Friday, June 16, 2006

What the Evangelicals Have On the Fundamentalists

Sometimes evangelicals are called new-evangelicals. Why? At one time, everyone who believed the gospel (the only Scriptural one) were evangelicals. Then liberalism came, a group split and they were called fundamentalists, hence, fundamentalism. Then fundamentalism split over separation issues. The less separated called themselves evangelicals. The fundamentalists called them new-evangelicals. (Incidentally, because of history, everybody gets to claim Spurgeon---we're Spurgeon, they're Spurgeon; no, we're Spurgeon.)

Since then lots of smaller splits have occurred within fundamentalism, partly because of associations and fellowships---GARBC, BBF, Southwide Baptist Fellowship, Sword of the Lord meetings, FBF, etc. Fairly large cleavages have occurred over a general salvation issue which includes soteriology, sanctification, and methodology. One side is more Calvinistic versus the other more Arminian, or in other terms, the Hyles group (revivalist) versus the Bob Jones group with various nuances in between. One side seems to put more into strong academics and the other side seems to emphasize learning new and newer methods. Even though both sides call themselves fundamentalists, they often ignore each other, hoping no one will associate them with the other. Various segments would not want to be identified with the other even based on things that might look minor, like styles or methods of preaching. The version issue in all its forms has strained relations---one side says the other causes division and the other side says their opposites attack God's Word. Another aspect is cultural, dealing with issues of personal separation---pants on women, "evangelistic" music versus worship music, entertainment, the roles of men and women, and even alcoholic beverages. Fundamentalists are feuding.

Many fundamentalists have apparently wearied over carrying a common name. For this reason among others, a lot of professing fundamentalists are looking for more and more common ground with evangelicals (new-evangelicals). Sometimes they feel like they are more tuned into the evangelicals than they are most fundamentalists. In various forums of communication, I have noticed professing fundamentalists admiring evangelicals. Salivate might not be too strong a word. They are far less harsh about certain Southern Baptists or conservative evangelicals than they are over who they see as counterparts in their own movement. Some have taken the leap and others are considering joining them.

I'm going to tell you exactly where the rub is for the fundamentalists, what is bothering them. It is a root doctrinal issue. They teeter uncomfortably on the edge of fundamentalism because of one important cog in their system.

Let's say that you believe that the true church, the church, is all believers, everyone who has received Jesus Christ into his life. I don't believe that. I believe a church is an assembly of immersed believers and only an assembly of immersed believers. I take my position from the 118 times the term ekklesia is found in the NT. But you believe that at the point of justification, you were baptized spiritually into the invisible body of Christ. If the church is the body of Christ, then the members must be working together. Christ is the Head and the body parts, like a physical body, fit and interact, or in other words, have unity.

The [new-]evangelicals are more consistent with their ecclesiology. It's as simple as that. Many fundamentalists have exactly the same ecclesiology as the evangelicals, but they don't unify. They separate. How can we separate from people we're supposed to be unifying with? John MacArthur gets along with Al Mohler who gets along with Billy Graham. They are all together for the gospel. Yes, the gospel. They are all "saved," so they get along. These fundamentalists want that unity because it is consistent with their ecclesiology, their belief about the body of Christ. They know they aren't consistent in their practice. They essentially make the Bible contradict itself with their stand on separation and on unity. Conversations and arguments and debate regularly spring up on the conflict between separation and unity.

If I believed the body of Christ was all believers, I would fellowship with the evangelicals. My only grounds for separation would have to be the gospel. You are either saved or your not. If you're saved, I'm fellowshiping with you. The fundamentalists don't do that. They break up the body of Christ (their view of it) over issues. Where is the unity? Hard to say. Maybe with other Bob Jones graduates and those who approve of Bob Jones.

Some try to be more consistent with unity and put up with Pensacola, who isn't in the Bob Jones orbit. They get criticized for it mightily. Letis, video tape, and heresy comes up. Some try to travel in everybody's fundamental circle. I don't think anyone has done that successfully. Now among fundamentalists, the worst group to be associated with are those who are King James only. It is open season to shoot at all KJVO'ers. If they're saved, that's not consistent, is it?

