Home > Brandenburg, Fundamentalism > Love-Hate Relationship with Fundamentalism pt. 4

Love-Hate Relationship with Fundamentalism pt. 4

November 25, 2008

The Lord said the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  “It” wasn’t fundamentalism.

I’ve related 16 loves and started expressing my 16 hates for fundamentalism.  We left off at six.  I won’t comment on every one of the final eight, but here they are.

7.  Fundamentalism cultivates politics.

Who decides for fundamentalism?  Wikipedia says that politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions.  The online dictionary gives this as the appropriate sense that I mean:  “competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership.”

Since it isn’t monolithic there are big groups within fundamentalism.  You’ve got the Bob Jones group, the Hyles group, and the Sword of the Lord.  Success is often judged by how prominent you become within your group.  You actually might be doing the best work for God, but you’re not doing what it takes to make a name in the group.

You could become blacklisted in any of the groups.  I’ve seen this work over and over.  Are your sermons appearing in the paper?  Speaking engagements?  Conference line-ups?  You could start receiving the proverbial cold-shoulder if you don’t fit into the politically correct position.

As an example, accreditation.  Remember when that was wrong?  Now it isn’t.  What happened?  What new revelation did we receive that says it’s OK now?  This is when a group can start looking in a certain, specific way, like another group—Mormonism.  Changing beliefs that seem to fit into unfavorable or favorable circumstances.  Now Bob Jones is up for accreditation.  Accreditation equals Pell grants, government subsidized loans, easy transfer of credits to state colleges and graduate schools, higher tuition without lowering enrollment.   Bob Jones against accreditation.  Preachers against it.  Bob Jones for it.  Preachers for it.  Politics.

A group still in fundamentalism that is out there on the edge is Ambassador Baptist College.  They take that wacky King James Version stand, except in a sensitive way.  Is fundamentalism against Ambassador?  No.  They’re still OK.   Ambassador won’t separate over the KJV.  You can use a completely different Bible and they’ll still fellowship with you.   But they’re not going to be respected by their branch of fundamentalism, the Bob Jones branch, by taking that position.   How many NASV churches will go with Ambassador with their KJV only position?  And yet, if they were to separate from the Bob Jones branch for numbers of different reasons, which would seem to be understandable, then where would they be?  They stay right inside of the Bob Jones threshold of acceptability, yet without really being acceptable.  They keep the fundamentalist credentials without having fundamentalist supporters.  This is all politics.

I don’t think that fundamentalism had big shot syndrome to start.  I think men were truly trying to keep liberalism out of their institutions.  But it couldn’t help but produce big shots.  Younger men came along who missed the point.  Instead of being about keeping liberalism out, in many cases it became about becoming one of the big shots.

If you have an issue that you need to get settled in fundamentalism, you will find it very difficult to solve scripturally.  We disciplined someone out of our church, a foreign born man who wanted to go back to his native country as a “missionary.”  I’m not going to get into the details of his discipline, but he fled to another church, a fundamentalist one, which accepted him, and then recommended him to a mission board.  We had a few missionaries we supported from that board.  The board accepted him despite knowing that we had disciplined him out of our church.  The pastor of the other church was a bigger name in fundamentalism.  That’s how it all got settled with the mission board.  This is the politics of fundamentalism.

8.  Fundamentalism creates a false unity.

What is the basis for unity in fundamentalism?  Really.  You tell me.  What are the core values that fundamentalists believe in?  What do fundamentalists rally around?

I think separation is it.  That’s the major distinctive of fundamentalism.  Separation.  And fundamentalism separates over what?  How does it decide?  Is it the gospel?

I remember getting together at FBF meetings and wondering what exactly it was we were together for.  Ultimately, we were together for being against Promise Keepers.  We were together for being against ecumenical evangelism, and together for being against the Evangelical-Catholic pact.   Whenever I tried to talk about doctrinal issues, the eyes would glaze over.  There were acceptable perimeters to the conversation.  You had to find out what those were and keep within those boundaries.

Even if the church were all believers, fundamentalism isn’t the church.  If fundamentalists were to somehow reason that this circle of fellowship they were in was the church, they would be excluding the non-separating evangelicals, who also believe the gospel.  Not until I left fundamentalism and began fellowshiping only with people that were the same in belief and practice did I experience the true fellowship that the Bible describes.  It was exhilarating and a great joy.  I always felt like a fake just getting along in fundamentalism.  You will experience true liberty when you base your unity on Scripture.

