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12 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Never Be Called a “Fundy”

By Carrie Hunter

We Evangelicals have a reputation to uphold. We cannot, under any circumstance, be confused with Them. Them of course being those crazy, unsophisticated, hard-line, uncharitable, literalistic, mean-spirited, dogmatic, absolute-certaintypossessing, Fundamentalists.

So in order to avoid being even remotely confused with Them, here is a helpful checklist you should keep on hand at all times. Seriously, print it out, fold it up and store it safely away in your purse or wallet. Reference it whenever you begin to discuss theology, or the Bible with a fellow believer, or even with the lost.

Using these 12 helpful hints should prevent you from being thought a Fundy.

1.) Use the words “journey” and “story” and “conversation” when talking about your faith. Fundies never say such things. They aren’t telling stories whilst on their journey. They are quoting Scripture on their walk with the Lord. Oh and get in the conversation. A conversation bespeaks a two-sidedness; a dialogue. Fundamentalists don’t dialogue; they just monologue. They want you to listen to them while you sit quietly and learn.

2.) Sympathize with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox systems while shunning the “Fundamentalist system” for its legalism. Fundies are legalists because they emphasize works (good or bad) meaning they are neglectful of grace. The RCC and EO are merely carrying on in their tradition that emphasizes works and are neglectful of grace (and “they wouldn’t say” they are neglecting grace anyway)

3.) Always use the phrase “but that’s not what they would say” when confronting someone who is clearly misrepresenting a system as aberrant (for example if someone says “the Roman Catholic system is in direct conflict with Paul’s teaching on grace” you chime in with “but that’s not what they would say.”) However do not do this when representing a Fundamentalist. Don’t worry about what they would say. Caricature their position, erect a strawman, then boldly tear it down with the greatest of courage and conviction.

4.) Really, really, really, try to be relevant. (Fundamentalists are separatists and don’t see the need to be relevant. You are far more sophisticated than that.)

5.) Let people know how sophisticated you are by the number of books you have read (and I don’t mean the 66 books in the Bible either – as those are the only books Fundies read.)

6.) Be sure your book list includes a hefty amount of liberal authors so people will know you have “investigated the options” yet have remained strong in the “historic” faith. (And you have to be able to counter Fundy objections to the liberal authors by saying “but that’s not what they would say.”)

7.) Be vague. Be very, very vague. That way you will never be pinned down on anything, by anyone. Ever.

8.) Talk about grace, but reach out in a humanitarian act of open-minded ecumenism and embrace systems that reject it (except for the Fundamentalists’ system – heap scorn on that sucker.)

9.) Use history as the basis for your “essentials to be a Christian” list. Fundies use Scripture. Ewww.

10.) Whatever you do, don’t talk about Hell. If you make mention of the word Hell, you will, without question, be thought a Fundy. (I am worried even now that someone will think I’m a Fundy because I used the word Hell twice in as many sentences. I used it a third time. Oh the horror, the unspeakable horror… now everyone will think I’m a Fundy.)

11.) Never, ever appeal to John MacArthur, John Piper or Al Mohler as references (unless of course you are pointing out how wrong they are). Instead punt to G.K Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright on all matters (and if you absolutely have to point out how they possibly, perhaps, kind of, potentially, by chance, may be remotely wrong, just make light of it.) Plus bonus points for using those who go by their initials. Initials shorten our speaking time and in order to “be in the conversation” we want to talk less and listen more.

12.) Make it a point, to always let everyone know how uncertain you are on pretty much all doctrine. Show that you are continually asking questions. Even when making a declarative statement, let the sentence end with an upward inflection so it will sound like you are asking a question? Never state anything dogmatically? Unless you are stating how wrong Fundies are, then you can’t be dogmatic enough?

Folks this is serious business. We have to be sure to uphold our Evangelical stance. Wait, hold on now… a stance is kinda Fundy, isn’t it?  Maybe we should rethink what we call a position on which we take a stand. Maybe we shouldn’t really take a stand for anything; to take a stand for something means you are ultimately standing against something else. Fundies stand against things, so we have to be really careful with this. Proceed with caution on your stances? (that can be #13.)

**”An easy way to gather a wimpy army is to summon all the soldiers who are boldly determined not to sound like fundamentalists.” ~ John Piper

Please let it be known that this post does not represent a position held by the ministry. However, let it also be known that our ministry allows for a diversity of views within the staff.  The ideas here are a result of months of discussions had with a very good friend of mine (you know who you are.)