Evangelicalism feels so good because it snuggles right in with spirit baptism and the universal church. Most evangelicals look at fundamentalists as sort of goofy because of this inconsistency. Of course, the conservative evangelicals are haunted by their lack of separation, but unity beats separation almost every time. If they don't participate in Promise Keepers, it's a preference. They're still together with them. They have to be. They're just showing discernment. They don't want to get hurt by being with these fellow believers, yet with no formal separation. On the other hand, I don't know how fundamentalists could possibly argue against evangelical unity with their ecclesiology. The evangelicals definitely have this one on them.

18 comments:

Bobby Mitchell said...

Exactly. Bingo. Right on. Nailed it. Direct hit. Precisely.

Anonymous said...

I bet you would fellowship with a new envangelical if you were locked in a jail cell with him in some foreign city because you are the only two Christian missionaries there. I am betting that separation nits will not be that important then.

Bobby Mitchell said...

Regarding the jail-cell statement:

Actually, I hope that I would take advantage of the opportunity to instruct him in the way of the Lord more perfectly. With God's help I would hope to teach him concerning the Bible doctrine of separation among other doctrines of the Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Well...Pastor B, as I expected you kinda lost yourself with 100. Must have been your magic number, eh? I might give you a decent score on 118-120 but you're over the edge again with 121. Not that it makes any difference. As you see I still take the time to read them even tho at times I have not a clue what you're saying. It is entertaining and obviously other people have at least a minor hint at what you're talking about. I would prefer to think I congregate with fellow believers. If not, I am sure I am an influence on the others. Just one ladies opinion.
The again it could be the "word verification" that's throwing you off?

ILA

Dave Marriott said...

Very thought provoking; although I disagree with your position, I agree with much of your analysis of the situation. I begin to see from where you are coming. One question: of the over 100 times in the New Testament that ekklesia is used, I would agree that the overwhelming majority of them refer to the local church. This makes sense because in the epistles Paul appeals to tangible local churches with real problems and situations. However, I think you would be hard pressed with at least 15 of those passages in trying to make a solid case for local church. Is there a possiblity that the universal church is made up of local churches (which if properly baptistic would be comprised of professing believers only)?

Throwback 13 said...

* It appears to me that the sticking point is whether or not doctrine is important. Those that don't think it matters all go to one side of the room and stick together, but quibble about "methods."
* Those that believe that doctrine does matter go to the other side of the room but then divide up into groups, each one believing its own doctrinal beliefs, and shunning all others, whether or not their own beliefs line up with Scripture.
* And among the most isolated is the Bible Only, KJV believers.
* Is doctrine so important that it is a valid cause for division? Or is a common morality sufficient for fellowship? Who wants to take a crack at this?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dave,

Thanks for commenting. You say fifteen, but it is probably more like 7 or 8. Each of those is a generic usage of the singular noun. Let me give you one example as a for instance: Eph. 5:23, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." There is no universal church, Dave, any more than there is no universal husband or wife.

The singular noun can only be used as a particular or generic, so you have your choice; a Platonic, Augustinian usage isn't available, unless someone wants to make it up (which they already have). Body and assembly are by nature local.

Again, thanks for commenting. The problem, which you agreed upon, comes from this wrong interpretation of Scripture. I've found that all my problems come from something unscriptural.

Ruth said...

Well, I see even since I have been away the past days,we are back to multiple opinions, which is fairly realistic since we are human. While I cannot totally agree with you Pastor, nor can I totally agree with "Throwback13", I must say his posed question on "division by doctine" gives one food for thought. There is a song about "singing in the heavenly choir" and I bet there is one about the "heavenly doctine"? And you would know that as well Pastor? Who gets to decide about the "wrong interpretation" of scripture?

Blessings from the Hill,
Ruth

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I think you could really go somewhere with this if you developed the family aspect of it. I don't know if I'm responding to this post or all the discussion at Sharper Iron about this post.

Anyway, I think the family metaphor (is that what it is?) could be explored. I don't have a come from a big family, but I gots cousins and 2nd cousins and that I don't fellowship with much. I even have some relatives that I would keep my family away from, they're still family though.

Anyway, there's the start of another post from WHAT IS TRUTH?

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I'm glad you are watching at SI. Jump in. The water is fine. Bobby

Jay C said...

Throwback13-

Saw your comment, and yes, there is a point where it's necessary to separate because of bad doctrine. It's a real shame when we're forced to do so, but our loyalties to Christ and His Doctrine, not to fellowshipping with everyone who's a believer.

