Home > Brandenburg, Fundamentalism > The Dishonesty of the Fundamentalist Idea

The Dishonesty of the Fundamentalist Idea

August 23, 2010

Everything is about God.  God is the narrative, the thinking, the lifestyle, and the meaning.  And God is One.  He doesn’t deny Himself.  God is consistent.  The gospel is about God.  It solves man’s sin problem, but it is about God receiving the glory He deserves.   It is about God being God.   We don’t say where He is God and where He is not.  Man does not submit to God and then deny God in music, in art, in science, in education, in literature, in government, or in philosophy.  Since God is One, if you deny God in art, for instance, you’ve denied Him.  You don’t get to segment God into parts and choose where He is God.  He is either God or not.  He is a God of non-contradiction.  There are not two truths.  God created everything and everything with His purpose.  Everything, therefore, has His meaning.   The meaning must fit God or it is wrong, it isn’t the truth, and it is part of the lie.

Enter fundamentalism.  God gets to be God of the fundamentals.  Everything else is up for grabs.  Fundamentalists would say “no,” but actually “yes.”  It’s just “no” on paper.  In reality, “yes.”  In lifestyle, “yes.”  In particular works they allow the denying of Him.  That is as much a lie as if we denied all of God.  God is all or nothing.  He is not God when He is just God of the fundamentals.    Fundamentals are about us.   About what we think we need to get along with each other.   We shrink God’s domain to allow for more people.  It’s chariot counting even though God “burneth the chariot in the fire” (Psalm 46:9).  The fundamentals are not and never have been God’s will for getting along.  They couldn’t be.  It would be to say that God created everything, but He’s only made that clear in part of what He created.  But that’s not what God said.  Since God created everything, He reveals Himself in everything, and the meaning relates to God.  We interpret everything according to God.

Now fundamentalists say some of God’s world is non-essential.  Some of my Father’s world is not as important.  Several “truths” are permissible in certain continents of His creation.  And yet everything fits into God and God is as important as important is.  We cannot remove God from a segment of His reign.  He reigns in music.  He reigns in fashion.  He reigns in leisure.    When we remove God from any part of His reign, we dethrone Him.  We don’t actually dethrone Him.  That can’t happen.  But He isn’t God to us anymore when we shrink his reign to the domain of fundamentals.

Some have shrunk fundamentalism even further.  They’ve reduced God’s world to the gospel.  They say that the limitation of the boundaries to the gospel pleases God.   One man uses foul language, but he has the gospel.   He is included.  Another man sprinkles infants.  But he has the gospel.   They say they are elevating God’s world to the gospel.  They diminish God and they use the gospel to do so.  This is travesty.  No one should be celebrating.  Everybody should mourn.  God does not limit Himself to the gospel.  Sure, the gospel touches everything in God’s world, but His world isn’t the gospel.   The gospel is the hub or the axle upon which man’s view of God’s world can succeed.  The gospel enables rebellious men to see God in His world.  And rebellion is the problem.  The gospel succeeds everywhere, not just in the gospel and not just in the fundamentals.  It enthrones God over all of His creation.  The whole story is His.  All practice is His.  All thinking is His.  All relationship is His.

When God is excluded from much of His actual reign, a form of religion exists, but the power of God is denied.   Of course, we cannot limit the power of God.  God’s power does what it does whether we recognize it or not.  So when we do not receive God’s power over all of His world, we deny all of His power.   He isn’t glorified when His power is denied even when we say it’s about the gospel or the fundamentals.  So it’s not even the gospel but a denial of the power of God.  The lie limits God to man’s domain, to his preferred boundaries, holding off or suppressing the truth.

Let God be God and every man a liar.

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  1. d4v34x
    August 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Did the apostles essentially reach a compromise with the Pharisee believers in Acts 15? Or did they just allow enough room for different consciences to act peaceably? Were not the Pharisee Christians in error?

  2. August 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    D4,

    Are there two truths? Does God extend to every aspect of His Own creation? Do we choose where God reigns? The idea is wrong.

    I’m choosing at this time not to break-down Acts 15. I spent a little bit of time with someone else in a recent post. What I will say is that Acts 15 is Acts 15. It isn’t a place we get to drive our liberty the size of a Mack Truck. None of God’s Word diminishes God’s truth or His reign.

  3. August 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Kent:

    I appreciated this from you.

    They’ve reduced God’s world to the gospel. They say that the limitation of the boundaries to the gospel pleases God. One man uses foul language, but he has the gospel. He is included. Another man sprinkles infants. But he has the gospel“.

    I could fill in the blanks with names that I’m guessing you had in mind as you write this. Here is how I react to your comment above. It is tragic that we are seeing self-described Fundamentalists increasingly willing to tolerate, overlook and excuse the corrupt communication, charismatic theology, worldliness in ministry and ecumenical compromises of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Men are refusing to make an application of the whole counsel of God to guide their fellowship choices with the evangelicals as long as the can agree on the gospel.

