How The Information Age is Changing Fundamentalism

In 1993, Gail Riplinger contributed her infamous book, New Age Versions to the world of fundamentalism. The work claimed to contain “exhaustive documentation” that proved that the occult was really behind all those new translations of the Bible. Despite the “acrostic algebra” and conspiracy theories (including one about the Titanic sinking because of it being a part of the Whitestar line), Riplinger’s book was well received in non-Ruckmanite circles, because it offered a fresh look at the issues. After all, it contained hundreds of footnotes and this mysterious G.A. Riplinger was apparently well educated. However, in time, the Information Age got a hold of the situation. Fundamentalists learned that her book was not trustworthy. This became documented even by other KJVO fundamentalists. Now Riplinger has been pushed into her rightful place – the radical wing of the fundamentalist KJVO movement, right beside Ruckman himself, Texe Marrs, Jack Chick, and Samp Gipp. Fundamentalism benefited from the Information Age because the works of these vitriolic conspiracy theorists could not pass the scrutiny of evidence. Thankfully, they cannot enter a church, bring a PowerPoint presentation, and make mind-boggling assertions without some members of that church going home and checking things for themselves. 

We’re going beyond Berea here. Not only is it imperative for us today to search the scriptures daily, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the Information Age. When special speaker so-and-so comes to town to prove his point of view, he is coming with a ton of extra-biblical sources. You and I would love to trust him, but the sad truth is fundamentalists have lost credibility here, as will be shown. So it is now our obligation to check those sources, and in doing so, change the face of fundamentalism.

The Information Age is polarizing fundamentalism

As with the issue of Riplinger and the Ruckmanites, the positions uniquely held in fundamentalism are becoming increasingly polarized. A mainstream is gaining momentum, and it is a circle that will reject and even disassociate with those pushed to the far right.  

Those who want to be honest with the issues are dubbed “compromisers”, or more specifically, “pseudo-fundamentalists” by those being pushed to the far right. When Kevin Bauder and Central Baptist produced an honest look at the KJVO issue, they were called neo-fundamentalists – even though their position is more in line with historic fundamentalists.

The KJVO issue isn’t the only thing that is impacted by the Information Age and in turn polarizes fundamentalism, but it could very well be the main issue. We have to ask ourselves, is this polarization a good thing? Does it split us more than ever? My personal opinion is that it is a good thing, because the mainstream of fundamentalism seems closer to historic fundamentalism, and hence, closer to the Bible. As it moves away from hyperfundamentalim, it moves closer to conservative evangelicalism – not something I have a problem with, but I could see why others might. 

The Information Age dispels the rumors and lies

Fundamentalists preach against pragmatism. It is compromise, they say. Pragmatism characterizes the “New Evangelicalism” because they will do any unscriptural thing in order to achieve their goals – so we’re told. But I submit that fundamentalism has become the most pragmatic movement in Christianity today. To many involved, the ends of discrediting others’ ministries, proving one’s position, or vindicating one’s hero is always justified by the means of lies, rumors, and misrepresentation:

The end: The King James Version is the only true Bible.

-justifies-

The means: Lies, rumors, and misrepresentation. Lie about the fact that the Septuagint didn’t exist before Christ by misrepresenting Old Testament scholar Paul Kahle and continuing the rumor that he said there was no Septuagint. Lie about Wescott and Hort by saying they were in the occult and misrepresenting what was actually said. Spread the rumor that Gnostics and others corrupted the manuscripts without a shred of evidence to back it up. Misrepresent the modern versions by saying they “deny” essential doctrine. Misrepresent years of unbiased history to make King James I look like a Christian hero.

The end: discredit John MacArthur’s ministry

-justifies-

The means: Misrepresent his position on the blood and spread the rumor to Bible college campuses everywhere. Then misrepresent what the Bible actually says about Christ’s blood.

The end: Vindicate Jack Hyles

-justifies-

The means: call everyone who disagrees with you a bad name.

The end: Dispensational Premillenial Pretribulationism is the only credible eschatological view

-justifies-

The means: Anyone who disagrees is a heretic.

The end: discredit Al Mohler, and the entire SBC for that matter

-justifies-

The means: misrepresent an article by Mohler on the pope, put a picture in your dirt sheet of Mohler with a pope background, and then characterize the entire Convention based on your reasoning.

