Thursday, August 24, 2006

Whom Should We Quote?

Over at Pyromaniacs I ran into an interesting article several days ago. In dealing with guilt by association (hereafter referred to as GBA) they got into a discussion about a situation where John MacArthur quoted a liberal theologian. I have some personal experience with this type of thing.

One of the most horrifying examples of this type of thing occurred last year. I was listening to a wonderful message by the ever eloquent and loquacious Church Swindol. He preached on of the best messages on the inerrant inspiration of the Word of God that I have ever heard. He could have preached it at the most fundamental of fundamentalist churches or schools and they would have been pleased. Well, that is, until he got to the close. He closes out with a story about Karl Barth telling some friends that the most profound thing he has learned in life is: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Now, how do you finish a sermon on the inspiration of the Bible with a quote by the poster-boy of Neo-Orthodoxy?

The situation that TeamPyro is discussing is altogether different. There is nothing wrong with quoting from liberals and apostates. The problem with bad theology is rarely total error. It is the problem of 99% pure water mixed with the 1% pure poison. And since we are talking about what men have said and written it is fairly easy to glean some of the good stuff from bad theologians.

The problem is when men like Barth and Bonhoeffer get quoted in glowing terms that make them sound like great Christians. The thing to get upset about is when such men are held up as exemplars of the Christian life and are called great men of God.

But the issue at hand is how to deal with quoting from such men. First, I would say, that my own pastor does not need to give a disclaimer every time he quotes from some shady theologian. I know where he is and as long as he is not praising liberals I am happy for him to quote pretty much whomever he wishes. Second, when I listen to men like John MacArthur, John Piper, or Chuck Swindol, I listen fairly critically. I am not under the weekly pastorate of these men so I am not as familiar with them. Therefore, I listen and the warning light comes on when they quote from apostates. Again, as long as they are not making out over such men I can accept that.

The bottom line is that I worry if my pastor is moving into error. If some guy on the radio or podcast is preaching a lot of crazy stuff I shut him off and stop listening. I don't think we need to have the big tabloid exposé in the blogosphere every time someone says something that sounds a little off to us!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I Love BJU

I love Bob Jones University. I do not say that lightly or just to grab attention. It is really true.

I decided long ago not to be apologetic about the school or my affiliation with it. I decided to simply be grateful. So many alumni can not see any good that God produced in their lives through BJU.

I think that I would be a far different person if I had not gone to the World's Most Unusual University. I know the struggles and tendencies of my heart and a less conservative institution may have allowed me to get into far more trouble than I had opportunity to find in Greenville.

There are certainly things I would like to see change at my alma mater. If the university wants to form an alumni committee I would gladly serve on it. However, until then I will go on thanking God for my time at BJU and praying for the health of that institution.

This article was inspired by Bob Bixby.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I Will Always Be A Fundamentalist

I will always be a fundamentalist. Some might marvel at so categorical a statement. I know there have been hours of blogging on the subject from such luminaries of the blogosphere as the Pyromaniacs and Bauder. This is actually the stuff that first lured me into blogging. So I have read a lot of it and mulled it over for a while now.

My first thought is that, while I am an American, I do not feel responsible to answer for every kooky thing that every American does. More specifically, I generally identify myself as a Republican, however I do not have to agree with everyone else who identifies themselves with that label. Some like John McCain hardly seem to warrant the label given some of their positions. To many GOP members my conservative views may seem to place me far to the right of the mainstream party. The point is that we don't let others define us. We don't allow the misuse of labels to change who we are.

Imagine if someone tells me, "All white people are racist." Do I start wearing shoe-polish on my face and try to be non-white? No, I am caucasian and I cannot change that. I can try to articulate to this individual that they are wrong and even that they are racist for espousing such an idea. Or I may need to just walk away and leave this individual with their crazy delusions.

The fact is that I believe there are certain truths that are core to True Christianity. These truths are revealed by God in His Word. That means that His Word has to be infallible and preserved or else we don't know anything. These truths are fundamental and no one who denies them can be called a brother nor can I have close fellowship with such a one.

Furthermore, I want to be with others who hold to the same Truth. And I really don't want to try and fellowship with any form of modernist or liberal who wants to slap the name of Christ on their chest but deny the Power of the Gospel. These are the hallmarks of fundamentalism. KJV only, certain musical styles, clothing and worship styles are not definitive. Anyone that wants them to be definitive of fundamentalism is wrong. I refuse to let them redefine who I am.

One important point I want to make is my attitude toward Christian brothers. One becomes a follower of Jesus by faith alone in Christ alone. There are lots of Christians out there who are not fundamentalists. There are two ditches or curbs that define the road I take here. The first is that I do not need to have a holier-than-thou attitude toward people who are not fundamentalist. I cannot look down on them. I do not need to try and "convert" them. Second, I do not need to try and bend my beliefs to snuggle up to them. That is the mistake that defines new-evangelicalism. My responsibility is to love all those that love my Lord. I need to encourage them to believe. I do not need to convince all my SBC and PCA friends to leave their churches and join a fundamentalist assembly.

Now you have seen a little bit on my identity crisis. The crisis is over. I will always be a fundamentalist.