What, precisely, is a “Convergent” fundamentalist? That is, what are the “marks” of a “Convergent” fundamentalist?

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What is Fundamentalism?

These types of discussions seem to eventually point us back to the basic question, "What is Fundamentalism?"  Originally, it was defense of the fundamentals of the faith without which, Biblical Christianity ceased to exist.  Today, it seems to have become a certain circle of fellowship, in which all those who are "in" are entitled to the term, and all those who are outside are denied the label of Fundamentalist, or at least, "True Fundamentalist."  Sigh.  Can we ever get back to a vigorous defense of the Biblical gospel without the baggage of cultural norms and good old boy networks?

If you are talking about historic fundamentalism, count me in.  If you mean something else, please count me out.

G. N. Barkman

Marks

We often speak of the "marks" of a church. Well, in this kind of discussion, I believe the FBFI needs to define what it means when it speaks of "Convergent" fundamentalists.

If what Bro. Unruh says about "convergent fundamentalists" is true, then they're very dangerous indeed! But, we just need to know what, in his, John Vaughn's and the FBFI's mind is an alleged "convergent fundamentalist." In other words, who are they talking about and how can we know how to spot these people? Moreover, what kind of message is the FBFI communicating to the rest of Baptist fundamentalism by publishing a piece which makes such sweeping and serious claims about these "convergents?"

This is all very troubling. Hopefully, this is a misunderstanding and dialogue with the author will clarify the matter. 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

My thoughts.

Since Tyler's questions are consistent with the excerpt of Unruh's article that I saw, as well as with Vaughn's teaser, I've got to conclude that Unruh is extremely sloppy in his thinking and writing (failing to even define critical terms like "convergent" and "separatism"), and is moreover willing to make some fairly reckless accusations of those he's criticizing--the Absalom thing.  Moreover, Unruh misses the obvious point that it was David, not Absalom, who set the stage for that tragedy.  There is a lesson there, no?

If we want people to take our writing seriously, we have got to do better than this.  We need to throw the flag when ad hominem attacks and other genetic fallacies are used, and we need to start asking ourselves "does this really follow?"

Hopeful of a Response

I am hopeful that there will be a meaningful response and some beneficial discussion. I've been timidly asking similar questions in personal conversations for almost 20 years and have experienced three things. 

1. I've seen that creating a nameless "enemy" is useful in making the people inside the village fearful of "strangers" and of leaving the town limits.

2. I've found that defending generic statements with specific details is not something that people like this do well.

3. I've also found that asking questions, especially those that need answers, can still get a person dismissed as a rebel.

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

The Answer You Seek

We already have the answers we seek. Convergent pastors are those who allow SG (whether Steve Green or Sovereign Grace) music into their churches, don't prohibit drinking "beverage alcohol" (I love this term) from the pulpit, and who promote conservative evangelicals to their congregation or associate with them. There may even be a hint of "and they dress down for Sunday worship, don't use the KJV, and don't preach against women wearing pants" thrown in for good measure.

Look, this is the SAME song and dance I've been hearing since the 80s. None of it has to do with the fundamentals of the faith. It is all cultural fundamentalist baggage.

Reagarding "beverage alcohol" and the FBFI

T Howard wrote:

We already have the answers we seek. Convergent pastors are those who allow SG (whether Steve Green or Sovereign Grace) music into their churches, don't prohibit drinking "beverage alcohol" (I love this term) from the pulpit, and who promote conservative evangelicals to their congregation or associate with them. There may even be a hint of "and they dress down for Sunday worship, don't use the KJV, and don't preach against women wearing pants" thrown in for good measure.

Look, this is the SAME song and dance I've been hearing since the 80s. None of it has to do with the fundamentals of the faith. It is all cultural fundamentalist baggage.

From the FBFI's 2009 resolution # 09-02:

"And whereas sins previously not named among believers such as the use of alcohol as a beverage,
premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, profanity, vulgarity, immodesty, and much more are now not
only viewed unashamedly by believers as entertainment but also practiced without shame among those
who name Christ,"
- http://fbfi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Complete-Resolutions-2010.pdf 

----------------

To the FBFI, the use of "beverage alcohol" is not a matter of Romans 14 Christian liberty or individual conscience, nor is it something that may merely be considered unwise for a believer, it is a SIN. 

I was curious about Dan Unrah

I was curious about Dan Unrah so I went to his church website and sure enough, a position paper on music. I quote here from it:

Music always consists of three elements: Melody, harmony, and rhythm. Without any one of these elements a composition is not music. These elements must be put in proper priority. The melody is the theme of the music. The harmony and rhythm are supposed to elevate the melody. Any time the melody becomes subordinate, the music is unbalanced. Both secular musicians and sacred would agree that melody affects the spirit or soul, harmony affects the mind and rhythm affects the body. Musicians know that they can get people to respond different ways by over emphasizing certain elements. For example: the New Age Movement seeks to help people self actualize by reaching an altered state of consciousness. One of the ways they use to accomplish their goal is music. The New Age style of music over emphasizes harmony. It is done on purpose to help people meditate and lose their mind. Styles are made by simply emphasizing certain elements in different ways. The only people who consistently argue about these basic musical principles are Christians! The secular musicians know exactly what they are doing!

