that the fundamentalist movement is a large and varied movement. There is not just one fundamentalist movement, but there are many—maybe thousands—of smaller groups within fundamentalism, and most of them don’t get along with each other. So fundamentalism isn’t the sort of monolithic movement that you can critique fairly. I’m going to try to be fair, but I will admit up front that I am painting with a broad brush.

See 

 

http://coldfusion-guy.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-labels-problem-with-prefix...

Bert Perry's picture

Dr. Bauder and Mr. Johnson could be speaking for me.  One plea, however; don't just look at Tyler's gracious summaries.  Read the whole articles for yourself.  You will be challenged and blessed.

Phil's comments about separation are especially well taken.  I personally left a church because I saw some huge issues regarding videos that were being used--loose exegesis by a pastor who greeted modalist prosperity theologians as a brother.  I like to think this is a reasonable act of separation, but I realize how easy it is to use guilt by association and other genetic fallacies to horribly abuse the church.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I recently listened to the presentation, and decided to share it. No other reason.  

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?

TylerR's picture

Editor

I am actually a paid agent of GTY, the Illuminati, and the Jesuits. I receive a monthly stipend for my efforts to undermine the fundamentalist movement. The more internal chaos I instigate, the larger my annual bonus becomes. I think I might have hit the jackpot on this one. If enough controversy ensues on this thread, I might make enough off it to go to Shepherd's Conference next year . . .

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?

Jim's picture

TylerR wrote:

I am actually a paid agent of GTY, the Illuminati, and the Jesuits. I receive a monthly stipend for my efforts to undermine the fundamentalist movement. The more internal chaos I instigate, the larger my annual bonus becomes. I think I might have hit the jackpot on this one. If enough controversy ensues on this thread, I might make enough off it to go to Shepherd's Conference next year . . .

I knew it!

Jim's picture

10 years later (from p 18)

And you can be branded and condemned and excommunicated by the fundamentalists without due process and without any hope of remedy. That is exactly what happened to John MacArthur. Almost twenty years ago, Bob Jones Jr. ran an article in a Bob Jones University-sponsored magazine accusing John MacArthur of teaching heresy. The article accused John MacArthur of denying the efficacy and the necessity of Christ’s blood. It seemed to me that Bob Jones had misunderstood John MacArthur and misconstrued some quotations, so I personally wrote to Bob Jones Jr. for an explanation of the University’s position. He refused to answer my questions and in a curt way told me it was useless to try to correspond with him. Five years later, after the controversy had already swept through the fundamentalist movement, Bob Jones III finally wrote privately to John MacArthur and in essence said MacArthur’s explanations of his position had satisfied BJU that MacArthur was not a heretic. But they never published any retraction. Thousands of their constituents to this day think John MacArthur is a heretic who denies the blood of Christ. I get mail virtually every week from people who have heard some fundamentalist parroting Bob Jones Jr.’s accusation that MacArthur is a heretic. Bob Jones wrote one accusatory paragraph, without seeking any kind of response or clarification from MacArthur, and it tied a tin can on John MacArthur that has rattled through the fundamentalist movement for twenty years

http://www.thewatchmanwakes.com/John-Macarthur-Heresy-Blood-of-Christ.html

 

dgszweda's picture

Jim wrote:

10 years later (from p 18)

And you can be branded and condemned and excommunicated by the fundamentalists without due process and without any hope of remedy. That is exactly what happened to John MacArthur. Almost twenty years ago, Bob Jones Jr. ran an article in a Bob Jones University-sponsored magazine accusing John MacArthur of teaching heresy. The article accused John MacArthur of denying the efficacy and the necessity of Christ’s blood. It seemed to me that Bob Jones had misunderstood John MacArthur and misconstrued some quotations, so I personally wrote to Bob Jones Jr. for an explanation of the University’s position. He refused to answer my questions and in a curt way told me it was useless to try to correspond with him. Five years later, after the controversy had already swept through the fundamentalist movement, Bob Jones III finally wrote privately to John MacArthur and in essence said MacArthur’s explanations of his position had satisfied BJU that MacArthur was not a heretic. But they never published any retraction. Thousands of their constituents to this day think John MacArthur is a heretic who denies the blood of Christ. I get mail virtually every week from people who have heard some fundamentalist parroting Bob Jones Jr.’s accusation that MacArthur is a heretic. Bob Jones wrote one accusatory paragraph, without seeking any kind of response or clarification from MacArthur, and it tied a tin can on John MacArthur that has rattled through the fundamentalist movement for twenty years

http://www.thewatchmanwakes.com/John-Macarthur-Heresy-Blood-of-Christ.html

 

Unfortunately, Jim, this is my grandfather who wrote this.  And at the end of the day, was one of the roots of the fundamentalism problem.

T Howard's picture

dgszweda wrote:
Unfortunately, Jim, this is my grandfather who wrote this.  And at the end of the day, was one of the roots of the fundamentalism problem.

I think your family owes Johnny Mac some reparations.

Jim's picture

T Howard wrote:
I think your family owes Johnny Mac some reparations.

Of course this is silly, but the Mac thing does expose a darkness about the hyper-militancy among some in fundyland: Something about "the culture" of fundamentalism that I personally find repulsive.

dgszweda's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

Unfortunately, Jim, this is my grandfather who wrote this.  And at the end of the day, was one of the roots of the fundamentalism problem.

 

 

 

I think your family owes Johnny Mac some reparations.

 

I may have to :)  I was waiting one of these days to see some of his stuff up here.

