Beale on Broader Evangelicalism

" ...let’s just zero in on the most significant problem with Dr. Beale’s taxonomy—that there are only two groups in our day, Fundamentalism and Broad Evangelicalism" - Doran

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AndyE's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
But his acceptance of Redaction Criticism, even within the constraints which he places on his use of RC, are a BIG change at BJU. Therefore a question I have, for those posting here and for the BJU Seminary faculty: Is Stiekes' acceptance of RC, even with the limits he places on his use of RC, a wise step for him and the BJU Seminary? Contra Andy, I AM concerned about what some of the changes at BJU will produce.
I don't think this is a change at all. To quote Stiekes very briefly, all he is advocating is "trying to understand how the Lord led the human authors to write the very word of God."  Why do the gospels writers not include the exact same historical details?  Trying to answer that question is not new.  As Layton Talbert writes, "In other words, the basic idea of recognizing the distinctive selection and shaping of Gospel material is hardly the discovery of liberal scholars like Bornkamm or Conzelmann. Conservatives, it seems, were doing it on conservative principles before liberals were doing it on liberal principles."  The only thing Stiekes is guilty of is calling what conservatives have done and are doing  "Redaktiongeschichte."  He is NOT bringing in the unbelieving presuppsositions of higher criticism. If he was, that would be a change, and that would be bad.  But he's not doing that.   I don't think I have ever had any personal interaction with Greg Stiekes, but all that I know about him from others, and from what I've seen from him online, I'm very happy that he is at the Seminary and BJU would be worse off without him.

Bert Perry's picture

In light of Wally's FBFI column and the issues of clothing and musical standards, somehow James 2:2 and Psalms 149 and 150 come to mind.  Inasmuch as BJU is moving towards a regime where somewhat more casual clothing and modern music is becoming acceptable, I'd argue that they are becoming more fundamental, not less.  

Regarding Stiekes' line of thinking, that's simply an approach that any good exegete of any text uses, and for me to get worked up about it, I'd have to come to the point where I conclude that it actually does infringe on one of the theological fundamentals.  Really, Wally's FBFI article boils down to the slippery slope fallacy--change is opposed on the grounds that it will necessarily lead to ever worse results.

The trouble with indulging this fallacy--beyond the fact that it's bad logic and proves nothing, which ought to be sufficient--is that it leads to what Jim Peet would call "everythingism", where every theological and cultural distinctive becomes a hill to die on.  The trouble with "everythingism", in turn, is that people don't just choose to die on every hill, and hence "everythingism" becomes "nothingism."  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

Dave Doran wrote:

Here's what has always been the bottom line for me--will a student's heart be turned away from a church like ours? If so, we don't encourage students to go there. Might be simplistic, but it fits our focus on the primacy of the church. BJU has always been broader than us on separation (with whom we would work and fellowship), but they have not turned hearts away from a church like ours. 

This is an excellent assessment of why most pastors have sent their children to BJU in the past. 

I watched a chapel during the recent Spiritual Enrichment Conference at BJU.  I did not recognize any of the songs being played during the prelude.  The students clapped after the special music.  I guess having females in pants on stage is commonplace in our movement nowadays, but it still somehow rattled me seeing it at BJU.

These are small changes, but they are coupled with a relaxed attitude towards contemporary and evangelical ministries (SBC, PCA, Samaritan's Purse, etc.).  Graduates who would have been criticized in Preacher Boys Class for compromise in times past are now presented as models for BJU ministerial students to emulate (e.g., contemporary, SBC Pastor Adam Bailie at the BJU Seminary Pastors Roundtable on 9/25/21 -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQT6iUx5UQY&t=231s).

As the pastor of an independent Baptist church that still utilizes the KJV and an older hymnbook, will students I send to BJU be drawn to a more flashy, contemporary style of ministry while in college?  Will they walk across Wade Hampton BLVD and attend the SBC church currently pastored by a department head at BJU?  Will the church I pastor (and others like it) be dismissed as dead by BJU grads?

As an alumnus and member of the "bread and butter" BJU constituency, these are my concerns.

G. N. Barkman's picture

What if the recent changes at BJU are from a desire to become more fundamental, not less?  Are extra-biblical dress requirements a fundamental of the faith?  Is one a better, or worse Fundamentalist if one espouses as doctrine that which is actually cultural?  Was Paul less fundamental when he abandoned Mosaic dietary laws for the correct practice of recognizing that all food was good, if received with thanksgiving?  (Some of the Jewish believers thought Paul had compromised the faith, but they were wrong.  They were the ones who were compromising the faith by insisting upon rules that did not apply to New Covenant believers.)

