Kent Brandenburg: "I'm not a fundamentalist"

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josh p's picture

Didn't that Clay Nuttal guy have a similar statement with the same type of strange argumentation a while ago?

josh p's picture

Yeah I don't really use the term unless I know I am talking to someone who has the same definition of the word as myself. Still the article has a decidedly different reason for rejecting the term.

KLengel's picture

Dr. Nuttall has been helping train men for the ministry for probably longer than most of the men who frequent this board.  Just because you don't agree with his view or Kent's does not make it "strange".   

Ken

 

Jim's picture

Since the Filing isn't about Dr. Clay Nuttall's statement, let's not discuss it. OR ... link to it in this thread and add it to the discussion mix

DLCreed's picture

Just further evidence that you can try to out-fundamentalist a fundamentalist, but it won't work.  There are always new extremes to be plumbed, new issues over which to divide, additional controversies that can be stirred.

And so they fiddle while souls burn....

Greg Linscott's picture

Effectively, Kent is distinguishing himself from others who identify as Fundamentalists. That's his prerogative. I can understand that he takes exception (though I don't agree with all of his positions, or the extent to which they limit his fellowship). What seems most inconsistent to me is the vigor with which he eschews the term Fundamentalist, but from all I can see still seems to see the utility of the "Baptist" label- which, if "Fundamentalist" is variegated, those identifying as "Baptist" are infinitely more so.

Labels serve a purpose- but there is always more to something or someone than just a label.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

KLengel's picture

DL, 

Not sure how you can make such a statement.  Do you really think people who disagree with the notion of fundamentalism are to be equated as a person who has no interest in souls?  I find your comment very deprecating and self-absorbed. It is a real shame no one really truly interacts with the content on his site on a regular basis. How about interacting with his evaluation of fundamentalism. Tell us why his view is extreme, or what new issues he is dividing over. Please tell us.  Give us your profound wisdom. 

KML

  

 

KLengel's picture

Greg,

I know you asked Kent this question on his blog, but I would like to propose my answer to you.  I do not consider myself a fundamentalist.  I don't avoid the term or label being applied to myself.  I just don't think it fits.  Do I believe in the virgin birth? Of course. Do I believe in the physical resurrection of Christ? Absolutely.  However, while I believe in the fundamentals as historically declared, I do not divide the Scriptures into essentials (fundamentals) and non-essentials.  Fundamentalism has put a limited amount of truth in a lockbox, as sacred truths which are sacrosanct, and other things are open to debate.  I just don't look that way at the Scriptures. I am not saying I fully understand everything in Scripture or that I have 100% of the right beliefs.  I just don't the fundamentals are enough. The Bible is what is enough for me.  All of its content is fundamental to my faith.  

As for the "Baptist" label and its usefulness, I would compare the use of it to the present battle over the definition of marriage.  The correct definition of a marriage is the union of a man and a woman before God.  While our culture seems intent on changing that definition, the proper definition and the only right definition is a correct understanding of what "Marriage" truly is.  It is the same with the term Baptist.  Some may call their churches Baptist, and a variety of them may be all over the place doctrinally. (as you well noted.)  However, I must call myself what I am, and continue promoting what the true definition of a Baptist is, regardless of how others misuse the word by their church doctrine and practices that may be unbiblical. (we may disagree on that)  

As for your comment on labels, I think Kent would agree as he wrote: "Labels themselves don't bother me, but we've got to be honest with them.  They have a purpose for marking someone, helping understand who someone is." 

KML

     

  

 

josh p's picture

KLengel,

First of all I retract my characterization of Nutall's position as strange. I should have said IMO or not said it at all. I was wondering: you mention the variation in the definition of the label baptist. Do you believe there are certain elements which identify a Baptist church, and without which a church can not rightly be labelled as such? In other words do you believe that there are "fundamentals" of the label "baptist"? 

Greg Linscott's picture

KLengel wrote:

I do not consider myself a fundamentalist.  I don't avoid the term or label being applied to myself.  I just don't think it fits.  

I understand. At the same time, as I just said to Kent, you have enough grudging affinity with those who do identify as Fundamentalists to pay attention to them, certainly more than you would self-identified Pentecostals or Greek Orthodox...