My friend  and I have noticed a growing (and disturbing) trend in pop Christianity. The trend? That of people reacting to anything that appears to be remotely like Fundamentalism (often times going so far as to treat traditional Evangelical views on core doctrines as “fundy.) My friend and I decided what best describes this trend is the term “Fundaphobia.” To expound upon that would take a much longer and more serious post.

I don’t do those.

48 Responses to “12 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Never Be Called a “Fundy””

  1. Nicely played. Nicely played indeed. Especially in contrast to the previous post. Holy humor is essential to getting at the root of many of our problems theologically.

  2. A funny and insightful post, Carrie. “Fundaphobia” is rampant in many circles today, and so many seem vehemently determined to let every one know that they are no longer the fundamentalists they used to be. It’s entirely reactionary and defines some evangelicals who are embarrassed by their former mentality and behavior.

    Oh, and funny picture as well ;-)

  3. Loved it. The “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” pic definitely caught the eye too.

  4. Really great satire there, Carrie. Still laughing.

    Don’t tell anyone, but I think I’m *gasp* still one. :) And hey we’re not so bad now , we play cards and dance and *gasp again* even wear make-up, and don’t eat our children’s pets for Sunday dinner.

  5. Well that wasn’t as fun as Lisa’s post. Why? Because this post is about me. :( I was a fundie and now I’m not. I’ve had too many close dealings with the cynics of Christianity (not just ‘non-Christians’ but people who actually ‘poke fun’ at Christianity) and they make a lot of good points about fundies and how counterproductive they are in presenting the gospel to those who are not interested in it. In fact, fundies are a big part of the reason they are not interested in it.

    But, to reference C.S. Lewis, I need to be careful I don’t “fall off the other side of the horse” and become fundaphobic. Because I think I have. I still need to figure out if that’s OK or not, so this post will likely prove valuable in my journey.

    In all seriousness, Carrie, this post does cause me to see adjustments needed in this ex-fundie-not-quite-fundaphobic traveler through life’s story. :)

  6. Lisa Robinson May 8, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Hey, no fair you have a pic :P

    Loved the “doh!” moment in #10

  7. Thanks everyone. I am glad you got the joke.

    Tony, thank you for the picture. I mean the compliment about the picture… I mean the picture. You are the one who gave it to me. :D

  8. Uh, do fundamentalists even still exist?

    I met a real fundamentalist once, and it was kind of funny. He kept insisting that he didn’t need anyone to tell him how to read his Bible, which was funny because I didn’t even bring up the Bible or theology or anything. He was adamant that he was clear on where he stood. Maybe he knew I was Presbyterian and felt I needed a dose of medicine for my own good. He also had on overalls.

    I never wear overalls, not because I don’t want to be seen as a fundamentalist, but because I don’t want people to think I cook meth at home. It’s alright, I’m over it, I love everyone.

  9. I think the general sense of “fundaphobia” more has to do with the general tone that is out there, and how people feel that guys like Mohler and Piper (and some of the GC folks) have brought the level of discourse to a rather mean spirited and uncharitable level.

    I mean I have never read anything from Piper or heard him preach where he didn’t offend or insult his audience at some level. Even when he was trying to recently stand up for Cru, he found a wait to backhandedly insult the organization. I get that sometimes people need to say things in a strong way, and I am cool with that, and generally I respect a lot of what Piper believes, he is generally a good theologian. Maybe it is a generational thing. So I don’t have a problem with his theology, just that he comes off as angry, bitter, alarmist, and inflexible. His recent statements that egalitarians are preaching a different gospel is not going to raise the level of dialogue or debate to a helpful tone.

  10. I don’t mean to pick on Piper. But, the point is that many feel that some of these guys are hyper antagonistic in how they deal with disagreement. This is a real and serious sentiment among many, and I would imagine this is where the funaphobia is coming from. I would also add the chasm of the internet provides for more criticism without responsibility that the person you are attacking is a brother or sister in Christ. And with that said, I address Piper and the like in these terms, because if I ever met them, I would say the exact thing to them, in a loving and truthful way… that some of their comments have caused more harm to the body of Christ than have helped.

    It is a reaction.

  11. Yes, it’s that ‘different gospel’ and’ different Jesus’ mindset that bothers me too, although I think it’s a pretty judgmental call across the web in general nowadays when folks tend ot vehemently disagree.

    Hate to see that card used.

  12. Very true.

    The desire to belong to the I-Ain’t-No-Fundy Club is one of the strongest motivators among evangelicals these days. This is paaaaainfully obvious. Paaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-infully.