The problem is that, over the years, Fundamentalism has often made cultural practices a "fundamental" of the faith.  That charge would usually be denied, but in practice, that's the way many rules functioned.  "If you don't adopt the same dress standards that we require, you are not a Fundamentalist."  Really?  Is that how Fundamentalism is defined?  No wonder some, who are 100% fundamental in doctrine, are hesitant to accept the label "Fundamentalist."  "If THAT's what it means to be a Fundamentalist, then I would rather be called something else."  In the light of this, what, exactly, does it mean to move away from Fundamentalists and toward Evangelicals?  What if I move away from the KJVO crowd because I believe it's wrong?  Does that make me a compromiser, or am I a more Biblical Fundamentalist than those who make KJVO a requirement in order to be labeled a Fundamentalist?

G. N. Barkman

Jay's picture

As the pastor of an independent Baptist church that still utilizes the KJV and an older hymnbook, will students I send to BJU be drawn to a more flashy, contemporary style of ministry while in college?  Will they walk across Wade Hampton BLVD and attend the SBC church currently pastored by a department head at BJU?  Will the church I pastor (and others like it) be dismissed as dead by BJU grads?

As an alumnus and member of the "bread and butter" BJU constituency, these are my concerns.

Thank you for sharing your concerns; I appreciate it.  As one of the disavowed "convergent" fundamentalist offspring, I can assure you that mainstream Evangelicalism is indeed a tire fire, especially with a lot of what has been allowed to transpire within the SBC.

That being said, I strongly prefer the old hymnals over 99.9% of the schlock that is used for "worship" music but I would prefer a more modern translation like the NKJV or NIV (I've pulled my support for the ESV).

All of that being said...why can't old school Fundamentalists like you and conservative Evangelicals like myself work together?  There are hundreds of good churches in Greenville that are faithful to the Gospel (not the fundamentalist movement) but there is precious little up here in NYS.  I can't be as picky or as tied to the "movement" as I might have liked when I was younger and more dialed into BJU circles.

Could a church like mine work with you on an evangelistic outreach?  If not, why not?

"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

WallyMorris's picture

Contra Bert, the "slippery slope" which he likes to talk about is easily provable in the last 200 years of American church history. Small changes at first led cumulatively to more significant changes: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the SBC in the first half of the 20th century - all started with small changes which people warned about but few listened. The "slippery slope" is obvious in politics. Can anyone deny that political liberals use strategies which result in ever-increasing liberalization of moral codes, getting others to compromise a little here, a little there until they have what they want? The "slippery slope" that Bert says does not exist clearly exists.

Also contra Bert: I am not against all change. Dangerous, specific changes are the concern. How can anyone deny that BJU's dress code changes, music standard changes, allowing a professor to promote Redaction Criticism, and, as C.D. noted, a BJU department head pastoring an SBC church and an SBC pastor who uses contemporary music promoted at a BJU roundtable are all significant changes at BJU? It is ludicrous to think these are not and will not have significant effects at BJU longterm. Some have stated in this discussion that those who have concerns should talk to BJU's leadership. We have - to no effect.

James 2:2 is not relevant to this discussion nor to my post at P&D. James is concerned with showing favoritism to people based on wealth or clothes. That is not the issue here at all. Red Herring and Straw Man. Psalm 149 & 150 are beautiful Psalms. Not sure what point Bert is making, unless he is referring to the "dancing" references. To perhaps suggest that these references justify modern dance would be strange, since modern dance almost always characterized by the sensual. Also: The Hebrew word has a variety of meanings, some even think it may refer to a musical instrument, not dancing as we think of it. To equate ancient Jewish dance with modern dance is more extragesis than exegesis. But, again, I am not sure what part of Ps 149 & 150 he wants to use for his argument.

"somewhat more casual clothing"?? BJU has a dress code in theory but anyone looking at pictures of school events can see that casual clothing is the dominant practice on campus. A member of the administration admitted to me a few years ago that the school is inconsistent in enforcing its dress code.

Someone(s) at BJU made the decision several years ago to keep the school open by expanding its base and changing its practices in order to attract a wider spectrum of students from a wider spectrum of churches. The decision was a pragmatic one in order to keep the school open. Adding intercollegiate sports was part of that decision. Can we have discussions about the different groups in conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism? Sure. But to imply that anyone who has concerns about some of the changes at BJU is simply expressing "cultural Fundamentalism" is ignoring the last 200 years of American church history and is perhaps more influenced by our culture than the "cultural Fundamentalists".

Having said all this: Nothing will be decided or changed by this discussion thread. The same arguments are being made by the same people on both sides of the debate. The discussions can be helpful at times. Perhaps, if we are still here, some can look at BJU in 20 years and see who was right.

 

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

Wally, not only is the slippery slope not provable in the past 200 years, but...it's still a logical fallacy. 

