John Vaughn: " Evangelical Fundamentalist Convergence"?

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Bert Perry's picture

The Proclaim & Defend article rightly notes the general contradiction between convergence and separation, but does not really explore the question "from whom should we separate?".    Personally, I feel comfortable separating from people who waffle on the Trinity (Elephant Room 2) or downplay the authority of Scripture, but there are a tremendous number of evangelicals who affirm the Fundamentals, the Solas, and the Trinity, and from them, I don't feel comfortable separating.  

And by "affirm", I don't mean just lip service....but rather that (within some allowance for differing views) that one's actions also reflect belief in these principles.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Without even buying the magazine, you can tell what the FBFI's concerns are by the titles of the articles. Vaughn wrote:

Nevertheless, something is going on—something that looks very much like the self-styled “Neo- Evangelicalism” of sixty years ago; something that in its efforts to engage the culture seems to be, again, embracing the culture. Therein lies the danger of the pursuit of relevance as an end in itself. In seeking to stay in touch with the ever-changing culture, churches can think themselves separate from it while moving away from their moorings. They can soon occupy the space that belonged to the world not long ago, no longer secure on the foundations on which they were built.

The article he cited by Ben Wright basically focused on MacLachan, Bauder and Doran. Are these the leaders Vaughn is warning against? Or, is he perhaps afraid that their warnings have produced this alleged "neo-neo-evangelicalism?" Who is he talking about? He continues:

This issue of FrontLine offers an appeal for wisdom, discernment, and caution in this regard. It is not addressed just to those who have rejected separatism in favor of convergence nor to those who have never been separatists so much as to separatists seeking answers—those who are resisting pressure to conform their ministries to this movement. However, if anything in this issue comes as a rebuke to those who are dividing their churches over changes they promised not to make when they were called, or to those who have brought their churches to the brink of ruin with premature change, we pray it will be taken as a loving rebuke to be considered carefully.

What is this "movement?" Is he referring to local churches pastored by younger fundamentalists which have heeded the warnings from MacLachlan, Bauder and Doran? The "movement" is not defined, and if this article is supposed to whet the appetite for folks to know more, it's not doing a very good job. It looks to me like wagon-circling by the FBFI . . . again. It might not be, but the introductory article doesn't help matters.

The topics are:

  • Sola Scriptura. Why is this a problem with fundamentalists? Not sure, really. Perhaps the article is a defense of standards against the charge of alleged legalism.
  • Why I Left. The teaser for this one is particularly interesting; "long-established churches are being changed through the hidden agenda of Convergent leadership." Hidden agendas, sinister plots . . . one conjures up images of young pastors sitting fireside, drinking "grape juice" from balloon snifters while perusing their contraband copies of Calvin's Institutes or Sproul's Chosen by God . . . and MacLachlan's Authentic Fundamentalism?
  • Music. Perhaps a separate topic, but I'm not really convinced that a change in music is inherently tied to a sinister and hidden agenda. Correlation does not equal causation.
  • Leading Change. Looks interesting. If a Pastor has a "hidden agenda," then he's lying to the congregation.
  • Alcohol. Please. No. More.

Reading between the lines (but hopefully not too far), I conclude this "hidden agenda" which the FBFI fears involves (1) some strange rejection or denial of sola scriptura, (2) hidden and dark agendas for "change;" (3) music different from the Sword of the Lord hymnal, and (4) alcohol.

I also have no choice but to see this article as a not-so-veiled attack against Bauder and Doran. The article Vaughn cited includes this bit:

the theological Fundamentalism of Bauder and Doran represents a matured strain of Fundamentalism that intends to expose and disassociate from the atheological (sometimes called cultural) Fundamentalism that has dominated many segments of separatist Fundamentalism in recent decades.

Whether or not creedal Evangelicalism and theological Fundamentalism can recognize, appreciate, and cultivate common ground and cooperation remains to be seen. Even if they do, they’ll face obstacles of no small size. But the coincidence of these developments presents an opportunity for principled leaders who haven’t yet forgotten how to listen to one another.

What other conclusion can I come to?

Could somebody just tell me what this "hidden agenda" is? In plain language? Who is involved in it? Who are the leaders? Where can I read what they're writing? Is it Bauder? Doran? Are all these adjectives simply synonyms for . . . (wait for it) . . . (keep waiting) . . . (almost there) . . . Calvinists!!!???