Since when does lying and slander become appropriate? Since some fundamentalists desire to fulfill their agendas. No, it is always wrong, and it is evident it has been going on for a while. The Information Age helps us here, because we can dispel these notions and separate from such sin.

The Information Age helps uncover truth

Rumors aren’t just taken care of, truth is also discovered. The research we have available now allows us to know more about historic fundamentalism. It helps us recover authentic evangelism and realize that “asking Jesus into your heart” is a relatively new invention. It helps us find out what men like Charles Finney really are. We learn that we have friends in evangelicalism. MacArthur isn’t so bad after all. Neither is Mohler, Dever, or Piper. In fact, we can admire these guys now. It’s as if the Information Age has freed us from the bondage of hyperfundamentalism!  

The Information Age forces fundamentalists to biblically justify and academically qualify their statements, an objective that can only create a better fundamentalism for us all

The age in which we live provides more available research and documentation in front of us than ever before. This means we could easily be misled. But it also means we could easily check what is being said. Now I’m not advocating that we distrust all fundamentalist preachers. There could be a mood that is set because of all this, one that causes us to listen to a sermon with our arms crossed thinking, “I’ll see that for myself.” We must be careful. But if anything, it is the fault of the speaker, not the listener. Because of its spreading of lies, fundamentalism has lost credibility and deserves to be scrutinized. This could only mean better preaching, better churches, better schools – as the movement polarizes and the radicals are pushed out, the only ones left will be true to the Bible and true to history. All of us who preach and teach are forced to make sure we’re right. How can that be a bad thing?

So the next time D.A. Waite comes to town and brings his bag of tricks, he has to know that people can check what he’s saying. That being said, I predict that the more radical tenets of modern fundamentalism, such as King James Onlyism, will die out (or at least pushed entirely to the Ruckmanites only) within the next ten years.

Hopefully, this will put an end to fundamentalist gossip rags as well. Thank God for the Information Age, but use it wisely! NOW PUT THAT IN YOUR CAPS LOCK AND TYPE IT! 

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20 comments so far

  1. William D on

    Great article! However, I don’t know if the mainstream of Fundamentalism consists of the Kevin Bauder types. I think the Jack Hyles and SOTL type of fundamentalism is the most predominant. They have more schools (indoctrination camps is more like it) and more numbers of totally clueless people. I myself came from the Hyles camp and I see a lot of young fundamentalists leaving that camp, but I also see them reproducing their lunacy like crazy too.

  2. DT on

    I actually agree with you, but I think it’s a matter of terminology. Although “mainstream” typically denotes the majority, it could also denote the more public voice. I consider the likes of BJU, Central Baptist, Detroit Baptist, etc. the mainstream only because they do. I think it was a conference at Maranatha recently in which I discovered this. Also, Bauder is at least striving toward this idea, as he expressed in his article, “A Fundamentalism Worth Saving.”
    So, maybe it is semantics, but I do believe the SOTL crowd is in the majority, but I chose to keep the title of mainstream for the Bauder/McLaghlin/Doran/Johnson types. I may be wrong now, but probabaly not so much in the future. Thank you for your comment!

  3. J. Smith on

    You’re operating on stereotypes. I’m a hardcore Calvinist who deeply respects both the person and works of Gail Riplinger. I see her critics as being dishonest and fallacious and mocking and pretty much having nothing else to bring. No, I don’t fear man (scholar, pastor, whatever). That helps. Yes, I read Turretin. Like it or not seeing the Alexandrian manuscripts as corrupt and the versions based on them as satanic is a matter of regeneration.

    So many of you have come out of various fundamentalist cults that you can’t discern up from down but you *know* you have to express yourself and your newly found independence in *some* way, so you start mouthing what the seminary professors teach you.

  4. DT on

    Thank you for the comment.

    I don’t know how I could be operating on sterotypes, because, if it is not clear, I am a fundamentalist and I know the issues first hand. I was a KJVO guy for a couple of years and I was convinced Riplinger and others had the answers. But it is not a sterotype to tell you that the majority of her work has no credibility. It has been proved (check out some of the above links) that she blatantly misrepresents others, misquotes them, makes things up, jumps to false conclusions, and propagates consipracy. Again, this is documented fact, not sterotype, though I welcome your response since you think her critics are the ones who are dishonest. I’d like an example.