This is so wrong on any number of levels. The reason only Christians debate this stuff is because the rest of the world knows better. Here are just a few things wrong with this one paragraph:

1) Harmony is in fact not necessary in music. In fact, the discover of harmony occurred just a few centuries ago in Western music and has been in use only that long.

2) The whole idea of imbalance between melody, rhythm, and harmony is far oversimplified and certainly open to all kinds of debate. The idea that melody affects the heart, harmony affects the mind and rhythm affects the body? I would love to see the studies to support that. 

3) "The New Age style of music over emphasizes harmony. It is done on purpose to help people meditate and lose their mind." Um, really? New Age music is actually known for very simplistic harmony though I will admit it might seem sophisticated to people used to singing horrific 3-chord gospel songs like "Jesus Saves." And what can I even say about the fact that New Age music is designed to help people lose their mind?

I applaud the effort to try to build bridges but honestly, I am through trying to debate the absurd with people who dogmatically proclaim this kinds of stuff.

 

Hopeful

I remain hopeful Bro. Unruh or somebody in the FBFI will clarify what they mean, and explain the comments in Bro. Unruh's article which, on the face of it, appear to be very "provocative" indeed. I could be wrong. I just don't know.

I hope some dialogue is possible. I was upset and outraged last week when this first came across my radar screen, and I wasn't constructive in my criticisms. I was wrong. Now, I am trying to be constructive. I hope some in the FBFI are willing to look past any outrage they feel and do the same.

The editorial at the front of the magazine says they're issuing a "loving rebuke." They want to talk. Let's talk, brethren. You started this public conversation with this latest issue of Frontline. I'm willing to chat. Let's make it happen.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

a few comments

Tyler and I have communicated privately, and I want to make a few comments publicly at this point.

First, as I said to Tyler, I think he really only has a few questions, not 48. He is quite repetitive, asking essentially the same questions over and over. This implies to some that bro. Unruh's article is also disorganized. I think it is fairer to say that Tyler is repetitively asking the same questions to different points in bro. Unruh's article.

Second, I am planning to reply to Tyler and will do so both privately and probably publish it at oxgoad. (My little-used blog, lately.) Time pressures will not allow me to get the response out right away, but I will plug away at it. I've explained my circumstances to Tyler and he seems happy to be patient (so far!! heh!). I'll try to come back here with a link once I get it done.

Third, yes, this is a conversation we have been having for quite some time. I think it is important to talk about it, but I would rather that we try to keep the snide remarks and insults out of it. If our goal is to inflame each other, that would be the way to do it, if our goal is to have a productive conversation we should refrain from taking shots at each other. Some will say, "well Unruh started it" - maybe so, but as my mother used to say, "you don't have to finish it." One complaint I frequently have heard from the less strict side (what shall we call them, "convergents"? or???) is that the old-line fundamentalists like the FBF ("spits") never listen and talk down to us. Well, brethren, from the "old line" side, we think we are getting slander and sneering from your side as well. How about we just stop that, take a deep breath and speak kindly to one another? I'll try to start and keep it that way.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

We will get further if we talk to one another like Christians. I haven't seen a lot of that in the threads on this topic in the last week or so. We can do better.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don

I apologize for my comments about the FBFI and Bro. Unruh from last week, on the earlier thread. I was upset and I acted irresponsibly in several posts. I have hit the reset switch and posted the questions I had as I read (and re-read) Bro. Unruh's article. I shall be patient as you respond. I know you are busy, and I am not in a hurry. I promise. Smile

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

TylerR wrote:

TylerR wrote:

I apologize for my comments about the FBFI and Bro. Unruh from last week, on the earlier thread. I was upset and I acted irresponsibly in several posts. I have hit the reset switch and posted the questions I had as I read (and re-read) Bro. Unruh's article. I shall be patient as you respond. I know you are busy, and I am not in a hurry. I promise. Smile

thanks, I appreciate it.

More to come. Now I am off to make lunch for my mother! She's 92. A wonder!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Marks of a Church

TylerR wrote:

We often speak of the "marks" of a church. Well, in this kind of discussion, I believe the FBFI needs to define what it means when it speaks of "Convergent" fundamentalists.

.......

Tyler,

I write as an interloper because you mentioned the "marks of a church." Yesterday, along with the five other elders from our church, I attended my first 9Marks conference at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, pastored by Mark Dever. The 9 Marks are a good place to start for the church. I was reminded that Dever was invited to a fundamentalist conference a few years ago and shared the platform with Drs. Jordan, Bauder, and Doran. It was a great "convergent" moment but many saw it as compromise since Mark Dever is an amillennial Southern Baptist who shares the platform with Mahaney, Keller, Piper, Mbewe, etc. There were probably a couple hundred mostly young men at the conference. Many are church planting; many are revitalizing churches. Not everyone there would partner with everyone else and I'm sure we could find something to disagree with. The problem with any Christian movement is when something or someone else becomes the center rather than Christ and the gospel. With cultural Fundamentalism separation and issues are at the center. If Christ and the gospel were at the center, separation would have its rightful place but not the center place. Your 'marks of the church" also reminded me that God's movement is the Church not parachurch organizations (as helpful as they might be in service to the Church). 

