Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thoughtful Fundamentalists?

In a classic case of poisoning the well (a logical fallacy), Kevin Bauder concludes that "thoughtful fundamentalists" will be "OK" with Clarence Sexton preaching at their FBFI conference, because he's now got an acceptable KJO position.  I'm not kidding:  if you don't agree with Bauder, you are not a "thoughtful fundamentalist," which, of course, he is, along with anyone who agrees with him.

Bauder's view here represents an intellectual vacuum in fundamentalism.  His kind of thoughtful reminds me of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 18, as he considered allying with Ahab.  His father Asa had been in utter separation with the north, but the perceived benefits (18:2,3) of a northern alliance, perhaps lofty images of coalition grandeur, the man who reunited a divided kingdom, influenced his thoughts.  I'm sure he was thinking, but his thinking was patently wrong.  Bauder's is too.

Thoughtfulness for Bauder is looking at the wording of Clarence Sexton's school website for minutiae on the Crown College use of the King James.  Like Ahab, Sexton knows how to tweak a statement in order to attain an alliance.  But Bauder, like Jehoshaphat, can't see through it.  He digs into butchered sheep and oxen served by Ahab and decides everything's OK now.

Bauder crawls over 1-2-3 pray with me, the false gospel, the silly carnival atmosphere, the irreverence, the superficial theology, Jack Schaap, hero worship, the lack of church discipline, rank pragmatism of the highest order, Jack Trieber, Tony Hudson, and all the rest of the fragmented and unrepentant remains of the Hyles coalition to find subtle wording in one version of a statement on the use of the King James.  This is his "thoughtful fundamentalism."

Quite a few people would agree with Bauder.  KJO is their major separating issue.  With this criteria, Bauder concludes, Sexton OK, KJO bad.  I was enlightened by Bauder's article, because I had never heard explained how that KJO had risen to the level of a false gospel.  Now we can see it's worse than a false gospel, but I had never heard an explanation.  From Bauder, we get one.

He says KJO is a serious error because it denigrates the Word of God by saying that other versions are not the Word of God.  As I see it, many KJO, such as myself, believe (for the dreaded doctrinal reasons) that there is only one Bible, one set of Words, like Christians have believed for centuries.  I wouldn't say about other versions, "This isn't the Word of God," because a biblical position is more sophisticated than that. In other words, those versions do contain the Word of God.  However, words that contradict each another can't both be the Word of God.  Only yellow is yellow.  Red isn't yellow.  Bauder, I guess, expects people to accept contradictory words.  This should help you understand how messed up fundamentalism is.  Unless you agree that red is yellow, you've reached a level of serious error.

Knowing what Bauder has said and written about separation in the past, his explanation in this post somehow means that KJO undermines the gospel.  Now Sexton actually undermines the gospel by, well, encouraging a false gospel, but Sexton is now approved by Bauder solely because he's cleaned up his act enough on the King James.  If you didn't think before that the King James wasn't the third rail of fundamentalist politics, you should now.  This is not just unthoughtful.  You're required to park your brain at the door.  It's no wonder that men have complained that fundamentalism isn't very mental.

I don't care if fundamentalists separate from me because I believe in the perfect preservation of scripture.  If they think that's false doctrine, they should separate.  But fundamentalists don't separate from false doctrine.  They're not even separating in this case over a false gospel, among many other good reasons to separate from Sexton.

Bauder's post doesn't surprise me about fundamentalism.  I watched the online video introduction of Steve Pettit as the new president of Bob Jones University.  Pettit has introduced many fundamentalists, bridged the gap, to Getty, Townend, and Kauflin.  Pettit was there when Northland went where it did. He worked with Matt Olson for many years while Northland was tanking.  What hope does anyone have that Bob Jones won't continue its slide?  I write this, knowing it really is just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  These are not institutions either in the Bible or that God has promised to preserve.  They have zero biblical authority.

I was reading comments about the transition to Pettit, and one fundamentalist complained that he was one of those guys who believed women shouldn't wear pants.  Not long after, someone produced a picture of a woman working with Pettit wearing blue jeans.  Instant relief.  All is well again among thoughtful fundamentalists.  Pettit's women wear pants.  Phew!

