Originally written for The Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Many times folks have mentioned that a relative has begun attending church. When I ask the name of the church, people sometimes have no idea. When I ask what kind of church they are attending (Baptist, Methodist, Christian, etc.), they often have no clue either!
The lesson, of course, is that most Christians are confused about various denominational beliefs and differences. Some do not take seriously the differences in belief between churches. In their view, as long as one attends church, that is all that matters. In my mind, attending a non-evangelical church can be worse than attending no church.
Still, I admit, it is confusing. To make matters worse, some churches believe the Bible is historically and theologically reliable (we call such churches conservative) while others doubt some or much of it (we call such churches liberal). Others have a mixture of belief and unbelief.
This June is a month of changes for SharperIron. Several design changes are planned by month’s end. A restructuring of the Forums is in the works. Today we’re officially making a change that we’ve been describing for a while as “the identity tweak.” (See “Seven Years and Counting” and the ensuing discussion.) The key phrase in this adjustment is “hosted by fundamentalists.”
For some years—probably since ‘05—SharperIron has characterized itself as “a fundamentalist place” existing “for fundamentalists.” Though the language predates my involvement at SI, the intent was that those who register and participate in discussions should be people who consider themselves to be, in some sense, fundamentalists. Since we didn’t precisely define what a fundamentalist is, or put much effort into policing members’ fundamentalist status, we’ve always had some participants who were not fundamentalists in the estimation of some other members. As everyone knows, opinions expressed here have not always been “fundamentalistically correct” either.
In my previous post, I asked if churches should abandon the King James Version for a modern English translation. I answered, “Yes,” and suggested there were two main reasons…But the truth is that after 400 years it suffers a number of shortcomings when compared to modern versions. I will mention two.
The majority of the healthy remnants of historic fundamentalism today have settled into a kind of co-belligerency. That is, the theological sons and grandsons of the first generation of fundamentalism have perched onto one of two branches of the fundamentalist family tree. These two branches are what I call Type B and Type C fundamentalism. I noted several years ago that a third branch, namely the Type A branch often believe and act as if they, and they alone, represent the entire tree! Thankfully more and more are flying over to the part of our ecclesiastical bush that respects a certain heritage while at the same time respects an allowable diversity.
This kind of C/B relationship was on display this last year when Mark Dever shared a platform with leaders such as Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran and Tim Jordan. Another example of how that relationship continues to emerge is the incredible overlap of what a healthy and biblical evangelicalism looks like as defined by Kevin Bauder and then by Al Mohler in Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. One more example of this has been the explosion of interaction between Type B and C fundamentalists at conferences such as Shepherds and T4G. Certainly there continues to be a few differences between a Type B and Type C fundamentalists, but frankly there are far more differences between Type A fundamentalism and the B/C co-belligerency than there are differences between the B and C brethren themselves.
Years ago I developed and presented a kind of taxonomy primarily for those within my own ministry. At the time I was wanting to hold on to the fundamentalist label but, for a variety of reasons, felt I needed to distance myself from many who used the same tag. I believed the taxonomy helped me do that in a way that could be understood by both those who grew up in the movement as well as newcomers (or onlookers). The result was the identification of Type A, B and C fundamentalism. I explored these categories several years ago in a series of articles entitled, “Three Lines in the Sand.” An earlier article entitled, “A Line in the Sand,” focused on the differences between Type A and B fundamentalism. “Three Lines” expanded to include Type C fundamentalism.