Steve

Marks of A Church

Is this really a common expression? Other than Dever's book, which I have never read, I have never heard the expression.

 

Dan Unrah and Fallacious Reasoning

Dan Unrah wrote:
Music always consists of three elements: Melody, harmony, and rhythm. Without any one of these elements a composition is not music. These elements must be put in proper priority. The melody is the theme of the music. The harmony and rhythm are supposed to elevate the melody. Any time the melody becomes subordinate, the music is unbalanced. Both secular musicians and sacred would agree that melody affects the spirit or soul, harmony affects the mind and rhythm affects the body.

This is the same nonsense I heard in the 80s. The reasoning follows thusly: rhythm affects/appeals to the body (i.e. your flesh). Your flesh is sinful. Therefore, listening to music that contains rhythm appeals to your sinful flesh (instead of to your spirit) and is sinful. Galatians 5:16-17. Q.E.D.

Once this fallacious reasoning is accepted, it is then applied to any so-called Christian music with drums or a beat in it (e.g. Steve Green) to prove the music is sinful regardless of the lyrics.

And, if that appeal is not successful, then we make an appeal to one of the 3 principles Dan's position paper lays out: the “new song” principle, the principle of appropriateness, and the present predominant association principle. This net of "discernment" will catch any and all so-called Christian music that isn't in our hymnals. (You still use hymnals in your church, don't you?!?!)

FBFI Resolutions

I find it interesting that FBFI published the following definition of fundamentalism in its resolution list from the years 1978-1980.  

80. 01 REGARDING FUNDAMENTALISM 

A fundamentalist is a genuine believer in the Person, Work, and Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ who: 

1. Regards the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as the verbally inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God; 
2. Recognizes the Bible as the authoritative voice of God on all issues pertaining to life, including civil, social, and spiritual; 
3. Endeavors to practice Biblical conduct in all areas of his life; 
4. Believes in all the foundational truths of historic Christianity, including:
    a. The inspiration of the Bible 
    b. The virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ 
    c. The Deity of Christ 
    d. The bodily resurrection, ascension, and literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ 
    e. Salvation by grace through faith and regeneration by the Holy spirit
    f. The eternal destinies of Heaven or Hell 
    g. Man is a sinner by nature and by choice 
5. Earnestly contends for the faith, which includes a militant defense and proclamation of the faith and separation from all forms of heresy, apostasy, unbelief, and inclusivism, direct or indirect. 
6. Is compelled by love to expose error, within and without the household of faith.

 

The 1978-1980 fundamentalism definition was terminated in 1981 and was replaced by 

81. 01 REGARDING FUNDAMENTALISM

The FBF believes that there is a subtle undermining of historic fundamentalism by definition; that a true fundamentalist not only
believes in such fundamentals of the faith as the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, the incarnation, virgin birth, substitutionary
atonement, bodily resurrection and glorious ascension and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the new birth through regeneration
by the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment and eternal death, and resurrection of saints to eternal life, but
also exposes and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that faith and refuses to be tolerant of believers who are tolerant of
unbelievers; we believe that those who hide their "soft" stand on separation by hiding behind what they term "the modern fad of
secondary separation" espouse a position that will eventually destroy historic fundamentalism.

 

If anyone from FBFI cares to comment and is knowledgeable about the change, could the following questions be answered?

Why were points #1 - #6 from 1978-1980 rewritten, and why couldn't the issue of refusing to be tolerant of other believers have been published as a #7?

Also, should we view the issue of separation to be an omission to the original fundamentalist definition, or an addition?

Would it be fair to characterize a "convergent fundamentalist" as one who held to the original 1978-1980 definition, but didn't fully subscribe to the 1981 revision?

John B. Lee

Quick Note

Thanks to Don for agreeing to respond on his blog, publicly. Here is my position on this:

  • If a position is laid out in a public forum (e.g. as a feature issue in Frontline magazine which has been distributed into thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of homes)
  • then nobody should be upset if critics and friends (in this case, I am both) respond publicly in return
  • If someone is not willing to deal with public criticism and interaction, then do not state your position on certain issues in a public forum for interaction

Some in the FBFI may be upset because I published my response publicly. Well, the original piece was published publicly. My response (which was really not a response at all, but a call for clarification on a number of points) will therefore be just as public. If the FBFI is as serious as it says about confronting the excesses of "Convergent" fundamentalism, then they ought to welcome this kind of dialogue. I am glad Don has decided to respond. I hope other people from the FBFI do, too.

Isn't that how . . . iron sharpens iron?

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

JBL wrote:

JBL wrote:

If anyone from FBFI cares to comment and is knowledgeable about the change, could the following questions be answered?

