Fundamentalism is Dead, Long Live Fundamentalism: Part 5 Towards Resurrecting a Successor Fundamentalism

When people think of the first world war, they often think of the soul-devouring trench warfare of the western front (this indeed is the inspiration for the name of my blog, “Truth in the Trenches”). Yet, at the end of the war, the tactical supremacy of the defensive position was effectively countered by the development of the storm-trooper. The storm-trooper entered into the enemies trench system by stealth, and used speed and efficiency to neutralize an enemy position.

As a Christian apologist, I view myself as a person who is involved in a war, not a war of guns, gas and explosives on a physical battlefield, but a war in the hearts of men and nations, which uses ideas, emotions and the questions of our age. This is not a war with men, but with principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this present age.

Christian apologists are highly focused on the problems presented by atheists and naturalists that we have not noticed the rapid development of a new kind of enemy to the Christian faith – the emerging church, which is a remarketing of theological liberalism (or to use the older term from part two, modernism) to Evangelicals. This is why I think as apologists we can and should draw from the Fundamentalist movement.  In fact, I believe the emerging church[1] is Satan’s squad of stormtroopers.

I can summarize where we have been in this discussion quite easily: Fundamentalism is not what many moderns believe it to have been. Fundamentalism was the attempt to live out Jude’s polemic, “earnestly contend for the faith.” Secondarily, I argued that while the New Evangelicalism was founded on compromise with the liberal “mainline” denominations, Evangelicalism today is strong because they abandoned that strategy and picked up the Fundamentalist spirit during the battle for the Bible.

If the old Fundamentalism died, the spirit of fundamentalism is needed again; the battle for the Bible and Christianity is never actually over, after all. During the Fundamentalist modernist controversies the enemy was the religious liberals who tried to understand Christianity through the lenses of modern philosophy, particularly religious naturalism. Today, the emerging church seeks to interpret Christianity through the lenses of postmodern philosophy, drawing heavily from the same tactics of the religious left. Incidentally, the religious left itself is strong in academic circles and many atheists are also using their arguments.

I want to end this series with concrete lessons that the old fundamentalists teach us. This will end this series, but these are ideas I plan to develop over time further.

  1. The reproach of Christ.

There is no evidence to indicate the first fundamentalists were anti-intellectual. They opposed the speculative theology of the modernists, but this was due to a commitment to truth, not a rejection of modernity. It was also the grounds for the charge that they were anti-intellectuals. These men were readers of the great theologians of the past and were deeply influenced by the Princeton Theology (the Princeton Theological Seminary was a conservative Presbyterian center of learning, and someone who describes these men as anti-intellectual betrays only that he has not read their works). Yet this criticism did not move them to abandon Biblical Christianity, they simply bore the criticism as the reproach of Christ.

The world still comes after believers with character assassination and Ad Hominem attacks. This is the central strategy of many New Atheists; don’t be swayed by this. This strategy will grow. Focus, however, not on the slander but on building a case. We should not love the praise of men too much.

  1. Fundamentalist views of separation were rooted in the Unity of the faith.

One of the words that is used in discussions of Fundamentalism is separation, but this term is often misunderstood, particularly by many later Fundamentalists who separated over the wrong issues. Separatism was always rooted in unity with Christ. This seems paradoxical, but think of it in terms of a marriage. A husband and wife are united with each other but this unity entails separating from all others.

2 John 10 and 11 warn of welcoming those who do not bring the doctrine of Christ, that is John is arguing they are to be excluded from the Church. If later Fundamentalists fought over everything as Christians, the opposite extreme is not necessarily desireable either. I believe modern Evangelicals should adopt a creedal statement (similar to the early Fundamentalist acceptance of the Five Fundamentals[2]) as a defining point of the new fundamentalism. The Bob Jones University Creed is a useful starting point in developing such a creedal statement.[3]

  1. Ultimately, this is a battle for the Bible.

The enemies are using variations of the old historical critical views of the Bible. We need Christian apologists ready to defend the faith on the grounds of the infallibility of the Bible, its final authority in faith and practice. We need to be ready to answer the questions raised by historical criticism of the New Testament. Older writers have already well plowed this field, and it is wise to acquaint ourselves with their work.