Perhaps here is a thoughtful question.  What has Sexton done to merit an FBFI national conference speaker status?  What does anyone do to get that slot in a national conference?  Is it because he has been faithful to the Word of God?  Is it because his church is a model of biblical obedience?   Is he a model of biblical preaching?  Bauder concludes by saying that a good reason to allow Sexton on your platform is to encourage him for having his feet pointed in the right direction on KJO.

Let's think through this in an attempt to be thoughtful.  If someone is bound in horrible, deceiving, gospel undermining error and you think he might be changing, because he's tweaked one point in one of his doctrinal statements on one of his websites, you would do well to have him preach in a national meeting in order to encourage him to go further with these types of moves.  Go straight to the national meeting with him.  Dangle that carrot to make him move further.  Is this a good motivation for change? Isn't this just politics?  Isn't this really just more fundamentalism?


21 comments:

Bobby said...

The following comment is a copy of what I left under Bauder's article at Religious Affections. It has been slightly updated.


Interesting that Dr. Bauder doesn’t write one word about the rank easy-believism promoted at Crown as they have the Curtis Hutson Center for Evangelism and invoke that prince of repentance-denying continually when preaching and teaching concerning “soul-winning.” The promotion of Sexton’s brother’s book on soul-winning, a book that teaches the worst form of easy-believism techniques, is totally overlooked by Dr. Bauder. He doesn’t concern himself with the blatant hero worship in the hall of fame at CC. No mention of the absolute lack of any public repentance on the part of Sexton concerning his ludicrous promotion of Jack Schaap after Schaap published his heresy concerning the Lord’s Supper. Amazingly enough, the one issue that concerns Dr. Bauder is brushed over with the notice that the word “accept” has been deleted from the brief statement of faith at the college website, while the word remains intact at the church website!

I honestly wonder if the KJO position is the ONLY “danger” that Dr. Bauder can see? I want to hope for the best and not surmise, but how can I help but catch a whiff of simple bridge-building politics while reading this article?

Understand, I’m an outsider. I am not in the FBF and never plan to be. I used to be involved with CC to the extent that one of the men I pastor was a student there. I don’t have a problem with their position on the text and translations. I'm happy they are KKV/TR. i do wish they would actually obey the KJV/TR. I have major problems with the other failures I’ve mentioned here. I just find it astounding that Dr. Bauder can play this form of mental Twister like this. I expect far better from “In The Nick Of Time.”

I am also amazed at the "thoughtful fundamentalist" starting the article by declaring that anyone who would disagree with the decision of the leaders of the FBF is a "thoughtless critic." Though Bauder seems loathe to judge so many who are slightly to the left of him, he wastes no time cutting off those to the right. Not a very "thoughtful" argument at all.

Steve Rogers said...

"The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International represents a kind of organization that is nowhere envisioned in Scripture. It is simply a human invention, defined for its own purposes, and without any biblical mandate."

At least KB got this right.

DLF said...

Thank you Kent for a VERY thoughtful take on so-called "thoughtful fundamentalists".

D. Flaming

Tyler Robbins said...

It is just politics. It's also stupid. It seems clear to me (but what do I know?) that Crown College's doctrinal statement was strategically altered to appeal to a wider camp. This is either (1) not clear to the FBFI, or (2) I'm just wrong, stupid and evil for thinking terrible thoughts about Crown College's motives.

I say this as somebody who uses and loves the KJV, but isn't KJVO. This is purely politics and its obvious.

I don't even care about the FBFI and it makes me sick. How can people who have staked such a strong position against KJVO embrace Sexton? Are there no principles anywhere anymore? That's my problem. Disagree or agree; at least stick with your principles. Astounding . . .

Tyler Robbins said...

Bobby:

Excellent points about Sexton/ Schaap and easy-believism. I would have thought this would be a serious concern to "thoughtful fundamentalists."

Anonymous said...

