Fundamentalism's Failings

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Hey to all:

    When I saw this piece on Sharper Iron, I just had to print it for everyone to see. I put it here with the desire that all who read it will give attention to the middle section numbers 4 & 5. This sheds a lot of light on many and various discussions we have had over the years about education--and especially education in the Fundamentalists circles.

    Come back and let me have it either "Amen" or "Oh Me!"

    http://www.sharperiron.org/2008/04/30/has-fundamentalism-become-secularized-part-4/#more-2557

    I await your critique and comments. And please may any young ministers or minsters-to-be who want to know some intro remarks about education--this would be a great place to start!

    "That is all!"
     
  2. Havensdad

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    I have a couple things to say about it...

    Number one: we are not in shortage of people with letters by their names. Nearly every fundamentalist church I have been to has people with theology degrees popping out their doors. I know I live in southern Texas, this might be different elsewhere. But I go to a small church of about eighty people, and know at least 9 with formal Seminary education.

    I AM working towards a ThD, but this is mainly because I enjoy it. I am a full time evangelist, and my theological studies have helped me very little in my work.

    The primary work of the Church, is supposed to be Evangelizing and Missional work. I am sorry, but that is clear from scripture. When we spend tens of thousands of dollars giving our children seminary degrees, how much money does that take away from the real work of the Church?

    Many of the Apostles were uneducated, and yet the Lord pressed them into ministry. Many great and influential leaders throughout history, have lacked formal education.

    I am not knocking formal education. I think a Pastor/teacher should get their BTh, and then get to work (and hopefully, being doing something WHILE their getting it). If they want to go farther, let them work on their degrees through Distance ed., while they are getting experience, and fulfilling the call of God on their lives.

    We NEED more people working. This is the modern age. They can do both.
     
  3. Martin

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    Just some notes.

    ==That is true about everywhere but, and this is a big but, most of those degrees are either honorary or from degree mills. There is a lady pastor (pentecostal) who comes on a local radio station in this area. She calls herself "Dr." whatever her name is. Anyway, one does not have to listen to her long to learn two things about her. 1. She wants to be the next Paula White. 2. She does not have a doctorate degree (at least not a real one). Her "degree" is an honorary title not an actual degree. So I think we need to be careful not to assume that just because a pastor (etc) has letters behind their name that they have an earned degree. Because many don't. We do well to check people's claims carefully before we go calling them "Dr". I don't know if I will ever seek a PhD, but I do know one thing. Outside of the classroom I don't want anyone calling me "Dr" anything.


    ==Well, it is either going to be seminary education or education in another field. So, as I see it, you can spend thousands of dollars getting your children trained for theology (the queen science) or you can pay thousands (more) to get your children educated in another subject. Either way, unless you allow your children to skip college, you are going to be putting the money into education. So, if our children are called by the LORD into ministry then it is a very good idea to send them to Bible College/Seminary. It will help them grow in their knowledge of the Word of God, theology, church history, and they will make lifelong friends and ministry connections. That is not a waste of money.

    As for your statement that the "primary work of the Church, is supposed to be Evangelizing and Missional work", I disagree. That is certainly a major part of the church's mission. However if you look in the Gospels, in Acts, in the rest of the New Testament, what one sees is that the church has many primary tasks. Evangelism, feeding the poor, visiting those in prison, and discipleship (Matt 28:19). This is where things like Sunday School, Bible study, and seminary come into the picture. Those things are there to disciple believers. Both those who are going into "official" ministry and those who are not. One of the problems with modern "mass" evangelism is that we bring them into the Kingdom and then walk away. That is not Biblical. We are to bring them into the Kingdom through the Gospel and then disciple them. That is one reason we go to church on Sundays. Church is not a place for lost people and evangelism. Church is a place where believers lift one another up and get discipled. I am glad lost people come into our church and get saved, PRAISE THE LORD for each and everyone. Let them all come. That said, however, from a New Testament point of view the primary reason for Sunday morning worship is discipleship and encouragment. Evangelism is very, very important but that is something we are to be doing in our daily lives. Both in word (sharing the Gospel, etc) and in deed (living like Christians).

    ==The Apostles spent three years (or so) in advanced seminary training. Believe me, what they went through was tougher than any exam any seminary or graduate school could give.

    ==I agree. However I would say that young pastors should get a double degree. For example, several of the major southern baptist seminaries offer Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biblical Studies that offer another focus as well. For example The College At Southeastern Seminary offers Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies with secondary focuses in English, History, Missions, Music, Theology, etc. That way the student gets a very broad base and not just a typical BABS or BTh degrees (both of which are wonderful, I am just saying the other is better). In fact if I were 18 again, and I am greatful I am not, I would go the BABS/History route.

    As for your suggestion about graduate school for pastors being online, I agree 100%.
     