9.  Fundamentalism often offers no due process.

This is one of Phil Johnson’s major points in Dead Right that I agreed with.  He titles it “no due process.”  He writes:

That’s what I mean about a lack of due process. In effect you can excommunicate or blackball someone for the rest of his earthly life simply by accusing him . . . You don’t have to demonstrate any thorough understanding of the issue you raise.  Can take quotes out of context if you like. Or not. The charges don’t necessarily have to be documented. They don’t even have to be true, if you are a fundamentalist with sufficient clout. . . .  Meanwhile, the public face of the fundamentalist movement is dominated by too many petty men with big egos who think “earnestly contend[ing] for the faith” means back-stabbing one another or sniping at other Christian leaders who come too close to the fundamentalist movement without actually being in the right “camp.”

Phil was in fundamentalism for a little while.  With fairness to fundamentalism, Phil and his brand of evangelicalism do the same things.  They don’t give due process either.  They use their even bigger clout too.  Phil gets his leverage from his association with John MacArthur and he wields it, interestingly enough, like a fundamentalist.  He and his group are often just as mean or meaner than the fundamentalists.  They’ve honed mockery and ridicule to a higher level than the secular world, something that I have to admit, I didn’t see in the fundamentalism I was in.

10.  Fundamentalism is frequently mean.

All of these are my opinion.   Not all of them apply to every fundamentalist.  I’m looking at the movement as a whole.  Fundamentalism is a warm petri dish that germinates meanness.  I observed a lot of it when I was in it.  When I say mean, I’m not talking about disagreeing, separating, arguing, bold discussion, or taking strong stands.   Those are all fine.  To get a better idea of what I’m referring to, I illustrate with a contemporary usage from popular culture:  mean girls.  That term and its definition covers it well.  Listen to this paragraph to see if it fits:

Often the mean behavior is extremely subtle and hard to identify because it comes in the form of exclusion, which is also termed “relational aggression”.  [Fundamentalists] form cliques and the “mean [fundamentalist] or [fundamentalists]” dictate who can be a part of the group and who cannot. The other, less dominant members, fear becoming an outsider and will typically go along with the leader’s mandates. What is particularly confusing to some [men] is that this exclusion is not always consistent. One day they may be in and another day they are out.

Does that paragraph sound familiar?  And all I did was exchange “girls” with “fundamentalists.”

I saw a prime example recently on line in the orbiting blogosphere of SharperIron.  A fundamentalist without the proper credentials, not in the club, dared question the behavior of one with the proper gentility and urbanity.   The dominant club member was joined by the pack of less dominants, all coming together to maintain club status, putting down the outsider with fierce derision.  Evangelicals are bad too.  Just read Pyromaniacs to get a taste of it online.

There are other kinds of meanness.  You’ve seen it here when the Hylots and unfortunately the Sexton apologists visit.  They usually either challenge your manhood or insult this use of time relative to the great deeds of their hero.  This isn’t the classic meanness of the oil variety above described.

11.  Fundamentalism induces hero worship.

Pro sports has its stars.  Hollywood has its celebrities.  Fundamentalism has its own constellation.  Do evangelicals?  They say they don’t.  They’re worse.  They have their own top list (what fundamentalists get this type of coverage?).

12.  Fundamentalism provokes a false view of success.

Numbers.

13.  Fundamentalism many times overlooks wrong methodology.

Fundamentalists go after Hyles and his antics, Hybels and Warren and Osteen and their marketing, but they allow this pastor in downtown Denver to go unscathed—$30 and $10 for every attendee.  Kids get a $7 game card.

14.  Fundamentalism bristles at or rejects self-evaluation.

It’s called being divisive.

15.  Fundamentalism has no promise of Divine protection or perpetuity.

Only the church.

16.  Fundamentalism doesn’t keep God’s Words.

Fundamentalism cooperates with evangelicalism and/or new-evangelicalism in the corruption of Scripture.  Churches have kept God’s Words.  Fundamentalist para-church organizations have caused doubt in the text received by the churches.  Today we have uncertainty.  Churches are what have stood in the way of it going even further.  For all that fundamentalism was meant to staunch the flow of liberalism, it has unplugged the dike with textual criticism in its universities and seminaries.

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  1. November 26, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Number 11. Hero worship, how true and sad that is

  2. November 26, 2008 at 4:52 am

    No. 11 – Does anybody else get the hibbie-gibbies when twenty kids come up to ask the preacher to sign their Bible? I don’t have a verse against it, but it’s just weird to me.

  3. November 26, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Sorry, “hibbie-jibbies” may be Philly slang. How about the creepy-crawlies?

  4. November 26, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Kent:

    Thanks for the info. I have never tried to analyze this like you are doing here in a systematic way. I’m learning a lot.