I'm confused where anyone on this board sits or stands concerning fundamentalism. I was raised in a conservative fundamental home, I went to a conservative fundamental Christian school as well as a conservative fundamental college. I'm personally a separatist and I'm a member of a conservative Fundamental Baptist Church that practices Ecclesiastical separation. I feel like this blog throws the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to fundamentalism. Fundamentalism appears to be lumped in with New Evangelicalism but I'm not sure I understand how they are the same. I don't necessarily agree with Kevin Bauder on some things because of his lack of secondary separation. I feel vilified by many separatist for calling myself a conservative fundamentalist. Please give me examples of why conservative fundamentalism is criticized so much on this blog. Thank you!

Joe Cassada said...

Kent,

Bauder mentioned several strata of Christian fellowship: individual Christian fellowship, platform fellowship, and church/pastor fellowship. Each level has different qualifications of endorsement and identity. He said:

"Among these levels, platform fellowship is not the most restrictive in terms of its qualifications and nowhere near the most committal in terms of its identifications."

Do you agree with his assessment of differing levels of Christian fellowship? Is there such a thing as "platform fellowship"? Does the Bible indicate that such levels of fellowship exist and do we have guiding principles about determining these "qualifications" for fellowship?

BTW - i just ordered A Pure Church. Are these questions addressed in this book?

Jay C said...

Perhaps here is a thoughtful question. What has Sexton done to merit an FBFI national conference speaker status? What does anyone do to get that slot in a national conference? Is it because he has been faithful to the Word of God? Is it because his church is a model of biblical obedience? is he a model of biblical preaching? Bauder concludes by saying that a good reason to allow Sexton on your platform is to encourage him for having his feet pointed in the right direction on KJO.

Boy, isn't THAT an interesting question. Good points, Kent.

Kent Brandenburg said...

This is to Bobby, but he already knows it, so I'm writing to the benefit of everyone,

I had this post written before I read his comment. Then I read his comment and we both said something and we both said the same thing. Neither of us knew that the other had read the Bauder post. We came to the exact some conclusion. I thought that might be of interest. I just hadn't posted mine, because I was still cleaning it up, but I had it written actually a day before his comment.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Steve,

Bauder gets a lot right on different things. He's conservative in his theology for one. We view worship very similarly, maybe identically. I think that this is just the universal church belief and then the fundamentalist influence gone wacky.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Tyler,

We agree. How about that? :-D

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous,

First, this is a good anonymous comment. I understand the anonymity, plus it is pleading, not attacking. I'm glad to post this type of anonymous comment for all those that wonder about my anonymity policy.

To answer.

If you go to the search function and look up, "when I left fundamentalism", you'll get more what I'm saying. I think it is an 8 part series. I sympathize with fundamentalism.

People who have been raised in fundamentalism and have stayed in fundamentalism often do not know what's wrong, because they are living inside of the barrel. You really have to study the Bible to hear what it says alone. This will require taking off your fundamentalist lenses. Fundamentalism is a movement that started in the 20th century. It is not NT Christianity. The movement itself started with biblical error and that has multiplied. If I go after, bash, fundamentalism, it isn't bashing the church, the Bible, Jesus, but a movement. And you should judge what I'm saying by the Bible. Fundamentalism had its good points. It was well intentioned. It was better than evangelicalism. It said right things, but it by nature accepted error and so encouraged error. And it is getting worse and worse. Fundamentalists are themselves calling evangelicals (new-evangelicals) fundamentalists now, and they are morphing into each other.

Kevin Bauder is betraying fundamentalist principles of ecclesiastical separation by accepting Clarence Sexton. If they are going to argue for their point of view, one which I don't agree with or think is biblical, then they should argue by principle and not by pragmatism or politics, which is what I'm talking about here.

Fundamentalism today is only slightly different then evangelicalism (new-evangelicalism), almost not enough to differentiate them. The only difference was supposed to be separation over the gospel, which they aren't doing in the case of Sexton, so that eliminates the one big difference. Now it looks like they just separate over pet peeves and politics, i.e., King James Version only.

I defend conservative fundamentalism against evangelicalism, because I think it is slightly better. However, none of it is biblical. The Bible doesn't teach coalition around only fundamentals. That isn't biblical separation. It is a fundamentalist concoction.