But since you bring up history, let's remind this forum of the situation in 1821.  For starters, since modesty is a big issue with you, may I remind you that women in those days were generally corseted, with their bosoms on display in a way that would be totally at home in Hollywood today?  A missionary to the Waxhaws in the time of the Revolution actually commented on how the young women bound up their blouses to put their "assets" on display. (Parisans and Redcoats, Walter Edgar)

A look at the attire in which the Founders were portrayed reveals that men were not that much better, especially in their pants. Regarding music and dancing, dances were a favorite activity of the Founding Fathers, and the punch was, yes, spiked--the Puritans and Anglicans alike drank an amount of liquor that would stagger modern Americans.  Edgar notes as well that a great degree of undress was common among the Scots Presbyterians in the Waxhaws.

Regarding religious views, it was common, even in Separatistic churches, for men to belong to both the church and Masonic lodges, and even in the non-Unitarian churches, Unitarian and anti-Trinitarian views were common, as by John Quincy Adams.  Deism was, as we learned in history class, also a common theme among men of that day, even in theoretically Bible believing churches.

It also ought to be noted that keeping slaves was extremely common in that day, and it wasn't just Thomas Jefferson who was, per the Rolling Stones' song "Brown Sugar", taking advantage of those in slavery in hideous ways. 

Call me weird, but I think it's a good thing that the corset has rightly been consigned to the dustbin of history, that Bible believing churches generally prohibit Masonic lodge membership, that church constitutions are explicitly Trinitarian (and hence anti-deist as well), and that we've consigned slavery to the dustbin of history.

So the progress of history is anything but a monotonic sequence as you suggest, Wally.  Personally, I think the theological fundamentals represent a wonderful addition to the ancient creeds that have kept the church from straying too far, and many of the cultural fundamentals are a digression from that noble goal.  Hopefully that digression does not follow the slippery slope path you suggest, or we'll all be in burqas like in Afghanistan pretty soon.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Contra Bert, the "slippery slope" which he likes to talk about is easily provable in the last 200 years of American church history. Small changes at first led cumulatively to more significant changes: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the SBC in the first half of the 20th century - all started with small changes which people warned about but few listened. The "slippery slope" is obvious in politics. Can anyone deny that political liberals use strategies which result in ever-increasing liberalization of moral codes, getting others to compromise a little here, a little there until they have what they want? The "slippery slope" that Bert says does not exist clearly exists.

The problem with cultural fundamentalists using the slippery slope logical fallacy is that many times, as Thomas Sowell likes to say, correlation does not equal causation. Conservatives Christians will rightly point out that correlation not equaling causation within progressive thought, but rarely apply it to their own cultural prejudices and thinking. I remember over 30 years ago having a conversation with my bro-in-law's father who was a hard-core KJ only guy. He tried to convince me that the cultural moral slide of America, beginning in the 1960s happened because of the Bible scholars who were developing the NIV and NASB versions of the Scripture during that time period. Once people were deceived by the versions, it was all down-hill for America and fundamentalist and evangelical churches who eventually switched from the KJV.   And that the only way there would be revival and a restoration of a Christian America would be if Christians turned back to the only pure version of the Bible, the KJV.  

Jay's picture

I'm far more concerned about guys who preach from an ESV in business attire but whose teaching results in evil than I am about a guy who preaches from a KJV in a suit and who really loves and cares for his sheep. 

I also have yet to meet (or hear of) someone who caromed into heresy because they decided to stop wearing suits in a pulpit.

 

"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

AndyE's picture

Even though I disagree with Wally on the Redaction Criticism issue, or the KJV issue that CD Cauthorne brought up (BJU has never been King James Only), I definitely share some of their other concerns.  I get the idea that Dave often brings up about the landscape changing. Some evangelicals have become more cognizant of the need for separation. How that works out in practice seems pretty iffy to me, and it’s hard for me to believe that conservative evangelicalism across the board has all of a sudden become separatist.  On the other hand, it seems like bizarro world when someone like Scott Anoil (whose views I largely share) can find a home in the SBC and SWBTS but is not welcome at BJU.  It seems that most of the movement has been on the fundamentalist side, not only in becoming less concerned about ecclesiastical separation but also in becoming more accepting of things like CCM, and other stuff that used to be a distinction between fundamentalism and those in evangelicalism.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

Even though I disagree with Wally on the Redaction Criticism issue, or the KJV issue that CD Cauthorne brought up (BJU has never been King James Only), I definitely share some of their other concerns.  I get the idea that Dave often brings up about the landscape changing. Some evangelicals have become more cognizant of the need for separation. How that works out in practice seems pretty iffy to me, and it’s hard for me to believe that conservative evangelicalism across the board has all of a sudden become separatist.  On the other hand, it seems like bizarro world when someone like Scott Anoil (whose views I largely share) can find a home in the SBC and SWBTS but is not welcome at BJU.  It seems that most of the movement has been on the fundamentalist side, not only in becoming less concerned about ecclesiastical separation but also in becoming more accepting of things like CCM, and other stuff that used to be a distinction between fundamentalism and those in evangelicalism.