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?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler, you're getting into things that are part of the impetus behind why SI was founded back in 2005 -- discussion on what "A Fundamentalism Worth Saving" actually looks like, and maybe even more, what it doesn't.  Frontline sometimes has some interesting things to read, but at other times, you get the feeling they are still trying to hold on to what "cultural" Fundamentalism once valued, as if older *expressions* of fundamentalism are equivalent to what it's really all about, and *any* movement at all is seen as movement in the wrong direction.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

Dave:

I just wish they'd simply spell out what they're talking about in this piece. What is this magazine issue even about? Who is the target? Who are they warning against? Are they being deliberately vague out of political correctness, is it badly written, or am I just a fool?

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?

Bert Perry's picture

dcbii wrote:

Tyler, you're getting into things that are part of the impetus behind why SI was founded back in 2005 -- discussion on what "A Fundamentalism Worth Saving" actually looks like, and maybe even more, what it doesn't.  Frontline sometimes has some interesting things to read, but at other times, you get the feeling they are still trying to hold on to what "cultural" Fundamentalism once valued, as if older *expressions* of fundamentalism are equivalent to what it's really all about, and *any* movement at all is seen as movement in the wrong direction.

Sorry, just couldn't resist the header, but agreed greatly with Dave here.  

I remember buying Pastor MacLachlan's book "Recovering Authentic Fundamentalism" pretty soon after I moved to Minnesocold and 4th in 2003, and I've been a big fan of Bauder for about the same period of time.  Along those lines, I must also admit that there are some fundamentalists from whom I separate, more or less at the point where arguments for cultural fundamentalism start to infringe on doctrines like Sola Scriptura.  

For example, when someone prefers the KJV for reasons like plural/singular you, style, comfort, and accuracy for those who understand Jacobean English well, I've got no problem with that.  The most I might say is "you might do well to use a Bible your hearers and friends will understand better."  On the flip side, when someone argues without evidence that Arius and his cronies deliberately corrupted the texts, or writes book length personal attacks, then I've got to suggest that they're not just attacking an argument or even a person or group of persons.  They're attacking Scripture as we know it.

Same basic idea with a couple of social issues that will remain unnamed here.  Argue one ought to limit one's freedom for the weaker brother?  Amen and Halleluiah.  Argue that words related to those social issues in Scripture don't mean what every translator since the 70 in Alexandria have said they meant?  Sorry, folks, you're stomping on Sola Scriptura and the inerrancy of Scripture there.

I hope that Proclaim & Defend isn't falling into these traps, but many do, and it's very, very sad.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes. At this rate fundamentalists will issue a response to Matthew Vines' book sometime in 2030. The heirs of a proud and honorable tradition of militancy against liberalism and apostasy are reduced to warning of the "hidden agendas" and clandestine plots of young fundamentalists who are "new" neo-evangelicals. Of course, we really don't know who is being referred to.

Have fun, boys. Ciao. I have to get back to the Institutes and plot my next move . . . 

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?

Bert Perry's picture

TylerR wrote:

Yes. At this rate fundamentalists will issue a response to Matthew Vines' book sometime in 2030. The heirs of a proud and honorable tradition of militancy against liberalism and apostasy are reduced to warning of the "hidden agendas" and clandestine plots of young fundamentalists who are neo-neo-evangelicals. Of course, we really don't know who is being referred to.

Have fun, boys. Ciao. I have to get back to the Institutes and plot my next move . . . 

It's about time you responded to the apostasy of John Calvin, Tyler.  480 years.  Yeesh, and we're picking on Proclaim and Defend for being slow on the draw?

Seriously, given that a lot of theological error is really recycled--e.g. the Jehovah's Witnesses are more or less just recycling things like the Arian heresy, no?--we can tolerate a fair amount of delay in responding to theological errors.  By the time we get around to it, it will, like bell bottoms or butterfly collars, come back into style somewhere.  What we cannot tolerate is arguing vaguely, and sad to say, our movement has gotten pretty good at it.  Even a lot of adjectives that are used--"worldly", "sensual", and the like--don't refer to anything specific.

And, to paraphrase Pr. MacLachlan, we pull this kind of stunt and then wonder why the world describes fundamentalism as "a lot of fun, a lot of duh, but not much mental about it."  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You wrote:

And, to paraphrase Pr. MacLachlan, we pull this kind of stunt and then wonder why the world describes fundamentalism as "a lot of fun, a lot of duh, but not much mental about it."  

