The Roots of Fundamentalism

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Fundamentalism was both TRANS-denominational and INTER-denominational. There were fundamentalists within every branch of evangelical Christianity (including, of course, Baptists) and these groups cooperated with each other on the basis of that Fundamentalist credo.

    When folks lament that Fundamentalism (as a movement) has "drifted" from its moorings, I ask the question, "Why would we want to go back?"

    Like any organism, Fundamentalism has "morphed" and evolved over the years. Today, when someone says they are a "Fundamentalist", I am truly concerned as to WHAT KIND of fundamentalist they are!

    So open this thread to discuss the roots and journey (drift if you think it negative) of the old historic Fundamentalist movement, especially focused on Baptists.
     
  2. Greg Linscott

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    Okay, I'll bite.

    The "moorings" referred to, I believe, are usually our separatist heritage- the willingness to leave over erroroneous teaching or practice in the interest of preserving truth.

    While Historic fundamentalism was primarily a doctrinal movement, there were implications in methods and practice, such as the type of work missionaries on the field would do.

    Honestly, getting away from evaluating methods in light of our doctrine has led to all sorts of confusion in churches once solidly fundamental. We evaluate our methods on effectiveness or enjoyment, and fail to consider matters of biblical principle and responsibility.

    Think youth ministry, for example- churches often have them. But we begin because "we have to have something for the kids," or some other weak justification. We don't consider exactly how it is supposed to fit in the church's overall mission. Is this ministry about evangelism? Discipleship? How do parents fit in? Instead of turing to the Bible for the answers, we remember how things were done when we were kids, or see how the glossy magazines tell us the only way to reach kids is to _____________.

    That's what I am talking about when I say we have drifted from our moorings. We pursue popularity and pragamatic practice over principle and proclamation of truth.
     
  3. Greg Linscott

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    Quick follow-up...

    On the other side of the coin, we also get sidetracked on issues and have lost the ministry zeal evidenced by our Fundamentalist forefathers. We can be overly cautious to try new things or take on ambitious new opportunities because no one has ever done it before. We love to copy the patterns of others. Our predecessors were ambitious and innovators- why can't we be too?
     
  4. superdave

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    I can't speak for Dr. Bob, but I don't see that as being the major area of drift among true "fundamentalists" whatever that is.

    There has been a shift away from Doctrinal Fundamentalism in another way as well. The definition has been expanded to include areas of practice as well as doctrine. If your church adopts a purpose driven philosophy, or allows women to wear pants, or strays from the beloved KJV, you are labeled as liberal or neo-evangelical. In spite of a strong fundamental doctrinal stance. That is why Dr. Bob questions the actual value of the Fundamentalist label. It is almost as non-descript as the label Baptist.

    You covered both sides of the issue rather well. Much of the imbalance that exists on both sides would be eliminated by a more Word-centered approach to ministry and doctrine, rather than one supported by tradition and opinion. That approach Dr. Bob normally refers to as pseudo-fundamentalism.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    If a person believed the "fundamentals of the faith" (1895) and separated from modernism/liberablism, they were a "fundmentalist".

    I am. But will I cooperate and have fellowship with ANYONE who likewise is a "fundamentalist"?

    You betcha.

    But 99.9% of the "fundamentalist" Baptists think I'm an evil compromiser. Some will no longer have me preach in their church.

    Yet it is not ME that changed what a "fundamentalist" is. Hmmmm.
     
  6. Greg Linscott

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    In light of Dr. Bob's post, I have an honest question, then.

    Does my decision not to have someone speak in my church because of beliefs they hold that conflict with mine or that of my church make me schismatic or divisive?

    If our church chooses to implement standards about the type of music we will use in our services, or the way our teens should dress on youth activities, does that make us legalistic?

    If we choose to support those missionaries whose philosophy and doctrinal teachings lie closest to our own (scrutinizing beliefs in addition to the Fundamentals), does that make us sectarian?

    Just wondering.

    P.S.- How does a histcorically fundamental organization like the American Council of Christian Churches (http://www.amcouncilcc.org/) fit into your view of Fundamentalism today, Dr. Bob?
     
