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.

7 comments:

ricky said...

Hey, Jon. I appreciate the time and thought that you have put into this post. Your grace toward differing brothers (probably including myself) reflects the gospel of Christ; and it is the gospel of Christ that must be exulted.

I thought that I might add a few thoughts for consideration. Following your line of logic regarding being an American or white, one would have to include that you are implying that you were born a fundamentalist with no previous choice. Your being a fundamentalist is based entirely on your birth and not philosophical or theological discernment. Although it may seem that you were born a fundamentalist, I doubt that you would make that claim. Therefore, your allusion is somewhat faulty.

Regarding your allusion to being a republican, it makes a relative point. However, knowing history as well as you do, you must recall that it was not the republican party that always held the conservative views, historically it was the democratic party. Only until recent did the republican party hold its conservative stance. Although I agree and thank the Lord for the men who have stood for truth and morals in our country, if the republican party ever became the liberal party or the democratic party ever held more conservative view in certain crucial areas, my allegiance to the republican party would not hold me against my better judgement. So, historically I agree with fundamentalism, but my allegiance only goes as far as the integrity of the gospel. I do not find it weak or wrong to hold no other allegiance than to Christ Himself. As Paul said in Corinthians, "Christ died for us," certainly not the historic fundamentalist. We are of Christ, not Paul, not Peter, not Appolos, and definitely not fundamentalists. (Who I might add have done very little compared to the previous three.)

Jon, thank you for your deference to the other brothers, but Christ is not divided.

Jon from Reidville, SC said...

Ricky:

I would certainly not say that I am a fundamentalist by birth! I would say that what makes you an American is by definition being born or naturalized. What makes a person black is by definition the color of their skin. My point is that there are people who are fundamentalist but don't want the label because of how it is has been misapplied by the media or new evangelicals.

This is one of my problems with the current situation. Fundamentalism is a not just a movement. It is a position vis a vis the Word and the bretheren. You either believe the Bible and its prescriptions and proscriptions about relating to others or you don't. The rub comes when people say they are fundamentalist and practically deny Truth by how they act, interpret, preach, etc.

I must also comment on your last point. While I will not get into an argument about the relative contributions of early fundamentalists vs Peter, Paul and Apollos, I think we have to remember that in a time when the tide was running toward liberalism and higher criticism and neo-orthodoxy these men stood strong for the Word. We have seen now for 50 years the rocks on which the siren call of new evangelicalism has wrecked men's ministries. I have no desire to see any ministry I am associated with turn away from fundamentalism to chase acceptance in the wide wide world of modern American Evangeliscalism.

ricky said...

Jon, thanks for the reply. I appreciate you taking the time to clear up what I misunderstood. In discussions such as this (which I might add, are profitable since the goal of both parties is to build up and edify), I find it important to come a mutual agreement on definitions. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen from the beginning.

If you view "fundamentalist" as a title that is embedded into anyone who believes the truth of the Scriptures and firmly stands against biblical heresy in both doctrine and practice, then I would agree. Unfortunately, as you stated earlier, fundamentalism contains sects (for lack of a better word) who neglect doctrine which, consequently, is evident in their practice. As much as you say you refuse to let others change your identity, it has already begun to happen. If everyone understood "fundamentalism" according to your definition, then many of those who claim to be fundamentalist would be widely excluded, and many who reject the title would be included.

This is where titles can become a best friend or a worst enemy. If the person who hears the title understands you according to your definition, then great! But, if they do not, then you run the risk of undermining yourself.

Personally, I think that titles should be held losely, and truth should be one's banner. But if someone does claim a title, it should be clearly defined so that misunderstandings are avoided. Jon, I appreciate your desire to maintain the integrity of the origins of fundamentalism. And, by God's grace, God's truth will be exalted.

I have thought about your comment regarding fundamentalist vs. church patriarchs, and I agree that God has used His men to accomplish His will in different ages. So, each man has served an equally vital role in the plan of God throughout time.

Jon from Reidville, SC said...

As one person has said, I can spend 20 minutes describing the baptist distinctives to you or I can tell you "I am a baptist." Now to some people that means "hypocritical, biblethumping red-neck," but if I am a baptist I am not going to let that change the name of my church. There are baptists that would die before they would change the name of their church to Bible Church but they think someone is daft to call themselves fundamentalist.

As you said, lebels can make or break you. So, the solution is not to throw out the label but to use discernment! Among the discerning I am a fundamentalist. To a lost world I am a Christian.

jblaha said...

This is an interesting topic to me because I, myself, have become repulsed by "fundamentalists." It was not necessarily the doctrines that they held as truth that I was sickened by, but the way that they practiced what they "believed." I soon after heard a well-put message stating what true fundamentalism is. I now understand it as by those truths that were spoken of. There since has come another term which I think could be placed in the stead of those that practice errant doctrines by their live, but speak differently. The term - traditionalist. Those that just stick to whatever for the sake of sticking to...whatever - and for who-knows what reasons. (Or you could call them legalists.) I would then say that it is good to claim the fame of a fundamentalist because Christian is such a broad term; however, they also have fundamental "christians" that are not even in our circles. (Besides, the name Christian was originally derived from people speaking of the "little-Christs" and not by the followers of Christ themselves.) So, how about the name believer? It is a purposeful name. It is meaningful - stating that you believe in the fundamentals. It is what we are anyway is it not? If anyone asks us what we believe, we can say..."the Bible." One who truly divides the Word of truth will find pure doctrine. I find it a little purposeless to claim the name of a certain denomination, belief system, follower of some man, or other grouping. If it is by the Word that we live by, why not label ourselves as followers of that Word? Just some thoughts to throw into this...not necessarily disputing one way or the other.

jblaha

jblaha said...

Oh yeah - here is a neat post that I found neat and maybe even beneficial for all of us to read. http://faithandpractice.blogspot.com/2006/07/what-doctrines-are-fundamental.html

ricky said...

Thanks, Jon! I love you, man!!