[1] I will later discuss the emerging church in greater detail. For our purposes here, however, the Emerging Church is defined as those who maintain outward professions of being Evangelicals but deny core historic doctrines in favor of post-modern interpretations of the Bible.

[2] The five fundamentals are,

  1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
  2. The deity of Jesus Christ
  3. The virgin birth of Christ
  4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
  5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.

[3] The BJU Creed reads, “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments); the creation of man by the direct act of God; the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; His identification as the Son of God; His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross; the resurrection of His body from the tomb; His power to save men from sin; the new birth through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit; and the gift of eternal life by the grace of God.” (copied from the BJU website). I suggest this is a starting point because we need an explicit statement of infallibility (or perhaps even better inerrancy) and an explicit statement that man is justified by grace through faith in Christ.

Fundamentalism is Dead, Long Live Fundamentalism Part 4: The Death of the Fundamentalist Movement

The old saying goes, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The saying itself implies the central lesson of history itself: people universally die, nation states are dissolved, and nothing survives under the sun. This is true of Church history as well, and will remain true until He comes.

The sad fact of life is that all human beings have feet of clay. Church history records numerous movements that begin with great promise, despite human frailties and failings. In the end, however, that promise often appears unfulfilled. This is in fact the case with “Old Fundamentalism.”

If a vase falls to the ground and shatters, the various shards do not change their composition – the shards are still made of the same material – but what you have is no longer a vase. Fundamentalism, as I noted in part two was a “big tent” movement, focused on the defense of the faith, itself. Many Fundamentalists were still “earnestly contending” but it was difficult to say it was the faith as a whole they were contending for. After the Fundamentalist/Evangelical controversy started, it devolved into a series of camps, many at war with one another over secondary and tertiary issues. This is not to suggest that all fundamentalists were the contentious, anti-intellectual bigots of popular mythology – this is a stereotype, and the only reason why this particular stereotype persists is that American rejection of stereotypical thinking is highly selective. Nevertheless, there were numerous battles in the late period of Fundamentalism, the period in which my own exposure to Fundamentalism began.

Many of these battles were over issues that were secondary, discussions of issues such as music, some of the less extreme discussions of the version debate,[1] etc. Even worse, some camps of Fundamentalism devolved into personality cults, some Fundamentalist leaders, such as Jack Hyles even encouraged this kind idol worship. Secondary issues similarly led to discussions of who was an “authentic” fundamentalist, discussions of Pseudo-fundamentalism and hyper-fundamentalism also began to appear. Many argued that real Fundamentalists must reject all forms of Calvinism, others, equally vehemently, argued only five point Calvinists were real fundamentalists.[2] In the end there were numerous discussions of restoring a more authentic Fundamentalism.[3]

In the early twentieth century, Fundamentalism was a rejection of the growth of theological liberalism, in the late twentieth century it was about Church music. This is not to say a conservative approach to music is wrong,[4] but a conservative approach in issues such as music is not central to the Christian faith; one cannot discuss a movement founded on chiefly peripheral things.

There are many good fundamentalists left, perhaps, but it is no longer possible to speak of a Fundamentalism. This article is not a repudiation of all who stand within the later Fundamentalist tradition, or of the underlying nature of Fundamentalism itself.[5] When I discuss the death of Fundamentalism I am suggesting that the vase is broken, and there is no longer a Fundamentalist movement, as such.

History lessons are fun, but they must have a point to be useful. I’ve discussed why the old Fundamentalism is dead. Now its time to finally shift gears and see why we need Fundamentalism again.

            [1] I say less extreme because some of the more aggressive elements of the King James Only movement have crossed the line into heresy. To argue that the King James is “reinspired” or “corrects the Greek” is to either argue that God did no inspire it correctly the first time or argue that He did not, in fact, preserve His Word for a millennium or so.