    LM

  4. August 25, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Brother Kent,

    This is very insightful. The whole “Fundamentalist” movement was never a separatist movement, but a “get along” movement. I have always had a problem with essential/non-essential classifications. Who determines it?

    Brother Lou,

    Yes, we know the people to whom Brother Kent is referring, and I agree with you. I am, however, more bothered by the so-called “Fundamentalists” who make these kinds of compromises all the time. If you have buses, do a lot of “soulwinning” and go to certain meetings, then if you sprinkle babies, or use wordly tactics, then it’s okay.

  5. August 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Art:

    Thanks for the reaction.

    Compromise, by any professing believer, should never be acceptable or tolerated. The Lord and His Word certainly does not excuse it.

    Lou

  6. August 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for the comments.

    We hear the talk about the fundamentalist idea today, people supporting that without supporting actual fundamentalism. I’ve been thinking about whether the idea fits a Christian view of the world.

  7. PS Ferguson
    August 26, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Kent

    You have made a number of assertions here without actually giving us the Scripture to back it up.

    I am not trying to be difficult, as I would like to see your exegesis and then test against the illustrated events in Scripture. I also would like to understand the practicalities of such an approach. What is fellowship in your understanding? Do we draw the line at any issue?

    You defended in a previous post that you allow your family to read CS Lewis. In today’s post you said, “Man does not submit to God and then deny God in music, in art, in science, in education, in literature, in government, or in philosophy.” We all agree (I hope) that Lewis is not a believer with his view of the atonement and biblical inerrancy. How would a member of your church deal with fellowship with you if they regard what you are doing as contrary to good doctrinal practice? Should they apply your statement on literature above literally and separate? Should they say that this is not a “fundamental issue” and give you a pass?

  8. d4v34x
    August 26, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Bro. B.,

    This is sort of the classic liberal tactic. “We need to make abortion legal because 13 year old black girls get raped by their stepfathers–” using extreme situations to justify an extreme solution in even ordinary cases. Only you word it, “The basic fundamentalim idea is wrong because some people use it as a loophole for regular passage of oversized vehicles.”

    Simply stated, the abuse does not negate the basic principles.

    And Acts 15 is Acts 15? I never would have expected that from you. Never in a million.

  9. August 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Hi,

    I’m going to try to answer this for all the comments. There is one Bible and one doctrine and one God. Eph 4:1-5 brings that out. The fundamentalist idea says one fundamentals. Those are what fundamentalists unify on. However, other doctrines are not required to be one. They can be two, not according to the Bible, but according to fundamentalists. And, of course, there can be more than one Bible too, something I purposefully did not mention, because I didn’t want it to be a piece about versions. This entire practice is not something permitted in the Bible. We have plenty of scripture that says everything God said is what we are to believe and do. I’ve developed that many times. In this post, I was comparing that idea to a Christian Worldview, which centers on the law of non-contradiction, the nature of God. God reveals Himself and this is the basis for non-contradiction, because God is one. And yet the fundamentalist idea is that beyond the fundamentals, or even now only the gospel, contradiction is acceptable. I actually think that you get this and I’m explaining it without actually needing to, but I’m doing it anyway, taking everyone at their word. I am saying that fundamentalism, and really evangelicalism today, clashes with a Christian worldview in their idea.

    In Acts 15, you had two churches, Antioch and Jerusalem, getting together to sort out how they were going to deal with what was really the ongoing transition from Israel to the church. That is not making room for the fundamentalist idea, and there should be some burden of proof on someone to show how that is the case, when it isn’t actually taught anywhere. For instance, dietary restrictions were in the Old Testament, and they were fulfilled judicially with the shelving of Israel, but it wasn’t the best thing for Gentiles to flaunt the new liberty in the face of Jews. That isn’t akin to saying that we limit our doctrine to one, five, or seven essentials.

    And there are doubtful disputations. That’s scriptural. I’m not even talking about that. So when we get to C. S. Lewis or a biography of John Adams by the unsaved David McCullough, we’re still judging this writing based on biblical teaching. We hold fast to that which is good and eschew the evil. The post I wrote is targeting the idea. For instance again, the musical world is God’s world we judge it based upon God as well. Aesthetics are God’s world. And so on. Maybe I wasn’t obvious enough. I think I was.

  10. August 27, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Kent – the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate your assertion that the NT churches required absolute agreement on any doctrine before fellowship was permitted. So far, you have failed to do that. You cite Ephesian 4:1-5 as proof that there is only “one doctrine.” Now it actually says “one faith” which is a much broader term and must be defined by v6 as those who have “one Father of us all.” Now, either “one faith” here is simply referring to the saving fundamentals of the Gospel or every person with a different doctrinal understanding (no matter how insignificant) has a different “spiritual Father.” I will let you choose which option you believe but it cannot be both.