Why were points #1 - #6 from 1978-1980 rewritten, and why couldn't the issue of refusing to be tolerant of other believers have been published as a #7?

Quickly, because I have to be out the door five minutes ago... If a position statement is repealed, it is no longer published. Since both are published, we would see the second to be an expansion or restatement of the first. There was a period where resolutions (as we used to call them) were repeated year after year (not in total, but at least some of them). We have gotten away from doing that.

JBL wrote:

Also, should we view the issue of separation to be an omission to the original fundamentalist definition, or an addition?

Would it be fair to characterize a "convergent fundamentalist" as one who held to the original 1978-1980 definition, but didn't fully subscribe to the 1981 revision?

To the second question, no, since I see separation in the first statement also, just more fleshed out in the second.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Marks of a Church - expression

Mark_Smith wrote:

Is this really a common expression? Other than Dever's book, which I have never read, I have never heard the expression.

I'm not sure how widely the expression is used but it has been around for awhile. For example the Belgic Confession: “The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing sin” (Belgic Confession, Article 29). The number may be different but I think the intention is the same - to describe what a true church is in contrast to false churches that use the name "church" but have departed from Scripture.

Matthew 7:1-5 Never Grows Obsolete

Don Johnson wrote:

We will get further if we talk to one another like Christians. I haven't seen a lot of that in the threads on this topic in the last week or so. We can do better.

I agree. My appreciation to you and Tyler for striking this chord together.

From my generation to yours, I trust that we will do our very best to listen, even when we disagree. We all need to be very careful to express ourselves as thoughtfully, graciously and clearly as possible. For myself, I find that Matthew 7:1-5 never grows obsolete. I usually find a lot of myself in the so-called problems I critique in others. I'm still working on my beams. If you have any advice for how to get rid of them, I'll listen Wink

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | www.studygodsword.com
Blog & Podcast | www.shepherdthoughts.com

Thanks Don

These were written almost forty years ago.  I appreciate the insight.  

I believe I am correct then in assessing that FBFI is saying that believers who are "tolerant of believers who are tolerant of unbelievers" were never true historic fundamentalists.

John B. Lee

Mark

The concept of "marks" of a church isn't new. I've seen it in most systematic theologies. For a class I taught in church a few years ago, I made a comparison chart of different theologians (from days lone gone and current) and how they define what a "church" is. It's a common term.

As a sidenote, I really recommend John Hammett's book on Baptist polity. What makes his book so interesting is he doesn't just state a position. He critiques where many Baptist churches fall short today, and suggests ways forward. Very thought-provoking - especially his remarks on how to make the ordinances a meaningful part of worship again. Well worth the money. I emailed him and expressed my appreciation a few years back, and he was kind enough to respond.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Dever, Piper and Mac

From what I understand, Dever has explicitly and publicly claimed that he is a 'fundamentalist'.  If I were in a position to talk with Piper personally, I would have quite a few polite questions about how he can take that name and maintain relationships with people who are/were walking headlong into error (Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll from several years back, etc).  I have never really considered a specific position on the Millennium to equate with Fundamentalist/ism.  I am very comfortable with the Premill / Pretribulation position but could consider fellowship/co-belligerency with a Bible preaching and Pre-wrath evangelist (for example).

Devers links to Dr. Minnick's message on Fundamentalism on his website, for goodness' sake: https://9marks.org/interview/fundamentalism-and-separation-mark-minnick/

​MacArthur is a fundamentalist in my book.  The FBFI, from what I am seeing in posts here and on their published articles, is heading towards the 'hyper-separatist / hyper-fundamentalist' column of Jim's PDF, and that's a shame. I hope that they can change course. 

 

"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

Confession

I groaned when I saw this topic coming up again…. and then groaned again louder. Psyched up and took a look at the thread. To my surprise… it’s not too bad. (If I were a pagan, I’d knock on wood at this pt.)

Seems like as I get older there is less and less fight in me and more and more desire to see people understand one another.

Three cheers for mutual understanding!

And my salute to this closet fundamentalist…

We'll figure it out, Aaron

Aaron - this will be THE thread that finally resolves all the other threads on Fundamentalism.  Trust us. Smile

Seriously, I saw this article - Early Fundamentalism's Legacy: What is It and Will It Endure through the 21st Century - at the DBTS Journal website tonight and figured I would pass it along for discussion/edification.  I'm sure there are salient points made that have bearing on this topic.

 

"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

Advancing The Church

Steve Davis wrote:

I write as an interloper because you mentioned the "marks of a church." Yesterday, along with the five other elders from our church, I attended my first 9Marks conference at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, pastored by Mark Dever. The 9 Marks are a good place to start for the church. I was reminded that Dever was invited to a fundamentalist conference a few years ago and shared the platform with Drs. Jordan, Bauder, and Doran. It was a great "convergent" moment but many saw it as compromise since Mark Dever is an amillennial Southern Baptist who shares the platform with Mahaney, Keller, Piper, Mbewe, etc. There were probably a couple hundred mostly young men at the conference. Many are church planting; many are revitalizing churches. Not everyone there would partner with everyone else and I'm sure we could find something to disagree with. The problem with any Christian movement is when something or someone else becomes the center rather than Christ and the gospel. With cultural Fundamentalism separation and issues are at the center. If Christ and the gospel were at the center, separation would have its rightful place but not the center place. Your 'marks of the church" also reminded me that God's movement is the Church not parachurch organizations (as helpful as they might be in service to the Church). 

