Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Galatians 4:16
 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

True friends tell you what you need to hear. As much as I covet those comments in which people say, “great website!”, I need much more to hear about the things I need to change. Those things have been brought to my attention, and it seems like I’ve been one of the biggest Double Standards all along. I hope now to articulate some of the problems, and offer some possible solutions.

(No, that’s not really me in the picture.)

 The problems

I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. However, it seems I share these problems with other young and/or disgruntled fundamentalists as seen in the blogroll. I am going to try my best to avoid these problems, and hope they will do the same.

1. My tone

The purpose of this blog was to counteract that which we saw as a problem in fundamentalism. I despised some things I heard, especially attacks on a person’s character, sweeping generalizations, and strawmen. Now, I may not have employed CAPS LOCK everywhere and propagated conspiracy theories, but I’ve been guilty of doing the same things. In some of my posts, I have made sweeping generalizations. I have attacked characters (well I’ve tried to avoid doing it altogether, but I did say “D.A. Waite and his bag of tricks” in the post, “How the Information Age is Changing Fundamentalism”). I have also used a favorite technique of mine – sarcasm!

The problem is at least twofold: 1) you cannot always accurately interpret the tone in which things are written. Some people that know me say they saw no problem in what I have written because they know how I talk. But I can see how my comments can be interpreted as rude as well. Do they warrant someone calling me a “callow fool?” I don’t think so, but I’ll take it. 2) It’s just plain wrong. If there are issues to be discussed, the Bible says to discuss them in “meekness” (II Timothy 2:25), and to “esteem others better” (Philippians 2:3). It seems the keyboard has given me undue power. For this I admit I’m wrong.

Do I really think D.A. Waite has a “bag of tricks”? Certainly a statement like that is uncalled for. I do not think a man like Dr. Waite lies in bed at night trying to think of ways to trick people. However, I do believe his work is deceptive. But these are two different things. All of us carry on with false notions that we haven’t created. It doesn’t mean we are purposely lying. Waite is one of only a few more well-known KJVO authors I have actually seen in person, and he came across as a sincere and humble Christian man. He is undoubtedly a level head and does well by distancing himself from Ruckmanism. I still don’t agree with his position. But from henceforth I will try to make it more clear that it is the position and not the man with which I disagree.

2. My purpose

When I first got into this blog idea, I had a bit of a disagreement with a good friend of mine. As much as I hate to admit it, he was right when he said, “stop trying to fix everything and everybody and work on being an example of what a fundamentalist should be.” Wow. Ok, should have heeded that much sooner!

The truth is there are things that need to be fixed. But who am I to think I can fix them? Historically, men simply lead by example. Sure, Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism to refute falsehood, but he also provided an example by separating from Princeton as well as being arguably the best Greek scholar of his day. So, if I’m tired of hearing some preachers in fundamentalism rail on each other about their problems but never do anything productive about it individually, I become a hypocrite by doing the same thing.

The purpose of this blog was never intended to bash fundamentalism. I even wrote in the “About” section that:

“As fundamentalism carried on, however, it shifted its combative focus away from modernism and toward secondary differences among Christian brethren. . .”

Well, I could probably write that about this blog, too. The solution I wanted was to get back to talking about and defending the fundamentals against the problems of the day. We still have higher criticism, skepticism, and Darwinianim; but now we add to that the New Atheism and militant Islam. If I’m dwelling too much on the King James Only issue, then I’m doing the same thing I am accusing fundamentalism of doing! Again, for this I am wrong, and I hope to make it right by being the example of what I think a fundamentalist should be – something more positive!

A Real Return to Biblicism

The choice of the word “biblicism” for this blog was done rather hastily, but it just stuck. Unfortunately, just like the term fundamentalism, biblicism is hard to define. Some believe it implies a wooden, ultra-literal belief system that leads to a mentality of Bibliolatry:

“(Biblicism) refers to the uncritical, literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly to the quotation of a passage of Scripture out of context to prove a point of interpretation.” (Richard Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism, p33)

“The term ‘biblicism’ is usually derogatory. It is commonly applied to (1) someone who has no appreciation for the importance of extrabiblical truth in theology, who denies the value of general or natural revelation, (2) those suspected of believing that Scripture is a ‘textbook’ of science, or philosophy, politics, ethics, economics, aesthetics, church government, etc., (3) those who have no respect for confessions, creeds, and past theologians, who insist on ignoring these and going back to the Bible to build up their doctrinal formulations from scratch, (4) those who employ a ‘proof texting’ method, rather than trying to see Scripture texts in their historical, cultural, logical, and literary contexts.” (John M. Frame, “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism:Reflections on Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method”) 

What best defines my ideal concept of Biblicism, however, was discovered when I read the book, Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism. Bradley Nassif presented his view first, in which he made the case for the “evangelical” identity of the Orthodox church. He used Mark Noll’s American Evangelical Christianity  as his stanard. In his work, Noll cites David Bebbington’s fourfold definition of evangelical beliefs: crucicentrism, biblicism, conversionism, and activism. Each were applied to a survey by the Angus Reid Group on the number of evangelical constituencies in thirty-three countries around the world. Bebbington’s concise definition of Biblicism is “the centrality of the Bible.” The survey question formulated by the Angus Reid Group asked participants to agree to the statement, “The Bible is the inspired Word of God” or, to whatever degree, “the Bible is God’s word, and is to be taken literally, word for word.”