The FBFI doesn't appear to be doing much to counter this stereotype. It is one reason why many younger fundamentalists are exasperated with the whole thing. Regarding the Vines remark, my point is that fundamentalists have all but ceded responsibility to conservative evangelicals for responding to current apostasy and compromise. Instead, some prefer to write murky screeds about "hidden agendas" and other allegedly nefarious acts . . . while remaining mysteriously vague about who the culprits are. It is unfortunate.

Name names and be specific or why bother? All I get from the teaser article is that Bauder and Doran are the root of this wicked "convergence."

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?

Bert Perry's picture

Tyler, I've seen this wicked convergence up close.  The header is a quote he made of the response he and Dr. Beacham got after publishing One Bible Only about the KJVO movement (which sadly did not penetrate the minds of many adherents), and I've even heard him note the way Samoset greeted the Pilgrims, in church no less.  He even periodically comes to a church where his sermons are rendered unintelligible to most people in the building--he preaches at Rochester Chinese Church, which meets in the building owned by Calvary Baptist.  That's gotta be some kind of charismatic speaking in tongues thing, donchathink?

I'm pretty sure that the only thing that keeps him safe is ready access to both firearms and lutefisk, the latter of which is of course more deadly.  And of course, I aspire to be part of this horrible, wicked convergence, as you no doubt guessed.  Though I haven't gotten mustasche wax yet.

Will be eagerly awaiting your denunciation of the Tyrant of Geneva, of course.  :^)  Maybe, maybe, maybe....with some luck and a lot of hard work, along with five fundamentals and five solas and a Trinity and a hypostatic union in our tool-chest, we too can be denounced in certain forii.....but with no specific allegations, of course.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's easy, after almost a century now, to lose sight of what biblical fundamentalism was born to do. There was a pretty specific target and specific alliances and break-ups to oppose that target (the target was Bible-denying 'modernism,' a.k.a. the higher criticism--though there was also, with much less consensus--a cultural target: various changes in American culture identified with worldliness).

It should be expected that over time the landscape would change in such a way there not only are there (a) different targets, but also (b) different alliances and anti-alliances.

The movement was about trying to solve some problems biblically... not about preserving itself or the distinctive identity it eventually developed. So what are today's greatest threats to biblical Christianity and what sort of alliances and anti-alliances does today's fight require? A leader has to have clear answers to these questions in mind before he can articulate a clear, sturdy, and weighty call to form or reject alliances. If he's going to be persuasive he'll need to not only have answers in mind but also communicate them.

JBL's picture

Tyler - 

I think you have your answers already as to who the articles are addressing and targeting.

Neo Evangelicals were people who reached out to apostate organizations to cooperate in gospel sharing ministry, when it was clear that those in the apostate organizations did not share the same orthodox Christian doctrines.

The FBFI is addressing fundamentalists within its own camp are now reaching out to CEs (or even further to the left), not necessarily to partner in ministry, but to receive ideas on ministry change.  In this sense, you have correctly ascertained that these current wandering fundamentalists are "Neo-Neo Evangelicals."  These are people and ministries who are straying outside the camp for pragmatic reasons.  The FBFI feels that there are irreconcilable doctrinal differences of worship and personal separation between CEs and Fundamentalists that cannot justify cooperation in ministry or method.

Bauder and Doran are of concern to Mr. Vaughan since they have not utterly repudiated the ministry of the CEs, and as a result have helped given the CE ministries a legitimacy and standing within the fundamentalist community.  Since 2010, Bauder has also contributed to Central Seminary's statement on Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism which has further repudiated various Fundamentalist practices.  

The FBFI response is needed to allow Fundamentalists to reconsider the idea of adopting CE methods, and also to defend the movement from escalating criticism.

Nothing sinister or hidden.  It's just one organization defending its position and trying to persuade its constituency to stay within the camp.

John B. Lee

TylerR's picture

Editor

In other words, more wagon circling. That seems to be all the FBFI does. Shouldn't they get dizzy after so long? 

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?

JBL's picture

Perhaps it is wagon circling,

But to turn the tables back to you, so what?  You are not required to read or follow them.  If you are part of the organization, you can resign.  

As Aaron has alluded to in his "Changing Targets" post earlier this morning, it has decided that the greatest threat to biblical Christianity is convergence on matters of personal separation and ministerial practice.  It has reacted as such.  Just let the FBFI be what it want to be and do what it wants to do... unless you feel that they are hurting biblical Christianity, which would be another topic of discussion...