[2] A classmate of mine in my graduate school years, in his father’s newspaper ran a series of articles claiming that Bob Jones had departed from the faith. Two of the major contentions underlying this charge was that BJU was not using the Textus Receptus in Greek classrooms and that BJU was not Calvinistic enough.

[3] Douglas McLachlan wrote a book entitled Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism which caused a lot of discussion when I was a student at Bob Jones. The title itself suggests something has been lost, and needs revision.

[4] For decades I rejected the central argument raised for changes in our approach to music in corporate worship partially on the grounds that the major argument raised by those associated with “CCM” (arguments that music was amoral or that it was merely a matter of taste) was an example of the logical fallacy known as “begging the question,” and because our culture had a long-running association between “rock” and a lifestyle of illicit sex, drug/alcohol abuse, and rebellion – attitudes that are not fit company to Christian worship. This was shaped by a number of unbelievers who argued Christians were hypocrites for listening to “Christian Rock,” including a few editorials I read in the 90s. My approach changed as I engaged Millennials on apologetics boards on facebook who clearly did not understand the association between “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll,” in this sense then, this connection no longer exists. Cultures change. I do not believe one can still effectively argue that the values of the Rock subculture are any different from the values of society as a whole. From this point, my major concern in music would be the conscience of believers, as Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14

[5]In most senses I still consider myself a Fundamentalist. My approach to certain aspects of life has changed not because my theology has changed – there has only been one significant shift in my Systematic theology in the past decade, and it is a shift most people would likely not understand since it is in the obscure discussion of the basis for theology in the first place – but my practice and application of that theology has changed due to what I believe to be rapid changes in Western culture over the past two decades. My argument in rejecting a war with Evangelicals, as noted last time, is not a rejection of Fundamentalist teaching on separation, I believe Fundamentalists were probably right to reject Ockenga’s new Evangelicalism in the 50’s, rather it is the realization that Fundamentalists have misunderstood Evangelicals since the 70s. The Evangelicalism of today is significantly different from that of the 50’s and must be treated as such. This article took additional time to write, first because I’m preparing for classes at Southern Seminary and this takes up a lot of my time. But, secondarily, and more importantly, saying Fundamentalism has died in any sense is intensely personal, I am, after all, an heir of that movement.

Fundamentalism is dead, Long live Fundamentalism Part 3b: The Great Evangelical Recovery

Last time, I noted discussions surrounding “The Great Evangelical Disaster,” but that doesn’t bring us to the present.

If one reads Francis Schaeffer’s last book, one might have thought Evangelicalism was on the ropes. Yet that does not match our present experience. There is a renewed vibrancy and fervor in many quarters of Evangelicalism. So what has happened?

Fundamentalists were likely wrong about Evangelical’s in part because they examined Evangelical’s in light of 1948-53. But the position of Evangelicals in the 70s, 80s and 90s was significantly different than the first generation of Evangelicals. During the early years of the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy.

But second generation “neo-Evangelicals” were significantly different from those of Ockenga’s generation; they fell into what is perhaps the most common misconception about denominations: most people, including many preachers do not choose their denominations on the basis of a creedal statement, they choose their creedal statements based on their denominations. Many believers remain with the denomination they were raised in, or if they change denominations, it is often over other issues (such as being tired of infighting). What many Fundamentalists should have understood, even from the beginnings of the conflict, is that some Evangelicals were not necessarily favoring compromise as a strategy, they were Evangelicals by default.

I think the answer to the question of the Evangelical recovery is found in the “battle for the Bible” at Evangelical seminaries. Those fighting these battles were not fighting a “sham” battle for the Bible, rather they picked up the battle that the Fundamentalists weren’t fighting – they were too busy fighting about Evangelical capitulations to theological liberalism to actually spend much time or resources battle theological liberalism, itself.

