Is Fundamentalism a Cultural Phenomenon?

Editor’s Note: This article accompanies FBFI Resolution 09-02 and is reprinted with permission from the May/June 2009 issue of FrontLine magazine.

One criticism leveled against Fundamentalists is their refusal to engage the culture. Sociologist Alan Wolfe writes, “When believers refuse to engage the culture, their opponents dismiss them as fanatics, frustrated people rendered insecure by the dilemmas and opportunities of modernity.” 1 Implicit in this complaint is resentment toward Fundamentalists for being unsociable: they are generally an intolerant people who do not mix well with their culture. Interestingly, this same complaint was directed against first-century believers by Roman hedonists.

It is true that historically Fundamentalists have refused to tolerate, let alone participate in behavior that exalts sensual pleasure and denigrates Christian values. The criticism is perennial, and understandably so, since sincere Christians have taken seriously the Biblical admonition to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. They love and are loved by God, whose values are theirs and whose commands they seek to obey. And those living for the world have hated them for it.

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FBFI Resolution 09-02

See “Note to the Readers.”

Regarding Fundamentalism and Culture

Whereas true believers have always functioned actively within the culture in which they find themselves,

And whereas Jesus Christ clearly indicated the true believers must live in the world but not of it,

And whereas believers have been directed by God not to be lovers of the worldly system that surrounds them or to revisit the past sinful lifestyles from which they were saved,

And whereas Scripture clearly defines the thoughts, values and behaviors associated with those lifestyles,

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,

And whereas present-day Fundamentalism has been dismissed as a product of the culture,

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What Is the Gospel?

Editor’s Note: This article accompanies FBFI Resolution 09-01.

The word evangel means gospel. Therefore, to be evangelical is to be defined by the gospel. At minimum, those who claim to be Evangelicals should have a very clear idea of what the gospel is.

Within today’s Evangelicalism, however, the content of the gospel is the subject of significant disagreement. Many contemporary Evangelicals are attempting to create an understanding of the gospel that is much more inclusive than the message of personal salvation. While these Evangelicals do not always deny a personal gospel (and some are fervently committed to it), they think that the gospel must also deal with other issues, including problems of a psychological, social, and environmental nature. What they proclaim is neither simply a personal gospel nor a social gospel. It is a both/and gospel.

The basic argument for the both/and gospel is that sin has done more than to disrupt our personal relationship with God. It has disrupted the inner integrity of each individual, resulting in the disintegration of emotional wholeness. It has disrupted the relationship between humans, resulting in oppression and exploitation. It has disrupted our relationship to the created order, resulting in the ruination of nature through human abuse. According to proponents of the both/and gospel, a meaningful gospel must address each of these issues directly.

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FBFI Resolution 09-01

Note to the Readers:

Resolutions are applications of the core values of the FBFI at a particular moment in time.  They are voted upon by the executive board of the FBFI at its winter board meeting in February of each year.  The accompanying articles are intended to be support and/or further explanation for the resolutions.  They are not voted upon by the executive board.

All of our resolutions are available for perusal at the FBFI website.  Some of the resolutions from years past do not reflect the positions of the board members today but they do remain available as a historical record of the FBFI at a particular moment in time.

The key documents for the FBFI are the doctrinal statement and core values.  Those core values are reflected in the 2008 list of resolutions.

—Kevin Schaal

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FBFI Annual '09: Some Final Reflections

Attending the FBFI fellowship reminded me of many relationships I have been blessed with over the last several years of ministry (and things I have learned from the people I havePastors Tim Barr of Adrian, MN and Ken Endean of Scarborough, ME known). I was able to connect with people from my college experience at Faith like Dave Witcher, who had a display for Baptist Church Planters. I saw Brad and Sarah Calhoun, who served as missionaries in Quebec with Baptist Mid-Missions. Brad now pastors in North Carolina, but provided a memorable service opportunity for a group from the church I served with in Iowa back in 2002. I was able to renew acquaintances with several familiar faces from the years I was in New England, including pastors Ken Endean (from Scarborough, ME) and Chuck Phelps and missionaries Jack and Jennifer Mitchell of Grace Dental Mission. Fleshing out some of the online relationships is always a delight, too. I was reminded as I saw some of these familiar faces this week how God has used people in my life whose conclusions on issues might not always mirror my own.

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