    No. 8 spurred a thought from a series of messages I preached in Ephesians on unity. Ephesians 4 lays down a basis for unity and it is not obviously politics. Nevertheless, there is a list of doctrinal areas that Paul laid down to spur thought on the basis for our doctrinal fellowship. Sam took issue with baptism being in the list, but it is in the Ephesians 4 list of doctrines among others. For the NT period up to the coming of Christ there is only one baptism. There is only one kind of baptism. There is also the issue of the Lordship of Christ, and many more there. I didn’t see soul-winning in the list, though it might be there. I also didn’t see any politics for sure.

    I am not saying this is the end-all passage or an exhaustive list of the fundamentals, but it is interesting that Paul is not afraid to lay out some things that he thinks are the root issues regarding unity.

    FWIW

  5. November 26, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Don. The one body has one Spirit and one doctrine. Figuring out the identity of the body is a major factor.

  6. November 26, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Mr. Heinz, Yes, I get the Hibbie Gibbies. I refuse to allow my daughters to have men sing their Bibles. I see it as another example of hero worship.

    Pastors I will be truthful with you, These kids are not asking you to sign their Bibles to pray for you, but to idolize you. Think about the next time you sign a Bible

  7. November 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Well, I have to disagree with something here. I believe I did this some time ago as well. I see nothing wrong with young people having their Bible signed by a true man of God. Let me explain:

    My father was an independent Baptist preacher, and I grew up in anything but the SOTL crowd. I probably have a bad attitude, but I have a problem even liking most of the ones I have met.

    I was raised to uphold the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Word of God. The messenger was to be respected, but only Christ was to be exalted. I appreciate my father’s teaching more and more as I grow older. He wouldn’t even quote anyone who was still alive. I still hardly ever do.

    Having said that, I also have some “autographs” from some preachers who meant a lot to me down through the years. I even know some of the flaws of these men, too, but I still cherish the memories of the message they preached or the time they spent being a blessing to me.

    I don’t mind my son and daughter having “heroes” of the faith, as long as the real glory goes to the Savior. But, I also understand some have come from abusive and silly SOTL types of churches, and they are probably more sensitive to this than I am.

  8. DT
    November 26, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I haven’t been in the ministry for all that long, but I’ve tried to follow a simple rule thus far: I only sign books I write.

    Of course, I haven’t written anything yet, nor has anyone bothered to ask me to sign their Bible (hopefully won’t happen), but that’s the response with which I am equipped.

  9. November 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    No offense, but I think the signing of a Bible isn’t unscriptural so a non-issue. I never sign Bibles unless I’m asked. I sign only on the blank pages with no text on them. I would get signatures too from preachers when I was a kid. They were fun to look at later. I looked up to these guys, but I never came close to worshiping or idolizing them. Unfortunately, when I was a kid my uncle gave me a baseball with Stan Musial‘s signature. I was so happy about it that I took it out and used the ball for months before I lost it. I wonder what it would be worth today?

  10. Don Johnson
    November 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Kent, 7 through 10 seem to be basically the same thing, politics. Well, what can I say? You can’t avoid politics. If you want to avoid politics, you have to get out of the polis. That is, you can’t hang around in any community because politics is how humans interact. You will have politics in your own circles. It is unavoidable.

    Some of the other objections are actually problems you have with FINOs rather than Fundies. Now that is a bit of a hornet’s nest, but still true.

    Ok, more later.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  11. November 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    FINOs?

  12. November 27, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Don,

    A big part of the liberty I experience comes from not being in fundamentalism. I haven’t lost any fellowship, not being in it. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of fellowship, on top of being out of the politics of it. Not being in fundamentalism has not kept me from doing anything that God wants me to do. I can do everything the Bible says outside of fundamentalism. While in it, it was a major challenge because of the things necessary to put up with and ignore. I was actually amazed, when I left it, how many men are not in it. People will say that you become isolationist, but that isn’t true.

    One of these days I’m going to write about my trek out of fundamentalism. I got caught up in this series about the love-hate and left myself with no time left to write about that, but I will sometime. When I do, I’m going to include some of the names and details. When I went into the ministry, I was very naive about what actually went on. I might write it over at my blog, What Is Truth.

    Phil,

    FINO is Fundamentalist in Name Only.

  13. Don Johnson
    November 27, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Kent

    Well, being in or out… The work of the ministry is our work. The things we do in fellowship meetings aren’t really part of the ministry as such is it?

    But if you are going to be a part of a group, formal or informal, there will be politics. The more formal the group gets, the more intense the politics. Witness the US elections, or the Anglican church shenanigans.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  14. Steve
    November 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Very good article.

    I had only one that I’ll be honest kind of stumped me you wrote.

    “15. Fundamentalism has no promise of Divine protection or perpetuity.

    Only the church.”