In this regard, Evangelicals engaging in the battle for the Bible actually used the tactics of an earlier generation of Fundamentalists (for example, requiring professor’s at Evangelical schools to sign creedal statements, expelling those who taught heresy, etc) instead of those used by Evangelicals at the beginning of the controversy. The first Fundamentalists, afterall, did not begin by separating from liberals, they rather fought the liberal takeover of their denominations from within until such time as they thought they could not win. Separatism was  the Atom bomb of the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy, the final tactic left when the battle for the denominations seemed over.

Similarly, Evangelicals were fighting the fight of the faith within the denominations they had been raised in, or had entered into with a spiritual mentor. Thus, even if they did not use the name, “Fundamentalist,” they’re relationship to fundamentalism was similar to that of Gresham Machen.

Fundamentalism is dead, Long Live Fundamentalism Part 3a: The Great Evangelical Disaster.

Today, Evangelical churches appear to be thriving, and Fundamentalism appears to be a relic, often an unwelcome one. A few decades ago, this was not, however, the case.

I’m going to cover the Evangelical-Fundamentalist controversy in two parts, first dealing with Evangelicalism (which will take two articles due to its growing length) then with Fundamentalism. This controversy began as the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy was winding down. Fundamentalists began to adopt “separatism”[1] from the major denominations when it became apparent they would not win the battle and began forming their own, new denominational bodies. This separatism then was neither new, nor strange – a number of similar movements have taken place over the centuries.

Modern Evangelicalism was originally known as the “New Evangelicalism” (Sometimes referred to as Neo-Evangelicalism). The term “New Evangelicalism” was coined by Harold Ockenga in 1948, and part of his emphasis was (1) the repudiation of separatism from the mainline denomination, (2) an attempt to reopen a dialogue with the religious left with a new openness to liberal ideas about the Bible, particularly involving issues related to the book of Genesis and the doctrine of inerrancy. This was founded on a repudiation of Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism,[2] and in some quarters, might have led to an over-emphasis on the role of intellect among believers.[3] The New Evangelicals would grow into prominence, however, when Billy Graham’s large campaigns began featuring theological liberals and Roman Catholic clergy on his platform. This would inevitably lead to a split between the Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals, splitting the National Association of Evangelicals along the way.[4]  Francis Schaeffer and others after him traced the defections of the faith to the intellectual compromises along the way.

The Great Evangelical Disaster

Francis Schaeffer’s last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster discussed the Evangelical side of the controversy. Schaeffer’s book was the book that ultimately shaped my views on this controversy for decades – it is still, a profound work about the dangers of intellectual/theological compromise.[5]

And the effects of compromise at the time were dire.

Fuller Theological Seminary had slowly abandoned the faith over decades.[6]

Charles Templeton, a long time Evangelical Evangelist became an atheist.[7]

Major conflicts began in the 70’s referred to as “The Battle for the Bible” in Evangelical Seminaries.

Perhaps to my mind, one of the lesser-known tragedies, that of Bernard Ramm, was the most shocking. Ramm wrote one of the standard introductions to Christian Hermeneutics,[8] yet, in 1983, on relatively flimsy grounds he adapted his thinking[9] to a theological system of existential theology known as Neo-Orthodoxy,[10] or more precisely, he like Briggs sought to combine Evangelical belief with theological liberalism.

Thus, Evangelicalism was not turning into the promised panacea that had been anticipated. Yet, we also know Fundamentalist assumptions that Evangelicalism was dead were also not panning out. Next time, I will posit my theory as to why – Evangelicals were borrowing from earlier fundamentalism as they decided to earnestly contend for their faith within their denominations, and this time, at least some of them would win.

[1] In my years at BJU, one often heard discussions of the “Doctrine” of separation, but this, I believe is highly misleading; it frankly sounds almost monastic. Despite this, separation is ultimately not a separate doctrine persay, but an application of Scriptural principles. The terminology is based on the idea of being holy (which means being set apart), and provides an undergirding theology for discussions of separation. However, the passages cited in discussions of separation themselves are actually discussing discipline for members living in sin, or who repudiate the faith. In this sense, the doctrine of separation is simply the application of Biblical teaching on dealing with the stubbornly errant on a level beyond merely single individuals.