    But really I don’t want to debate you. This isn’t about the KJVO issue so much as the fact that the Age in which we live provides us access to so much material that fundamentalits are forced to substantiate their claims. That’s really all I”m saying. You can believe what you’d like about the KJV, but the evidence you use to prove your position is more vulnerable to scrutinization than ever before. So, prove, if you’d like, that the Alexandrian manuscripts are the work of Satan. But do so with evidence that can last in the Information Age.

    By the way, neither of us has “come out of” any “fundamentalist cult” nor have we gone to seminary…yet.

  5. fundyreformed on

    Good post. I agree the information age helps with the reforming of fundamentalism. People aren’t spoon fed information anymore, but can search for themselves.

    I also agree with Will that I think SOTL type churches are in the majority. But I understand how the other wing dubs themselves “mainstream”. Then there are the Ruckmanites that must be some 3rd group or something. But these aren’t hard and fast divisions, as there are some overlaps for sure.

    God bless you guys,

    Bob

  6. J. Smith on

    I invoke the name Riplinger because I won’t allow the sophists and propagandists like White turn her into something that Bible-believing Christians are supposed to flinch regarding and be embarassed to speak it, but one can use the name Burgon or Hills or Letis or the great names of the Reformation itself which fought this battle already – and won – against the Roman Catholic church.

    If you’re liberal theologians by nature then carry on, nothing I will say will mean anything to you. But if not then try to see that you are a bit behind the curve on the Bible manuscripts issue. You think you’re being ‘intellectual’ in adopting the Critical Text (or, maybe better put, you think you’re not being anti-intellectual, like some of the people you’ve seen in your former environments you speak of), but that’s just a common taunt of liberal theologians. If you don’t fear and revere academia as your final authority you are being ‘anti-intellectual’. That academia harbors the worst and most effective heretics around doesn’t seem to bother their position in their minds.

    I’m as hardcore an ‘intellectual’ Calvinist as exists, and I find White to be something veering on a counter-Reformation Jesuit when he writes on the manuscripts issues. I find Riplinger to be a truly born again believer who is rather brave and is on-the-mark regarding the types and patterns of corruption of the Alexandrian manuscripts and the versions based on them. If she gets off course (away from purely biblical issues) at times at least she is able to admit it and laugh at herself regarding it, but her critics only want to focus on those things and totally ignore the core of what she presents. This is telling, to put it mildly. They can’t defend the corruptions of the critical text manuscripts. They fall into sophistry and fallacious nonsense from the start.

  7. DT on

    I don’t want to carry this too much further. Again, this post isn’t really about the KJV. (I used KJV onlysim as a main example, so maybe it’s my fault). What I’m talking about is the ability to substantiate claims. Riplinger’s work has been proven to be filled with lies. You respect this? You think she’s brave for her conspiracies about the Titanic, Wescott, and Hort? You think she’s being biblical by employing “acrositc algebra” to prove her point? I will probabaly agree with you that there are others in the KJVO crowd that have better arguments. Riplinger is not one. And the information age allows us to see that. That’s the point of the article!

    Also, we are not liberal in any sense of the world. I’d appreciate it if you did not make so many assumptions. Neither TJ or I left any movement. We both graduated from the same Bible college. We saw things we didn’t agree with, but we stayed, and God did some wonderful things in our lives there. We appreciate much about fundamentalism, and what we are trying to do, as so many others are, is bring an awareness of things that need to be improved. We are fundamentalists who are trying to help other fundamentalists return to biblical principles. Neither of us have adopted the Critical text either. As you can see our entire blog uses the KJV. That’s what I use at my church. I own and study from other versions, yes, but I honestly havent’ adopted an official position about the manuscripts because I’m still recovering from a KJVO view, which I see as errant. But again, this issue isn’t about the manuscripts, it’s about information relating to them. You’ve yet to substantiate your claim that the Alexandrian texts are corrupt, and contrary to what you said, those on the other side of the issue do quite well defending their point.

    I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t want to compromise an iota of what it says. But that doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to your thinking. In the stream of historic fundamentalism I agree with RA Torrey, John R Rice, J. Greshem Machen, A.T. Pierson and a host of others. In no wise do I think this makes me some intellectual idolator.