Also, as I said to Kent, the reality is that whether or not you embrace the label, someone will use it to describe you... disparagingly, perhaps, but still. We don't always have the luxury of choosing our labels. And as a general category, you fit there about as well as you're going to anywhere. Sorry. Smile

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

KLengel's picture

Greg,

I think people are debating from two differing perspectives. A pastor feels a need to defend the faith he is teaching to his flock who is exposed constantly in our age to various doctrines.  That often requires the need to proclaim his position in the arena of worldviews, so others know what they agree with and what they don't.   Let's use a fruit analogy.  (I know all analogies break down, but let's have some fun.)  I am an orange. Fundamentalists are tangelos.  I will support a tangelo when it looks like an orange (not often) and smells like an orange, (sometimes they do) but I don't fully want to be a tangelo, because when I taste it, it is obvious it is not an orange.  (I actually know the difference by sight, but I will move on.)  I believe it's right to be an orange.  I want to be called an orange, not a tangelo. The problem is not whether or not someone thinks I am a tangelo.  They can call me that all they want. The truth remains, I am an orange.  OK, more diet pepsi please.     :) 

Greg Linscott's picture

To borrow from your illustration, "Fundamentalist" would be less similar to "orange" or "tangelo" and more like "citrus," at least in the sense its being used here.

I understand you wanting to distinguish yourself from others... we all do. Who among us wants to be grouped in with Westboro Baptist Church? Hands? At the same time, the people to your left need to have some way of quickly summarizing why you don't show up at the ministerial association meetings or support the big  summer CCM festival. "Fundamentalist" is usually as good a term as any to communicate that.

So you don't want to be grouped in to some kind of broad-based institutional constituency with organizational dues, politics and all that. Not going to argue with you on that here. But there is some sense where the term is going to be useful, and like it or not, where it is going to accurately apply to people like yourself and Kent to distinguish your from others. That's all I'm saying.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Ryan's picture

Klengel said:

I do not divide the Scriptures into essentials (fundamentals) and non-essentials.  Fundamentalism has put a limited amount of truth in a lockbox, as sacred truths which are sacrosanct, and other things are open to debate.  I just don't look that way at the Scriptures. I am not saying I fully understand everything in Scripture or that I have 100% of the right beliefs.  I just don't the fundamentals are enough. The Bible is what is enough for me.  All of its content is fundamental to my faith. 

I actually disagree pretty strongly with that statement. The point of the fundamentals is that there are certain core or fundamental truths that are so central to the gospel and saving faith that to deny them is to deny Biblical Christianity. Paul says if someone preaches another gospel let them be accursed. There are other aspects of Biblical truth that are either less clear or less vital to saving faith. Kent mentioned mode of baptism in his post, so I will use it as an illustration. I feel pretty strongly about immersion, but I wouldn't say (nor do I think Paul would say) "let everyone who teaches sprinkling be accursed".

Now, if I understand Kent B. rightly he says that he separates over more than the fundamentals, which so would I. But i think it is somewhat misguided for you to say Scripture never distinguishes between essentials and non-essentials, or that we shouldn't do that. Most recognize that there are some truths that are less clear or less essential for saving faith. God in his good providence and wisdom ensured that the things necessary for saving faith and preserving the essence of Biblical Christianity are quite clear. Certainly all of the bible is vital for the faith (which is one of the fundamentals by the way), but not all of it is equally clear and not all of its truths are of equal importance (maybe equal consequence is a better way to put it).

I think Dr. Bauder has written quite articulately on this point, i just couldn't find the exact place, maybe someone else could link it.

 

Greg Linscott's picture

Ryan,

That distinction is at the heart of why Kent is rejecting the term Fundamentalist. Perhaps it's worth discussing, but this is the key issue for them (and I don't anticipate that the conversation will gain any headway on convincing them otherwise). There are also going to be disagreements on what constitutes fellowship (just talking isn't fellowship of any sort). The question I have is does this create some new category or label for them, and if so, what is that? I would still tend to describe them generally in the Fundamentalist category, just with a much more exhaustive list of what they deem to be essential.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Ryan's picture

I guess then my concern wouldn't be to find a new or more accurate label for them. Though you make a valid point. My concern is that by raising all truth to the same level of "fundamental-ness" they have actually devalued the fundamentals. The very genius of the fundamentalist movement at its best is the recognition that some truths are so vital, so important, so necessary that they are worth contending for and separating over. So if they don't want to apply the label to themselves then I am fine with that. I am certainly not going to fight to affix it to them and their ministries.