            [2]Fundamentalism was not an anti-intellectual movement, but there were pockets of anti-intellectualism within the movement. This was largely because the theological left was associated with the philosophical elitists of the day.

            [3] There are a lot of discussions about intellectualism when it comes to the faith as a whole. John K A Smith, in his work Desiring the Kingdom for example, discusses this problem, though his approach ultimately seems to descend back into approaches that history demonstrates have failed (such as his ideas about monasticism and a new alternative economy), and while claiming not to want rebuild an anti-intellectualism of the past, is ultimately doing precisely that type of approach.

The quandary of the Christian intellectual is, for the relatively modern world, still answered best in a sermon, Learning During Wartime by C S Lewis, in which he discusses the Christian intellectual in terms of service to God and His Kingdom. Lewis argues the Christian scholar’s work is ultimately no different from anyone else in the truly spiritual economy – his works value is measured in terms of its being an offering to God. Lewis does this on the Pauline analogy of the body of Christ, we all have our place and function within that body.

            [4] This is sometimes presented as a very sudden split, but there is extensive, extant correspondence between Dr. Bob Jones Senior/Dr. Bob Jones Junior and Billy Graham for about two years before the split actually happened.

[5] I was educated at Bob Jones University, one of the central schools of Fundamentalism of the time. While BJU has largely abandoned me, my feelings of my alma mater are at times very mixed. Some of its recent decisions continue to break my heart – and I have many fond memories of a number of my professors. My one profound disagreement with Schaeffer is not in his discussion of Evangelicalism, it is his assumptions about the Fundamentalists of the era. I had the opportunity to meet some of the men of that generation, while some were the stern curmudgeons of popular imagery, many more were cordial, kind and exuded a Christian spirit that is rare except among those who after a lifetime of devotion to the King have lives that have been saturated with His Spirit. Indeed, the kindest man I have ever met, Dr. Stewart Custer, was the Fundamentalist that taught a seven week course on “cults and trends,” including our discussions on Evangelicalism.

[6] See Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller and the New Evangelicalism.

[7] Charles Templeton, Farewell to God, My Reasons for rejecting the Christian Faith.

[8]Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation.

[9] Bernard Ramm: After Fundamentalism: The Future of Evangelical Theology. As a rare second personal note, I wept a little after I read this work.

[10] Neo-Orthodoxy is associated with Karl Barth, who was a theological liberal that felt theological liberalism, in dissecting the Bible provided nothing that was worth communicating. He then posited the possibility that the Bible provided a point of encounter between God and men. His thinking along with two other existentialist thinkers (particularly Emil Brunner and Rudolf Bultmann) changed the nature of liberal theology.

Fundamentalism is dead, Long Live Fundamentalism part 2: The Fundamentalist Modernist controversy