  13. Rick, no. I don’t really think Fundies exist as they once did. They are few and far between (regardless of what the Fundaphobics out there would have us believe.) And I can tell, you are in the clear. You could still perhaps pass this list along to someone else who may be demonstrating Fundy tendencies. Just to nip it in the bud. :)

  14. I’m having trouble trying to figure out from the tenor of thie posts here – is being a fundie a good thing or a bad thing? Seems like we’re kind of playing it both ways.

    I’m not sure if it’s a good thing but misunderstood, or if it’s a bad thing and non-fundies are being lumped into it, or what.

    I’m not a fundie. I was, but my experience has been that when you’re talking to people about Christ, if you’re SO sure you’re right, then for them, talking to you is a waste of time because it forces them to just ‘sit and listen.’ it makes them somehow conversationally ‘lesser’ and I don’t think that’s effective. Why should they listen if you won’t? And by ‘listen,’ I don’t mean ‘wait until they’re done talking to retort.’ I mean really listen.

  15. You know when I was growing up fundamentalism just meant stressing, preaching the essentials of the Gospel. Over the years it got somehow redefined to mean folks who believed in a strictly legalistic lifestyle in order to conform to the Bible.

    So it became less about the basics and more about all the little details instead, like women not cutting their hair, and so on.

  16. Steve Meikle May 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I do hold that fundamentalism is a misnomer. Speaking as an ex fundy I hold that this mindset is one which is committed to Biblical doctrines without in fact believing them. And this forced commitment produces distortion

    The mercilessness and cruelty of the mindset is real, but they (we) are this way because they do NOT believe in the forgiveness of sins, for all their talk about it.

    Thus it makes more sense to call them pharisees than those who believe in the fundamentals of biblical faith.

    Indeed the term “fundamentalist” surrenders the literality of scripture to them. And this is not justified. Indeed it encourages them in their legalism. And it encourages arch heretics like Spong who think wrongly that the only way out i to reject the Bible as divinely inspired

    The way out of fundamentalism is real biblical faith produced by the Holy Spirit leading the sinner to repentance of the unbelief buried behind commitment to sound doctrine that is fundamentalism

  17. Carrie Hunter May 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Mike O, I’m sorry but you will just have to hold the meaning of this post in tension. :)

  18. As a non-Evangelical looking in on this post and comments, this all looks really weird, especially several of the comments. You write as if “Fundamentalist” is a bad word, rather than a fellow, devoted Christian. If I didn’t know better, I’d say after reading this that a “Fundie” is some kind of mythological little creature, like a troll or elf or something. You don’t know exactly what they are or how many of them there are anymore….you should pity them, it’s ok to laugh at them, and there’s no reason to fear them, because they’re harmless, inferior creatures (although you can’t absolutely rule out the possibility of learning SOMETHING from them)…but no matter what you do, DON’T LET YOURSELF BECOME ONE!!

    So that’s how these comments are coming off. But that’s ok. Be assured I won’t become Gelly-phobic.

  19. Carrie Hunter May 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Irene, that is very charitable of you. Thank you. :)

  20. @Irene, that was awesome!

  21. Carrie Hunter May 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Mike, yes it was. Irene nailed it. For one, the idea that “Fundamentalist” is a “bad word” … it is only a bad word if you are a Fundaphobe, or if you are identifying anyone who takes a bold stand on an historic evangelical issues as a Fundie.

    Also, comparing the notion of Fundies to that of elves etc… I like the idea that Fundies are little forest imps fluttering about at twilight. That is how I view Fundamentalists. I think they are rare in the church these days, however the Fundaphobe seems to think it is the greatest threat facing Evangelicalism. Not post-modernism, not ecumenism, not liberalism, not pluralism, not syncretism. No, the evil, wicked ogres that are Fundies are everywhere and must be exposed and silenced.

    It’s absurd!

    But look it doesn’t mean I don’t understand. I could quite easily be a fundaphobe. I grew up Southern Baptist (which wasn’t fundy at all, just standard Evangelical teaching …) however, when I was old enough to go to high school my parents put me in a private Christian school. It was an Independent Baptist High School. List of demands – KJV Only, girls could not wear pants, under no circumstances could you listen to rock music, just to name a few of the many, many demands they required of you as a “Christian.”