John B. Lee

TylerR's picture

Editor

Aaron wrote this:

The movement was about trying to solve some problems biblically... not about preserving itself or the distinctive identity it eventually developed.

I agree with this. That is why I think it is a shame the FBFI seems to be more concerned about preserving its own particular brand of 1950-1990 era fundamentalism than combating theological liberalism, apostasy and cultural madness.

I am a fundamentalist. We can do better than write articles about the "hidden agendas" of some secret "Convergence" group. Their goal often seems to be about wagon-circling, about militancy over fundamentalist culture, not liberalism or apostasy. This is sad and pathetic to me. We have good men. We have educated men. We can do better as a movement.

Fundamentalists write books on separation, alcohol and issue vague allegations of sinister plots among their younger brethren, but do not engage biblical illiteracy, the LGBT issue, inerrancy, the Bible version issue, or deep theology in general. This is why Dr. McCune's systematic was such a milestone - a fundamentalist who actually wrote a theology book! Who woulda thunk it? 

A senior GARBC guy once told me something I already knew - fundamentalists are often afraid to write real critiques of anything, or engage seriously in theology, because they fear being attacked from within. Ask Bauder how that feels . . .  What a sad commentary on fundamentalism. 

We can do better, folks. We need to alter our targets. We really do. That is my point. I know the FBFI can do better, and I wish they would.  

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?

Ron Bean's picture

My first exposure to the FBFI (it was the FBF then) was nearly 40 years ago. The enemies then were apostasy, Roman Catholicism, and the ecumenical movement as personified in Billy Graham. Annual meetings required a big venue (I think one was held at BJU) and featured preachers from Rod Bell (Baptist), Bob Jones Jr. (non-denominational), and Ian Paisley (Presbyterian). 

In the 80's John MacArthur was treated as an enemy over a misrepresentation of his teaching on the blood of Christ. I wrote to MacArthur and shared his cogent explanation with some FBF brethren and was ignored and their attack on him continued. After sitting in meetings where pulpit potshots were taken at anyone who was not solidly in the FBF, I walked away.

Today I see a group that continues to cast aspersions on brethren with whom they have differences and this once large group has circled the wagons to point where their national meetings can take place in a local church and their annual resolutions are harder to find than a Clinton email.

BTW, people have not "separated" themselves from the FBFI; they've simply walked away and seem to have chosen to ignore a group that ignored them and their questions of their practices.

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

Bert Perry's picture

John, agreed that the implicit target of FBFI's column is reaching out to conservative evangelicals; but if so, why not just say so and state the concern and the reasons they feel it is theologically risky?  Why beat around the bush?  If indeed conservative evangelicals are compromising critical doctrine, why not just come out and say it?

Is it simply clumsy rhetoric (are these pastors really "apt to teach"?), or is it cowardice in light of the fact that most fundamentalists really aren't that hard line on secondary/tertiary separation?   Certainly conservative evangelicals are not in general compromising on the Fundamentals, the Solas, or other critical doctrine.  

And our place here?  Well, the article IS a criticism, as Dave notes, of "our" wing of the movement.  Moreover, it's about the future of a movement we all cherish, and finally, it's an opportunity for us to think things through. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Think what you want. But don't claim that John Vaughn is not "apt to teach."

Dave Doran's picture

The premise of the article is deeply flawed in that it assumes things that it really needs to prove. I recognize that it is an intro piece, but it functions more like a drive-by shot than offering anything of substance to consider. If forming new friendships = convergence, then aren't the efforts to build connections with Crown and West Coast by key players in the FBF a form of convergence that represents (yet another) change in the FBF? Why is it okay to come along side of Sexton, Schaap, etc., but not so for anybody perceived to be left of center?

The purpose of some articles appears to be sinful, from my perspective. A parachurch entity is promoting conflict within local assemblies by putting the motives and actions of properly called leaders under suspicion. It is one thing to argue for a position based on the Scriptures, but it is something very different to accuse pastors of nefarious motives without proof. The authors, I'm sure, would be furious if I wrote an article on the foolish arguments that have been promoted in fundamentalism in defense of [pick the subject which they defend] and sent it into the homes of their church members. Yet, it seems that this is exactly what they have done by implying that leading a church toward a position which is out of step with FBF favor is covert neo-evangelicalism. Ridiculous and wrong.

