Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Fundamentalist Floundering, pt. 2

If you visit an art museum, maybe you remember the surreal or avant garde in the modern section.  They look at an object and then allow their own personal chaos to go to work.   Painting inside the lines doesn't really matter, just put the paint wherever you want, and especially use a broad brush.  That would describe a recent young evangelical's essay explaining Lance Ketchum.  You won't be able to blink out the distortion---that's really what he wrote---lies and all.


The doctrine of bibliology didn't start in the early 20th century with fundamentalism or even in the late 19th century with Warfield.   The history of Christian doctrine does in fact move into several previous centuries.  You really are not heteredox if you agree with what the saved, whether Baptist or other, believed about the Bible.  Premoderns thought there was one Bible.  Funny, huh?   There is one God with one truth, with one goodness, and one beauty.  To them, you knew what you knew by faith.  Theology was the queen of all sciences, so if the Bible said God would preserve every Word and that they would all be available to every generation, well, you just believed it.  That made it the truth.  You worked out how that all happened later.  Now if people can't get a satisfying human explanation for how it happened, they question the belief, question what the Bible teaches about it.  That's called staggering in unbelief.

Modern evangelicals and fundamentalists are not sure now.  If they say there is one Bible, they mean one inspired Bible.  They're not talking about one you could hold in your hands.  Come on silly, you don't really believe that, do you?  And why not?  It really is hard to explain since that's what the Bible teaches and how Christians believed up until evangelicals and fundamentalists got in touch with modernists.   Mike Harding wrote more on issue number one:

Almost twelve years ago I said publicly at the national FBFI meeting that fundamentalism wasn't certain as to what the gospel was nor was it certain as to what the Bible was; other than that we were in great shape.  I quoted Dr. McCune and said that fundamentalism is bleeding on these issues; let it bleed.  King James Onlyism and rampant easy believism characterize a large segment of fundamentalism.  You see elements of it in Ketchum's blog.  Those elements are heterodox.

I agree with Harding about the fundamentalist uncertainty on the gospel, and I would attach to that sanctification.  I don't think Ketchum is easy-believism.  I've never read him present that idea.  However, I was bemused by this part of Harding's statement:  "nor was it certain as to what the Bible was."  That is also true, but not like Harding says.  I would be encouraged to hear that Harding really is certain as to what the Bible was.  I've read his writings and presently he doesn't know what the original text of Scripture is, and doesn't think that anyone else knows either.  That is neither a biblical or historic bibliology.  Please show me that in a Baptist confession.  Harding's and other fundamentalists' and evangelicals' view of the Bible is very, very damaging.  It is heterodox, but it is a root cause of much that is wrong both in professing Christianity, in America, and in the world.  If we can't know what the Words of Scripture are, which Harding believes, then the authority of Scripture itself is lost.  This is why now the doctrines are so up-for-grabs as well.

I told you I would deal with two issues from that thread that were of interest to me, and the second is music. What I'm considering here is very serious, but there is a lot that is funny too in fundamentalism, in an ironic way.  Bauder writes:

 I believe that the music you present to God is just as important as believing in the virgin birth of Christ.

I do not think that music is a matter that decides whether you’re a Fundamentalist. I’m not sure that Fundamentalism has ever had a unified or consistent view on music. So, if you have the wrong music, you might be a good Fundamentalist but still a bad Christian. I don’t see a contradiction here. Christianity is, after all, more than Fundamentalism.

Based on Bauder's own judgment, his position on music makes him a hyper-fundamentalist.   It really makes that label irrelevant, or at least it was already irrelevant, but even more irrelevant, if that is possible.  And if Bauder is out of the mainstream of fundamentalism with music, shouldn't we also throw "heterodox" at him too.  Oh, that's right, Mike Harding actually would agree with Bauder, so Bauder can't be heterodox.  It really makes these classifications seem silly.  Later, Bauder piles on about music:

I think that it can be Scripturally demonstrated, to about the same extent that any other practical application can be Scripturally demonstrated (including the practical application of the gospel). Furthermore, you are correctly drawing out the implications of my statement. Certain kinds of music are so incompatible with the Christian message that their use is blasphemous. They represent an apostasy, not from orthodoxy, but from orthopathy.

Bauder calls people with the wrong worship music "apostates."  Why be a fundamentalist?  Why try to hang on to fundamentalism?  You can't practice biblical separation if you must keep fellowshiping with apostates in order to be a fundamentalist.  This is why Bauder says he will try to continue to do.  Why even try to do that?  Later, Harding writes:

However, I know the difference between a departing "brother" (apostasy), a disobedient brother (willful disobedience to the clear dictates of the Word of God), and a disagreeing brother (someone with whom I disagree with enough not to partner with, but nevertheless see a great deal of good in their ministry).