Fundamentalism has always been maligned, and even more seriously misunderstood, as often by its adherents as by its opponents. Many Evangelicals have outright repudiated it, in part, because Fundamentalism like all institutions in which human beings take part is imperfect. Yet, my contention is that what we need is not a repudiation of Fundamentalism, but an understanding of it. The terms, “Fundamentalism” and “Fundamentalist goes back to debates for the heart of the Northern Baptist Convention, and is related to a series of pamphlets on essentials for the faith entitled, “The Fundamentals”[1] as well as the “five fundamentals”[2] of the faith, one of the rallying points in the early debates against what was then called “Modernism” and is now described as theological liberalism – the “grandfather” of the modern “emerging church,” liberation theology, and similar movements. Some people define Fundamentalism in terms of millennialism and dispensationalism – and for this reason, many of the early anti-modernists did not want to be referred to as Fundamentalists, though they are claimed by many Fundamentalist thinkers, these include Gresham Machen, the founder of Westminster Theological Seminary.[3] The reason for this discrepancy might be the definition itself – Machen rejected Fundamentalism due to its association with dispensationalism, and yet Curtis Lee Laws, [4] the man who invented the term “fundamentalist” did so because he wanted a term that focused on the larger issue of the defeat of the “Modernist” take over of the NBC, rather than a partisan doctrine. The early Fundamentalists emulated the true soul of the Fundamentalist movement – and can be summarized in the words of Jude, “Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”[5] They were defined, and I believe will be forever defined, by the “Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy.” The controversy with modernism in America[6] goes back to the 19th century,[7] but became headline news during the 1893 Briggs Heresy Trial.[8] Liberalism had begun to seep into the major denominations, and the believers sought to push back the forces of darkness, contending for the faith, until they finally felt that these groups were no longer viable and left. During this time, they formed transdenominational organizations, joining hands across denominational lines on the grounds of belief in the basic building blocks of the faith. While, sadly, later generations of men would reignite these debates, sometimes to build petty fiefdoms, the early Fundamentalists were a big tent for those who maintained belief in the infallibility of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, and salvation by Grace through Faith. Fundamentalism in this sense is not an anti-intellectual faith, but rather upholds the tenet of non-contradiction. One cannot accept Christianity and reject it at the same time; one cannot fundamentally change the faith without ceasing to actually be Christian. What these men emulated was backbone – a willingness to accept the censure of the world, they were maligned then as backwards, uneducated, unlearned fools. They bore the reproach of Christ, and cared more about what He thought of them, than what the world thought was true. [1]David O Beale, In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850. (Greenville, SC: Unusual Publications, 1985), 39-45. [2]Beale, 149.             [3] I will leave people to decide for themselves if they think men like Machen were, or were not Fundamentalists, or more to the point if they believe Machen’s repudiation of the label was based on an accurate or inaccurate assessment of Fundamentalism. In many senses, however, Machen exemplified and inspired the early Fundamentalist spirit, particularly in his book Christianity and Liberalism. Yet, Machen and the earlier Princeton theologians (such as Charles Hodge, A A Hodge, and B B Warfield) interacted with Fundamentalism, inspired early Fundamentalists and ultimately, if they are not to be called Fundamentalists, they at least formed a similar and related movement. History is more complicated than we sometimes believe. [4] The Term “Fundamentalist” was probably coined by Curtis Lee Laws in the July 1, 1920 Watchman-Examiner, to discuss a “preconference” for the general conference of the denomination over the denominations drift away from the historic doctrines of the faith. Beale, 195. The Northern Baptist convention would eventually be renamed the American Baptist convention, but the preconvention group would splinter, and form the General Association of Regular Baptists and the Fundamentalist Baptist Fellowship. [5] Jude 3 [6] Modernism developed, in large part, in Germany. The major point of modernism was the attempt to combine the study of the Bible with modern philosophy, based in part on an outright rejection of miracles. Modernism developed theories about the origin of the Bible based on the Hegelian Dialectic – while many other tenets of the early modernists are no longer discussed these days, the Hegelian understanding of the origins of the Bible are still a major contention of most unbelieving students of the Bible, and sadly some Evangelicals. [7] Some have connected Liberalism with 18th century Universalism and the New School Presbyterians. However, these approaches were significantly different from Modernism, and should be considered a separate controversy. [8] Charles E Hatch The Charles A Briggs Heresy Trial; Beale 144-7. Hatch writes from an unbelieving perspective and is heavily involved in the name-calling approach we noted last time. It should be noted that the Briggs Heresy trial was not a legal trial in US courtrooms. The trial was within the Presbyterian General Assembly, and was an attempt to remove him from Union Theological Seminary over serious doctrinal deviation from the faith.

