Tag: error

My guide to becoming a recovering fundamentalist: The Gospel

In Philippians Paul instructs us to rejoice when the Gospel is preached. There is no doubt in my mind that the Gospel is preached faithfully in fundamentalist churches. Heart issues aside (all groups have them) fundamentalism does have at its core the Gospel. This is first and foremost one of the benefits of fundamentalism. It’s the baby from the bathwater.

Come again?
Let’s face it, the Gospel is offensive. The Bible says so and reality says so. One of the problems with the strawman we call fundamentalism is this: We figure that by bashing fundamentalists we are somehow more palatable to our culture. We can write ‘fundamentalists’ off as extremists. So, we cast aside fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words: we bash ‘fundies’ to make ourselves look good. Friends, the Gospel is offensive. Bashing any group doesn’t make the Gospel less offensive and doesn’t make us look good either.

There are false Gospels
There is and always has been movements to teach and promote a false Gospel. The Bible tells us it will happen and we see throughout history that it happens. In the fundamentalist modernist controversy we have to remember that the stance that was being taken was for the truth of God’s Word and the essential issues regarding Jesus. Paul instructs us to pay attention to our ministry and our doctrine. While we may not agree with the practical outgrowth that happened to fundamentalism, It’s founding is solid and it’s motive solid. If anything fundamentalism does teach us there is a point where you have to stand your ground and say this is truth and this is heresy.

I often say act don’t react. But like many proverbial statements, it’s not always true all the time. There are times when reaction is correct, like placing you hand accidentally on a hot stove. Galatians states how we should not be deceived, that what we reap we will sow. Fundamentalism started as a good reaction to a bad trend. To hold as vile fundamentalism by touting all its ills is a standard none would care to live by. I don’t think we want to reap that in our own ministries.

The bottom line:
One of the greatest contributions of fundamentalism is a defense of the Gospel. Such passion for the Gospel and the Bible should not be taken lightly. Further, we shouldn’t bash a movement like a strawman, as we reap what we sow. The Gospel is offensive. While we as Christians shouldn’t be offensive we must remember there is a point where we have to say what is false and what is true.

The bride is not ready yet…

Jesus said the meek shall inherit the Earth. I feel as though we are not always meek, for sure I am not. It seems we are awfully arrogant, more than we would care to admit. This is not bad in the sense of being overwhelming to us. It just means God is not done perfecting us yet. Here are a couple of examples:

Jesus: Whoever is not against you is for you.
I remember sitting in class and the prof started to list out different movements in evangelism, their proponents, and the ensuing criticism. The discussion fascinated me. There wasn’t a linear progression of understanding. It was a cycle we were already repeating. The realization went like this:

“How many of you thought big-ten revivals were a good thing? Uh-huh. And the seeker sensitive movement? Not so many hands this time? In about 150 years evangelism in America came full circle and is now repeating the cycle.” Ouch…

Rather than criticize form we should learn from each other. A large part of a method’s success is its context: both historical and cultural. Granted every method, movement and church carries problems. The problems may be significant, but it doesn’t make them completely wrong nor completely right. We need to listen and discern better.

Paul: Instruct men not to teach strange doctrines…
God really does care about solid doctrine. Paul did not tell Timothy to remove, separate, ignore or burn the men of Ephesus at the stake. Throughout his writings Paul told Timothy to use love and patience, to instruct as a son to a father or a brother to a brother. Said another way, Paul sent a young guy in to help, clean up and correct the church by leveraging humility. Not exactly a quick, authoritarian method to clean up what was a doctrinal mess.

I sense as Christians we speak right past each other. We are great at making straw men and even better and beating them. Confidence of one’s doctrine and humility are not mutually exclusive. The elder professors I had in seminary were very confident in what they taught, but their humility was excessive. They listened and asserted, held firm but still learned with open minds.

One day I purchased a large number book and proceeded to move them to my car. One of the elder professors put his stuff down on the floor and helped me. He taught none of my classes at that point during seminary. I saw and better understood the relationship between confidence, faith and humility when I did have him as a teacher; all based on this event. We need to pursue humility as a path knowing God and truth.

The bottom line:
Other than Christ is it seems the other thing we Christians have in common is our arrogance. We all to easily forget that it is Christ who wills and works in us. It is He who will carry our work until the day of perfection. Christ washes and purifies the bride. In the arrogance we all have in common we can continue to act that way, get overwhelmed, or we can rest in the fact that God isn’t done with us yet. We call can improve in listening, discernment and humility while also laying aside our straw men.

I wonder if we lack peace in what we do because we don’t follows Paul’s instructions if Philippians 4. We are a very anxious people. Yes, there are differences in our churches. But, we can still be thankful and pray for each other. Yes as Christians we disagree on points of doctrine. We can still learn from each other. Christ leveraged humility in leading us, and we should do the same when interacting with each other.