Andy, I'm also unsure who to agree and disagree with at times.  Until this discussion, I was unaware of the redaction criticism issue, and I'd have to spend some time with it.  On KJV, I'm KJVP (based on Byzantine priority), but not KJVO, which really puts me at odds with both sides on that topic.  As regards Scott Aniol, I completely disagree with his views on the intrinsic meaning and morality of music, but I'm pretty in line with his views on elevated worship and worship music.  And as we have discussed before with BJU, I'm kind of a fence sitter there too, really liking some of the changes while some concern me.

For me, all of that adds up to trying to figure out what the core beliefs are (I see them as bigger than the 5 solas, but less than your typical type-A (to use Joel T.'s notation) fundamentalist).  I mourn the loss of some of the outward forms of worship I'm familiar with (e.g. people dressing up for church, and on the whole treating church as something different from daily life), while realizing that those are hardly a hill I want to die on.

Like most of current/former fundamentalists, I'm trying to navigate the separation issue.  There will always be disagreement with what to separate over and the lines of application, and because of that, I'm continually trying to re-evaluate what my views on separation are, knowing that some of what I think is based on my preferences and not on what is absolute biblical truth.  I see that as something I'll never be able to completely settle over the course of my life, but something I do need to continually work on.

Dave Barnhart

G. N. Barkman's picture

Here's the problem as I see it.  Fundamentalism has acquired too much baggage over the years, so that the distinction between doctrine and preference has become blurred.

Take CCM.  I am NOT a fan, and am unwilling to bring it into our church.  But is it a fundamental of the faith?  Likewise with dress standards.  Blatant immodesty is condemned by nearly all Bible believers, but haggling over slacks on women, etc., is hardly a Biblical fundamental either.  Likewise with KJV onlyism.  It's one thing to have a preference for the KJV, and something else altogether to make KJVO a fundamental of the faith.  Fundamentalism as a movement has added too many non-fundamentals, and then accuses those who do not agree on the non-fundamentals of not being a Fundamentalist.  True, if you require embracing non-fundamentals as proof of being Fundamental.  False, if you accept those who believe and contend for the actual fundamentals as Fundamentalists.

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

Many of us do like to operate on the basis of lists as a quick operating shorthand. Answers the question, "What should I separate over?" While such lists provide some ease of analysis, they also bring out our inner Pharisee, and we tend to forget the whole pint of orthodoxy and holiness we started with. 
 

The main issues in the battle are often more subtle. If you read Dr Beale's book, or even some of George Marsden's work, you will find that theological liberalism and unbelief are very crafty and cover there tracks well. For the most part, at least. That is why the moderates sided with the liberals in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. The same was true with the rise of the New Evangelicals. 
 

Today, we who are fundamentalists have struggles internally, but mostly not with modernistic tendencies. Externally, though, we see some evangelicals waking up to the mixed multitude they belong to. They are taking some steps towards identifying and calling out those errors. We can applaud that, but until they can clarify all their entanglements, I see no advantage in allying myself with them. 
 

The problem at BJU, in my view, is that they are rushing towards closer cooperation with evangelicals far faster than I would like. They have clearly loosened the fine arts standards in a more worldly direction, see the last Shakespeare performance as an example. It is my perception that they have long since de-emphasized the preacher's class. Reports I've heard of it's dwindling size are a big concern to me. Also, so far, I haven't met young preachers coming out of BJU with the kind of ministerial philosophy that I like. Maybe I haven't met enough of them... but there aren't that many of them anymore. 
 

To conclude, then, to some extent, dress standards and the like are mostly irrelevant. I think the change from a higher standard to a lower is, however, emblematic rather than symptomatic. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

One thing, regarding the claim that the former type of clothing is a "higher standard", a big part of what's going on is that we have modern heating and cooling.  The heavy wool suits you see in 1950s (and before) movies are no longer needed to keep warm in today's well-heated homes and offices. 

Another part of what's going on is that during the 1960s and 1970s, wearing a suit, or the feminine equivalent, to church was a sign that you were part of the "respectable white collar workforce", even if in truth you were a plumber or an electrician most of the week, and only brought the suit out on Sundays.  For many, that suit was not natural fibers and breathable, and after suffering through summer services in polyester, a lot of people decided to ditch the suit starting in the 1990s.  Ill-fitting sack suits and womens' dresses apparently designed by the Marquis de Sade didn't help, either.

And really, on what basis do we say that a suit is better than a pair of jeans that fits well, or a dress better than the same?  Again, James 2:2.  Let the children come.  I'm personally fairly conservative in my clothing, but really, as long as it covers the important areas with a little bit of "ease" and servers the wearer's needs, I'm reluctant to judge at all, let alone separate from someone based on what they're wearing.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

The argument about "higher standards" has also been used in the English Bible translation debate. As Mark Ward has discussed, some people refuse to consider using modern English Bible translations because of the "exalted" Elizabethian English of the KJV compared to the "downgraded" English in modern translations. I remember as an English major at PCC being lectured on prescriptive versus descriptive linguistics. We were told we must fight against the liberal linguists who were removing prescriptive rules of grammar and downgrading the English language.