Certainly a Christian, and a Christian ministry such as a church should hold to more truth than five or seven fundamentals. But they cannot hold to less. And the amount of similarity and agreement of belief between two Christians or ministries will no doubt affect their fellowship. But to raise all truth to the same level actually (imo) takes the glory away from the greatest and most vital truths.

Ryan's picture

Dr. Bauder has made this kind of point much more clearly than I have. In fact, he has informed my thinking on this issue a great deal:

Hyper-fundamentalism and the new evangelicalism are mirror images of each other. The old neoevangelicalism damaged the gospel, not by denying it, but by attacking its role as a demarcator between Christianity and apostasy. The hyper-fundamentalist does the same kind of damage by adding something else alongside the gospel. (from here)

Or read his chapter from the four views book put out a while ago.

 

Greg Long's picture

Ryan wrote:

Klengel said:

I do not divide the Scriptures into essentials (fundamentals) and non-essentials.  Fundamentalism has put a limited amount of truth in a lockbox, as sacred truths which are sacrosanct, and other things are open to debate.  I just don't look that way at the Scriptures. I am not saying I fully understand everything in Scripture or that I have 100% of the right beliefs.  I just don't the fundamentals are enough. The Bible is what is enough for me.  All of its content is fundamental to my faith. 

I actually disagree pretty strongly with that statement. The point of the fundamentals is that there are certain core or fundamental truths that are so central to the gospel and saving faith that to deny them is to deny Biblical Christianity. Paul says if someone preaches another gospel let them be accursed. There are other aspects of Biblical truth that are either less clear or less vital to saving faith. Kent mentioned mode of baptism in his post, so I will use it as an illustration. I feel pretty strongly about immersion, but I wouldn't say (nor do I think Paul would say) "let everyone who teaches sprinkling be accursed".

Now, if I understand Kent B. rightly he says that he separates over more than the fundamentals, which so would I. But i think it is somewhat misguided for you to say Scripture never distinguishes between essentials and non-essentials, or that we shouldn't do that. Most recognize that there are some truths that are less clear or less essential for saving faith. God in his good providence and wisdom ensured that the things necessary for saving faith and preserving the essence of Biblical Christianity are quite clear. Certainly all of the bible is vital for the faith (which is one of the fundamentals by the way), but not all of it is equally clear and not all of its truths are of equal importance (maybe equal consequence is a better way to put it).

I think Dr. Bauder has written quite articulately on this point, i just couldn't find the exact place, maybe someone else could link it.

Ryan, you are right to disagree with Klengel's statement, because the apostle Paul disagrees with it as well. Paul said the Gospel is of "first importance" (1 Cor. 15). Some fundamentalists seem to argue that if you make an issue anything less than of utmost importance, you are making it unimportant, and that is just not the case. There are certain doctrines and teachings of Scripture, centered around the Gospel, that are of "first importance." If you make everything of first importance, then you make nothing of first importance.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

It dawned on me several years ago that I couldn't keep self-identifying as a fundamentalist, because I believe that more is required for unity and fellowship than the fundamentals.  Scripture doesn't support unity on just fundamentals.   If there are fundamentals, the Bible doesn't say what they are.  I often say that I figured out that I can't be a fundamentalist and obey the Bible, and obeying the Bible is more important than being a non-scriptural title or even idea.  I don't know that I ever truly was a fundamentalist.  I didn't know what one was, but when I understood it, I decided I wasn't one.

As an example, our church separates over mode of baptism.  Our church separates over ungodly worship.  Our church separates over immodest dress.  Our church separates over false doctrine and practice.  We don't immediately cut other people off.  We give people an opportunity to grow.  But we don't divide the Bible into the so-called essentials and non-essentials and separate only over the essentials, whatever size of list that is growing to or shrinking to.

I'm not sure why any of this is news, either to Kent - although it doesn't sound like it's news to him - or to the rest of us.  As soon as you started adding things to the fundamentals that merit separation (especially something like 'ungodly worship' or 'immodest dress') that aren't definable from Scripture or that are not even defined by the term's user, you step over the bounds of Fundamentalism and into something else, whatever you call it.  By stating that he will separate over 'ungodly worship' and 'immodest dress' - without defining the terms - it's hard to see how his beliefs and practices are formulated or supported by any specific appeals to Scripture.  It's simply ungodly because they deem it to be so.  This is the exact same argument we had a couple months back over the legitimacy of the term 'cultural fundamentalist', and IIRC, Kent was one of the people saying that there is no such thing and that to say such is slander.