    I am ashamed to admit I got a little lost on this one, there was no further explanation.

  15. November 27, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Steve,

    If you are in fundamentalism, you know already that you’re in a sinking ship. Scripture promises perpetuity to the church, Matthew 16:18, not a movement.

    Thanks for asking.

  16. Steve
    November 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I stand corrected. Yes I am in a fundamentalist church. My pursuit is more aimed towards Biblicism and the truth.

    I don’t subscribe so much to the movement as the truth I have found thus far (in this Church).

    But, I am only a year in the movement.

    What other options exist outside of fundamentalism though?

    I really don’t care for where the Reformation movement stands (mostly Calvinism or Armenians).

    Thank you for your time Kent.

  17. November 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Steve,

    Your church can choose other churches of like faith and practice. That’s what we do. A lot of churches have conferences you can attend that offer a bunch of preaching. Or just have your own conference and invite in men who believe and practice like you do.

    Thanks!

  18. December 16, 2008 at 9:16 am

    As you have stated, the biggest issue with fundamentalists is (or should be to an extent) separation. What bothers me is when preachers/pastors that should know better don’t separate from heretics on a practical basis. For example, I can’t number the times Paul Chappell has quoted heretics in his Daily In The Word devotionals (such as C.S. Lewis, Augustine, and some others). If someone rejects some of the fundamentals of the faith, they are unsaved – what are these people doing quoting them without a disclaimer? Why do people still love the pagan/Anglican (Catholic wanna-be) Lewis, even after he has been exposed over and over again? His children’s books are full of paganism, multiple gods, and the occult (yes, magic/sorcery is still an abomination in the Word of God – it doesn’t become acceptable because now it is Aslan or one of the “good” characters practicing it).

    Just my little quirk. Why can’t supposedly solid IFB’s be consistent in their separation? Or does it really come down to: they separate over what they don’t like. They like Narnia and Lord of The Rings, so they will read and watch those, but separate over Harry Potter… Oh wait, Potter has magic too, like Disney – maybe it’s really not that bad…

  19. December 16, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Jerry,

    I don’t mind your rant at all. In fact, I appreciate you saying what you feel here. And, I have a feeling that you intend some of this for me, so I will answer you the best I can.

    First, there is a difference between quoting a man and fellowshipping with him. I could not fellowship with D.L. Moody, with R. A. Torrey, with Billy Sunday, or with John Wesley. I doubt that my church could openly fellowship with George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards. Which of the Reformers would not have persecuted me and attempted to close down my church? Would John Huss? Would Wyclif? In our church, we sing songs written by Charles Wesley, even by Martin Luther. I think that singing their songs is, in a sense, the same thing as quoting them. The fact that we admire something that they wrote does not mean that we would fellowship with them.

    If we can only quote those who we could fellowship with, then we are very limited in our scope. What songs have been written by those we can whole-heartedly fellowship with? What songs would we need to scratch off our list? We would need to stop singing Fanny Crosby… she was a lifelong Methodist. We would need to stop singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” or “Joy to the World” — Isaac Watts was a Puritan. We couldn’t sing anything written by John W. Petersen, or Ron Hamilton, or Mac Lynch, or Frances Havergal (an Anglican, or, as you said, a Catholic wanna-be). Which songwriters could we sing? Because, as I pointed out, we never quote a man more than when we sing his songs.

    I don’t believe that separation means pretending that these men did not exist, or that they have nothing to contribute. I like a quote that I found from some guy that I never heard of… “When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”

    So, you can consider this my defense for quoting guys that I don’t agree with. I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine putting a disclaimer every time I quote someone that I might disagree with. Imagine announcing the next hymn — “Please stand and join me in singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ and as you sing, please keep in mind that we reject Newton’s Anglicanism — he too was a Catholic wanna-be — as well as his staunch Calvinism.

    For that matter, I would need a similar disclaimer before quoting anyone at all. Imagine how that would go in a sermon… “I love Kent Brandenburg’s definition of worship, even though I disagree with him on closed communion, betrothal, and divorce… he defined worship as ‘giving God what He wants.”

    So, I disagree that we shouldn’t be quoting these men, or that we should always have a disclaimer whenever we do. But, just in case, my disclaimer has been made available here on the blog. One could simply read it before reading anything I write, just so that there will not be any confussion. You can find it by clicking on the “Who is JackHammer” tab at the top of our homepage, and looking underneath my name. Thanks to Jeff for making my disclaimer generally accessible, while similtaneously perfectly preserved.

    By the way, I have never heard of a church separating over Harry Potter. But the Bible is full of magic. Just that there is a certain type of magic that is forbidden in Scripture.

  20. December 16, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I like “Catholic wannabe” for an Anglican. I laughed.