Folks, language changes. Dress standards change. Changes in language or dress do not necessarily equal downgrading to a "lower standard."

Joeb's picture

[quote=Jay]

But I recall Don was leading the charge against the "convergent" Fundamentalists more than a few years ago and now it seems like he wants to lead the same charge against BJU for similar issues.  I believe him when he says he doesn't want to work with the various streams of evangelicalism but I do wonder who will be left to work with if he doesn't want to work with BJU in the future.  Hyles-Anderson?  West Coast Bible College?

I'd say Jay your point is very good.  Who than.  Don if you recall the Leadership of many Christian Colleges/University is going down the toilet ie MOODY MASTERS CEDARVILLE GORDON WHEATON LiBERTY and Even Dallas Theological  Seminary.  Bob Jones maybe tweaking some things but at least they are on a sound Biblical footing compared to the above.  It's a difference of night and day   How far do you go to say they are on a slippery slope compared to the others. 
 

I say give credit where credit is due and Dr Petitt compared to the Nitwits running the other above named organizations surely speaks for itself.  

Don Johnson's picture

T Howard wrote:

The argument about "higher standards" has also been used in the English Bible translation debate. As Mark Ward has discussed, some people refuse to consider using modern English Bible translations because of the "exalted" Elizabethian English of the KJV compared to the "downgraded" English in modern translations. I remember as an English major at PCC being lectured on prescriptive versus descriptive linguistics. We were told we must fight against the liberal linguists who were removing prescriptive rules of grammar and downgrading the English language.

Folks, language changes. Dress standards change. Changes in language or dress do not necessarily equal downgrading to a "lower standard."

Transferring in the versions argument is simply a red herring. So what. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand. 
 

Yes, styles change. But when you see business execs, politicians in their legislative assemblies, etc regularly showing up to work in tight jeans and the like, then I will concede that those standards have changed. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Don, have you ever heard of  Elon Musk and Steve Jobs?  It varies by industry, but yes, I know of a bunch of corporate leaders who do not wear a suit and tie to work.  Wearing a suit to work is rare in Silicon Valley, for starters.  Even politicians are starting to tone it down, especially when they're not on legislative floors where suit & tie is still required by custom.

Besides, why should our "standard" be to wear what corporate and political leaders do?   What difference does it make to the church, except for probably making us more likely to ignore James 2:2?  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Yes, styles change. But when you see business execs, politicians in their legislative assemblies, etc regularly showing up to work in tight jeans and the like, then I will concede that those standards have changed. 

Don, do you work in corporate America? I've worked in the corporate world since I graduated from college (1997). Business executives at my company routinely wear dark wash jeans, a buttoned shirt, and a brogued oxford or double monk-strap, and if they are going to an important meeting they might throw on a blazer... It's called business casual. I'm a director at my company, and I regularly wear jeans, a button down, and capped oxfords to work (before covid). No more ties. Very rarely a suit. In fact, if you wear a tie to the office, people will ask if you have a job interview. But, I'm a hiring manager, and most guys coming in for an interview (in the pre-covid days) also wear business casual.

Even my friends who work for Chase and Nationwide wear business casual to work. BTW, no women I work with wear panty hose any more. Few wear dresses. Most wear jeans, dress slacks, or a skirt. 

So, if corporate America is your example for "high standards" of dress, you're out of luck. The only people I know who regularly wear suit/tie are news anchors, attorneys going into court, and politicians.

That being said, I hope there are significant, substantive changes at BJU besides dress standards that are causing people concern. Additionally, I hope people here aren't still fighting the Steve Green wars of the 80s. If so, that is another reason why people fled fundamentalism and headed to conservative evangelicalism.

JohnS's picture

It is true that in some settings, attorneys in the courtroom and sportscasters for example, both dress up.  Kinda comical the sportscasters - everyone else within 2 miles (except maybe team owners) are completely casual or suited up for the game.  In any case, we might see those high-brow sartorial standards. 

The question is why (motive) do people dress that way?  They do so to impress other people, give off airs, etc.  We have to ask ourselves, why are we dressing up?  Is it to make a statement to people or to God?  We can dress up or not dress up, but the motivation is what matters.  

The overriding horizontal motivation is to love my neighbor through modesty.  Modesty is not drawing attention to myself.  I can draw attention to myself with clothing that is too revealing, too gaudy (wearing a 3 piece tux in a rural church whose congregants are mostly local and didn't drive their Tesla to church), too rough or casual (wearing my tie dyed linen shirt, $450 hemp and cotton jeans, and favorite flip flops to one's childhood church that remains heavy on liturgy, uses and organ, and celebrates the Lord's Supper weekly).  All of those are immodest, and I've said nothing about them being short, low, tight, etc.

