"There is, at this stage of history, no fundamentalism, but a number of fundamentalisms"

Dave Doran reflects on recent events and the state of fundamentalism.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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"My simple contentions are that: (1) there is, at this stage of history, no fundamentalism, but a number of fundamentalisms, each with their own shibboleths; (2) almost every effort to reclaim fundamentalism has been an effort to impose a different set of shibboleths on the movement; (3) many serious minded separatists find that they fail the shibboleth tests that have been imposed by many of the subset movements; (4) the idea of being asked to be committed to something that won’t fellowship with you anyway is just plain ridiculous; and (5) most of the shibboleths, while perhaps well-intentioned, are over-extended applications designed like fences to prevent a future disobedience somewhere down the line."

James K's picture

Right on, right on. Number 5 listed above is dead on.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Joel Tetreau's picture

Dave this is excellent!

You have written what I have tried to write. Grateful you know how to write. Straight Ahead!

Joel

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Todd Wood's picture

There are a number of definitions to Christian movements and Bible themes.

There are a number of Jesus's presented to us.

There are a number of Christian gospels presented to us, too.

The landscape will never again be what it once was in the good ol' US of A.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
"My simple contentions are that: (1) there is, at this stage of history, no fundamentalism, but a number of fundamentalisms, each with their own shibboleths;
Has it ever been any different? Fundamentalism has always been a fragmented movement but it was drawn together by the common enemy of Modernism/Liberalism. Now that Modernism/Liberalism is no longer the potent threat that it once was, it appears that Fundamentalism has no unifying theme. The fundamentals (i.e. the cardinal doctrines of the faith) are too broad to bring together and give an identity. Now, the pluralities of fundamentalisms are migrating and coalescing around their individual commonalities that give identity. If Fundamentalism is to survive in its previous form, it must find common cause among its followers. What is the common cause among Fundamentalists today?
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(2) almost every effort to reclaim fundamentalism has been an effort to impose a different set of shibboleths on the movement;
Yeah, and this includes those guys opining for a return to mainstream, historic Fundamentalism. What is normative Fundamentalism? When and where did it exist? Fundamentalism wore different faces at different times and different places (e.g. compare J. Frank Norris, W. B. Riley, Carl McIntyre, Bob Jones, Jr., R. V. Clearwaters, and Jerry Falwell ).
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(3) many serious minded separatists find that they fail the shibboleth tests that have been imposed by many of the subset movements;
It may be worthwhile to note that all separatists were not Fundamentalists. J. Gresham Machen was a separatist in a sense but he was not a Fundamentalist although he was orthodox. Furthermore, this imposing of more stringent requirements for fellowship is not surprising in light of my earlier assertion of the fragmentation process. For example, IFBs no longer find fellowship desirable with paedeobaptists, although they are theologically orthodox on the fundamentals, due to the Baptist distinctive of believer's baptism by immersion. This was bound to happen once the binding cord of opposition to Modernism/Liberalism lost its strength.
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(4) the idea of being asked to be committed to something that won’t fellowship with you anyway is just plain ridiculous;
So, what is your commitment? I have always understood my commitment to Fundamentalism as being based on its commitment and expression of Biblical truth. In other words, my commitment is first to Biblical truth and second to Fundamentalism in as much as Fundamentalism is the expression of Biblical truth on issues in the public square. Once Fundamentalism is no longer the position identified with Biblical truth, then I have no more interest in being identified with Fundamentalism .
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and (5) most of the shibboleths, while perhaps well-intentioned, are over-extended applications designed like fences to prevent a future disobedience somewhere down the line."
Such is life. Benchmarks are necessary for identity and separation but they do carry great potential for misapplication and misuse. I am not sure that they are only "designed like fences to prevent a future disobedience somewhere down the line." I would rather think of them as road signs on the path of life. It's very easy to get lost without directions.