I don't say this to impugn Kent or the others.  I would agree with him that separation is warranted over baptism and false doctrine.  It's the other stuff that he includes that is the deal breaker that I disagree with.

"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

Jay's picture

The term "fundamentalist" is worthless anyway.   To use it outside of this context, you run into mental images of suicide bombers or folks like Westboro.  To use it inside of 'our' context, you need to define it eighty different ways anyway to make sure that you are 'the real deal'.

Skip the argument over the term, and do the work Jesus assigned us.  That's the end goal anyway.

"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

Ron Bean's picture

Historical fundamentalism was not exclusively Baptist, dispensational, or pre-millenial, yet today those have become fundamentals to a highly visible segment of "fundamentalists" who will separate over those beliefs. Most of the people I encounter aren't familiar with the term unless it is applied to Islam. They do understand and engage in conversation when I use words like Bible, God, and Jesus.

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

Sean Fericks's picture

I agree that the term, "fundamentalist", isn't very helpful these days (unless speaking amongst ourselves).  I don't really like being called one because of its associations.

But the bigger issue for Mr. Brandenburg is the issue of fellowship. The Bible values fellowship amongst God's people, and even amongst God's local churches.  From what I know of Mr. Brandenburg, he does not value fellowship.  Rather, he thrives on separation.  Thus, the real reason for his slap at "fundamentalists".

Ed Vasicek's picture

Words are only helpful if we agree upon a definition.

The word "worship" has become one of those words that floats from meaning to meaning.  Even the word "church" to some means a building, to others, clergy, to many believers "them," but never "us."

Words like love, Christian, Biblical, evangelical, reformed, or fundamentalist must be defined for any discussion to be intelligent, and one must adhere to that definition.   To me, Brandenburg represents why I evaded the term "fundamentalist" for a while.  In my area, the term "fundamentalist" was held captive to KJV-only independent Baptists opposed to contemporary music and/or opposed to creativity and change of any kind in general with a revivalist decision-oriented view of preaching.

The definition of terms cannot be emphasized too much.  We cannot speak intelligently if we do not agree on definitions, at least within a particular conversation.  Brandenberg's definition of fundamentalism seems to be the original one.  He is right, that, based upon the original definition, he is not one.  Based upon the popular definition (within the evangelical world), he is a fundamentalist -- exemplifying the reason why many evade the term (including me, for a while).

Like Brandenberg, I seek to be Biblical.  Unlike Brandenberg, I recognize being Biblical is an aspiration, and it would be arrogant of me to say that I am Biblical.  I seek to be Biblical, but there is a gap between what the Bible SAYS and how I think it APPLIES.  The Bible is infallible; attempts to implement the Bible are very fallible.

 

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Greg Linscott's picture

Further complicating the matter, apart from how you define "Fundamentalist," is how Kent defines "fellowship" vs. many of us. For him, it's basically specific cooperative ministry endeavors, period. Sharing a cup of coffee isn't fellowship, and there aren't different levels based on levels of agreement. He can be cordial to someone and enjoy some kind of a relationship and ongoing conversation, but that isn't "fellowship" in any sense of the term as far as he is concerned. For him, "fellowship" is going to take place in a local church context (with a few other exceptions).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

dmyers's picture

It took longer than I would have expected, but someone above did finally (indirectly) attach the glaringly obvious label that applies to Brandenburg (and apparently KLengel):  hyper-fundamentalist.  (There are other labels that come readily to mind, but I suppose it wouldn't necessarily be constructive to go there.)  If there is a more accurate label that does not include the term "fundamentalist" at all, that would benefit those who do accept the fundamentalist label more even more than it would gratify Brandenburg et al.

KLengel's picture

dmyers,

First of all, you don't know me.  Second, I don't believe I nor Kent are hyper-fundamentalists.  I have read Dr. Bauder's characterization of hyper-fundamentalists, and I can tell you that I am not.  Third, I think labelling people in general is not a very Christ-like thing, especially when using perjorative labels for others.  Fourth, many on this board constantly challenge those who are more conservative than themselves in this fashion, regardless of the intellectual and thoughtful scholarship of those men.  I would suggest that some on this forum show a lack of appreciation for scholarship and use innuendo many times in response to others.  Those are clear signs of hyper-fundamentalists. Perhaps you should look in the mirror in your glass house.