    However, along with the weird non-essentials list they elevated to essential status, I was also exposed to solid biblical teaching. They had a high view of Scripture (apart from the weird KJVonly business), a sound view of the person of Christ, the Trinity, faith alone etc. In fact, looking back on it, at this point, the faculty there never led us astray on any core doctrines.

    Now I could easily choose to reject that upbringing and go as far away as possible, even to the point of compromise, just so I don’t look like them. I could be bitter over how I was treated over any number of things (I was treated badly over a lot of things, some of which I purposely brought on myself.) But I am not worried about it.

    I just look back and laugh over the fact I had to wear coolots when I played basketball. Sheer folly on the part of the school. I think it is silly that I couldn’t listen to the music I loved so much. I think it asinine that I had to question my salvation if I wore jeans on the weekends. I mean honestly, all that is just ridiculous.

    But to be honest Mike, I don’t see any of that in our churches today. I see a lot of problems in our churches but being forced to wear goofy, impractical clothing to play sports isn’t one of them. It’s an oddity not the norm. The Fundaphobe acts as if this is the norm.

    I have much, much more I could say about all of this, including the mentality behind Fundamentalism, the pattern of thinking found within Fundamentalism and how that same pattern of thought manifests itself in the Fundaphobe. However, as I mentioned at the tail end of this post, I don’t do serious blogs. I just have other things I devote my time to.

    Anyhoo, that’s that. Have to get up to the bar here at Credo. Have a good night.

  22. Lisa Robinson May 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I get the impression that there’s a dichotomy that is being drawn here between fundamentalism and unorthodoxy. In other words, if you’re not a fundamentalist that necessarily means you do not hold to an orthodox understanding of Christianity. This is the kind of forced separation that I think people are reacting against and not necessarily the fundamentals of the faith.

  23. Lisa Robinson May 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    “However, along with the weird non-essentials list they elevated to essential status, I was also exposed to solid biblical teaching. They had a high view of Scripture (apart from the weird KJVonly business), a sound view of the person of Christ, the Trinity, faith alone etc. In fact, looking back on it, at this point, the faculty there never led us astray on any core doctrines.”

    Yes, the fundamentals. These are absolutely important and unchangeable. Part of what I was trying to address in my post (I was not trying to support liberalism for the record) was to think about how that is applied in today’s world and not reacting against something that might actually be helpful to the body of Christ. Sometimes that means re-visiting our church practice, examining unwarranted restrictions and maintaining an incarnational perspective in ministry. That means maybe loosening our grip on some things. That doesn’t mean losing the fundamentals it just means living them out in a way that is honest and consistent with scripture. Oh and allowing people to ask questions and maybe explore a little. The Holy Spirit is still in charge of the church, isn’t he?

  24. Carrie Hunter May 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Lisa, I am not sure where you got the idea that I believe, if you are not a fundamentalist then you are an unorthodox Christian. In fact, there is nothing I have said that would suggest such. You must point out, exactly, where I stated that. Otherwise, I will just consider it a straw man.

    I will state now for the sake of clarity, that I believe if you reject essential teachings along with the non-essential teachings, merely because those essential teachings are also held by Fundies, then that is unorthodox. The rejecting of essential teachings is unorthodox, regardless of what your excuse is for rejecting them.

    Keep in mind what separated the Fundamentalist movement from Evangelicals was not the essentials, but rather legalism over non-essentials. The elevating of non-essential beliefs to essential status is a grievous error and should be rejected. So that aspect of Fundamentalism should be chopped off and burned in the heap.

    An equally grievous error is that of relegating essentials to a non-essential status to where it’s a pick and choose of what works best for you. That is what is happening in the vast majority of Evangelical churches today and that is what should be battled. Not the bogey-man lurking in the bushes waiting to pounce on us and tell us we are going to hell for listening to that “music of de debil”.

    I believe that in rejecting Fundamentalism, often times people end up not only rejecting the absurd restrictive practices of the system, but also the bog standard, essential Christian teachings included within the system. Again, what is unorthodox is not the rejection of Fundamentalism, but the rejection of essential Christian beliefs within the Fundamentalist system.

    Another thing, people such as John Piper, and Al Mohler etc are all but being branded as Fundamentalist when they are merely teaching standard Evangelical doctrine. Because they are boldly stating things, and even being dogmatic (which when one is speaking the truth, it is ok to state it dogmatically … as the truth is absolute and we can in fact know it and thus speak it…) but because they are saying things that are true and even being harsh at times, they *seem* like those old Fundy preachers hollerin’ about “evil, and being worldly, and fast dancin’ on the weekends.”

