In the summer of 2009 at a Bible faculty summit for fundamentalist Bible college and seminary faculties, Jeff Straub read a paper entitled "The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future?" in which he attempted to classify segments or branches of fundamentalism by assigning characteristics with certain titles for each branch (you can read it here
). With his essay came a chart
he titled, "The Broad Theological Landscape of the 21st Century --- A Working Taxonomy," with contributions from Kevin Bauder, Dan Brown, and Jon Pratt. His three classifications for fundamentalists were Hyper Fundamentalism, New Image Fundamentalism, and Historic Fundamentalism.
What is the purpose of these three classifications for fundamentalists? What I can surmise is that he wants everyone to know that he and his friends represent historic fundamentalism. The paper really is not to establish who is obedient to God and the Bible, but who are the real fundamentalists. Why is this important? Um. I don't know. I don't think God cares at all, but this is a big deal to fundamentalists, it seems, because they are regularly speaking in these taxonomies and classifications. It reminds me of what I do every year when I'm doing my taxes and I'm working at aligning myself with the sweetest spot tax-wise for my family and me. These fundamentalists place themselves in the sweet spot and the others outside of it.
Another reason someone like Straub, who has put himself in the Historic Fundamentalist category, would be interested in drawing up these classifications would be to combat some of the work that has been done by the New Image Fundamentalists (which would include several that many are calling "the young fundamentalists) to include the Evangelical Right in the column of Historic Fundamentalism. The New Image guys see an "emerging middle," as noted by Straub in his chart, that would include conservative evangelicals as fundamentalists. Not only would this allow the young fundamentalists to be a part of the big and famous boys of conservative evangelicalism (Piper, MacArthur, Carson, Dever, Mohler), but it would give them cover for making this move, some sort of fundamentalist legitimacy.
Of course, from my perspective, I wonder why it matters to be a fundamentalist. I've been asking this for a long time. Why isn't it good enough to be a church? Why isn't Baptist good enough? What about a saint? I don't consider myself a fundamentalist, so I'm attempting to help out men like Straub, which would allow them to have that term all to themselves. However, in Straub's classification system, I likely can't avoid still being a fundamentlist, because I would have to be a Hyper Fundamentalist. This is not a good thing to be on his chart.
So I look at the chart to see who I would be. It is, after all, a Hyper Fundamentalist, that is, what Clarence Sexton, David Cloud, and D. A. Waite are, according to the Straub lay-out. I'm pretty familiar with D. A. Waite and David Cloud and Clarence Sexton. Shouldn't Jack Schaap be in there too? And Paul Chappell? And Pensacola Christian College? Maybe it would have looked too bad for Cloud and Waite to have lumped those men in there too. So we get the strange bed fellows of Cloud, Waite, and Sexton. I think we all know what has those men in common---the King James Version. Why not just have that column have one thing under it---KJVO---and he would have been done?
But according to the chart, that's not all that they have in common. And just as a reminder, I'm sure that Straub would be put me in the Hyper Fundamentalist category too. He says that they are strongly anti-calvinist. I don't know what that is, because I know that historic Baptists, according to John T. Christian's History of Baptists
, have been more Calvinist than Arminian. That doesn't sound too strongly anti-Calvinist. And doesn't Clarence Sexton have Ian Paisley there on campus to speak? Doesn't he associate himself with all things Spurgeon in almost everything that he publishes? Does D. A. Waite push anti-Calvinism? Those are the names that he used.
But the anti-Calvinism is a relatively minor one. Next the Hyper Fundamentalists elevate orthopraxy over orthodoxy. Wow! Maybe Sexton, but not Cloud, and especially not Waite. And as for me, well, I would guess that Central and Straub are more revivalistic than I am, placing more emphasis on pragmatics than I would. Then the chart says that Hyper Fundamentalists over emphasize a separation which is unrelated to church discipline. I know quite a few that he would place in this category would not practice church discipline. Cloud and Waite, two of the three names he mentions, believe in it and practice it. The churches I'm in fellowship with practice it. And we all see our separation relating to church discipline.
Next on the chart for the Hypers is that they separate from other fundamentalists. True. But it's not like these separatists choose out fundamentalists as some special group. I would think that Cloud and Waite, and I know it is true for me, would separate based on what Scripture said irregardless of whether the person or church thought himself to be a fundamentalist. My experience has been that historic fundamentalist churches will welcome people that we have disciplined from our church based on the passages on church discipline, and they don't give me so much as a phone call. I've also noticed that it comes back to haunt them, but they still have done it nonetheless. I would not do that to them. When I asked one pastor why he did that, he told me it was because I was KJVO. There we go.
Straub and company next include this as a characteristic of the Hypers, which include Cloud and Waite---they use a "mixture of old Gospel and Southern Gospel music, some CCM." It's pretty easy to find that Cloud rejects Southern Gospel. He has written and spoken about it extensively---you can get the articles and the DVDs where he has. I would think that Waite, a BJU graduate, does not use Southern Gospel either. That leaves Sexton, which does use Southern Gospel, but the other two are against it.
Then the Hyper Fundamentalists expand the central core of fundamentals beyond the "five," as well as "extraneous issues --- e. g. Bible versions" as a basis for separation. You could just call this practicing what the New Testament teaches on separation. This isn't a slander against these men, because it might be the one that is the most accurate of all his 'scholarly' classifying.
Next is topical preaching. Waite rarely does topical preaching. I preach almost exclusively expository, as do pastors I am friends with. Straub says concerning his group, the historic fundamentalists, "Some good expository preaching." It's not only not topical, but it is good expository preaching. I grew up in what Straub calls "historic fundamentalism" and I rarely heard an expository sermon, so it is not entirely historic. Now it is more of an emphasis in churches everywhere. This is not necessarily with thanks to historic fundamentalism, but let us all be glad for this development. However, to across-the-board say that the Hypers do topical preaching isn't true.
In his group, Straub includes Tim Jordan, Matt Olson, Mark Minnick, David Doran, Kevin Bauder, John Hartog 3, and Chuck Phelps. Those were likely the guys represented at the meeting he was making his presentation. You weren't going to get too much of a protest from them. Of course they don't separate too much or too little. They separate just right. Why? Because they are willing to compromise more on the "non-essentials." We're supposed to see that makes them better. They may have allowed Uzzah to live.
But I titled this post, "When a Classification Slanders." To include Cloud and Waite in a presentation that smears them with certain characteristics that they don't have is slander. No explanation is given. It is just put out there with those inaccuracies for people to assume that these qualities characterize these two men. I've tried to give my point of view on Straub's blog at Central, but they wouldn't allow it. He's welcome to come here and tell me how he hasn't slandered anybody. That's called "due process," by the way.(1)
What brings these two together is their support of the KJV---that's it. So again, the KJV position really is the determining factor here, since half of the other characteristics don't even describe them. The chart would have been a little boring and sort of thoughtless if it had one point under Hyper Fundamentalists: KJVO. Cloud and Waite are living men, men who are saved. I don't think Straub is questioning that. But they are men who should not be slandered by him.(1) I received an email from a source I shall not name who informed me that everyone in the group of "Historic Fundamentalists" he lists were not there. I want everyone to know that. So he was not influenced by their presence. What I was saying was that there is acceptance from the people to whom you are making this presentation. I'm not against some judging of motives, as long as I'm careful with the wording---which I was. I have mentioned in the comment section that he leaves out the New Image Fundamentalists, except for a Stephen Davey with a question mark, so he had the ability to leave people out. If he was really looking for men who represented his qualities of Hyper Fundamentalists, he missed them.