Monday, July 05, 2010

Have Pastors Been Lying about the Bible's Application to Cultural Issues? That's What Tim Jordan Says

Recently Pastor Tim Jordan among others was invited as a main speaker for the national conference of the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARBC). This was considered to be a big deal to the GARBC because Jordan isn't GARBC. He's the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Lansdale, PA, where is Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, a well-known independent Baptist graduate school, and a National Leadership Conference, which is attended by leaders especially of a particular variety of independent Baptist churches and organizations. However, John Greening, national representative of the GARBC, said at the meeting: "There are other independent Baptists who share our convictions. I want to make new friends with them. . . . The GARBC is not a closed club. The speakers we have had at our conference last year, this year, and will have next year, are indicative of that."

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.

10 comments:

Don Johnson said...

You know, Kent, this whole debate just seems like wading in a morass of postmodernism and relativism. Nothing is definite anymore.

That's what I get out of the SI thread I've been involved with...

And of course, you do get the old "change the subject and distract from the main point" routine...

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
"the largish bantam rooster"
Jeremiah 33.3

d4v34x said...

When I read the article at SI, I took cultural fundamentalism to mean that distinctive culture that pervades fundamentalist circles, some of which, in my opinion, has no scriptural basis. That doesn't necessarily distance the issue from the stuff you discuss here, because it does encompass the way we apply Scripture to our interaction with broader culture.

I think Aaron puts it well when he states, "the error has been failing to recognize that a whole lot of these are matters of liberty of conscience and the work of discerning our positions on them begins where Scripture ends. It's still important work, but it's very different work from expounding Scripture... and it's always on the other side of that important line between Scripture and not-Scripture."

Or,put another way, alot of these issues are handled mechanically/institutionally when they ought to be handled organically/individually.

PS Ferguson said...

Good analysis Kent. I wonder will Kevin "hug a NeoEvanjellyical" Bauder apply the same sweeping condemnation to Tim Jordan as he did to Danny Sweatt at the next FBF meeting. If anything Jordan's comments are more pejorative and "unloving" than those nasty ole Fundamentalists of the past that Bauder abhors. Isn't it strange that these champions of 'diversity' can be so divisive?

We don't have to parse Jordan's comments for meaning as the GARBage rep told us that Tim was talking about "things like dress standards, music standards, Bible translations, smoking/drinking/movie attendance/mixed swimming, and even loyalty to particular schools and institutions." This we are informed was "a set of cultural taboos that came to replace an authentic definition of historic fundamentalism." Which, if nothing else, was a bold attempt to break the world straw-clutching record.

This is a bit like the TR debate - could the GARB rep give us documented historical proof that historical fundamentalists were with his pal Jordan on this area. My studies of the writings of the authors of The Fundamentals show them far removed from the GARB rep's claim. If Jordan or his GARB rep had not been in the grip of their smugitudinous revisionism, they would have seen the glaring contradiction in this claim.

Martin Luther famously took his stand because his heart was captive to the Word of God. Jordan takes his stand because he wants to be popular with the Resolved goatee "in crowd." For Tim Jordan, cultural taboos are the touchstones that separates the enlightened from the benighted. Jordan isn't a wolf in statesman's clothes, he is a wolf in wolf's clothes!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

Ox Goad's probably better for you.

D4,

KM came by to show that Aaron's take wasn't true. Cultural fundamentalism is fundamentalists who apply fundamentalism to cultural issues, like cultural conservatives, as opposed to economic ones, are making cultural matters a part of their conservatism. I know Jordan means arguing against mixed swimming---you do that and try to say the Bible has anything to say about it, and you're lying.

PS,

I'd be interested in your material on the TR and preservation from the historical fundamentalists.

d4v34x said...

PS,

In light of:

"Kevin 'hug a NeoEvanjellyical' Bauder"
"GARBage"
"smugitudinous"
"wolf in wolf's clothes"

Maybe you aren't the best one to lecture us all on loving speech.

Kent,

I don't think that Aaron's statement is as much at odds with the rep's as you seem to.

Gary Webb said...

When I read of a preacher saying that those who apply the Bible to cultural issues are lying, I think of passages like I Peter 3:16: "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."
God's faithful people have & always will be known by holiness & separation from the world with all of its fashions that attract the flesh. Such "cultural" issues are not a matter of "liberty" as d4 calls them, but of spiritual maturity in the fear of God on one hand or of license in following the flesh on the other.
As to the charge that we are lying & know it, I would simply quote Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2: "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God."

John Cereghin said...

I also seriously considered going to Calvary in the late 80s, and I'm so glad I didn't. Calvary had these anti-fundamentalist issues back then and they have only gotten worse. Calvary's slide began a long time ago and we now see the fruits of it.

Will Jordan apologize for his "liars" insult? I don't think he will, which says more about him and his wing of fundamentalism than the initial remark does.

The very fact that the GARB crowd seems to agree with Jordan (as far as I can see) is just another reason why I have never supported the GARB and would not consider joining up with them.

palabraspuras said...

In some things Calvary of Landsdale has changed, in others they have not. The transition from 'Chief' (E.R. Jordan) to Tim brought some changes. When 'Chief' opened the seminary to Bob Jones was a big step also. However, before those days even, mixed swimming activities with regular bathing suits for girls and guys was the norm. I know because I was a new convert of a new church start in Emmaus, Pa, at the time. So, some personal separation questions where not even thought of back then (1986).

Christopher said...

Tim and Calvary Seminary have been telling lies for a long time. He took a church that was Fundamental and he was not. They tell lies in the seminary "you cannot have God's preserved Word" I talked to the head of the Seminary and he told me "there is absolutely no difference between the Westcott and Hort Greek text and the T.R Greek text". They tell hundreds of men a year that God did not preserve His perfect Word. If they are going to lie about God and the Bible why should this shock anyone.Tim, Calvary and the whole bunch are all "BIG" liars who have turned out heaps of students who are Modernist Bible correctors. The Grads lie to congregations and sneak into churches and steal the faith of people who used to believe the BOOK. I had one of their grads tell me you cannot call any Bible God's Word. And just to think you probably pay 40,000 a year to learn how to lie to people. Tim is a false preacher and a wolf
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Chris

jvandame said...

Wow. Is this how 'men of God' spend their time? I am a member of Calvary in Lansdale and have been there all my life (over 40 years). I grew up under the preaching of Chief and Tim and have seen firsthand the positive and negative effects of 'cultural fundamentalism'. I was there when it was 'wrong' to have facial hair and attend the movie theater because - try explaining that to a thinking young adult today because that's not in the Bible, any Bible. How many of you who are against mixed swimming go to the beach on vacation or swim with extended family members? And how can anyone say the KJV is the preserved word of God only?

Wake up gentlemen! Preach the whole counsel of God but please don't add or subtract to fit your particular brand of 'Fundamentalism'.

No man or ministry is perfect. No one reading this blog post or comment section has a full understanding of another man's position. Please be careful when you 'spout off' because it is these types of things that weaken the church, the body of Christ.