  7. Matt Black

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    I'm with Dr Bob. I subscribe likewise to the Niagara Convention of 1895, but the Five Fundamentals laid out therein have now been expanded to an ever-increasing list of dozens. A brave and noble doctrinal stand against higher criticism has warped into a form of legalism of which the Pharisees would be proud...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  8. PastorGreg

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    I think maybe the Bible ought to have more authority in our churches than a document written by men, no matter how godly they may have been. I cannot lead my church in fellowship with another that violates (For example) II Cor. 6, even though they may subscribe to the five fundamentals.
     
  9. LarryN

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    AMEN, Dr. Bob.

    As someone who just recently re-read George Dollar's History of Fundamentalism in America, it seems plainly evident to me that the changes in fundamentalism over the years are distinct and clearly identifiable. Marsden's history of fundamentalism also relates examples of past cooperative goodwill within fundamentalism.

    In decades past, good men (and women) could be fundamentalists and yet still exhibit unity & harmony across denominational boundaries. The various authors of the chapters in The Fundamentals of 1910-1915 were representative of many denominational backgrounds. Fundamentalists were found in Methodist ranks (ex. Bob Jones, Sr.); Presbyterians (ex.: The Princetonians, incl. J. Gresham Machen- although he tended to dislike the term "fundamentalist", his beliefs clearly identified him as one); the CMA (ex.: Tozer); as well as among Baptists, and many others as well.

    Fundamentalists of all stripes largely had a common foe: Modernism. Today, it seems that the foes of many who claim the title & heritage of fundamentalism are each other. We've divided (and still persist in dividing) ourselves over non-essentials. Anyone who disagrees with another over non-essential matters can be expected to meet the hurled accusation of being a "liberal". Nevermind that the true definition of a theological liberal is someone who would deny one-or-more of the fundamentals of the faith. Today, "liberalism", to many, means breaking the taboos of secondary separation (i.e. what "camp" a person pays homage to); or not preaching against "women wearing pants", or the like.

    IMHO, this resulting bickering, infighting, and clique-ish behavior is one area in which we greatly fail to please our Lord and Saviour, Who admonished believers with these words:

    John 13:35-
    "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
     
  10. Matt Black

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    Amen! We frequently seem to have a ridiculous situation whereby one preacher will refuse to share a platform with another because the other preacher's wife's second cousin's dog's friend's owner's brother once shared a house with a Catholic or had lunch with a liberal...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  11. Greg Linscott

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    Let me pose this question, then:

    Is it wrong to maintain a fundamental Baptist position? While our predecessors did fellowship and cooperate accross denominational lines, they also maintained their distinctive identities. Is it possible that we have had problems in distinguishing between issues that are 1) denominational distinctiveness and local church practice, and 2) issues that comprise modernist compromise.
     
  12. Matt Black

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    No, nothing wrong with that. I would distinguish here between 'occasional fellowship' and cooperation on the one hand (which can be cross-denominational) and commitment and regular fellowship OTOH which should be Baptistic.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  13. aefting

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    OK, let's take this out of the theoretical and into the practical. Which of these men would you cooperate and have fellowship with? Say, speak at their church, or school, or have them in your pulpit.

    1. John Piper
    2. John MacArthur
    3. Rick Warren
    4. Bill Hybels
    5. Max Lucado
    6. Ian Paisley
    7. Bob Jones III
    8. Dell Johnson
    9. Dr. John McKnight, pastor of Evangelical
    Methodist Church (Dublin, MD) and vice president of the ACCC
    10. David Cloud
    11. Bill Rice, III
    12. Wayne VanGeldren, Jr.
    13. D. Martin-Lloyd Jones (while living)

    Other can feel free to answer.

    Andy
     
  14. PastorGreg

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    A huge historical (and theological) phenomenon is being ignored in this post,and that is New Evangelicalism. It's not as simple as liberal or fundamentalist. It will be interesting, Andy, to see how your question is answered by those who claim they would fellowship with anyone who holds to the 5 fundamentals, but have regularly called names and labeled as heretics some of the men listed because of their stand on the KJV.
     