    It would seem the dichotomy is actually that of if one speaks the truth and does so dogmatically they are a fundy, but if one is humble and uncertain, they are truly Evangelical. That is hyperbolic admittedly, but I think it at least somewhat accurate. And that is what I am seeing from the Fundaphobics.

    Another thing you implied is that somehow I don’t think it OK for people to ask questions. What I don’t think we should do is constantly question everything that we are saying. I mean Fundaphobics certainly don’t question how wrong Fundamentalism is. They state it with the utmost certainty. So even they are guilty of making dogmatic statements.

    But Lisa, honestly, I work for Reclaiming the Mind Ministries and have so for nearly 7 years now. The very heart of our ministry is that of encouraging people to challenge themselves on all the beliefs they hold near and dear. I challenge my own children whenever they say anything regarding theology. “How do you know the Bible is true, Colin?” “What makes you think the Christian system is the right one, Audrey?” “Jake, how do you know Jesus rose from the grave?”

    I even challenge my own beliefs. Now some beliefs I hold, I wouldn’t question their veracity but I am striving to see if there is something I am missing; asking in what way can I know something more deeply. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make declarative statements with some level of certainty. And it certainly doesn’t mean in an act of feigned humility I have to behave as if I am not sure about every little thing I state, every farts end.

    I am sure of some things. I am also sure I can know those things more deeply. And I am confident I can state some things as true without shame or the fear of being thought of as “one of Them.”

    If one of “Them” holds to a belief that is true, the belief is true regardless. I can’t merely reject it because they also hold to some really bad stuff. The truth is true regardless of who is stating it. Otherwise you have to clean up the mess of a genetic fallacy.

    Overall, there are two things that really bother me.

    1. While real, live, tangible problems, such as pluralism syncretism, liberalism, ecumenism, and post-modern philosophy, are no longer creeping into the church, but boldly walking through the front door, we have this group of people who are rarely making mention of it. Instead, they seem to be really concerned about this massive problem of Fudamentalism that is so prevasive.

    2. People claiming to be concerned about essentials but when you see them in action, it is very hard to tell if they really mean it. It is almost as though its merely obligatory to state “essentials are important” as they know, as a professing Evangelical, they have to say it. But when it comes to actually taking a stand, and being bold for these precious truths, the fear of man sets in and timidity wins the day. Which is what I think is part of the problem is they have with Mohler and MacArthur. They aren’t timid when it comes to things and sometimes they are downright offensive. Granted, sometimes they shouldn’t be offensive, however sometimes offense is warranted and inevitable.

    And by the way, none of what I said would suggest that we are not to listen to what others are saying. We must know where people are coming from. We have to. Otherwise we will not know what aspect of God’s truth we need to share with them. But in listening to others, and being honest about our own struggles, it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t actually say true things.

    The culture has devalued truth and as R.C. Sproul said, or maybe he was quoting someone, or maybe it wasn’t him at all, but anyway, someone said … “the sins of the culture become the sins of the church.” I see the devaluing of truth and downplaying of certainty as being a massive problem in our culture. In turn, it is a sin the church is presently dealing with and this Fundaphobia is not a solution to it but a residual effect of it.

  25. Carrie Hunter May 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    And for the record Lisa, my post was not directed at your post, or as an “answer” to anything you said. It was not even directed at you personally.

    The things I listed in my initial post were 1. Meant to be sarcastic and hyperbolic. and 2. State certain truths that a friend and I have been contemplating for quite some time.

    I think you took this post as being directed at you. It was not. Unless somehow you identified with some of things I mentioned. I assure you if that is the case, it was purely coincidental.

  26. It’s interesting, Carrie. To interpret your post as suggesting some sort of false either/or dilemma between fundamentalism and unorthodoxy is to make you (or your words at least) out to be fundamentalism, i.e. simplistic or unsophisticated black vs. white thinking. It seems you’ve become the fundamentalist boogeyman according to this reading of your post! :-))

    Lisa wrote:

    “I get the impression that there’s a dichotomy that is being drawn here between fundamentalism and unorthodoxy. In other words, if you’re not a fundamentalist that necessarily means you do not hold to an orthodox understanding of Christianity.”

    But that’s not what Carrie would say, on her journey. ;-)

  27. Carrie:

    Another thing that separated fundamentalists from modern evangelicalism was the issue of cultural engagement. The “fundes” are typically separatists, and therefore do not interact with “cutting edge” scholarship, the arts, popular music, etc. On the other hand, in reactionism, the fundaphobics (who are mostly former fundies) are desperate to show everyone how well-read they are on current “scholarship” and how involved they are with the arts. It all functions as a continual announcement to everyone that, “I am not a fundie!”