Case in point. Most of us fundamentalists believe strongly in the preservation of the Biblical text. Some of us argue that it's preserved in a specific style and type of manuscript, some of us believe that God has preserved His word through all the manuscripts. I can fellowship with all those people. But a specific sect - that God has divinely preserved His Word through only one specific Bible translation is a different doctrine that subtracts from God's Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Provident Hand. There's a lot more to the story than that, but I will refuse to fellowship with those believers, because they have superimposed a set of presuppositions on doctine.

It's a long story, and I hope it makes sense. You can PM me at SharperIron [or start a thread] if you'd like to continue the conversation.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Jeff said, "I don't have a come from a big family, but I gots cousins and 2nd cousins and that I don't fellowship with much. I even have some relatives that I would keep my family away from, they're still family though."

After reading what I wrote there, I don't know if I should post anywhere, even if the water's fine. Hopefully, people can interpret my horrible grammar.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joel,

Jay knows that I believe that God preserved all of His Words and that one specific translation is all we have translated in it, the KJV. Obviously, providence, omniscience and etc. were not required to leave 100 translations and manuscripts strewn all over the planet. Preserving every word, all of them, and making them available fits with a Scriptural model. However, to allow freedom to disagree in this forum, I have included Jay's comments with that disclaimer.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jeff,

I took it as colloquial. Colloquial works. What to do with family is a big conversation on separation, truly.

KB

Bobby Mitchell said...

Not ashamed to say that the Words of God originally inspired have been providentially preserved in the TR/Masoretic and in the King James Bible.

Call me whatever you'd like. I believe that the only English translation that qualifies as the preserved word of God is the KJV.

Hey, Jay, do you separate from Ian R. K. Paisley since he believes like me? Do you separate from those who have not separated from him--as in BJU, Rod Bell, FBF, etc.? If you are right and they need to obey the doctrine of separation as it applies to IRKP then they are disobedient, right?

Anonymous said...

Jay,

You say "Most of us fundamentalists believe strongly in the preservation of the Biblical text."
Where are they? If you know where they are, than you know which ones are not and should expose them as counterfiets. If we can not seperate over the words of God what can we sepereate over? If you do not know where they are than what kind of sorry preservation was that? You subtract from God's omniscience and omnipotence.

By the way Jesus, in His ministry NEVER NEVER questioned the authority of a passage. He recognized that God's people had God's words just as God said (Is 59:21) He never says the "oldest maniscripts say this". Neither did Paul, Peter or any one in the NT. Our position lines up with theirs, we are in good company. You rely on scholarship and history instead faith in God's promises. Your position is foreign to the way God's people viewed His words. Actually, your positon lines up more with the serpent in the garden "Yea hath God said?"

BJ Nordgren

Throwback 13 said...

* Well, I got one good sounding answer, Jay says that it is necessary to seperate because of bad doctrine. The trouble with this answer is that he gave no BIBLE for what doctrine is bad enough to be worthy of separation. Just that a KJV only should be put into a different room. Again, no BIBLE.
* That leaves me wondering, if I were to set out to defend the importance of correct doctrine, could I back it up from Scripture? At what point should I break fellowship with an apparent Christian, according to Scripture?
* Here's where I would start:
* * Matthew 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
* * John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
* * Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine ...
* * Acts 5:28 ... ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine ...
* * Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
* * I Timothy 1:9-11 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for ... any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
* The point of the question takes a bit to explain, but it is this: I may have to spend eternity with old "Joe", over there, even though I believe some of his doctrine borders on blasphemy. What gives me the right to decide that because I disagree with his doctrine I should break fellowship, even warn others to avoid his influence? At what point am I just gendering strife?
*
* For Jay, I am wondering what is the cause for your animosity towards the KJV. Does not God have the right to determine that one book is correct and all that are different are not correct?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joel,

The church separates over doctrine (Rom. 16:17, as you mentioned, but also 2 Thess. 3:6-15, certainly the gospel, Gal. 1:6-9, and worship, 2 Cor. 6:14-17). Separation is a Scriptural means by which a church glorifies God, protect her own purity, encourages the purity of others, and protects the truth. We should unify and cooperate with other churches of like faith and practice. We have that example in Scripture, but nothing in Scripture commands us to do it. True fellowship comes in the church (local) and people should learn to enjoy it.