I think this was the 2011 "Advancing The Church" conference at Calvary Lansdale.  If anyone is interested in listening to the speaker panels, you can get the MP3s from my OneDrive here.

"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

fundamentalist = dispensationalist?

"It was a great "convergent" moment but many saw it as compromise since Mark Dever is an amillennial Southern Baptist who shares the platform with Mahaney, Keller, Piper, Mbewe, etc."

One of the aspects of modern fundamentalism that renders its heritage and motivations somewhat suspect, to my mind, is precisely this drift of dispensationalism from what must have originally been only a characteristic common to many fundamentalists to a nonnegotiable (even core) doctrine. As a highly conservative, Reformed Baptist, it is my Baptist covenant theology--not Bible versions, for I love the KJV; not music, for I hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship; not alcohol, for I don't drink--that would hold fundamentalists back from considering me a fundamentalist and bar me from speaking in or even joining some of fundamentalist churches. Even causing many to label me a "liberal." I find this situation somewhat telling, honestly, about the real priorities of many fundamentalists (most of whom would have nothing to do with this forum, might I add. Because you're all "liberal compromisers" Wink ). 

Philosophy, Not Movement?

I've always seen "fundamentalism" as a militant and passionate philosophy for ministry and theology, not a movement per se. That is why I think James White and John MacArthur are "fundamentalists." They're about as militant as you can get. They're just not the right kind of fundamentalists for some people. 

 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Except

James White ARDENTLY says he is NOT a fundamentalist. James sees himself FIRMLY as a Reformed Christian. That is his identity. James White mocks and caricatures "fundamentalists" as KJV only dispensational wack-jobs... and that is being kind. By the way, I think James would agree with everything I wrote.

Mark

Mark wrote (it'll appear above soon):

James White ARDENTLY says he is NOT a fundamentalist. James sees himself FIRMLY as a Reformed Christian. That is his identity. James White mocks and caricatures "fundamentalists" as KJV only dispensational ... and that is being kind. By the way, I think James would agree with everything I wrote.

He's speaking about the movement, not the philosophy and mindset he brings to his theology and ministry. That is an important distinction. Many people who are, essentially, "fundamentalist" in their theology and philosophy to ministry would want nothing to do with "fundamentalism" as a movement because of the excesses of that movement.

I think we really need to distinguish between (a) fundamentalism as a philosophy to ministry and life, and (b) "fundamentalism" as an identifiable movement. 

James White was raised in the GARBC. 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

If you are a dispensationalist

and credo-baptist. What can you do together with a Reformed person OTHER THAN talk about inerrancy and Calvinism. You can't agree with baptism. You can't agree to end times. Most Reformed have a totally different worship style.

So, we can stand on the stage and wave together, but after the crusade is over, you have the same problem that was present at Billy Graham crusades. Would you send new converts to a paedo-baptist church? Is it REALLY OK for people to teach amillennialism if you are a confirmed pre-millennialist?

That is my problem. I have several Reformed Presbyterian friends, but we can't do much together.

Tyler

I know you like James White. I have learned from him as well. But if you get close to him, you find he is surrounded by some really critical people IMHO. Try joining his special network talk channel. Have you done that? You'll see some interesting things. I did for a while and ...well, I was really disappointed.

Mark

You wrote:

What can you do together with a Reformed person OTHER THAN talk about inerrancy and Calvinism. You can't agree with baptism. 

You can with Reformed Baptists!

You can't agree to end times. Most Reformed have a totally different worship style.

I think there are things to learn from their worship style, and vice versa.

So, we can stand on the stage and wave together, but after the crusade is over, you have the same problem that was present at Billy Graham crusades. Would you send new converts to a paedo-baptist church? Is it REALLY OK for people to teach amillennialism if you are a confirmed pre-millennialist?

This is why I want to know more about Reformed Baptists. Regarding the end-times issue, it is not a deal-breaker with me. 

It depends on what your overriding filter or concern is for ministry:

  • If you're a "B"aptist, then you'll tolerate all manner of deviations on soteriology, bibliology, sin, theology proper (really, just about anything) because you're "together" as Baptists. Ecclesioloogy is what matters most, so you'll form associations based on that principle.
  • If you're "R"eformed in your thinking, then you'll tolerate all manner of deviations on eschatology and ecclesiology (e.g. MacArthur) because you're "together" on theology proper and salvation. You'll form your associations based on that principle.