Gotta ask ourselves why we're doing it.  Would we dress that way if we were worshipping remotely at home due to illness or restrictions?  Might be a good self-test there.  

Don Johnson's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

Don Johnson wrote:
Yes, styles change. But when you see business execs, politicians in their legislative assemblies, etc regularly showing up to work in tight jeans and the like, then I will concede that those standards have changed. 

 

Even my friends who work for Chase and Nationwide wear business casual to work. BTW, no women I work with wear panty hose any more. Few wear dresses. Most wear jeans, dress slacks, or a skirt.

Fair enough, I recognize that standards/culture are changing. However, regardless, there is still a concept of "dressing up" and "dressing down." There is a "down" kind of dress that I bet would cause comment in your corporate world.

 

T Howard wrote:
That being said, I hope there are significant, substantive changes at BJU besides dress standards that are causing people concern. Additionally, I hope people here aren't still fighting the Steve Green wars of the 80s. If so, that is another reason why people fled fundamentalism and headed to conservative evangelicalism.

Yes, of course. I am not so alarmed at the dress changes at BJU as such. I think they are reflective of a greater change, not an agent of the change. I like the idea of an educational institution that promotes a higher standard than the average in culture. But that's more a preference than anything.

My response was to the suggestion that there is no such thing as "dressing up" anymore.

BTW, in our church most men don't wear suits. Some wear ties. (I wear a bow tie, except for weddings and funerals.) On Wednesdays, no ties. On Sunday, many of our ladies wear dresses, but not all. We don't make an issue of it. It isn't an issue.

For an educational institution with a former reputation for leadership and excellence, though, the noticeable changes bespeak a shift in philosophy. In my opinion, it makes them less unique and less attractive. Why travel all that way for something not much different from some school closer to home?

That's just on the cultural level.

When it comes to the ecclesiastical issues, I have much bigger problems, and I think those changes, as we've discussed in this thread to some extent represent a significant philosophy shift. They used to take a leadership rule in fundamentalism. Just isn't happening anymore.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

T Howard's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

For an educational institution with a former reputation for leadership and excellence, though, the noticeable changes bespeak a shift in philosophy. In my opinion, it makes them less unique and less attractive. Why travel all that way for something not much different from some school closer to home?

That's just on the cultural level.

When it comes to the ecclesiastical issues, I have much bigger problems, and I think those changes, as we've discussed in this thread to some extent represent a significant philosophy shift. They used to take a leadership rule in fundamentalism. Just isn't happening anymore.

Don,

During the week of Thanksgiving, my older son and I traveled to England and spent several days in London and a day in Oxford. While in Oxford, we took two tours of the University. The first tour was of Oxford's Divinity School and Duke Humfrey's library. The second tour was a longer tour of Oxford University in general, and we toured Queen's College in particular. Some of the fascinating bits of information we learned during our tours were the traditions (i.e. rules) that the university and various colleges expected of its students. Some date back to the founding of the university and the various colleges. However, almost all of the traditions have either ceased or significantly changed since the 18th Century.

Now, if you're nostalgic for the "good old days," you will bemoan all the changes in tradition since 1096. For example, Queens college no longer puts on an annual hunt for wild boar to celebrate its Boar's Head Gaudy and Ceremony. Women are now granted degrees at Oxford University, but before 1920 they were not. Etc. Do these changes in tradition make Oxford less a leader in higher education?

I think some would argue that BJU is taking a leadership role in fundamentalism by purposely being less fundy-mental. It is becoming less tied to cultural fundamentalism and trying to major on the majors and minor on the minors. For someone stuck in 1980s fundamentalism, however, that looks a lot like compromise and downgrade. Thankfully, 1980s fundamentalism is dying. Many young men who grew up in that environment chose to leave it and move to conservative evangelicalism when they became pastors.

I assume, BJU has recognized this trend. I know colleges like Clark Summit, Cedarville, etc. have recognized this trend. When I was a student at Baptist Bible Seminary (Clark Summit, PA), I remember having conversations with the faculty about how young men from GARBC churches were choosing to attend SBC and other conservative evangelical seminaries instead of traditional IFB seminaries like BBS. Further, the significant change in the learning model from resident student to distance student significantly impacted higher education. Most IFB colleges / seminaries were not prepared to adjust and adapt to that change. Some resolutely refused to accomodate distance learners. Does their refusal to adapt and change make them more a leader than those that began offering online / distance options?

AndyE's picture

If people want a conservative evangelical school that distains any semblance of “cultural fundamentalism” there are tons and tons of choices out there.  Those of us who are fundamentalists, and value Biblical separation and view issues of personal holiness as not just preferences but living a life of non-conformity to the world in obedience to and love for God, what are we supposed to do?  BJU has always been distinctive in these areas and a leader in these areas.  If the plan is to become a new Liberty or a new Cedarville, or new Masters (wait, are they back on the naughty list now, I’m not sure), that would be pretty disappointing.  