  8. J. Smith on

    >Riplinger’s work has been proven to be filled with lies.

    Listen, this is just untrue. And she’s defended her book rather well. I don’t need to do it here.

    I think I see where you’re currently coming from in what you’ve said in your last comment. You havn’t really looked into the issues surrounding the competing claims of critical text scholars and traditional text defenders and the history involved and so on. So be it. Just know that it’s hardly the case that the internet – and new information technology and so on – is the enemy of the traditional text side. The side that has had the monopoly (all the institutions and publications and so on) is the critical text side. The internet has facilitated the truth of the traditional text side to get to people.

  9. DT on

    We can wage a war of ideas until the cows come home but the whole point here is substance. Although my article didn’t delve into the evidence, I believe I provided ample links to prove my points. Even those on your side, in fact, I would say the majority of the more moderate KJVOnlysists feel the same way about Riplinger’s book. It has been reviewed over and again with the same outcome: bad scholarship. If we can’t get past that, there’s no reason to continue this discussion, unless you use the resources of the Information Age to substantiate your claims.
    Thank you, by the way, for being so quick to respond…you’re hard to keep up with!

  10. J. Smith on

    You’re welcome. I bookmark blog comment threads in a dedicated folder to remember where I’ve been causing trouble. It makes it easy to check them and so on.

    These guys strike the right balance in their criticism of Gail Riplinger:

    http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/riplinger.htm

    and

    http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/criticism_of_riplinger.htm

    You know, I could give you a thousand links on this subject, but anybody with good will towards the truth can find it all.

    Remember, academics exploded at Gail Riplinger for a reason: she is not lukewarm, she fears only God, and she exposed them. If there were nothing in her book the fierce reaction wouldn’t have manifested. What she did was to expose the types and patterns of corruption, the very thing James White and all her other ‘scholarly’ critics are silent on as they mock peripheral subject matter.

    This is a heated subject because it was the central battle during the Reformation. Protestants won the battle then at a great price and at great suffering. It was given away without a shot in the 19th century. But’s God’s own know the Voice of the Shepherd, and God has always had – and will always have – a remnant to shepherd His pure and whole Word so it will be available to His elect until the return of the King.

  11. DT on

    I’m convinced that neither of us will find an agreement with one another other than the fact we both love God and His word and desire to know the truth.

    I read both of those links, and unfortunately neither one provides anything substantial. I couldn’t find a reference to anything she said specifically, or any criticism of her book being debunked. What I found was right in line with her thinking – caricatures, assumptions, and huge jumps to conclusions about other people. Somehow everyone who exposed the fallacies of her book are guilty of worshipping scholarship and only do so because they are in it for the money. Thank God the Information Age will help do away with this kind of logic.

    I appreciate your correspondence, but as far as I’m concerened this is going nowhere. You’re welcome to have the last word if you’d like. Sorry we disagree about these things, but may God bless you as you labor for Him.

  12. J. Smith on

    Have you read White’s book? Straw men, sophistry, outright lies. White’s been exposed over and over. Look into the issues. You CAN’T defend Vaticanus and Satanicus. They are indefensible. They don’t even agree with each other. Critical Text scholars DON’T EVEN HAVE A DOCTRINE OF PRESERVATION. Anyway, God’s own know the Voice of the Shepherd and know the devil’s sewage passing itself off as the Word of God when they see it. The devil and his followers will answer to God. That is a great comfort to me.

  13. DT on

    Sigh…couldn’t resist one more response (sorry I know I said you can have the last word…but it’s my blog! Seriously, this should be the last thing I say)

    Yes, I have read White’s book and it was extremely helpful. In fact, it was one of the best books I have ever read. I don’t recall any outright lies. (this is where substantial evidence would be helpful!)

    Vaticanus and Sanaiticus are defensible. I’m not saying I think they’re superior or not, but of course a position does exist. Read the works of White, Metzger, Wallace, etc. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least realize that people have given credible arguments to the Critical Text position.

    And yes critical scholars have a doctrine of preservation. It’s not the same as yours, so I assume you’ll say it’s no doctrine at all. But what if I believe that the fact that we have substantial evidence that the Bible is at least 98% reliable, based on all extant manuscripts, and the 2% in question has no bearing on doctrine, and that alone is a testimony of God’s wonderful preservation? That’s a preservation doctrine. It’s just not the same as one that says preservation has to exist in one family of manuscripts and one text through the ages, which hasn’t existed anyway, and by the way, none of the Byzantine manuscripts agree completley with each other either!