I don't believe fundamentalist Baptists have any leg to stand on when they speak of their track-record on separation. All militant conservatives choose where they want to focus their "seperatism." Until, for example, the GARBC, FBFI and ACCC come out and publicly denounce the re-inspiration views of the KJV, the heresy of semi-Pelagianism, then we simply have a massive double-standard. 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

The ACCC on "convergence" (dated 06/15/2016):

 

"In a...recent work, six authors contributed to a Zondervan project called Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (2011), which was designed “to navigate . . . differences and preserve the meaning and mission behind the name we each claim” (p. 17). That name is the label evangelical, and the claimants form a self-described spectrum of evangelicalism under the labels fundamentalist, confessional evangelical, generic evangelical, and post-conservative evangelical. The conclusion of the book encourages a convergence of the first two categories as close theological relatives that should distance themselves from the last two members of the evangelical family."

https://accc4truth.org/2016/06/15/the-doctrine-of-separation-and-the-spectrum-of-evangelicalism/ 

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This is the book mentioned (which I'm sure many, or even most, S/I readers are familiar with):

http://www.zondervan.com/four-views-on-the-spectrum-of-evangelicalism

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Question: Did the book really encourage "convergence" between Fundamentalism and Conservative (aka "Confessional") Evangelicalism (as the ACCC claims)?

I put myself into the camp of

I put myself into the camp of a Reformed Baptist, and am a member of a reformed baptist church, as I have had in the past.

 

TylerR wrote:

You wrote:

What can you do together with a Reformed person OTHER THAN talk about inerrancy and Calvinism. You can't agree with baptism. 

You can with Reformed Baptists!

I agree.  You can talk about a lot of things with Presbyterians, including the preaching to the lost, discipleship of believers, challenges in the ministry....

Quote:

You can't agree to end times. Most Reformed have a totally different worship style.

I think there are things to learn from their worship style, and vice versa.

While Reformed Baptist as a hold do not hold to a single view of the end times, they are also not dogmatic on their view.  Their are a lot of Reformed Baptists that are dispensational, as well as many other views.  They respect other's beliefs and they have more times than not, explained that this was their view, but that they could also be wrong.  For prophecy, this is a pretty good step, and much more gracious than most fundamentalists.  Given the fact that even the Apostles themselves were not entirely clear and accurate in their interpretation of the Old Testament, I am not going to be dogmatic on prophecy.  The Bible provides clear evidence of why prophecy should not be dogmatic.  Its purpose is to allow those individuals  to look back, when prophecy is fulfilled and see the evidence and confirmation of the current situation.

I would also say that the worship style is different, but not that far off some fundamentalists, and is more regulative than most fundamentalist churches that I have been in.

More

I should add that I am eternally grateful for my professional ministry education in a fundamental Baptist institution - Maranatha Baptist Seminary. I'm not making my comments as a bitter defector from "the cause," but as a member of that movement who is simply making some friendly critiques. There is a large quality difference between those educated in intelligent fundamentalist institutions, and those who are not. In other words, I'm an insider simply thinking out loud about how we can be "always reforming" our own camp to make it more Biblical.  

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Maranatha Ruleth!

Maranatha has a number of "Position Statements" which accompany the institution's Statement of Faith.

Behold this position statement from Maranatha on Christian liberty. Whoever wrote these is a genius:

The Bible faculty are committed to the biblical practice of Christian liberty. We acknowledge that Scripture binds believers together around non-negotiables such as the gospel, fundamental doctrines, and clear biblical mandates, but allows for a variety of applications of biblical principles to areas not specifically enumerated in Scripture. We encourage all believers through their study of Scripture to establish personal convictions that glorify God in all areas of life and promote unity with fellow believers.

Paul clearly defines in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8–10 that believers are neither to be “despising” nor “judging” others because of different practices in “doubtful things,” but rather are to receive one another as fellow-servants. We reject all attempts to elevate extra-biblical standards to the level of scriptural authority; such attempts often divide the Body of Christ and/or endeavor to establish one’s holiness apart from the work of Christ. Such practices lead to spiritual elitism, pride, and inauthentic holiness that stress the external over the internal. Believers must, therefore, be convinced in their own faith of the rightness or wrongness of a practice through their personal study of the Scriptures and stand before God in assurance of their faith while biblically loving those of differing persuasions. We also recognize the need for submission to institutional standards but acknowledge these do not produce holiness in and of themselves, but can be helpful prior to the formation of personal convictions.

Behold their position statement on "contemporary issues:"

The Bible faculty are committed to transparent interaction with students on contemporary issues. Discernment is a character quality and acquired skill that is necessary for spiritual success. The ability to practice keen insight and judgment in contemporary issues cannot be developed in an environment that limits discussion and hinders transparency. At the same time, open discussion without progression toward biblical answers does not meet the standard of a valid education. It is our desire to provide students a forum for communication so that education in critical thinking and biblical discretion can take place. In particular, we recognize that our students are being impacted by many conservative evangelicals via their writings, speaking, and internet communication. We acknowledge that many of these men and women have made positive contributions to the Body of Christ. We also note that aspects of their teaching and practices fall outside of the boundaries that we believe are biblical. We seek to instruct and model for students to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”

This is the kind of fundamentalism which is worth propagating.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Is this "convergence"?:

 

Baptist Streams Converge in the Arizona Desert:

CHANDLER, Ariz.—“As leaders confront the challenges of the present, the benefits of a shared testimony and collective gathering around gospel fundamentals, hermeneutic principles, and Baptist church distinctives are as needed today as they have ever been,” wrote Pastor Greg Linscott in his Baptist Bulletin article “Independence Is Not Isolation.” In that article he reported that Dr. Michael Sproul and Tri-City Baptist Church would host a national conference “involving several leaders from across the spectrum of Baptist fundamentalism.” The conference would be a venue “to explore the possibilities and benefits” of fellowshipping, working, and standing together.