Fundamentalism is Dead – Long Live Fundamentalism Part 1: Embracing an insult

A few weeks ago, an article was posted by a blogger for Psychology Today suggesting that the shooting in Charleston was, at root, caused by anti-intellectualism and ultimately fundamentalism. I have not, due to current events, had a chance to answer this objection until now.

It has become a common ploy among many anti-Christians (particularly among the extreme members of the political left), to use the long running “snob appeal” method of propaganda in an attempt to silence debate. This article is, in and of itself, perhaps the epitome of irony, when one considers that it is a good example of anti-intellectualism. The article does not feel the need to discuss the support for its position,[1] it rather assumes the truthfulness of its point and assaults any disagreement with rhetorical impunity; on this grounds it is an example of why some Christians have referred to as the New Atheists as a type of Fundamentalism.

This is not new, these charges of anti-intellectualism actually go back to the Briggs Heresy trial, when most people began paying attention to what would eventually become known as the “Fundamentalist/modernist controversy.” Today, the term “Fundamentalism” is an almost  meaningless insult, built on false assumptions of the the historic Fundamentalist movement, distortions that are partially made possible through studies that rely heavily on cherry-picking the evidence.

Yet, in many senses, these unreasoned charges of being a “fundamentalist” are perhaps a modern example of the reproach of Christ. The name Christian itself likely began as an insult, and Christians in the early church were accused of eating babies and incest by Roman society. We are indeed in good company if the world hates us.

Many people today consider the Fundamentalist era of the Church to be over, but contrary to bloggers who use this label derisively, I believe perhaps we need a renewal of the Fundamentalist Spirit in our apologetics.

Many, accurately, would say the Fundamentalist era is over. Yet, while times change and expressions of the faith change, some things do not. Some people would have us abandon the faith on insufficient grounds, arguing the faith must simply adapt to the times and the culture; this is the fundamental root heresy of the emerging church, it seeks to subordinate the truth of God to the understanding of man.

Sometimes, my Baptist roots come to the fore; while the Old Fundamentalism may be gone, it is time for a new Fundamentalism to rise like the proverbial phoenix. It is time not to acquiesce to the winds of change, but to plant the flag of the Cross and say, “We will not be moved.”

Fundamentalism is dead, long live fundamentalism.

            [1] Take for example, the discussion of global warming. The author takes no time to discuss why human caused global warming is an assured result, he does not deal with counter arguments, and he does not demonstrate how this connects to “fundamentalism.” He later asserts “Corporate influence on climate and environmental policy, meanwhile, is simply more evidence of anti-intellectualism in action.” Thus he adds the ad hominem fallacy to his list of sins against reason, since he argues not against the counter-arguments raised on the question of global warming but against insinuated motives of those raising these arguments.

Similarly he argues that ignorance is at the root of racism, and largely dismisses intellectual racists. Yet, it is difficult to charge that the old Social Darwinism, the great instigator of mid-19th century through early 20th century racism as being anti-intellectual. One can certainly claim that social Darwinists were wrong, as genetic studies have demonstrated, one might note that they were intellectual elitists, but one cannot accuse them of anti-intellectualism.

An Open Letter from a Christian to the Homosexual Community

In America over the years, as we gather over the dinner tables for holidays, we often have relatives with vastly different political views, that older republican uncle who sits by the young, enthusiastic Democrat. We know inherently at these times that a person’s partisan affiliations tells us little about their motives, and at most one’s political opinions hold only a two dimensional picture of a three dimensional person. The left for a time proclaimed, “the political is personal,” and this appeals greatly to youthful zeal, then we grow up.

I don’t assume all homosexuals and lesbians are the wild activists who attacked the Hamilton Square Baptist church in the 90’s, nor should one assume, as many do, that Christians are candidates for membership in the Westboro Baptist church.

