“This cannot be called legalism. It is a fundamental aspect of Christian life.”

The Fundamentals of Sanctification and Cultural Fundamentalism - Don Johnson

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josh p's picture

This was a good article Don thanks. It's interesting to me that some who criticize those with stricter PERSONAL standards than themselves, often want a biblically justified list of don'ts. The fact is, I can refrain from something another does not refrain from without having to write a biblical defense. Its after all personal sanctification. 

Bert Perry's picture

Here is Tertullian's commentary on the ampitheater and the theater.  More or less, his objection is primarily that it is in effect a pagan temple, and then to the content, especially of the circus/ampitheater (gladiatorial games and such).   At least in Tertullian's mind, there really was no such thing as games or theater that did not have major idolatrous or other sinful content--generally the theater had both.  Here's a list of Greek plays that remain known to us today.

Fast forward to today, I'd have to guess Tertullian would be offended perhaps not at all combat sports, but definitely of MMA, and his sympathy for the prostitutes paraded at the theater would have a parallel in an aversion to pornography.  I'm not sure where he'd place the rest of theater now that the connection to Dionysius has been (well, mostly) lost.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

Considering that I'm 75 years old, I'm flattered to be called a "cool kid"!

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

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Similar to Don, I'm skeptical of putting applications in covenants, especially since real-life situations and culture change much more quickly than church covenants tend to.  Our church uses a church covenant, but we restrict it to general or direct biblical language, rather than including particular examples.

I personally think it's much better for individuals or families to come up with applications and follow those, even though they will often be different from the applications of the people across the aisle.  The important part is that each person (or family if minors are involved) is attempting to follow what God says and bring their lives into compliance with his Word.  The particulars of each person's applications may be different, and that's completely normal.

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

dcbii wrote:

The particulars of each person's applications may be different, and that's completely normal.

To follow up on this one point, and I may have already said it, but bible believers will tend to point in the same direction when they are making their applications. To go back to my performing arts example, one Christian might allow a movie that has some swear words in it while another Christian would reject that movie. But both of them would be pointing towards less swearing, not more. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know precisely how Don was thinking it when he wrote the words, but I'd guess that a large portion of conservative evangelicals that would use the phrase "cultural fundamentalism" would infer a degree of contempt from the FBFI/etc., side of the equation when that phrase is used.  If one wants to engage with the other side instead of just shouting at each other, might be a good idea to lay off such verbiage (as much as it's a blessing to Ron and I to be called "cool kids" ).

And regarding the phrase "cultural fundamentalism", it should be noted that what that refers to as a rule is seen as not proceeding strongly from the Scripture, the classic example being the response "remind me again what Jesus' first miracle was..." when the issue of mandatory prohibitionism is brought up.  One could argue "well, this is offensive to us as well", but part of good debate is admitting when one's case is not as strong or obvious as "stated explicitly in the Decalogue".  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

To follow up on this one point, and I may have already said it, but bible believers will tend to point in the same direction when they are making their applications. To go back to my performing arts example, one Christian might allow a movie that has some swear words in it while another Christian would reject that movie. But both of them would be pointing towards less swearing, not more. 

I do agree that we all tend to point in the same direction.  The concern becomes when someone will step even further back (using the example above) and say "all movies should not be watched".  They will lay that out as being a "safe position" because most, if not all movies are not Scripturally aligned in all areas.  They then state that this position is a defining line and also use this position as an indicator of belief.  The concern is that these legal lines are laid down and they then define the group of people.  I grew up in fundamentalism, and so I will give you an example,

We couldn't go to a summer camp when I was younger unless the camp preached from the KJV, girls had to wear culottes, and the guys could not wear shorts.  Little vocal concern was placed around discipleship, focus on the gospel....  We knew as kids if someone invited us to a camp, we had to ask these questions.  We were taught that if these people wore this stuff or acted this way that they were of the world.  Shift a few years later and kids were wearing shorts.  So what is a 10 year old to think?  Now the direction was correct, right?  Modesty.  The lines were different, and I think it is how the lines were taught and how they defined a person where it became a "cultural" aspect.

josh p's picture

I guess it's inevitable on SI that any discussion of sanctification will bring up old fundy mores (KJVONLY, Cullottes, and alcohol). I don't see Don making any pronouncements. The whole tenor of the article (minus the part about church covenants) is about individual pursuit of sanctification. Seems like something most Christians can agree with.  
 

"That is the theme of these essays on the Fundamentals of Sanctification. We should promote in ourselves and others a walk of holiness, a walk towards God and away from the world. Yes, it is true there are many ways of applying these matters and individual choices may differ, but Christians ought to delight in the Lord, not in the world. That’s what the Bible teaches about sanctification."

Bert Perry's picture

Josh, my take is what when an FBFI member comments on the "cool kids" talking about "cultural fundamentalism", then eventually we are going to get around to discussing the matters like movies (already discussed by Don), wine, dancing, secondary separation, and culottes.  Could be wrong, but if past experience can be a guide to future expectations...

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

I guess we’ll have to see. Maybe Don can enlighten us if he tends to make a case for all of that.

 

edit: Regarding movies: I know Christians that watch hard R movies and shows like game of thrones. Granted I don't want to hear specific denouncements of things like that from the pulpit but I see no reason why they can't be mentioned in a blog article. John Piper had an article a while back on why Christian's shouldn't watch Game of Thrones. I doubt anyone thinks of him as an FBFI type. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Don wrote a good article. I agree with all of it.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

dgszweda's picture

josh p wrote:

I guess it's inevitable on SI that any discussion of sanctification will bring up old fundy mores (KJVONLY, Cullottes, and alcohol). I don't see Don making any pronouncements. The whole tenor of the article (minus the part about church covenants) is about individual pursuit of sanctification. Seems like something most Christians can agree with.  
 

"That is the theme of these essays on the Fundamentals of Sanctification. We should promote in ourselves and others a walk of holiness, a walk towards God and away from the world. Yes, it is true there are many ways of applying these matters and individual choices may differ, but Christians ought to delight in the Lord, not in the world. That’s what the Bible teaches about sanctification."

I agree with Don's article and felt both of them have been well written.  He brings up cultural fundamentalism, which appeared to be a big buzz word from the recent BJU struggle.  It was a term thrown about it.  But here was a real struggle taking place around this where one if not many were at risk of loosing their livelihood.  Both sides were striving for sanctification, but real distinct line were being drawn.  I think everyone would agree that the schools creed outlines a pretty good landscape for the fundamentals and both sides were in agreement that the fundamentals were not at stake.  What was at stake was the application of these fundamentals.  Two sides saw them a bit differently, even though both sides were striving for holiness in their lives and actions.  What was very interesting is that both sides saw the other as dangerous.  And that aspect was very interesting to me.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Reading my Bible recently, I couldn't help wonder if God's prohibition to OT Israel about intermarrying with Gentiles was guilt by association?

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Reading my Bible recently, I couldn't help wonder if God's prohibition to OT Israel about intermarrying with Gentiles was guilt by association?

Now you've left preachin' and gone to meddlin' !!!!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Reading my Bible recently, I couldn't help wonder if God's prohibition to OT Israel about intermarrying with Gentiles was guilt by association?

Read in context--with Rahab and Ruth appearing in the genealogy of Christ--I think that's got to be interpreted as "do not marry pagan women", not "do not ever marry Gentile women".  Another point of reference is how Israelites were allowed to marry captive women after they'd mourned a month.  

So it wasn't guilt by association at all, but rather in context, guilt by guilt of being pagan.  But I think you meant to post it on another thread.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.