  15. swaimj

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    Right, Pastor Greg. The five fundamentals preceded the rise of new-evangelicalism. Those who formed and defined new-evangelicalism in the beginning (in the 50's) AFFIRMED the five fundamentals. So, since the rise of new-evangelicalism, there has to be something else that defines what a fundamentalist is.
     
  16. Daniel David

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    Piper, MacArthur, Lloyd-Jones, and Bobby Jones, III, would be welcome where I am.

    The other would not feel welcome, as we preach Scripture.
     
  17. mioque

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    Andy
    Talk about seperation, the only 2 names I actually recognized on that list (I recall reading the names of most others before but know nothing about them) were Ian Paisley and Bob Jones III. I wouldn't want Paisley as a guestpreacher, don't know about Jones.
     
  18. Dr. Bob

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    Daniel David would not be welcome in my church for sure.

    No question with these men IN my church or my attending THEIRS
    Y John Piper (Baptist)
    Y John MacArthur (Baptist)
    Y Rick Warren (Baptist)
    Y Bob Jones III (Baptist, kinda)
    Y Bill Rice, III (Baptist)
    Y Wayne VanGeldren, Jr. (in spite of his family)

    Would not have any of these
    N Bill Hybels (promoting a false gospel)
    N Max Lucado (ecumenical church of christ but love his storytelling)
    N Ian Paisley (root of bitterness defiled)
    N Dell Johnson (schismatic; his tapes will do more damage in years to come)
    N David Cloud (ifbx cultic leader and one of the most bitter men I know)

    ? Dr. John McKnight (don't know enough to evaluate)
    ? D. Martin-Lloyd Jones

    You asked for opinion. You got mine and it is worth NOTHING; it is just an opinion.
     
  19. Greg Linscott

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    In response to Andy's question, I honestly have to say I would at least hesitate on all of them, at least at this point in my ministry. The problem with these men (even the "good ones"- admittedly sunjective on my part, I know) is that they are all so prominently identified with certain causes, issues, or movements- and I'm not sure I want to be pigeon-holed in with them (not to mention our little church couldn't afford their expenses! [​IMG] ). I need time to educate my congregation on being students of the Word, not being blind followers of a personaility or movement.

    That being said, I do believe as that is accomplished, our church will continue to be identified with separatistic, Baptist fundamentalism.

    The reality of the dilemma most of us face is not so much on these polarizing, high-profile men, though. It is more along the lines of...

    "Do I send my kids to such and such a camp, or drive three more hours to one that is closer to our ministry philosophy?"

    "Do I promote such and such a speaker at a sister church who I know is more/less Calvinisitc/Arminian than I am?"

    "Do I take the time to get to know other pastors (or attend organized pastor's fellowships) whose ministry methods and denominational ties are different than mine?"

    "Shold I gracefully avoid (or not pursue) fellowship with a brother who pastors a church of like faith and practice because his demeanor, personality, or style is not one I feel comfortable with?"

    "Considering our limited resources, how close does a missionary or organization have to be with our philosophy for me to justify giving them a service to present their ministry or cause?"

    Is there room for a pastor or church to give preference to people who share his/their views? If I only have 8-10 times a year where I give up my pulpit, let's say- is it wrong for me to pursue a speaker who I know is pre-trib dispensational (like me) over another who I know to be post-trib? Is that being divisive, or using discernment?
     
  20. Dr. Bob

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    There is nothing wrong with supporting schools, speakers, camps, mission associations, etc that are in line with the TOTAL doctrinal statement. That is wise and discerning and will avoid confusion.

    At the same time, teaching on the unity of faith on the fundamentals makes certain that they see other Christians as "good" people and not the "enemy".

    Example: My wife's ifb church as a teen taught that only the ifb were correct. They treated SBC teens as enemy (said they should walk on the other side of the street from SBC churches).

    We laugh at such today, but that WAS an attitude that robbed her of sweet fellowship with other Christian kids all through high school. Elijah complex - just us few standing for God.

    Son Josh ran the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) bible study in 4 jr high and 3 high schools each week while pastoring an ifb church. Showed kids the unity based on the fundamentals while students might be from EFree, Baptist, Bible, C&MA, Assemblies, etc.
     

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