The reality is, member of the homosexual community we love you. Perhaps that makes little sense, we live in a world where love is often misunderstood – this is demonstrated even in the thought that we can “fall into” or “out” of love. We have bought the weak,anemic Hollywood view of the word. Love is not attraction, it is not an emotion – love may have elements of all of these, but they are incidental elements. Love is a devotion to the object, with a willingness to sacrifice oneself for what is best for the object. Love then, cannot be a false approval – a father does not love his son when he finds drugs in the boy’s dresser and lets it be. His love is expressed in his fierce determination to protect his son from himself. You might object and say this is not a fair comparison, but then, I unapologetically draw my moral code from Scripture.

As Christians, we believe that you are hurting yourself, that your lifestyle separates you from God. We believe, therefore that if we offer acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, it will harm you. You may very well disagree with us – the great thing about America is that we all have the right to form our own opinions on religious and moral matters, but understand our motives are not hatred of you, but love for your most essential self, your soul.

The truth of the matter is that in the modern 24 hour news cycle, the headlines matter more than the text. When Christians discuss sin, it doesn’t mean homosexuals are in greater danger of hell than anyone else. This is the point the Bible makes of sin; the point of the Bible’s moral discussions is that it demonstrates our guilt, that we might seek a Savior.

Many people might immediately ask why a reasonably intelligent person in the modern world would believe in something as “antiquated” as Christianity. While I could note the history of the faith and its value to Western Civilization or the testimony of the Holy Spirit, I would say it ultimately comes down to the resurrection of Christ.

In the coming months there will be a lot of discussions about the first amendment. These are important, I will not discuss it here, but many of us view the SCOTUS decision as an establishment of religion. Yet this is not rhetoric directed at you, but towards government.

My hope, and my prayers for you are that God will work in your heart, to lead you to Himself. There is help and healing in Him. I realize, you may have been burned by church or by some Christians in the past (but then, so have I), but I would ask only this, before you Criticize Christians, perhaps it would be wise to learn a thing or three about the faith first, and I hope, perhaps you will do so with an open heart towards the God who would save you, if you will only come to faith in Him.

Disproving Creationism Part 4: Christian Thought on decline

Oh what time a week brings. At the end of last week, I was working on my articles on why I am not OEC, in the vein of my discussions on what it would take me to convince me of Old Earth Creationism rather than Young Earth Creationism – despite claims that this makes me “anti-Science” a troglydite, comparisons to flat earthers or to those who are illiteriate.

At the end of last week I covered a marathon session on the recent supreme court decision, and then started the process of adapting to a swing change – the joys of working a secular job while doing apologetics at the same time.

To come back to my point on why I am not OEC, to convince me that the I should abandon that position, one would need to prove or demonstrate three things.

  1. Evolution must be demonstrated scientifically rather than philosophically.
  2. They must develop a viable interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 within the confines of grammatical/historical interpretation.
  3. They must present a viable answer to the questions raised for Biblical Theology and Systematic theology.

We are on the third issue, and frankly this is the most important. One might demonstrate evolution scientifically, but this would not make a comment on the past, it makes a comment on an ongoing process. Similarly developing a viable of Genesis 1 and 2 would not prove that it is the correct interpretation, it only provides a viable means of tying the discussions together. The third point is most crucial.

What I mean by the answers to the questions raised for Biblical Theology and systematic theology are the impacts this has on the larger issues of Christian thought.

The New Testament takes Genesis 1 through 3 very seriously, for example, it is now well known that Jesus dealt with the question of marriage by appealing to Genesis 1 and 2, the created order. Paul does the same thing in 1 Timothy 2, when he discusses why women should not be in the pastorate.

The biggest issue is the discussion of evil, and the curse. Paul discusses the curse[1] as the source of natural disasters.[2] If someone argues that God used evolution to bring men up from the dust of the ground, then we have a serious problem because death and disaster would predate the fall and creation of mankind. In so doing, we can no longer discuss evil in terms of man’s actions – God originally created nature red in tooth and claw.

There are other issues besides this illustrative one, but this to me is the central problem, Old Earth Creationists must alter Christian thought in too many ways, it puts Christian thought on decline.

[1] Genesis 3:17

[2] Romans 8:20-23.