The centrality of the inspired Word of God – Bibliocentricism, not Bibliolatry. Robert Price, higher critic and Jesus Seminar fellow (who would obviously be an opponent of the idea) defines biblicism as “the fundamentalist belief in the absolute authority of the Bible in every aspect of life.” So whatever thoughts the term biblicism brings to mind, I wish to make in known that the definition we’re going with is one that points to the centrality and authority of the Bible in every aspect of life. This is vital to establish the fact that we weigh every issue, every sermon, and every theological system by the Bible alone. It is evident that this was the prevailing mood of early fundamentalism, a mood that we wish to continue in this blog and through our lives and ministries.

That being said, this blog is not an attempt to rename fundamentalism. In “A Fundamentalism Worth Saving”, Kevin Bauder said, “equivocal labels like Biblicist—labels that implicitly suggest that our fundamentalist opponents do not take the Scriptures as seriously as we do.” Biblicism is apparently not the best term to use, it is easily misinterpreted, and can even be a little vague. In any case, though, it is the term we have chosen, and now we have more reason to determine to exemplify the concept of biblicism in our writings.

Fundamentalism

When I studied fundamentalist history, I fell in love with it as a movement. Those that lead the way against modernism are true heroes of the Christian faith. As I have tried to make clear, I am a fundamentalist. The criticisms on this blog are from a “we”, not “they” perspective. But I’m sure I wasn’t clear enough. Part of that is the fact that I do not want to associate myself with the radical (“one who holds or follows extreme principles,” New Webster’s Dictionary) element of fundamentalism. Yet, this is an element I should refer to as hyperfundamentalism, to distinguish it from the true kind – the kind with which I want to associate myself.

Concerning the problems with fundamentalism, some believe it is not worth saving, while others believe it is. Phil Johnson’s speech, “The Failure of the Fundamentalist Movement”, was a pivotal turning point for a lot of young fundamentalists, because it echoed our very sentiments we’ve had for a while. Yet, he spoke from outside the camp, and it hurt. The response from fundamentalists was mixed, but my personal opinion is somewhat in between – salvage what you can and move on. It is a movement, and as such, it is subject to die out. The question is, can a blog like this play a role in such a thing? Probably not.

So while assessing some problems within fundamentalism is not guaranteed to disappear from this blog, if it is done, it will be done in a better spirit, with hope for a restoration of original fundamentalism the only goal.

Profit

Probably the biggest question bloggers must ask ourselves is, “what does this all profit?” Again, if my goal is to point out everyone’s problems and use the same un-Christian techniques to do it, it will profit very little. I’ve been finding that out the hard way as I have been trying to keep arguments civil and about issues, but have been called a “fool” and a “moron” in doing so.

It was pointed out to me that this is also wrong because it is on the Internet, and it’s there for the world to see. This blog is rather insignificant, but that’s right. A non Christian can look at this and find just another example of how Christians are arguing with each other, even to the point of calling each other names. Some testimony!

I am determined not to display our dirty laundry to the whole world. If I have a problem with something I will go about it a different way, perhaps a more positive view of the opposition or something. In either case, this blog was supposed to edify the body of Christ, and although I hope we’ve been a blessing in some cases, we have not fully achieved our goal. For this I am also sorry.

Solutions

1. I will try to make sure my tone is one that reflects a Christian bought by the precious blood of Jesus, who hopes to be an encouragement to others that come across this blog, while militantly defending the fundamentals of the faith in the stream of historic fundamentalism.

2. I will allow people to comment, but not fight fire with fire. If they wish to call me names and misrepresent me, so be it. If it leads to nothing, perhaps the comments will cease to be displayed.

3. I will try to better articulate my position, and that even if I disagree with something, I am still a fundamentalist.

4. I will be the example of what I think fundamentalism should be, by posting more apologetic-type articles and confronting real challenges like the New Atheism.

5. I will determine to be more fair if I feel criticism is even necessary. That is, as much as there are problems within fundamentalism, there are also in evangelicalism. Just because I have come to appreciate conservative evangelicals to the point that I quote them, read them, and even consider them closer to historic fundamentalists than some modern fundamentalists, they are not excused from criticism (again, if criticism is even something I should be doing). As much as I like them, I have reservations about some things, and my use of them in articles is not a wholesale endorsement of their ministries. For this I need to be more clear.

6. I will try to be a testimony of Jesus Christ on the web. If it does not work out, I will give up this project rather than try to fight my way to being “right.”

I’m glad this blog will have sort of a new direction. I also see that others are providing similar resolutions, such as Fred Butler’s recent post on “How to Disagree without being Disagreeable“, and Free From the Box’s “Permanent Broad-Brushing Disclaimer” and “It’s Not About the IFB“.

Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:13

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6 comments so far

  1. TJ on

    I am right there with you, 100%.
    I thank God that we have come to these resolutions early, rather than further down the road.
    May God continue the work He has begun in us and through us.

  2. Readmore on

    Good call–we all need a little reality check from time to time.

  3. […] Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? True friends tell you what you need to hear. … […]

  4. […] Things I Have Learned from Fundamentalism To keep in tune with a positive approach, as I have determined to do, and in contrast to the criticism of fundamentalism found on this blog, I would like to […]

  5. blessedforever on

    Is it ‘Biblical’ for a church to choose its own elders?

  6. alfaarooq1 on

    I was told about missing a point in my post on Deutronomy 18:18 the guy said I missed out on Deut 18:15 but what the brother don’t understand is that I did not miss out on Duet 18:15 guess he will have to read my latest post at this point in time …

    Here are two posts for you all…
    http://thetruereligion.wordpress.com/2008/11/28/islaam-in-the-bible-the-true-teachings-of-jesus-pbuh/

    http://thetruereligion.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/moses-and-jesus-peace-be-upon-them-are-muslims/


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