Let me start out by saying that this is a response to Dave Marriott’s blog post entitled Guarding What Is Primary: Second Degree Separation which was posted today on The Gospel Toolbox. But with that said, let me add that I say “response” for lack of betters words. “Response” makes it sound like I am arguing with him, which is not what I’m doing. (For all I know, he may agree with me!) I am more so continuing the conversation.
In order for Fundamentalism to survive as true historic Fundamentalism, the belief in and defense of fundamental doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith, we have noted so far that Fundamentalism must embrace criticism, recognize it is in a fight for survival against internal problems, and become willing to positively critique itself for the purpose of improvement. With that said, my second “must do” for Fundamentalism is really just a branch off of that first criticism.
Fundamentalism has grown accustom to what I like to call “Fundamentalism’s great red herring”–Evangelicalism. Oh, it doesn’t take too much time in many Fundamentalist camps before you hear the call against Evangelicalism. But let me say one note of caution, for the most part, Fundamentalists critique evangelicalism fairly accurately. The accuracy of their critique is, therefore, not my critique. Further, the existence of their critique is not my critique (for we ought to identify problems). My critique is that evangelicalism has become many Fundamentalists’ red herring.
Some recent events in the “world of Christianity” have provoked some thoughts in my mind. I will get to those thoughts in a moment, but first allow me to give some background.
Growing up I always felt that there was way too much division in the church. Now by “division” I mean both in local churches and the universal Church. I grew up with a very interesting “religious” background. Growing up I was shifted through vatrious denominations as I had parents who were really trying to figure things out for themselves. Experiencing so many “flavors” of Christianity (besides making me very discerning) made me very anti-denominationalistic. Further, my senior year of high school the church I was attended, a church my family was heavily involved in, had a split, a breakup, or whatever else you’d like to call it. This was a devastating time for me but also a time that God used for extreme spiritual growth in my life. I was very upset at the adults of that church for acting so unbiblical and immature (especially since the split wasn’t even over some doctrinal issue). But this frustration sparked in me a desire to search the scriptures to discover for myself what the church was really all about and what the church should look like biblically. I’ll stop there, because this is not intended to be a biography in anyway; but those two factors, my encounters with various denominations and beliefs growing up as well as the church split, had an extreme effect on my view of unity.
The first thing Fundamentalism needs to do in order to survive as historic Fundamentalism, as Fundamentalism was intended to be, is to embrace criticism. So yes, I am criticizing Fundamentalism for not taking criticism well—-we’ll see how that turns out for me. To lay out my basic thesis, Fundamentalism must become open to criticism and self-examining. Fundamentalism also needs to owe up to its failures.
I would like to introduce the beginning of a new series entitled, “What Fundamentalism Must Do to Survive.” A large part of what has sparked this articles series is due to some recent events in which an extremely large segment (practically the entire movement) of Fundamentalism was attacked. (Without diverting from the issue at hand, I should add that the attack was done in a wrong method as well as included all of Fundamentalism in a critique that is only true of a portion of the movement). However, being quite a critic myself, this attack on Fundamentalism did make me think. Although this attack was invalid in several ways, it provides a great opportunity for Fundamentalists to do some searching and self-criticism in regards to what truth there was in the attack (no matter how small it may be) and to look for further problem areas of Fundamentalism, because that is always a good thing to do.
But first, allow me to give a brief definition of Fundamentalism for those who know nothing anything about Fundamentalism or those who might have a different idea of what Fundamentalism is than myself (so that we are all on the same page on how the term is used). Continue reading