  21. December 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I laughed.

    Yes, but did you LOL?

  22. December 16, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Anglican is pretty similar to Catholicism – but my comment was in reference to Lewis joining to Catholic church before he died.

    The difference between quoting someone whose theology we might differ with on some points and quoting Lewis, for example, is that Lewis is an utter heretic – who is clearly unsaved, as he denies various fundamentals of the faith. In his The Last Battle (the last book of the Narnia series), he quite clearly teaches Universalism.

    No Wonder Mormons Like C.S. Lewis

    He has one character who served Satan (named Tash in his novel) his whole life welcomed into Heaven (the equivalent in this story) by Aslan, who states that the service he did to Tash was done to Aslan himself. You can’t tell me the theology in these stories will not affect people – even if it is “entertainment.” Jesus has stated that what we think in our imagination, we are guilty of (ie. lusting in our heart makes us guilty of adultery, hating our brother in our heart makes us guilty of murder).

    The same people who typically quote Lewis also quote Augustine, who has been called (and rightly so) the father of Catholicism.

    But the Bible is full of magic. Just that there is a certain type of magic that is forbidden in Scripture.

    Actually, all magic and witchcraft/sorcery is forbidden in Scripture. All those who practiced it were to be killed and were considered an abomination to God. There is no such thing as “good” magic – which is why books/movies like Narnia and Lord of the Rings (and the Hobbit) are dangerous. It teaches children to take pleasure in things that God has condemned in His Word.

    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    When someone embraces Narnia and Middle Earth, Harry Potter is just the next step. Same occult, paganism and magic, but taken to the next level.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I just can’t understand why my brethren to claim to love the truth will not clearly stand against certain error. It is like Bro Kent has basically stated in an article (about the Sword of the Lord) that was posted shortly before this one: they stand against the things that their brethren stand against, and don’t preach against the things that would rock the boat. Why not be consistent and stand against ALL error, even if it is publically acceptable error? The false gods (and yes, even Lewis calls them “gods” in his novels), paganism, Universalism, ecumenicalism, and sorcery in his novels should be enough to stand against them – even if they are “entertaining.”

  23. December 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    First Jeff,

    When I say “I laughed,” that means “I laughed.” When I say LOL, that means that I cyber-laughed, which isn’t necessarily real laughter. I laughed when I read your LOL.

    Jerry,

    I often quote new-evangelicals and I think it is for several reasons.
    1) To show how bad they are.
    2) To show how inconsistent they are with what they write.
    3) To make a point about something they said that was good to use against other new evangelicals.
    4) To rejoice in something they said that was good—love rejoiceth in the truth.
    5) To encourage whatever good they actually do—where they are for me, they’re not against me.

    I think the song issue is complicated. For the most part, I haven’t made singing someone’s song a fellowship issue. The issue is: Is it the best to use for worship on the merits of the song itself.

    I’m the same way with books.

    Judging C. S. Lewis. What you say about Narnia sounds bad. I haven’t personally evaluated his Narnia series. I don’t think I read it as a child, which means it wasn’t in our children’s library (which was small). I’ve struggled with that realm of writing, as far as what is acceptable. My wife has read it and loves the series. My girls have read it and have liked it a lot. I based their reading of it upon a couple of books I read on evaluating literature as a Christian. I’ll defer a defense to Pastor Mallinak, since he seems to be an ultra expert on Narnia. I’d like to see a Narnia duel between you two.

  24. December 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    For one thing, I don’t really want to do a Narnia duel. There are many, many people who, like Jerry, have very strong and legitimate objections to both Lewis and Narnia. It really isn’t a priority for me to change their objections. In fact, I will add that Jerry’s example from the The Last Battle is an objection that I completely share with him. I found that particular passage very objectionable.

    In fact, when I read that passage to my children, I stopped reading several times, and I told them that Lewis was wrong on that. I explained to my children exactly why, in Bible terms, it was wrong. It turned out to be a great teaching opportunity.

    But then again, that is how I do everything with my kids. We don’t just sit down to read a book or to watch a movie. We sit down to interpret a book, to guide our children through that book, to teach our children what is right and what is wrong about that book. And the same goes for movies. Shamefully, I know of parents who would never think of allowing their children to read a Narnia book, but who will set them in front of a TV to watch a Disney movie, and will not have even one comment about the worldview presented in those movies. I for one am much more leerie of Disney movies than I am of Narnia books.

    But I really don’t care to try to persuade someone to read the Narnia books. I liked them. But you aren’t missing something in life if you never read them. I’m fine with you not reading these books, Jerry. I would have more trouble with someone who read them and couldn’t find ANY problem with them than I would have with someone who has legitimate objections and chooses not to read them.