    BTW Paul includes himself (v7, 13,14,) in their “body” which you claim could only refer to the Church of Ephesus. It seems that every time Acts 15 is mentioned it is excluded because of the “apostles” yet every time it suits your pre-conceived position on independent churches you appeal to the same “apostles.” In the other thread when we discussed this at length, I pointed out that the decrees were not issued under apostolic mandate but under the authority of apostles and elders (Acts 16:4) so I do not know why you keep trying to exclude the Acts 15 paradigm.

  11. August 27, 2010 at 11:46 am

    P.S.,

    Your first sentence isn’t directly related to this discussion, but our Word of Truth Conference has been answering the point you are addressing. I don’t think it is hard to answer that, but it is a long answer and one which I have answered among all the writing I’ve done either here or at WIT. You were right to understand that I believe the one doctrine is found in “one faith,” which is “the faith,” the body of doctrine found in Scripture. That’s how it is used. See Jude, “the faith once delivered,” among other places.

    You give me two “options” about what “one faith” is. I have to choose a or b, when the answer is c, none of the above. It isn’t the “saving fundamentals of the gospel” nor “every person with a different doctrinal understanding (no matter how insignificant.” And what teaching of scripture is insignificant? There is no category of the teaching of the Bible that is in the “insignificant” category. There are doubtful disputations, as I said, in which we are to receive each other in the church. But violations of Scripture, there is not basis to receive. I’ve got lot of scripture for that. What verse do you have, Paul, that says that we receive someone in a violation of a Bible teaching beyond the “fundamentals of the faith” or “the gospel”? There is none. The pattern is to confront any violation of Scripture (Matthew 18:15-17; 2 Thess 3:6-15; 1 Cor 5; Eph 5:11). We don’t get to pick and choose which violations are in the insignificant category.

    Paul includes himself in “the body,” but not the church at Ephesus. Your three verses don’t prove that Paul was part of the church at Ephesus. Every one of us in “the body” are given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. And then ditto on this same way of dealing with vv. 13, 14.

    In Acts 16:4, the Greek word translated “decrees” is “dogma.” The apostles and elders agreed that this is the way that a particular problem should be solved. The use of “elder” does not mean that all the churches were following the orders of some hierarchical authority in Jerusalem, separate from apostolic authority. We’ve got plenty of examples in the NT to show us that churches acted independently of each other under Christ, each church having separate authority. They were tied together by some commonality, Christ and the Scriptures. And the apostles were the New Testament to them until it was completed.

  12. August 28, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Kent

    You still have not given us a Scriptural exegesis on how we are to see that every doctrine in the Bible must be separated over within and between each local church. That is what you believe so I am assuming you must have some concrete clear Scriptures.

    I have another question for you: Do you think there are doctrines that are Fundamental to believe in order to be saved and those that are not Fundamental to salvation? Do you have any Scripture to back up your answer?

    When you answer those two questions, then we can deal with your passages about confronting a brother in violation of Scripture and the significance of doctrine.

    • August 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

      P.S.,

      Separation between churches, i.e., ecclesiastical separation, is taught by very clear implication. There is no command to a church to separate from another church. Here is how the implication works. We follow the principles of separation in Scripture. We don’t accept in our church another doctrine (Rom 16:17-18; 2 Thess 3:6-15) so we don’t accept the church with another doctrine. 1 Cor 5, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. We don’t want leaven in our lump, so we separate from the leaven. We don’t allow it in either through membership nor through fellowship or association. In Revelation 2:14-15, Jesus had something against the church that had them which held false doctrine.

      You can’t apply consistently the passages on separation without applying them ecclesiastically. If we are not to accept any other doctrine in our church than the one doctrine (1 Tim 1:3) in our own church, then we by principle cannot accept it in another church. It should be approached the same, consistently the same. If adding or taking away of words is dealt with harshly by God, who are we to deal with adding or taking away from doctrines in a soft way (Rev 22:18-19)?

      That’s the essence of it and it can be developed more.

      The gospel has the power of God unto salvation, so we look for what the Bible says is the gospel and we can find those elements. In Gal 1:6-9, Paul said there could be “another gospel” preached, so the gospel can be altered. We would look for what would actually change the gospel. However, there is no verse that says what changes of the gospel would deviate to the extent that it was another gospel. We have enough examples in the NT—another Jesus, works verses grace, a fake grace, no repentance. We for sure separate over a false gospel, but there is nothing in scripture that says that the gospel or salvation is the only doctrine over which we separate. I would await that kind of verse that I haven’t received at all.

      I’m jumping through your hoops. That doesn’t mean I think somehow the burden of proof is upon me. You haven’t proven one bit from scripture the fundamentalist idea.

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