Many are leaving fundamentalism and going to evangelicalism. I'm wanting to help them see that there is an alternative. You can just be a church that believes and practices the Bible, the whole counsel of God's Word.

Thank you!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joe,

Your book is on its way.

Good question on the levels. The official title, it seems, is theological triage, which Albert Mohler popularized in an article and so has been a go-to statement on the issue. If someone has certain unscriptural beliefs, mainly the universal church and so they are looking for unity between all believers, they must use some sort of triage to determine associations. It results in ongoing, persistent, never-ending analysis and argument. Generally, I think there is less and less anyone will separate over. There is always a way to spin it into something that isn't so bad.

The platform separation idea is not in the Bible. I in fact laugh out loud when I hear that kind of thing. Preaching is fellowship, it is yoking together. Should truth be ignored or marginalized for the sake of fellowship? Scripture says fellowship itself is based upon the truth. When someone preaches with someone that is fellowship. Bauder is talking about it like is some lesser thing. If preaching is lesser, then what is greater? Maybe missions support -- that's got to bother the SBC. I don't know.

Some would believe that we do triage of some sorts, but what they are saying that is the same with us is actually far different. We separate over doctrine, not over every interpretation, because that is what I read in the Bible in those passages. We can have a different doctrine than a church with which we fellowship, but there must be a direction of having the same doctrine. In other words, everyone deserves time to grow. All of this has biblical basis.

Fellowship is binary. You have it or you don't. You don't have degrees of it. Our book does deal with this in my chapters at least, and then you'll see it in a few other places.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jay C,

Thanks. I'm glad we can agree. And I'm glad you think you can come here with your name.

d4v34x said...

I assume by false gospel you are referring to easy prayerism and a denial of the necessity of repentence for salvation (and I'd agree those are denials of the gospel). Are there other ways you meant Sexton denies the gospel or do those two (?) false teachings exhaust the list?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hey D4.

Before I answer your question, who do you think the following is talking about?

"at least one group holds that the true TR is the Greek that underlies the KJV. Which they say is Scrivener's reverse engineered 1881 (84?) version."

Thanks!

d4v34x said...

Hi Bro. B.,

I'd say that whoever wrote that (smile) was referring to TSKT type KJVOs. Although they might not appreciate the "reverse engineered" characterization.

Kent Brandenburg said...

D4,

To believe that we get the words from reverse engineering isn't our position. It is an answer that gives someone a wrong understanding of what we believe. It is a smear. Scrivener can call it a reconstruction, but that doesn't mean that the words weren't available as seen in the annotation, which I'm guessing you've never looked at.

To answer your other question,

On the gospel alone, those two errors have me (and many others) see the Sexton gospel as false.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.

You believe that the acceptance of the KJV by all believers identifies the original language words behind it as the true text. "All believers" didn't sift through the Greek/Hebrew and say yea to this jot and nay to that tittle. They said yea, in your view, to the KJV. The only way to determine the exact words behind the KJV is to do as Scrivener did, since the translators revisors didn't leave a single greek (in the case of the NT) collation. Am I wrong about this?

This is no smear. This is what you believe. Available throughout the ages, perhaps in a single manuscript (although we know of none such extant), but definitely in the totality of the Erasmus/Beza/Stephanus TR.

My characterization was reductionist at worst, but answers the question Darrell asked which was, "which TR?" The answer is Scriveners 1891/1894 collated from the manuscripts available to the 1611 translators/revisors. Didn't I read here from either you, Thomas, or Malinik that the KJV can be considered a unique version of the TR?

No smear, no malice. Too terse at worst.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

I have to admit, I still have not seen a really good explanation from those on the KJV-anti side as to why they believe KJV-only is "dangerous" and "heretical." About the best I've seen are the spurious (in my opinion) arguments about the KJV being "harder to read" (which is actually not true). Granted - I don't get around much, so I may have just missed it.

Doulos said...

Thank the Lord, again, for your willingness to say what others refuse to say about the sad state of fundamentalism. Yours is the first "thoughtful" comment about fundamentalism I've seen in a very long time.