  28. Notice the parallel thinking (or reactionary pattern):

    The fundamentalist thinks: If you speak against fundamentalism, you’re a liberal.

    The fundaphobic thinks: If you speak against fundaphobia, you’re a fundamentalist.

  29. Yet, Piper, Mohler, Dricoll and Macarthur (et. al) aren’t making the most noise about defending orthodoxy. In fact where they make the most noise is on non-essential issues. View of women in the church and family, evolution, NT Wright, what you think of a Rob Bell promotional video, that capitalism is awesome, the sissification of the church etc. Most of their debate is not really addressing core doctrines, which from where I sit, aren’t really in danger. And really most of their concerns are not much more than red herrings. Ok, they got freaked out by the emergent crowd, possibly rightly so, but emergent was ultimately a blip on the map, and they never got the theological and historical context of emergent and why it was not ever going to become the new liberalism.

    Still, 99% for what passes for theological argument these days and 15 years ago, has nothing to do with core orthodoxy. When I was at DTS 10 years ago, the dialogue was much more productive and irenic.

  30. Liberalism, post modernism, etc. are the evangelical buzz words that we all must fear, but probably most evangelicals don’t even know what these words mean. Liberalism is the historic boogey man, which in most settings is a pejorative term to refer to people who don’t do exactly what I do, this is then extended to assume that their reading of the Bible is based solely on metaphor, allegory, and not taking the text “literally”. Thus, most of what gets labeled as liberalism by some evangelicals really isn’t liberal at all. Actually it is perspectival… someone else’s interpretation of scripture that differs from mine, is therefore liberal, even though their view of core doctrine is solid and in some cases more orthodox. I grew up in a fairly conservative, DTS spawned church. We were taught that Presbyterians, Methodists, and Anglicans were liberal because they ordained women, baptized infants, drank wine, wore robes, etc, and therefore they didn’t take a high view of…

  31. .. scripture. Then I accidentally began attending an evangelical Presbyterian church in college, and met people who took their Bible very seriously, and worked through deep theological and biblical issues with care and depth. They were deeply concerned with evangelism and mission, and saw more people trust Christ more regularly than my previous church, while planting churches all over the world. The ordained women were orthodox and gospel centered. Above all they all had a deeper sense and knowledge of theology, and the complexities and tradition there within. In short, they took it all more seriously that my previous Bible church experience, who were so concerned about liberalism. Yet, these folk were not concerned with rooting out liberalism, they were concerned with getting on with preaching the gospel and loving their neighbor and thus their church made an impact.

    What I am getting at, is that liberalism is perspectival. There are still folks who say if you work for…

  32. compassion justice, or the poor, that that is liberalism. It isn’t, its Biblical Christianity. If you vote Democrat. If you think women should be able to lead, etc.

    Liberalism as a theological movement is essentially dead in the water. It still has some strength in the mainline, but the growing and flourishing churches in the mainline are all evangelical. Yet, evangelicals who wouldn’t know real liberal theology if it smacked them, still use it as the term of choice to describe what they can’t control, or understand, or anything that is different.

    In short, we have been trained to fear. And I would argue that the defining characteristic of a lot of evangelicalism is fear. Now some of this is good, because we should be cautious, and we should stand up for solid theology. But, we should not live our lives in fear, looking for some imagined red herring that we don’t even understand, to root it out. This is not living out the Christian life rooted in love and action.

  33. And it distracts us from fulfilling the Great Commission and living out the Great Commandment. I am a missionary working in Europe and on more than one occasion we have had teams get completely gutted by division caused by people taking strong stands on non-essentials directly influenced by Piper and. Driscoll. This has led to lose of resources, man hours, and in one case the total lose of gosple witness in one city. In short, while I do appreciate Piper at some level, some of these guys are creating much more division and gospel paralysis than they are aware of, and I wish more people would stand up to them in love and gentleness and point this out, and ask for them to repent. At the same time, though, many don’t because they are afraid of these guys, and the power they have over many people… particularly when it comes to acceptance and funding for missionaries and churches. There is a tangible sense of fear among those who feel these guys are a bit off.

  34. In short, a lot of what passes for concern over liberalism and post modernism is over zealous fear, and misunderstanding of the other. It is often perspectival and centered on non-essential issues… things not in the creed or statement of beliefs.