    Well, hopefully that’s that. Like I said this post isn’t about KJVO per se, but about using the Information Age to substantiate claims used for positions like KJVO. I think you have proved my point in giving me little evidence to back up your position. Thank you, however, for taking heed to my final admonition to PUT THAT IN YOUR CAPS LOCK! Anyway, go ahead and have the last word (hopefully that will actually be it this time). If you will, maybe you can answer this: what if you’re wrong? What if God’s word was preserved in all the extant manuscripts? What is that which you are calling the “devil’s sewage” is actually His Word? You’re going to have a lot of explaining to do. By the way, the thing you call the devil’s sewage is what God used to lead me to Christ. Do I thank Satan for this?

  14. J. Smith on

    Wow, you’ve banned me. You expose yourself. And your weakness. Have fun where you’re going…

  15. TJ on

    What!?! I’m sorry. I have to say something.
    No one has banned you. You have been given the last word. That’s not being banned. That’s quite the opposite of being banned.
    You have proven nothing but the very point of this post. You can make any claim or support any claim you wish, and no one (at least on this blog, within reason) will ban you. But do not expect anyone to go along with your ideas when you can provide nothing to support them.
    Do not make yourself a martyr. You are welcome to comment on this blog any time you wish to do so. If you trust the Lord Jesus for your eternal salvation, you are our brother in Christ. We will endeavor to treat you as such. But, do not make yourself the victim and say that we have banned you.
    The truth is, you have exposed yourself and the type of hyperfundamentalism that this is working to correct. I suggest that you examine what you believe and why you believe it, because you can (again, the point of this post). Also, however, I suggest that you examine how you address people. Frankly, that kind of childish tactlessness does not please our Lord.
    I can only speak for myself, but the Holy Spirit has taught me first hand through this correspondence a thing or two about His fruits. I hope and pray that He has done the same for you.
    God bless you.

  16. J. Smith on

    My last post didn’t show. So… Maybe it’s a software issue, but everything up to now went through. Here it is:

    +++

    Wallace, Metzger? You’re a liberal theologian without even realizing it. You don’t know what it is you are eating. But the fact that you have taken a side shows you default to the liberal side. Something to think about if that fact bothers you one little iota.

    As for backing up my position I gave you the names of Burgon, Hills, Letis. Yes, they are difficult reads for the average critical text follower. I could also send you to forums where Reformed Christians can educate you on the issues regarding the traditiona text vs. the Alexandrian (go to the PuritanBoard and read Rafalsky, Winzer, and Weddle), and this is relevant because someone like White exploits his status as a Reformed theologian when he pushes the corrupt manuscripts and versions. What happens is when CTers get references they dismiss them (usually hysterically) or move the goal posts. The basic fact of all this is it was all fought over during the Reformation. Learn that history. Fundamentalists tend to be weak on the history of the Reformation for various reasons (no dog in that fight, right?), but what you miss is the trail of blood is involved in that battle at its core.

    Entertain the possibility you are being duped by the CT side. They prey on the ignorance of their audience just as liberal politicians and propagandists prey on the ignorance of the populace to push their ideology. The CT side always preys upon fallen man’s inclination to fear and revere man more than the Word of God.

    As for White’s little book… If you can read a critique of it and still think White comes out as a serious person then you’re beyond reason on this issue.

    Read White if you want straight forward explanation of the doctrines of grace and the five solas. Stay far away from him if you want to understand the manuscripts issues.

    The famine of the end times is for the Word of God.

    Try Thomas Holland’s critique:

    http://www.biblebelievers.com/Holland1.html

    Or this:

    http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/examining01.htm

    You have to actually read them. The new information revolution is meaningless if you protect yourself from unpleasant influences (the king that tend to gore your sacred cows…)

  17. J. Smith on

    I still can’t post my last comment.

  18. J. Smith on

    Read White if you want straight forward explanation of the doctrines of grace and the five solas. Stay far away from him if you want to understand the manuscripts issues.

  19. […] why I say, thank God for the information age! I’ve spent hours perusing Google books, even German books, and then translating sections to […]


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