Before a Wednesday sermon at the conference, Jordan said: "“So, why is it that we weren’t fellowshipping sooner? . . . . So what was the difference?” Let me guess here, or at least offer my opinion. I can't speak for Calvary at Lansdale, but I've observed that institution enough to have a bit of a grasp for why there wasn't a tie with GARBC before. E. Robert Jordan, the founding pastor of Calvary, Tim Jordan's dad, wouldn't have had anything to do with the GARBC? I think that's a pretty educated guess. For a long time, he didn't fellowship with Bob Jones University, not until after the seminary there had been started for a little while. I'm not surprised with Tim Jordan's appearance at the GARBC. It looks like a fit to me. I can't see what would keep one away from the other. And E. Robert died in November 2009.
Later on that day, Jordan spoke in a workshop, where he said this:
“If we produce ‘biblical’ reasons for cultural fundamentalism, they [the young Fundamentalists] know you are lying. And why do they know you are lying? It’s because you are! . . . . They’re not going to do the ‘emperor’s clothes’ thing anymore, . . . they won’t leave if you don’t lie to them!" (emphasis mine)
There we go. That's as bad a thing that anyone could possibly say. To call these men liars in public. It amazes me that the audience would even go for it, but the fact that they would and then publish that he said it, and revel in it, says something about where this group of men stands. Let's get it straight though. He' saying that the independent Baptist separatists were and are lying when they gave and give biblical reasons for their cultural issues. That's what Tim Jordan says.
The "emperor's clothes" reference is essentially saying that these men are pretending to have biblical reasons, when either really know that they don't have any reasons or they're just crazy. In the end, the emperor, after having found out from a little boy that he wasn't wearing any clothes, proudly acted as though he was wearing them anyway. I think you get the picture. These leaders with the convictions on these cultural issues know they don't have any biblical reasons, but they go on like they do and everyone else is to go along with it, when it's obvious they don't have any. You've got to be a dupe or lemming to go along with it. I've been around enough of the Lansdale crowd to know that they do believe both---that men are liars and/or crazy---take your pick. And yet men go right along in fellowship with Calvary in Lansdale as if nothing is wrong. This doesn't sound quite even like agreeing to disagree, does it?
The implication here is that young people are leaving these churches because their leaders are lying to them. If they stop lying to them, that is, stop telling them the Bible has something to say about these cultural issues, then they won't leave. I can tell you first hand, that young people won't leave because you take stands on cultural issues and give biblical reasons for them. They sometimes will leave because they love the world and want to go live it up, in essence to eat, drink, and be merry. In other words, they choose the pleasures of sin for a season than to suffer derision with the people of God. The world is having its impact on churches like Calvary and Lansdale and the numbers are dwindling. Like many other churches, to combat that, you start dropping those standards on the cultural issues. You do keep the young people, but it doesn't have anything to do with "not lying to them."
The stronger the influence of the world and the tougher it is in this world to live the Christian life, the more we're going to see a division taking place. There is a wider gap and clearer distinctions between a biblical Christian and the world than ever. It is an unbridgeable gap. Since it can't be straddled anymore, the young and immature (restless) just drop out. Or the church can change, start taking on the mores and spirit and look of the world system. Calvary in Lansdale recently dropped their old music pastor for a different brand of "worship." That's part of what goes with the territory. And now Calvary and Jordan has moved that direction enough to reach a good comfort level with the GARBC and the GARBC with Calvary. That's "what's the difference" to refer to Jordan's question. And you will always be able to find your crowd in this world, and the one that's more like the world will be bigger. And when you join it, it might feel like a breath of fresh air. Don't mistake that for the Holy Spirit, just a good feeling that you'll have plenty of companions in the broader road.
There is still some feet dragging among some fundamentalists about this kind of development in fundamentalism. At SharperIron, which helped announce this GARBC event, Aaron Blumer, the owner, tried to put a degree of distance between him and Jordan's comments. Right away, he said:
I also don't think it's possible to be Fundamentalist without reference to culture. That is, the fundamentals have cultural implications. So biblical fund. will always be "cultural" in that sense.And later:
When Jordan says "cultural fundamentalism" in a negative sense, I do not believe he means "all efforts to apply Scripture to cultural choices." Let's be clear about that. There is absolutely no sphere of life that is exempted from the Lordship of Christ. So looking at some of these events and the "cultural trappings" they accept and trying to apply biblical principles to them is an obligation we all have.
Just want to be clear what our choices are here: it's not like on one hand we have "cultural fundamentalism" and on the other we have "anything goes as long as its 'cultural.'" The former is the error of much of fundamentalism. The latter is the error of most of evangelicalism. By "cultural fundamentalism," Jordan (and several others I've heard use the term) is referring to the practice of taking a particular set of applications (or just opinions, for the many who never bothered to think them through) and making them them (a) equal in status to Holy Writ itself and (b) the defining essence of fundamentalism.
The cure for this is not to look at the evangelical landscape and say "none of this cultural stuff matters"!
But the GARBC representative who authored the report answers these comments later:
About "cultural fundamentalism" as it was described by the speakers at the GARBC conference: I think they used the term in reference to the set of cultural values that grew to "mean" fundamentalism. Drs. Jordan and Davey mentioned things like dress standards, music standards, Bible translations, smoking/drinking/movie attendance/mixed swimming, and even loyalty to particular schools and institutions. I don't think we should interpret their comments as as an invitation to lawless living or an indication that they are soft on the subject of personal holiness. Rather, they seemed to refer to "cultural fundamentalism" as a set of cultural taboos that came to replace an authentic definition of historic fundamentalism.
Again, to be clear, Tim Jordan, leader in independent Baptist fundamentalism says that the men were lying who used the Bible to defend convictions related to the above list. Calvary in Lansdale organized mixed swimming, swim park activities, where the girls showed full thigh in their skin tight outfits in the pool with the guys. When I was considering going to Calvary Lansdale in the mid 80s, I saw this firsthand. This proximity of the immodestly dressed was accompanied by quite a bit of frolicking in the water between sexes as well. Certain impediments or barriers seemed to break down with the setting and context. It sort of gives new definition to the emperor with no clothes.
I'm not going to try to prove here and now that Jordan is wrong. He is. You can deal with cultural issues from the Bible. Everyone draws lines. So does Jordan. He's just creating some space for his laxity and license. Men who do take positions on cultural issues, the so-called "cultural fundamentalists," do defend their positions from the Bible. And they're not lying.