    It also conflates liberalism into things that it is not, and for the most part doesn’t understand liberalism or post modernism for that matter, as they are as theological and philosophical systems. I am generally against liberal theology, but I don’t see any real liberalism in any of the evangelical churches or organizations that I work with. I do see a lot of people scared of it.

    Post modernism is of course a different, but like modernism before it, and what ever comes after it, it has its pros and cons. Teaching people to understand it and its influence and not to fear it, would be a much more productive task.

  35. Carrie Hunter May 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Rick, perhaps due to your time in your Europe, you have lost touch with what is happening in American churches?

    Initially, you rightly asked if Fundies are still around. I don’t think they are, at least they aren’t in the numbers we are led to believe. The Fundaphobe is certain that is the leading problem facing the church today. They may not “say” that but you would certainly think it, as that is all they seem to harp on.

    However, I part ways with you when you suggest Liberalism and Post-Modernism are not actually a problem in our churches. Furthermore, you are suggesting most people don’t even know what these things are. I will agree with that for the most part, that the average church goer is unaware of these categories. However, do you actually think people such as Piper, MacArthur, & Mohler, (and let me throw Carson into the mix) aren’t sophisticated enough in their thinking to discern between Liberal and Historic Evangelical theology? And you think that these people only harp on non-essentials?

    You mentioned, most people don’t even know what post-modernism entails. You are correct, which is why people are entrenched in it and aren’t epistemicaly self-aware to even realize it.

    They are not being taught to understand what it is and how it is in conflict with a Christian construct.

    Which is why I do what I do for a living. Which is why I work for this ministry.

    But you seem to think that isn’t a threat to our church. Maybe you don’t even think it is a problem in our culture.

    But what I am seeing as a prevailing threat to the church at large is this push for some sort of existential experience of Christ, this focus on how it all makes us feel, as opposed to a challenge to the body of Christ to 1. know truth and 2. practice it.

    It would seem you are dismissive of that concern thinking the real problem is John Piper saying women shouldn’t be pastors, or so and so thinks Capitalism is an economic system directly exegeted from the inspired Word of God.

    And I suspect you think that Mohler and MacArthur etc… are not merely average Evangelicals but more of the “hard-line” type.

    And we should be careful not to make the mistake of thinking “real Christianity” is that of merely feeding the hungry and housing the poor. Those actions are indicative of a changed heart yes (but those actions could be done by anyone, not just a Christian.) What separates Christians and the others out there doing great deeds is the truth that compels us.

    That truth is unfortunately not being elevated to the place it should. If you think that is alarmist, then I would suggest what I did initially, perhaps you are just out of touch with American churches. From where I stand, the watering down of teaching, the focus on experience, the embracing of an Oprah Winfreyesque view of “religion”, the importance placed on being “good”, etc coupled with the absence of strong theological foundation and philosophical training is a much bigger problem than you are making it out to be.

    It is certainly bigger than Mark Driscoll being a tough guy and saying women shouldn’t be head pastors.

    But I have to be honest here and say I presume all of this is going to be lost on you. As after all the time I took to carefully explain my motives for this post, you came back with, what was it? 4 comments that were dismissive… this comment of mine isn’t going to sway you.

    And as far as the 4 comments go…

    Clearly you could see where you comments are limited to 1000 characters as you tailored your comments (all of them) to meet that requirement. But along with that it clearly states one comment at a time.

    As admins we have to luxury of no character restrictions and/or limits on our comments (it is our blog so its a perk.) For commenter those limits are in place for a reason.

  36. I didn’t know about the one comment at a time. Sorry.
    In the past when I have posted here, I don’t remember the limit on characters and comments being so limited. It is hard to have a conversation with such limits.
    I think you misread my point. And I am not being dismissive.I am not against dialogue and debate, and people attempting to defend their point of view. I am against the uncharitable spirit in which it is often done and how that sows discord within the body of Christ. I was pointing out that the fundaphobia probably is related to the harsh tone of some. I think it is a fair critique.
    I am against, people labeling what they don’t agree with as liberalism and post modernism.
    I am against people battling over doctrinal issues when thousands perish every day with no access to the gospel. I am against strawmanning your opponents argument, rather than graciously attempting to understand it.
    I see I have kind of lost you, if you care to contact me by email, I would…

  37. I read Lisa’s comment #22 as referring to the comments and discussion, not the original post. I think in general, Lisa’s point …

    “I get the impression that there’s a dichotomy that is being drawn here between fundamentalism and unorthodoxy. In other words, if you’re not a fundamentalist that necessarily means you do not hold to an orthodox understanding of Christianity.”

