Phil Johnson to Speak on Fundamentalism and "Emerging Middle"

Kevin Thompson will be interviews Phil July 31 5-5:30 PM Central on Understanding Our Times Radio
HT: re:fundamentals

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jimfrank's picture

This was an excellent discussion. I fit almost precisely within the guidelines that were discussed. However, because the terms "emerging" and "emergent" have absorbed some baggage, I'd prefer not to be called "the emerging middle of Fundamentalism." As I see it, there is no reason why groups such as Grace to You (John MacArthur), the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA), and the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches couldn't cooperate.

Also, the BlogRadio format worked well. Kevin Thompson is onto something. It may never be "big," but it could help groups such as those mentioned above to share ideas. Thanks for alerting your readers to the broadcast. I'm curious as to the number of listeners.

Joel Tetreau's picture

God would also agree that the "Grace to You gang" could have some co-ministry with the Grace Brethren, IFCA, GARBC as well as "others."

Straight Ahead! jt

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

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I always enjoy Phil Johnson's perspective, and for the most part agree with everything he said.
A couple things stand out in my mind:
1) "Emerging middle" is an extremely poor choice of words in light of the current connotation for "emerging."
2) Johnson is right -- being "young" and "restless" are nothing to boast about, and I would add that becoming "Reformed" is not a necessary consequence of seeking a more Biblical version of either fundamentalism or evangelicalism. That wording and those concepts are also getting a little old, and as Johnson notes, there are probably lots of guys who were only along because it was the latest trend.
3) Some of us have been on this middle ground for quite a long time. I attended a seminary that represents an extremely balanced version of the best "fundamentalism" has to offer, and have worked for three para-church ministries that I would also consider to be very balanced. The struggle for most people, as Johnson alluded to, is finding a healthy church -- no small task in lots of places. My wife and I have recently begun attending a new church that represents a much more balanced version of fundamentalism than most of the choices in our area, even though we are now driving almost 40 minutes one way to get there.

As a further illustration, if you read any issue of ]VOICE magazine, you will see a full-page color ad for The Master's Seminary, as well as ads for schools much closer to traditional fundamental circles. You will also see extensive advertising for Regular Baptist Press. So, again I say, some of us have operated from this mindset for an awfully long time. We are glad that others are joining in -- but they are not the first people to think such thoughts.

Is there going to be a movement to qualify all of this and represent it to the world? My guess is no, nor am I sure that there is a need for such a thing. Then we would just have to figure out how that movement would relate to all the other semi-equivalent movements, etc.

Competition is healthy for everyone; we don't need another "Big Brother" watching out for us. For now at least, let's allow a thousand flowers to bloom. I think that at least most of the leaders of fundamentalist institutions are on notice that times are changing quickly.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Aaron Blumer's picture


"extremely balanced" --this is an interesting expression, Paul. A paradox.
I know what you mean, just having a little fun.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture


Now we don't believe they're balanced? Biggrin
How about "beautifully balanced" or "splendidly balanced"... something with an aesthetic angle to it?
It's late and I'm just getting goofier. Coming off of a week straight of VBS and then a full day of preaching. Does strange things to my brain.

To venture something somewhat on topic, I understood Phil to be saying he thought an organized middle was something extremely unlikely--that the whole landscape is such now that all taxonomies are futile. Interesting. Had I a chance to toss a question in, I might have asked if he thought that was a temporary situation and that boundaries will eventually become more clear again--not that his opinion on that is worth more than anyone else's really, but he's always interesting and usually has a POV worth thinking about.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.