On the other hand, I just happened to watch the chapel service yesterday. It was really good. Dr. Pettit’s message was outstanding.  That is true for most chapels that I have seen.  I thought the Thanksgiving service was also great. One of my daughters was playing in the front row of the orchestra for that event, and I got to watch her play and sing these great hymns of the faith, and I broke down crying, watching her over Livestream. There is nothing like seeing your children as they grow older serving God with their whole heart.  So, while I have real concerns, I also have real gratitude for what is still there and thankful for the opportunities my children are getting, even if not perfect and not exactly like I would have it.

Don Johnson's picture

Years ago, I was a member of a well-known fundamentalist church in Greenville. Then we moved to Victoria as church planters. We still got the newsletter from the church in Greenville. In one of them, the pastor wrote an article answering the question, "Are We Still Fundamentalists?" His answer, essentially, was, "We believe the fundamentals so we are fundamentalists."

Well, it is a bit more than that. He should have known better, considering his own history.

That would be Walt Handford at Southside Baptist. Not a fundamentalist church anymore.

I'm afraid a lot of people have moved on from 1980s fundamentalism (your term) and congratulate themselves that they are still fundamentalists because they believe the fundamentals. I don't think that's the way it works.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

G. N. Barkman's picture

So how is it supposed to work?  Never change any traditions or cultural standards because someone will accuse us of compromise?  Or make sensible changes that reflect Truth, because that's what best pleases the Lord.  It also reflects true Biblical leadership by demonstrating that our utmost loyalty is to Scripture, not to a movement. 

It's not much unlike the abortion case before the Supreme Court.  Do they stick to Woe v. Wade because they are bound to tradition?  Or do they acknowledge that a previous court was mistaken in Roe, and its time for correction?  

If you think the "old" BJU was nearly perfect, you won't like the changes.  If you think it missed the mark in some areas, you are happy to see corrections.  I'm happy so far.  I hope I will not become concerned about actual Biblical compromise in the future.

G. N. Barkman

T Howard's picture

AndyE wrote:

Those of us who are fundamentalists, and value Biblical separation and view issues of personal holiness as not just preferences but living a life of non-conformity to the world in obedience to and love for God, what are we supposed to do?  BJU has always been distinctive in these areas and a leader in these areas.  If the plan is to become a new Liberty or a new Cedarville, or new Masters (wait, are they back on the naughty list now, I’m not sure), that would be pretty disappointing.

Andy, I'm curious what you mean by the above statement. Do you wish BJU continued its race-based dating policies? Do you wish BJU continued its 1980s dress standards and student policies? One of the problems with 1980s fundamentalism is that it taught obedience to and love for God had to look, act, and sound a specific way. If you didn't conform to those cultural standards, we would separate from you because you were compromising and conforming to the world. There was also the "man of God" worship of certain fundamentalist leaders, and if you weren't in the "right group" or didn't have the imprimatur of the right school or leader you were shunned. Andy, this isn't a type of fundamentalism worth saving.

As I've said, I graduated from PCC. In some churches, guys like me would not be welcomed because of the school from which I graduated. My friend in college went to Brazil as a missionary. One of the questions he was routinely asked by churches while on deputation was the college he attended. He related to me that most "BJU" churches (meaning, the pastor was a BJU grad) would not support him just because he graduated from PCC. This type of fundamentalism was more concerned about loyalty to one's leader or tribe rather than to the gospel or the fundamentals of the faith.

Again, this isn't a type of fundamentalism worth saving. 

Bert Perry's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Years ago, I was a member of a well-known fundamentalist church in Greenville. Then we moved to Victoria as church planters. We still got the newsletter from the church in Greenville. In one of them, the pastor wrote an article answering the question, "Are We Still Fundamentalists?" His answer, essentially, was, "We believe the fundamentals so we are fundamentalists."

Well, it is a bit more than that. He should have known better, considering his own history.

That would be Walt Handford at Southside Baptist. Not a fundamentalist church anymore.

I'm afraid a lot of people have moved on from 1980s fundamentalism (your term) and congratulate themselves that they are still fundamentalists because they believe the fundamentals. I don't think that's the way it works.

Well, then, how DOES it work?  As I read my copy of "The Fundamentals", I'm struck by the fact that fundamentalism was, ahem, initially characterized by the adherence to five theological principles.  Per Dave Barnhart and others, I'd add the Trinity and the Solas, as well as the Apostles' Creed to the mix, but having looked at Southside Baptist's website, I'm at a loss to figure out exactly where they're disagreeing with any of the fundamentals.  I do disagree with their naming of women as pastors, so at the very least, I can say I don't agree with how they're applying the first fundamental and Sola Scriptura, but I don't think that accusing them of being outside of the faith altogether ought to be discussed--and that is the fence that the original fundamentalists were trying to erect.