    I read Hardy Boy books when I was a boy, and Louis L’Amour as an older boy. I much prefer for my children to read Narnia or Tolkien. I have my reasons, and I would be glad to share them with anyone interested. But I’m not going to put them up in order to persuade someone to change their mind. If you’ve decided against reading Lewis, good for you.

    As far as quoting these people, I still say that if we use your standard, Jerry, then we can only quote those we agree with whole-heartedly, which is a very limited group of people. If you feel that way, I wonder what your response is to singing hymns by those you would never fellowship with?

    When I say that the Bible is full of magic, I am using the term “magic” very loosely, to include miracles, which are, in my mind, a form of magic.

  25. December 17, 2008 at 9:17 am

    As far as quoting these people, I still say that if we use your standard, Jerry, then we can only quote those we agree with whole-heartedly, which is a very limited group of people.

    Actually, you totally missed my point. I was speaking about not quoting heretics, apostates, those who were lost (based on their testimony, their writings, their rejection of the fundamentals of the faith, etc.). Sometimes I will quote people I disagree with on some minor doctrines – typically with a disclaimer of some sort (or as you stated, a general disclaimer on my site). I don’t want to take the typical New Evangelical stance: quote anything and anyone, and give the impression that these writers are right on spiritually, that they were not heretics or apostates, etc.

    If you feel that way, I wonder what your response is to singing hymns by those you would never fellowship with?

    I don’t sing hymns from apostates, from Unitarians, from lost/religious Catholics, etc. If I know they were not saved, I will not sing their songs/hymns. There are many good hymns out there, I don’t need to sing the questionable ones.

  26. December 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

    First, Jerry, Paul quoted a heathen poet on Mar’s Hill (Acts 17:28). I don’t think that he was in sin to do so.

    Secondly, do you sing “Silent Night”? I do, and I don’t have a problem with someone who does. But it was written by a Catholic. Martin Luther was a Catholic. Do you sing “Away in a Manger” or “A Mighty Fortress is our God”?

    Listen, I understand your objections to these men, and in most cases, I share your objections. There are more than a few problems with their theology, and a number of areas where they are just plain wrong. Where I differ with you is in saying that they offer absolutely nothing of value.

  27. December 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    What of value spiritually can someone who is spiritually dead offer any true believer? They can’t tell you how to be saved, because they are lost themselves. They can’t tell you how to live for the Lord – because they are not living by faith or pleasing the Lord. They can’t open up the Bible to you, because it is a closed book to them.

    As far as Martin Luther goes, no matter what other junk he may have believed in, he did trust in Christ by grace through faith, which was the whole controversy with the Catholic church. He was no longer a “catholic” as far as their body of doctrine goes (though I believe he did not cast off enough Catholicism, he did reject their salvation by works – their false “gospel”).

  28. December 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    That really isn’t answering my question. What you have demonstrated by your answer is that you are willing to make exceptions for some of those whom you have categorically rejected.

    Based on some earlier discussions that have taken place on this blog, there are several who believe that Luther was also unsaved, having preached a works salvation. Thomas Ross I believe is one of those. And I believe that Kent also thinks this.

    The point is that you are setting up a subjective standard on the basis of your own tolerance levels. That, by the way, is acceptable with me… you can use your liberty that way. But why should my liberty be judged of your conscience?

  29. December 18, 2008 at 9:17 am

    What you have demonstrated by your answer is that you are willing to make exceptions for some of those whom you have categorically rejected.

    Not at all. I have read various biographies that state Luther was saved. Regardless, I don’t read him (beyond doing research) because there are too many differenes spiritually/doctrinally between us. If he truly was unsaved, that is another reason to avoid him.

    The point is that you are setting up a subjective standard on the basis of your own tolerance levels… why should my liberty be judged of your conscience?

    What I am saying is: why are solid believers reading the works of heretics and lost people? What kind of spiritual benefit can you really glean from them?

    On your blog and here you contend for the faith, supposedly stand for the truth and against lies – but yet (unless I am truly missing what you are saying) you seem unwilling to actually turn away from a lost religious person or a heretic/apostate, and still read their writings. What is the difference between that and a New Evangelical doing the same? Because you read the more commonly accepted liberal writers?

    You post your blogs and your comments because you generally want people to believe as you believe – you attempt to convince them why you believe as you do, or why you are convinced the Bible is against something someone else is teaching. No different than what I am doing in my comments. I can’t understand why you won’t separate from those clearly promoting doctrinal error (such as denying the fundamentals of the faith – which no one can do and still be saved – primarily I am speaking about separating from the lost and apostates and their writings). I am posting my replies to gain understanding of why you stand as you do – and to bounce some of my concerns off of you. God bless.