On March 7–9, that conference, called The Gospel Proclaimed, became reality. Attenders represented a variety of geographical locations, Baptist associations and fellowships, institutions and agencies, and individual congregations. They rejoiced together at the unity they found in gospel truth and ecclesiastical principles. That unity was a key goal of the conference. “Now more than ever, it is vital for distinct groups of independent Baptists to demonstrate that we are just as committed to the unity of those who love truth as we are to separating from those who distort the Gospel,” says the conference website. “We must avoid the disasters of the past that led to the destruction of sound doctrine and practice, while effectively communicating the unchanging gospel of God in a changing world.”

Sproul introduced the conference, and several Baptist fundamentalist leaders preached on pertinent questions, such as “Why a Baptist?” Nineteen men and two women led workshops on subjects such as evangelism, administration, Baptist history, ladies in ministry, and various church outreach ministries.

John Sauser of Baptist Church Planters expressed delight at the hope the event offered. “I’m rejoicing, seeing God’s hand at work bringing these different streams together in this setting. There’s a sense that this mutual awareness and fellowship around God’s truth provides strength to advance His agenda for our various churches.”

http://www.garbc.org/news/network-news/baptist-streams-converge-in-the-arizona-desert/

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Or is it "convergence" only when Conservative Evangelicals are involved?

Streams Which Converge

Here is the fundamental linchpin - which part of your systematic theology is most definitional to you, and how does this impact your doctrine of separation? Consider this excerpt from Larry's post:

On March 7–9, that conference, called The Gospel Proclaimed, became reality. Attenders represented a variety of geographical locations, Baptist associations and fellowships, institutions and agencies, and individual congregations. They rejoiced together at the unity they found in gospel truth and ecclesiastical principles. That unity was a key goal of the conference. “Now more than ever, it is vital for distinct groups of independent Baptists to demonstrate that we are just as committed to the unity of those who love truth as we are to separating from those who distort the Gospel,” says the conference website. “We must avoid the disasters of the past that led to the destruction of sound doctrine and practice, while effectively communicating the unchanging gospel of God in a changing world.”

Sproul introduced the conference, and several Baptist fundamentalist leaders preached on pertinent questions, such as “Why a Baptist?” Nineteen men and two women led workshops on subjects such as evangelism, administration, Baptist history, ladies in ministry, and various church outreach ministries.

This is a very healthy example of the doctrine of ecclesiology as the most definitional area of systematic theology. Represented at this meeting are men who are Arminian and Calvinistic, Textus Receptus and Eclectic Text, Chaferian sanctification and Reformed sanctification, who have different views on something as fundamental as the New Covenant and the church, and probably on also the work of the Holy Spirit in the OT, etc. In other words, they're together on "Baptist," but agree to disagree on a whole host of other issues. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But, perhaps some Baptist fundamentalists should realize this:

  • Men do exist who simply have a different definitional area of systematic theology which informs their doctrine of separation. This doesn't mean they're not fundamentalists. It just means they're fundamentalists who are a bit different than you.  

Food for thought. This stems from my own conviction that "fundamentalism" is less an identifiable movement, but a more militant philosophy and approach to the truth of the Gospel and the Scriptures. This entire discussion from Frontline's latest issue has clarified my own thinking in this area.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

on dispensationalism

First, no one can deny that historically fundamentalists have been drawn mainly from the dispensationalist ranks. That is not to say ALL have been dispensationalists, but dispensationalism was and is a huge factor in fundamentalist history, especially Baptist fundamentalist history.

Second, Tyler mentions the Gospel Proclaimed Conference. I attended half of it and was privileged to hear Mike Harding preach on "Why Dispensationalist." It was an outstanding message, delivered in full "fire hose as drinking fountain" mode, as only Mike can do. We ran the manuscript on P&D in three parts. If you are interested, here they are:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I wouldn't say dispensationalism is a distinctive of fundamentalism, exactly, but it certainly is a mark of the FBFI and most Independent Baptists.

Finally, I'd have to agree with this comment Tyler made above:

TylerR wrote:
This stems from my own conviction that "fundamentalism" is less an identifiable movement, but a more militant philosophy and approach to the truth of the Gospel and the Scriptures. This entire discussion from Frontline's latest issue has clarified my own thinking in this area.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dispensationalism as a Mark of Baptist Fundamentalism

When I think of Fundamentalism proper, I think of it as a big tent that is both denominationally and theologically diverse.