My view here is that most of the "cultural fundamentals" that many seem to hold to far stronger than the theological ones--opposition to modern music with a beat, proscription of going to that wedding at Cana, adherence to decades-old standards of attire, etc..--are really cultural choices of upper middle class and wealthy members of mainline Protestant churches from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  Those cultural choices were, in turn really part of the "social gospel" and, really, theological liberalism.  So why Fundamantalists today hold to these distinctives so tightly quite frankly perplexes me.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Andy can speak for himself about all the changes, but for starters, I'm personally happy that the ban on interracial dating is gone.  On dress standards, some loosening was a good thing (did we seriously need to wear a tie to go out for fast food or always wear a coat and tie to a dinner that might be hot dogs or fried chicken?), but there is obviously now some crossing the lines on modesty that I wish were not there and is indicative (at least to me) of different thinking as regards personal holiness, not just preference.  I'm also glad the whole "man of God" thing is mostly history, along with taking shots at other fundamentalists over differences in man-made standards.  So it's true that some "1980's fundamentalism" (actually, more like 1950's) things are better left in the past.

On the other hand, I really appreciated the "elevatedness" in music and worship.  I come from an independent Methodist background and I was glad to see some of that had survived from Dr. Bob Sr.'s time (he was also originally Methodist), though even in the 1980's, a good many of my fellow students who were Baptist thought they were being washed in Anglican ceremony (one in particular made that exact comment).  That taking of worship seriously, together with the emphasis on excellence in fine arts, and commitment to being non-denominational made BJU a rather unique experience.  Going there now, it feels less unique, though as Andy said, the chapel messages are usually still excellent.

I think that many of us graduates are just concerned that some these external changes are a possible precursor to change in theology and direction.  I hope that's not true, and that a slippery slope does not exist there.  I realize no man-made institutions can stand forever, and even good churches come and go, but although I find some of the changes at BJU to be a really good thing, I don't want to see BJU eventually go the way of compromise.  Hence the concern while still being appreciative of what they do offer.

Dave Barnhart

AndyE's picture

T Howard wrote:
Andy, I'm curious what you mean by the above statement. Do you wish BJU continued its race-based dating policies?
No.

Quote:
Do you wish BJU continued its 1980s dress standards and student policies?
To quote Luther, these are not all the same.  Many policies are fine to change.  My son was glad he didn't have to wear a suit coat to dinner.  The family style meals that they did away with was a pretty unique and cool thing about the BJU experience.  I'm sad it is gone but I'm not concerned about the spiritual well-being of the school over that one.  Some of the dress standards have been loosened too much in my estimation, especially regarding skirt length and modesty. So, some changes in this area I am ok with and others I am not.

Quote:
 I One of the problems with 1980s fundamentalism is that it taught obedience to and love for God had to look, act, and sound a specific way. If you didn't conform to those cultural standards, we would separate from you because you were compromising and conforming to the world.
It really depends on the specifics of what you are talking about.  In general, I think this is an unfair charge.

Quote:
  There was also the "man of God" worship of certain fundamentalist leaders, and if you weren't in the "right group" or didn't have the imprimatur of the right school or leader you were shunned. Andy, this isn't a type of fundamentalism worth saving.
Unless you are talking about Hyles fundamentalism, I disagree that 80's fundamentalism taught that. 

Quote:
As I've said, I graduated from PCC. In some churches, guys like me would not be welcomed because of the school from which I graduated. My friend in college went to Brazil as a missionary. One of the questions he was routinely asked by churches while on deputation was the college he attended. He related to me that most "BJU" churches (meaning, the pastor was a grad on BJU) would not support him just because he graduated from PCC.
It was PCC that put out the leaven of fundamentalism video.  The church I'm in now has a big mix of both BJU and PCC grads (and other schools secular and not). We all get along fine.

T Howard's picture

AndyE wrote:

Quote:
As I've said, I graduated from PCC. In some churches, guys like me would not be welcomed because of the school from which I graduated. My friend in college went to Brazil as a missionary. One of the questions he was routinely asked by churches while on deputation was the college he attended. He related to me that most "BJU" churches (meaning, the pastor was a grad on BJU) would not support him just because he graduated from PCC.

It was PCC that put out the leaven of fundamentalism video.  The church I'm in now has a big mix of both BJU and PCC grads (and other schools secular and not). We all get along fine.

Just to clarify, I agree PCC was part of the problem. I was there when the Dell Johnson videos were filmed and produced (I still have the VHS tapes in a box in my basement along with David Sorenson's book, Touch Not the Unclean Thing). BTW, fun fact, the infamous "leaven in fundamentalism" tapes were a response to allegations from Hyles Anderson that PCC was going soft on its KJV stance.

Anyway, I agree that now it's not uncommon for IFB churches to have a mix of grads from different schools. In the 80s and 90s, things were different.

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