  30. December 18, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Brother Jerry,

    I noticed that you didn’t answer Brother Dave’s comment about Paul quoting ungodly sources. I don’t quote a lot of people, but I do read and have read things written by lost people.

    I guess your “boundaries” are clear in your mind, and that’s ok, but they are certainly unclear to me, having read this string of comments.

    I guess I would probably agree with Brother Mallinak that our liberty allows this.

  31. December 18, 2008 at 10:58 am

    To answer your question, Jerry, I believe that there is a difference between separating from someone and reading that person. I don’t believe that reading a person should be considered “fellowship.” I believe that we all read people with whom we cannot have fellowship on a spiritual level. Is there nothing of value for the Christian in reading the newspaper, or listening to the news on the radio, or watching the news on TV? And furthermore, I think that the standard you have set up is impossible to follow with consistency. It really is a matter of preference, based on your tolerance level. You can tolerate Luther, who was a Catholic, but not Lewis, who also was a Catholic. You are proving my point in this.

    I had a man preaching in my church, and in the middle of a sermon, he quoted Martin Luther. Later on, during a lunch, he railed for quite some time against John Calvin. So, I asked him, would he ever quote John Calvin in a sermon. He said, “absolutely not.” I understood why… but then I asked him why he would quote Martin Luther if he would never quote John Calvin. After all, Calvin got his theology from Luther. If Luther taught Calvin, then why would we reject the student but not the teacher?

    Perhaps this is persuading you to reject Luther, to stop quoting him by singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” or “Away in a Manger.” After all, we never quote a man more directly than when we sing his words. And I can’t see how in the world we would say that it is wrong to quote him, but if we set the quote to music then it is okay. So, maybe this discussion is persuading you to cut Luther out of your hymnal.

    I hope not. That certainly is not my intention. You said that you are trying to understand my thinking on this. I’m trying to convey my rationale here. I want a consistent standard that is taken up on Scriptural grounds. If it is simply a matter of liking one heretic apostate but not another, then it is simply a matter of personal preference. If there is a Biblical standard set for who to quote and who not to quote, then lay it out. But until then, the standard that I will follow is:

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

  32. December 19, 2008 at 9:15 am

    For the record I don’t read Luther. I have read what some others have said about him and what he believed. As a much younger Christian (without much knowledge of him) I tried reading his commentary on Galatians, but couldn’t get into it.

    But you still have not answered my concern about why it is alright to quote lost heretics? What spiritual benefit do you get from that? Their false doctrine and religious thoughts (not based on the Bible) certainly aren’t honest, or just, or pure; I daresay it wouldn’t be lovely if it was not truth. Of good report? What would be good about Lewis denying a literal Hell, believing in Universalism, believing that Jesus didn’t pay the full penalty for our sins, etc.? Is deception virtous? Are his writings worthy of praise when they contradict the Bible? I don’t see how he fits that verse in Philippians.

    Why bother exposing people (such as Graham, Hyles, etc.) when it doesn’t matter if you read them anyway? It seems you are saying it doesn’t matter what religious material you read, as long as you personally get something out of it – whether they are lost, heretics, apostates, whatever. Where do you draw the line? Is something okay as long as it is “Christian.” Though that word is so vague (without clarifying it) about 1/2 of the world falls under its banner (6 billion + people – 2 billion Catholics and almost 1 billion Protestants). Do you read Mother Theresa, Robert Schuller, the Pope, Kenneth Hagin, Brian McLaren? I am sure there is some “good” in all of their writings – but how do their beliefs/writings compare with the Bible? If by their own writings they show they reject the fundamentals of the faith (and thereby prove they are lost, not saved), what spiritual benefits can you get from their writings? They cannot open up God’s Word or help you to further understand the Bible, you can’t learn by their example and unbiblical faith how to please the Lord day by day. What exactly are you gleaning from them?

  33. December 19, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Jerry,

    These kinds of questions are always a bit knotty, and I would say first that if you cannot read these books in good conscience, or if your conscience is bothered by reading them, then you shouldn’t (Rom 14:23). I think that Paul’s discussions of Christian liberty pertains to this issue. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. While you and I answer the question differently, we both want to be sure that we can defend what we are doing from Scripture. And that, I believe, is the good thing.