Would Harding agree with Bauder that someone with the wrong worship music is apostatizing?  That is, is he a "departing brother"?

Later, Joel Tetreau steps in to show he is clueless on what Bauder means about music:

1. If you can't prove it from Scripture (and Kevin, you can't) it is not legitimate to equate one's approach to music to the importance of a Fundamental of the Faith.

2. If the statement is consistent then a failure in music (as a failure in the Virgin Birth) cannot make you a bad Christian. If you miss the Virgin Birth, you miss salvation, which means you aren't a bad Christian, you are a non-Christian. One can hardly say if you miss "music" you miss salvation. (I'm sure this was not the aim - but in my view this is a reverse implication if Kevin's view goes full circle). 

3. The only way this might be true is when one's music is so "anti-God" and/or so "anti-Gospel" that it would make impossible the understanding of God or the reception of the gospel. (The overwhelming amount of CCM music that is being used by serious-minded evangelicals and theologically responsible fundamentalist are using gospel-centered music that clearly get's the gospel across. To equate what they do in music with missing the virgin birth is a "stretch" to say the very least - come on guys! You have to do better than this.)

It's true, though, that Bauder is extreme for evangelicals and fundamentalists here.  He's way off the deep end to them.  Tetreau represents the typical evangelical thinking.   The "you can't prove it from Scripture" is a cop-out.  A lot of Bible application goes outside of Scripture to make its point.  There is truth in the real world and applying God's Word requires understanding those truths.  Everyone knows this, but they deny it in order to live like they want in some fashion.

Bauder doesn't back down.  He later affirms:

Whatever music you use to speak about God is just as important as believing in the virgin birth of Christ.

Later, Bauder explains how he gets out of his own hyper-fundamentalist definition:

But I don't think so, for the simple reason that I do not hold up my views on music as a standard by which to judge anyone's standing as a Fundamentalist, nor do I seek to enforce my views upon anyone else. 

If he either (1) held up his musical standard by which to judge whether someone was a fundamentalist or (2) tried to force his musical standard on others, he would be a hyper-fundamentalist, so, whew, he's not one.  And why is that the definition?  Because he says so.  This is really difficult.  Those who don't take his views are apostate, but he tries not to enforce that on others.   Is there anything we should try to get someone to believe, like the virgin birth?   I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees his position as a complete contradiction.  Kevin should come and join me on the other side of fundamentalism from evangelicalism.  I agree with him on music.  Completely.  The truth and true worship is more important than being either a fundamentalist or fitting in with you "friends."  Aren't we first responsible first to be a friend to God?  Come out from among them and be ye separate.  Come out and join us, Kevin Bauder!

I believe two fears are the issue.  On the textual issue, it is an intellectual fear.  Fundamentalists don't want to look stupid.   That fear is the same one driving the movement toward evolution today.  On the music issue, it's a fear of losing young people.  Young people are being influenced by the world system, and churches are struggling to keep them, because of the alternative.


Fred Butler said...

Thanks for calling me a "young evangelical." That warmed my heart. It's like when I get carded at Ralph's when I am buying a bottle of Bailey's.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Just make sure not to hand-wring, i.e., register zero on the tremor meter as you pin the needle on your liberties. If the occasion demands or even commands, take full advantage of grace, since the alternative is an internment camp for moralists. Haven't little ones who stumble heard of a first aid kit?

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing Fred,

I read your blog and teampyro because I agree with them more than disagree. I agree by a large majority. I'm a premillennialist, dispensational, believe in lordship salvation, have studied through almost the entire NT in the original languages and then preached all of it now except for a little in Luke, which I'm finishing. I'm anti-keswick and non-revivalist. I'm Baptist. I'm presuppositional. I'm not a Calvinist, but I'm death on pragmatic and humanistic methodology, like Paul of 1 Cor 1-3. Or in other words, I'm more like historic Calvinists in that way than you are.

Despite these agreements, ones for which I'm thankful for you and John MacArthur, I believe there are important differences that I like discussing. I've read most of MacArthur's books. I agree with large chunks, a large majority. In many ways, what I write here, that relates to him, is more than anything about his being consistent with what he himself says he believes. If the difference are going to be argued, they should be argued based on what Scripture teaches. And I do believe they are very, very important differences.

Lance Ketchum said...



Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Lance,

I hope that Fred will watch your sermon so that he will see that you are not his caricature/false accusation. We all welcome criticism where we can discuss the interpretation and application of Scripture. Whatever disagreements we have, we want to represent each other properly.