    #3 Martin, Apr 30, 2008
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  4. Martin

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    ==Generally I think it is a very good article. Sadly I think each of the points mentioned are valid points of concern. However that is not just with the fundamentalists, these are also problems with many of the popular evangelicals (mainly 1 & 2).
     
  5. StefanM

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    I think distance education can be helpful, but the option is not online classes + ministry vs. on-campus classes without ministry.

    I attend seminary on campus, but I also serve as a youth minister in a local church. I'm serving as I study. I see nothing wrong with that. When I was working on my BA in ministry, I served in a church, too.
     
  6. Havensdad

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    Martin,

    When I say "Church" I am not speaking of a building, but the Body of Christ. Evangelism is to be done on the streets, not "primarily" in the Church building.

    Discipleship is important,no doubt, but soul winning is absolutely given more emphasis than anything in the NT.
     
  7. Plain Old Bill

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    Generally a good article. I would like to point out item 5 in the article. It would seem on the face of it that the claim made in item five is true , while the real fact is that calvinists' , southern baptists', and independant Christian colleges and seminaries have taught thier college and seminary professors to write and publish scholarly works. They have also learned the art of collaboration in writing and publishing. When the IFB schools have grasp these concepts and employed them it will be a huge step up.
    Another huge step for IFB schools will be to put a high value on teaching languages.:BangHead:
     
    #7 Plain Old Bill, May 1, 2008
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  8. Siberian

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    That is quite an unfortunate statement.
     
  9. Havensdad

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    Just the way it is. Deep rooted theology just doesn't generally come out when witnessing to people on the street that know little or no Bible. You feed them "milk" (John 3:16, etc.) not get into a dissertation about Romans 9....the goal is to see them come to Christ.

    I also do work as an itinerant preacher> my studies do help there.
     
  10. swaimj

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    I agree. It is very easy for us to give in to our culture and become like it rather than to be people of distinction who work to transform others. Farnham's entire series at SharperIron argues that fundamentalism has been heavily impacted by the culture and not to its benefit.
     
  11. Crabtownboy

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    I believe many fundamentalists have totally confused Christianity with the American culture. Also there is a strong anti-intellectual thread within the fundamentalists culture. This is, in my opinion, sad.

    (post edited due to all bold)
     
    #11 Crabtownboy, May 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2008
  12. swaimj

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    Your observations of fundamentalism certainly have merit. However, the writer of the article on SharperIron is a fundamentalist who, IMHO, is afflicted by neither of your observations, and I speak from personal knowledge. The institution where he teaches is not guilty of either, either. In fact, the regular contributors at SharperIron are not guilty of your observations.
     
  13. paidagogos

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    Do you know the difference between anti-intellectual and anti-intellectualism? Fundamentalism is anti-intellectualism but it is not anti-intellectual.
     
  14. Crabtownboy

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    I agree there is a difference. But I believe fundamentalism is anti both. I have talked with a fair number of Bible School students and graduates and I really wonder to what extent they stress critical thinking versus rote memory. What is your opinion?

    [post edited due to all-bold type]
     
    #14 Crabtownboy, May 2, 2008
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  15. Rhetorician

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    Tension???

    To all who have an ear:

    Am I hearing the old old story of education for the clergy that goes to the heart of this present discussion: that is; ie., indoctrination at one end of the spectrum or continuum with investigation being at the other end?

    Is Fundamentalism in its essence at the indoctrination end?:laugh:

    What say ye?

    "That is all!"
     
  16. J.D.

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    Based on my experience with fundamentalism, I think the article is right on point. The funny thing is how many characteristics are shared between fundamentalists and emerging churches. Chasing numbers and anti-intellectualism are two of them.
     
  17. J.D.

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    And point #6 plays into the issue of cultural engagement. I think this is a most difficult issue to deal with. Does anybody really know exactly where to draw the line between separation and engagement?
     
  18. Squire Robertsson

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    It would seem so. I would add tension between what is and isn't an acceptable level of education for Baptist ministers is at least 200+ years old. It didn't appear ex nihilo with Fundamentalism in the 1900s.

    I would add Fundamentalists and in particular Fundamental Baptists have in the last twenty or so years begun to reap the benefits of the last two generations rebuilding efforts. Speaking from a Historic Northern Baptist perspective, by the late 1940s all of the Northern schools had gone into modernism and apostsy. Some were in bad shape by the mid-20s. I refer those interested to Beal's In Search of Purity. It has an excellent overview of the Northern Baptist controversies and gives a synopsis of each of the schools.
     
  19. dcorbett

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    AMEN! The Holy Spirit does the work, not us.
     
  20. paidagogos

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    Anti-intellectualism v. Anti-intellectual

    I have no problem in confessing to "anti-intellectualism," which is more of a pose, an attitude, a smug self-satisfaction in one's own thinking, an air of intellectual superiority, political correctness, etc., but I do object to being labelled "anti-intellectual." Perhaps we ought to define our terms before applying the label. What do you say?
     

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