    … is a valid generalization. But I didn’t take Carrie’s post that way.

  38. Carrie Hunter May 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Sure Rick… feel free to email me at carrie at credohouse .org

  39. Steve Meikle May 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I hold that is is important, indeed even essential, to distinguish the literal truth of the divinely Inspired Word of God and the doctrines contained therein from how these facts are responded to.

    when the scriptures are responded to legalistically and interpreted carnally, we get the phenomenon which we call fundamentalism.

    Abusus non tollit usum is the dictum that kept me a christian after the devastation that I lived through after believing the twisted heresies of my church.

    fundamentalism is IMO bad faith, and is so by being forced in fear or pride. This is solved not by rejecting the Bible but by seeking good faith from the Lord the Spirit .

    It is a matter of fruit, of the flesh or of the Spirit

  40. Truth Unites... and Divides May 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Oh dear, I think I’ve interacted with Liberal Fundamentalists. Or were they dogmatic Fundamental Liberals?

    It was so weird. It was like they didn’t notice that one of their own dogmatic fundamentals was to bash those whom they frequently disagreed with as being “fundamentalists.”

  41. Lisa Robinson May 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Carrie, Mike was right, the dichotomy I was sensing (said post-modernly uncertain) was from the flow of the comments that preceded mine. I affirm your first paragraph, that some in the rejection of fundamentalism have gone too far and throw away the fundamentals of the faith. I also affirm this statement,

    “From where I stand, the watering down of teaching, the focus on experience, the embracing of an Oprah Winfreyesque view of “religion”, the importance placed on being “good”, etc coupled with the absence of strong theological foundation and philosophical training is a much bigger problem than you are making it out to be”

    Elsewhere, you mention the existential crisis. Amen! This is the problem. It is one of epistemology, I believe. When truth is based on something subjective and subject to human interpretations then we have cause for concern. The promotion of pragmatism over sound theological teaching, not to mention defective ecclesiology fuels the underlying issues as you have stated in the above paragraph.

    But I think that is a different issue than the rejection of fundamentalism. Specifically, the reactionary of tendencies of fundamentalism to broad brush anything that is not in agreement with the Christian “right”, as the arbiter of truth. I agree with much of what Rick has stated in his multiple comments in this regard.

    I also don’t think it is helpful for us to think in terms of right vs. left, or liberal vs. conservative. This creates some unnecessary divides. Rather, is it orthodox or unorthodox as consistent with what the church has always believed. But I am still mulling that one over.

  42. Regardless of how we should think of each other, in reality we look at one another in exactly this way: right vs. left, liberal vs. conservative, godly vs. worldly.

    We define orthodox differently. Since we all think of ourselves justifiably orthodox, anyone who disagree with us are either heterodox (if they hold an “unorthodox view”on what we think is essential), or legalists (if they “overstate” their orthodoxy in what we think is unessential).

    The problem is: Exactly what doctrines are essential? And how detailed do we have to be to say that we truly believe in these “essential doctrines”? Before that is universally agreed upon, we are most of us fighting a losing battle there.

  43. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    Please explain these to me.

  44. @Thomas, I know you weren’t talking to me, but, huh? How do those verses apply to this topic?

    I counter with Rom 14:3-4

    3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

  45. I am a fundamentalist, and I see absolutely NOTHING funny about this post.

    OK. Actually, I laughed all the way through it, but I wanted to live up to the reputation.

    Now I have to go flagellate myself for lying. Wouldn’t want to hinder my walk with the Lord. Besides, the twilight is fleeting. I must return to my elven wood with my ever-diminishing troupe.

  46. It seems to me that when I was attending college(early to mid-’60s), the expression “fundy” was a pejorative(slur word) used rather promiscuously by atheists and far left theological liberals. It has not aged well, and while committed fundamentalists might believe me outside the fold or apostate, one, I am still committed to the dignity of all who are truly part of the body of Christ. My judgments concerning who is and who isn’t may, at times, be defective, so I am very careful.

    Having been a Christian for so many years, I am convinced that when it comes to unfair judgments, the law of the meted measure is inexorable and if we go at it long enough, the law of the harvest takes its place. Sow a watermelon seed, reap hundreds or thousands. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. I don’t need any tornadoes in my life. Do you?

    Let’s just put this expression to bed and its variants and earnestly try to convince others to do the same.

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