    I will take a gander at showing a little bit more of why I believe that my liberty in Christ allows me to read men like C.S. Lewis. Paul, in advising Titus on the Cretians, quoted a Cretian prophet (Titus 1:12). Apparantly, Paul had read that Cretian prophet. When it comes to quoting heathen men and even religious apostates , the Bible demonstrates that sometimes they do say something of value. Consider, for example, John’s quoting of Caiaphas in John 11:49-52. John apparently found something of value in what Caiaphas said. Caiaphas, in spite of himself, spoke the truth. There are plenty of other places in the Bible that could be pointed out here as examples of evil men speaking well. How often does the Bible quote Nebuchadnezzar? Ahasuerus? How about Pontius Pilate? How about Hiram? The Pharoah’s? What about Gamaliel in Acts 5:34-39? I already mentioned the time when Paul quoted a heathen poet in his great sermon on Mars Hill.

    All of these examples point to the truth — that we cannot say that the unsaved, or the heathen, or even heretical Christians (like Caiaphas) have absolutely nothing of value to offer, and are incapable of speaking the truth.

    Your questions here are not new questions. All the way back to Tertullian (I believe), men have asked what Jerusalem has to do with Athens. I do not say that those who would answer “nothing” have no point. They do have a point. But others have responded that it is lawful for the people of God to plunder the gold of Egypt. And that is what I believe that I am doing when I read men who I strongly disagree with.

    Now, I have at least attempted to answer your question. And this is not the first time that I have made an attempt. One thing that I have noticed in blogdom is that often in a discussion, people will keep on insisting that “you still haven’t answered my question.” If you still don’t like my answer, that is a different thing than me ignoring your question. I’m not ignoring your question. I just have not given you the answer you want. That is different.

    I have also found by experience that bloggers like to say “you still haven’t answered my question” so that they can go on ignoring the questions that the other side has been asking. Here are the ones that I believe you have ignored. If you feel inclined to continue this discussion, please answer them for me…

    1) What Scriptural command can you provide for saying that it is only lawful to read doctrinally correct believers? Or, what Scriptural prohibition can you offer for saying that we cannot read or quote any unsaved person, or any “apostate” believer?

    2) Are believers permitted to read newspapers?

    3) What standard does the Bible set for reading material and/or quoting other authors?

    4) What about Paul’s quoting of the heathen poet on Mars Hill (or, for that matter, any of the other examples given above)

  34. December 19, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I’m going to add to what Dave said. He’s doing fine.

    I appreciate your concern about this Jerry, but we do have to keep our separation to what scripture says. Scripture doesn’t say anything about reading other people. Now I think we have principles and I mean principles that would say that we spend most of our time with Scripture. I think you know what those principles are.

    I think Dave has given a good basis for reading other people. And we know that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, God can’t deny Himself, so reading someone isn’t fellowship. As long as what? You prove all things and hold fast to that which is good—take everything through the grid of Scripture.

    Jer. 10:2 says learn not the way of the heathen and yet Daniel and Moses went to secular schools. Daniel purposed in his heart to always obey Scripture. And Moses associated himself with the people of God. They were exposed to secular influence, but did not learn that way. They kept God’s way.

    It’s easy to see when you read Colossians, for instance, that Paul was familiar with Gnosticism. How? How did he know about Gnosticism? Should anyone expose themselves ever to any false doctrine?

    This is a complex subject, because I believe that some of the best writing is done by secular people. Some of the poorest writing is done by Christians. If we are going to learn about how to write well, we read good writing. This does fit with an overall “holy” standard. By holy, I mean fitting with the majesty of God. God surpasses all in every way. An argument for high culture is a standard for excellence, for the best. We have somehow sanctified poorly done music, art, and writing in fundagelicalism. Great is our God and greatly to be praised. We have passed on the root of Jesus junk to our people and we don’t raise them up to a higher level culturally that is in fitting with the greatness of God. At the root of it, I believe, is a thoroughly unchristian premise, to make these aspects of culture accessible emotionally, bypassing the mind. This is at the root worldly.

    A man like C. S. Lewis, although he has some bad theology, represents a last generation of some of the high culture left from Victorian England, where the Bible had established this standard. The standard was set by others, but passed to men even like Lewis. On top of that, Lewis grappled in writing with some concepts that others didn’t and came to correct conclusions that we ought to recognize. If we want to reduce every bit of our discernment to whether the author was Christian, we will miss other scriptural standards.

    Culture is the craft that carries along our world’s understanding of meaning. Words have meaning that are affected by culture. I’m writing about this on my blog right now. If you lose meaning, then you can’t even understand Scripture any longer.

    I’ve read Aristotle, Jerry, actually quite a bit of him. Why? He laid out the foundational principles of rhetoric that are a basis for argument, that I believe we see in the Apostles Paul and Peter in the New Testament. The New Testament came into a secular world that Jesus and Paul understood. I believe Scripture is sufficient, but it also must interact with the culture around it to transform that culture.

    I think you have your plate full now. I appreciate your sincere desires. I believe you are devoted and genuine.

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