Bert Perry's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

Unfortunately, Jim, this is my grandfather who wrote this.  And at the end of the day, was one of the roots of the fundamentalism problem.

 

I think your family owes Johnny Mac some reparations.

But what if MacArthur doesn't want BJU?  Or is David's grandfather the host of "the watchman Awakes", Bob Johnson?

And I knew that Tyler was one of them.  Word has it that the John Birch Society now has an office hidden deep in the Divernon Mountains to keep an eye on him.  

Seriously, it strikes me that the disasters of our movement are a target rich environment, and if we truly value the Gospel, we'll get started with repentance rather than a circular firing squad.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

There is much to learn from Phil Johnson's candid takedown of the fundamentalist movement. The problem is that some people aren't interested in learning anything - they're too shallow for honest introspection:

  • Some shallow people enjoy reveling in the sins and excesses of others, like self-righteous vultures feasting upon a dead elephant. "Look at what Hyles did! What a loser! Here's another link . . ."
  • In other folks, shallowness reveals itself by way of deliberate self-deception, like the poor sap Truman (not the former president) who refused to leave Mt. St. Helens before it blew up. "Problem? There's no problem in fundamentalism! No, siree! You're a traitor and a scoundrel for even suggesting that!"

We can learn from past mistakes, and commit to not repeat them. That's the value of a piece 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?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Most of us who "grew up" at BJU have been embarrassed at times by unfortunate statements and positions.  Many years ago, I pleaded with BJ III to drop the attacks against John MacArthur's teaching on the blood of Christ.  At the time, he agreed, but the attacks continued a bit longer.  That was the last time I felt comfortable inviting "Dr. Bob" to speak in my church.  I never knew what hobby horse he might be riding next.

And yet, I remain a grateful BJU Grad.  I learned so much during my twelve years there.  The Christian life was both taught and modeled by some of the most humble and dedicated Christians I have ever known.  I love BJU, and I love the Jones family, warts and all.  I am thankful for their courageous defense of the Christian faith over four generations.  I am also grateful for current developments.  I pray that BJU will become stronger, humbler, quieter, and more Biblically effective in the days to come, and I believe I see that taking place.

G. N. Barkman

Greg Linscott's picture

Don't forget Doran's contribution to that discussion back in the day:

http://www.aaccs.info/media/Doran%20Stop%20the%20Funeral--We're%20Not%20Quite%20Dead%20Yet.pdf

Fast forward to 2016...

https://tmai.brushfireapp.com/events/430252

And don't forget this 2013 event...

http://www.mbaoc.net/men/audio-sessions/

Or this 2008 interview...

http://9marks.org/interview/fundamentalism-and-separation-mark-minnick/

Johnson's observations were important, but not everything is the same as it used to be. When I attended the Shepherds' Conference in 2014, there were plenty of people I encountered who would be "fundamentalists" of one sort or another. Same with the 9 Marks Weekender I attended in September 2007. 

Now, that isn't to say that there aren't still differences in emphasis, methods, and so on, or that everyone is fine with the growing sense of friendliness. But for good or bad, there is more hand-shaking across the fences than there used to be in 2005.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Mark_Smith's picture

You didn't go to BJU. You didn't sit under the ministry of Jack Hyles. Why do you feel like you have to apologize for the goof-ball, sinful stuff they did? 

For evangelicalism: I didn't revere the Kansas City Prophets. I don't listen to Joyce Myers. I don't adhere to T.D. Jakes. Etc... Why do I have to explain anything by calling myself evangelical just because some people call them that? I used to be a charismatic. Trust me, MOST charismatic don't call themselves evangelical.

 

My point is, why all this hand-ringing over past stuff THAT I DIDN'T DO? If moving forward I have to explain and defend or reject the past, I am going no where.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Have no fear - I don't feel I have to apologize for anything stupid fundamentalists did in years gone by. 

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?

Mark_Smith's picture

Why did you bring up these old articles?

TylerR's picture

Editor

'Cuz I thought he made some great points, many of which are still valid. There is a bizarre tendency in Christian circles to want to bury the past and never discuss it. Those who do discuss the past are occasionally suspected of harboring sinister and dark motivations. I have no such motivations. I harbor no festering gall of bitterness towards the fundamentalist movement. I've simply been listening to old Shepherd's Conference audio files, came across this one (and the one about evangelicalism), and decided to post them. 

Of course, if I were working for the Jesuits, GTY or the Illuminati, you'd expect me to say this. Although, this statement could be a double-bluff, whereby I acknowledge that some might suspect me of dishonesty, so I deliberately poke fun at the very idea, thereby trying to head off any such suspicions at the pass, so to speak. Or, it could be a triple-bluff . . .

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?

Mark_Smith's picture

You think I want to hide the past?

Never mind. No need to answer. I'll shut up since no one wants to go where I was trying to lead.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Mark - the primary value in looking at past stupidity is to learn form it:

  • Large and vocal strands of fundamentalism have always been characterized by doctrinal confusion and theological lunacy (MacArthur and "the blood," anyone?). So, we should endeavor to not make that mistake in the future.
  • Large and vocal strands of fundamentalism have always been characterized by in-fighting, primarily among the more shallow tributaries which use the "Big Man" model of pastoral leadership. We can learn to avoid that stupidity in our own ministries by being reminded of the excesses of the past. 
  • Large and vocal strands of fundamentalism have always been characterized by shallow, blasphemous and pathetic preaching. We can do better than this. 
  • etc, etc, etc . . .

This is the main value in re-visiting the mistakes of the past -  not because we want to gleefully burn our own house down, but because we must always remind ourselves to take out the trash. 

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?