DMD

Steve Davis's picture

I was discipled in BJU fundamentalism in my early years as a Christian and then solidly IBF in early ministry. I appreciate the solid doctrinal foundation I received, the fundamentals which I hold to over 40 years later. However, it took living overseas for over a decade to gain perspective on culture-bound fundamentalism and to learn to celebrate union with Christ and fellowship with believers who didn't dot all the fundamentalist i's.

I do not consider myself a fundamentalist (except in a historical sense). There are many reasons for that but this article reminds me that I’m content to not be in that stream. Thankfully, I've been able to keep some warm friendships with fundamentalist friends with whom I can enjoy fellowship at least on a personal level. Some who are “converging” might even have me speak for them but they are few(er) and far between.

One of my fundamentalist friends stayed with me recently for two nights here in Philadelphia. I won’t mention his name since it may’ve been a covert visit. We picked up on some of our old arguments but mostly enjoyed the fellowship. And we rejoiced in God's faithfulness and grace which has kept us in ministry for almost 40 years since when we graduated from BJ together. We disagree on some issues but truly are united in the gospel and mission of the church. I think he’s “converging.”

For all the criticism I've heard of grace-centered and gospel-centered this and that I must confess that's what I rarely found in fundamentalism. There was gospel and there was grace but many other things crowded out the center and it became issue-centered. I'm grateful to have been part of what I consider a saner fundamentalist stream and am not a hater. I do think guys like Bauder, Doran, Jordan, etc, are part of the saner, converging stream but of course they are criticized as not being fundamental or separatist enough.

Steve Davis

Don Johnson's picture

As a follow up to our opening editorial posted yesterday, today we are posting "Whetting the Appetite," being excerpts from some of the key articles in our latest issue of FrontLine. I think readers will find more specifics in the actual articles rather than in the opening editorial. By nature it is intended to be a generalization, so I don't quite get the criticism of generalities. Buy the magazine and read the whole thing. Then make your comments.

Ok, I guess that was a bit of a comment after all.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ron Bean's picture

"Yet the trend is toward skits and rock music in lieu of preaching and teaching."

I haven't seen this in the CE churches I've attended. 

 "Certainly, within the last decade there has been a tendency to equate separatist Fundamentalism with the moral failures and dictatorial ecclesiology of the unbiblical Hyles movement."

In my opinion I think the tendency has been to equate separatist fundamentalism with their practice of separation from good brethren that they consider disobedient.

 "Because men with the spirit of Absalom have arisen from within to steal hearts." 

To imply that anyone who implements changes from the accepted fundamentalist cultural norm is an "Absalom" is over the line.

And as to music, the "association" argument doesn't carry much weight considering that many FBFI churches use the music with impunity and some of our traditional hymns carry some negative associations. 

That being said, I respect and appreciate the FBFI and I believe that they have much to add to the conversation today. There's just nothing on the "sampler" that would make me want to spend my money to eat at the buffet that's behind closed doors.

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

TylerR's picture

Editor

A great collaborative response piece would be entitled "The 'Convergence' Strikes Back!"

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?

Bert Perry's picture

Jim wrote:

Mark_Smith wrote:

Think what you want. But don't claim that John Vaughn is not "apt to teach."

 

Who claimed this?

I didn't specifically say that John Vaughn was not apt to teach, but I did say--Wednesday at 10:27 am--that if someone was inordinately clumsy in his rhetoric, one might question whether he was apt to teach.  So I think that's what Mark was getting at.

To spell things out a bit more specifically--hoist myself on my own petard as it were--it's worth noting that in standard manuals of style, like the AP style my wife learned, and in the style-books of technical writing that I've used, or for that matter Strunk & White, one is encouraged to spell out enough specifics in either the first paragraph (AP style) or in an abstract or introduction (technical style) so that the reader can quickly grasp what the writer is going to say.  So as Ron notes very recently, you can get far too general in a summary.  What, really, does it mean when someone says "Because men with the spirit of Absalom have arisen to steal hearts."?   Maybe people are growing five pounds of beautiful dark curly hair every so often and sharing it with their admirers?

Really, statements like that really don't tell me much, theologically speaking, and hence I'm feeling like a political debate moderator as I plead get to the point already!  If there is a theologically significant reason I ought to retreat (per taxonomy presented by Jim) from "evangelical right" to "historic fundamentalism" or even "hyper fundamentalism", I am willing to hear the argument.  That said, please don't make me wade through an hour's worth of boilerplate before you get around to introducing a testable hypothesis.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Here is my quick take from the appetizer Frontline served up:

Yet the trend is toward skits and rock music in lieu of preaching and teaching.