When I think of Baptist Fundamentalism, I recall significantly less diversity. One would assume that this would limit those who do not hold to Baptist distinctives, however, at least in Baptist Fundamentalism, it seems that dispensationalism has been made a distinctive. My question is this: is it possible to change this? I think many younger fundamentalists find the mantra "Premil, Pretrib, Baptist" a little off-putting, especially understanding that you can be an ardent Baptist and not be dispensational, that there is room for discussion on issues such as the timing of the rapture, maybe even the nature of the millennial reign of Christ.

Now I understand that the FBFI is committed to a dispensational hermeneutic. That's great for them! But for those who either disagree with that system, or do not make that system a distinctive for themselves or their ministry, is there any room for them to fellowship within the FBFI? Would it be possible for the FBFI to be theologically diverse among evangelical, separatist, Baptists? If not, my next question is why not?

I think another thing that is attractive about "converging" with conservative evangelicals, is that they have fellowships that operate on the very basic tenants of the Christian faith. You have MacArthur speaking at Ligoner, Ligon Duncan speaking at the shepherds conference. I mean, they have even embraced Joel Beeke (Dutch reformed). And the draw of their conferences and fellowships is the big tent. Not a tent big enough to let error in on the fundamentals, but a tent big enough to allow organized and coordinated fellowship and cobeligerance (sp?) over the things that really matter.

While dispensational theology may still hold sway with the majority of fundamentalists, making that a distinctive of fundamentalism is quickly becoming the position of yesterday.

Phil Golden

Bro. Golden

You wrote:

You have MacArthur speaking at Ligoner, Ligon Duncan speaking at the shepherds conference. I mean, they have even embraced Joel Beeke (Dutch reformed). And the draw of their conferences and fellowships is the big tent. Not a tent big enough to let error in on the fundamentals, but a tent big enough to allow organized and coordinated fellowship and cobeligerance (sp?) over the things that really matter.

I'll take this opportunity to beat an already dying horse, but I think you see this level of cooperation because, for these men, being Reformed is the most definitional area of systematic theology for them. That means they're willing to tolerate different approaches to ecclesiology (for example) in favor of being "on the same page" with soteriology and theology proper. This is precisely the same as Baptists at the "Gospel Proclaimed" conference being able to tolerate all kinds of other doctrinal deviations in favor of a shared eschatology and ecclesiology.

I believe many in the younger generation of Baptist fundamentalists do not see being "B"aptist as the definitional area of their systematic theology. Instead, for many of them, the definitional area is being "R"eformed in their soteriology and theology proper. They implement the doctrine of separation accordingly. Some Baptist fundamentalists seem to take exception to this.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Don Johnson wrote:First, no

Don Johnson wrote:
First, no one can deny that historically fundamentalists have been drawn mainly from the dispensationalist ranks. That is not to say ALL have been dispensationalists, but dispensationalism was and is a huge factor in fundamentalist history, especially Baptist fundamentalist history.

I don't know if this comment is aimed at my earlier one, but yes, that is true.  Dispensationalism is a huge part of traditional Baptist Fundamentalism, which is the 'stream' that I would place myself in.

What I am saying is that it is possible for true Fundamentalism to exist with all kinds of dispensational positions.  A cursory review of the original Fundamentals volumes will bear that out...I seem to recall an article arguing for the AMillennial position by an author, but I didn't see that one in the articles that ran on SI

"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

Just sayin'

I'm noticing that people are still asking what a "convergent" person is.  Again, you want to argue against something, or for something for that matter, it helps to define it.  

 

Philip Golden Jr. wrote: the

Philip Golden Jr. wrote:
the very basic tenants of the Christian faith

Sigh. I hate this! You've pushed my button.

TENETS!!!!!

TENETS!!!!!

TENETS!!!!!

TENETS!!!!!

TENETS!!!!!

TENETS!!!!!

We aren't renting the Christian faith out to anyone.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

@Don

We aren't renting the Christian faith out to anyone.

'We' aren't responsible to rent the Christian faith out to anyone.  

It's becoming pretty obvious that the big issue between the FBFI and the 'Convergents' / 'young fundamentalists' is that some in the FBFI seems to think they have a lot more control and power over people than they actually do (or even should).

"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

What they fight over ...

Jim wrote:

Fundamentalists arguing is like ...

What they fight over ...

"I'm the real Historic Fundamentalist"

"No you're not ... I'm the real Historic Fundamentalist"

"No you're not ... I'm the real Historic Fundamentalist"

Ad nauseam

What Think Ye?

I wrote this above:

I believe many in the younger generation of Baptist fundamentalists do not see being "B"aptist as the definitional area of their systematic theology. Instead, for many of them, the definitional area is being "R"eformed in their soteriology and theology proper. They implement the doctrine of separation accordingly. Some Baptist fundamentalists seem to take exception to this.

Of course, not all younger fundamentalists are Reformed, but you get my point. What think ye, my brethren? 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

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