KML 

 

Jim's picture

KLengel wrote:
I think labelling people in general is not a very Christ-like thing

Agreed. Let a person own their own labels.

More: Puxoxfordistism​. I'm a Puxoxfordistialist. What's a Puxoxfordistialist? I just made up the word. It has no meaning. 

But puxoxfordistism is a better word that fundamentalism because, while it is void of meaning, at least it has not been reinvented, revisionalized for the umpteenth time. At least puxoxfordistism does not have the negative connotation of fundamentalism: One could envision Schaap, Westboro, or 9/11

TylerR's picture

Why are people so quick to malign Brandenburg? He's not a raving maniac, you know! I haven't seen any videos of him burning NIV's or pushing for the theory that Codex Sinaiticus was a Jesuit conspiracy. Nobody has to agree with everything the guy says (I certainly don't!), but at least try to interact thoughtfully with the thoughtful folks you disagree with!

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

dcbii's picture

TylerR wrote:

Why are people so quick to malign Brandenburg? He's not a raving maniac, you know! I haven't seen any videos of him burning NIV's or pushing for the theory that Codex Sinaiticus was a Jesuit conspiracy. Nobody has to agree with everything the guy says (I certainly don't!), but at least try to interact thoughtfully with the thoughtful folks you disagree with!

Tyler, I agree that people shouldn't be so quick to malign or jump to innuendo or ad hominem when dealing with a brother like Kent.  However, you should understand that for long-timers here, there is a bit of history there, even though that doesn't completely excuse it.  Kent himself is somewhat, shall we say, pugilistic at times in his tone and argumentation.  Maybe more than just at times, at least back then.  In fact, the original owner of SI disabled his posting privileges back a number of years ago with the main stated reason being "tone," though there may have been more behind it.  I didn't agree with that decision, though I wasn't on the admin team at that time, because I thought SI would be more likely to fulfill its mission if fundamentalists across the spectrum (or those similar in doctrine to fundamentalists, as Kent doesn't claim that label any longer -- he may not have even at the time -- I don't remember any more) took part in the discussions.  Even though I disagreed with him on some issues, I was sorry to see him go, because in my view, if we chased away all those with strongly differing views, there is less of interest to discuss, and the value of the discussion goes down.  Nothing brings a discussion to silence any quicker that trying to discuss an issue on which all participants agree!

I also have a somewhat different perspective of him than many here, because I used to attend a church that is now in fellowship with his.  At the time I started there, that church wasn't KJVO, LCO, closed-communion, or any number of other things which have since changed there.  I heard Kent speak for the first time at a week of meetings at that church and got my first taste of his perspective.  Over the time I was there, that church changed in a number of doctrines, and I eventually had to leave because the disagreements were too many, and I had no wish to cause any division there.  That was in early 2003.  In 2005, SI started, and I joined it about a month after that.  Though there are many different blogs and sources of information on the internet, it seemed like at the time SI was the only place where fundamentalists with different backgrounds, beliefs, etc. could get together and have discussions, since they would never be in the same churches together.  I had never had to leave a church for doctrinal reasons before, and it was a welcome outlet for me to be able to discuss those differences and similar issues.

SI today is not exactly the same type of place it was at that time.  Sadly, at least to me, many of the participants on both edges of the spectrum have since moved on, and many of the more ultra-conservative branches of fundamentalism have never wanted anything to do with SI.  SI works pretty hard, especially under the current owner, to stay close to what is often thought of as main-stream fundamentalism.  That's one of the reasons I've been willing to participate as a moderator -- I want to do my part to keep it going and keep the conversations on track.  However, from what I can see reading all over the fundamentalist and conservative evangelical blog space, SI has the perception of being somewhat leftward-leaning for a fundamental site, probably because of the lack of participation of many of those who would be considered to be in Joel T.'s A or A+ camps.  However, there has also been no shortage of people in those camps disparaging SI as being "Sharper Spatula" or "Duller Iron," or other similar slurs.  I think some here have gotten quite tired of those characterizations and either respond in kind or start similar attacks of their own.  I think it's just human nature, but I'm glad to see someone occasionally questioning that, as I see no reason to not try to always take the high road.

Edit: Kent reminded me that he wasn't banned, just had his SI posting privileges removed, so I've corrected that above.  It's been a while so I didn't remember all the exact details.

Dave Barnhart

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