Where? In Andy Stanley's church? What self-proclaimed fundamentalists are doing this? Most fundamentalist preaching is terrible. MacLachlan wrote this in his book 23 years ago. And I've seen it. I know it's true. So do you.

Many churches are in poor health because they feed on junk food, artificial preservatives, and unnatural substitutes, instead of the milk and meat of the Word

I say many fundamentalist churches are just as bad as the Andy Stanley's, but for different reasons. There are legions of younger men and women who can testify to this. You know it's true.

From Bro. Vaughn:

If by “historic” you mean the Fundamentalism that declared itself in 1920, I think there would be general clarity and agreement that it refers to the stand for the fundamentals of the faith against liberalism

It would be nice if fundamentalists would actually, you know . . . get back to standing against liberalism instead of issuing snide attacks against Bauder and Doran.

Certainly, within the last decade there has been a tendency to equate separatist Fundamentalism with the moral failures and dictatorial ecclesiology of the unbiblical Hyles movement.

Hyles was simply the most virulent strain of the larger infection this entire issue of Frontline seems to personify so well.

Moving past Bro. Vaughn:

We are hearing these words more and more from many who are sorrowfully making the difficult decision to leave a church that was established as Fundamental but has been converging with the philosophy and methods of the New Evangelicalism.

What philosophy and methods are you talking about? Rock music? Northland closed. What else 'ya got? If you're not more specific, then I see no need to order the main course.

Watch for those who consider themselves privileged and exempt from the difficulties of separation. Be on guard for those who, for pretense, invest much in advertising their supposed transparency. Be cautious about the one who wears the face of concern to conceal the vice of conspiring, gravitating to “yes-men” while ignoring or avoiding those who disagree with him. And be aware of the man who seems to “talk the talk” but not “walk the walk,” covering his craftiness with what appears to be patience.

Examples? More specific? What on earth are you talking about? Who are you talking about? What does this look like in real life? Where has this happened? This reads like fear-mongering. How dare Frontline send this silliness into the homes of church members, who will go to worship this coming Sunday with narrowed eyes, ready to attack their already over-worked and under-paid Pastors.

In fact, all too frequently, the very mention of “discernment” or “application” is met with the charge of “legalism.” After more than a decade of intense discussion, the subject of applications seems almost to have been silenced.

Who makes charges of legalism? Where? Only a fool thinks a call for personal holiness = legalism. Who are you talking about? Gimmie an example, and tell me if these perpetrators even self-identify as fundamentalists.

However, it is probable that most pastors and churches that have embraced SG music are unaware of or unconcerned with its roots. A brief summary is in order, and it necessarily raises the much-despised argument of associations, but it is important to review

Oh . . . why? If I beg for mercy, can you please make it stop? I've never even listened to SG or Steve Green, and I've been weary of this discussion for a long time now.

In the final analysis, the paradox exists in the probable reason that the younger generation is embracing so much of the SG music. Dear reader, simply put, this is another fad. In the same way that giving permission to use Steve Green’s music a generation ago opened the door for stumbling, a new stumbling block is being set before a new generation.

I guess mercy wasn't granted. Let me be more blunt than I have been:

  • I challenge the FBFI to come out and actually criticize Bauder, Doran and MacLachlan openly, instead of being covert about it
  • I also challenge the FBFI to understand how irrelevant it already is, and how much further irrelevant it will be in the future if this issue is truly "one of the most important we have ever published." I have been involved in fundamentalism for 11 years. Not that long, but long enough. I have never met one. single. person. who cared about the FBFI. I have never met one. single. pastor. who cared about the FBFI. Few people my age care about the FBFI. This Frontline issue personifies why. It is a fact. The organization has become irrelevant. You don't have to be irrelevant. You could start combating liberalism and apostasy, instead of crouching in your ever-shrinking corner and attacking friends. This is sad. Your organization has become the slightly crazed uncle at the family reunion; you know - the one who always rambles on about the same things and tells the same stories? That one. You don't have to be the crazed uncle. Start combating apostasy. Start writing against modern-day liberalism. Be historic fundamentalists.
  • If this appetizer is a fair sampling of the FBFI's most pressing concerns, then I believe the organization serves no real purpose. Again, it doesn't have to be this way.

Must dash. I'm late for a "convergence" meeting.

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?

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