I am a fundamentalist and I always will be. I don’t need to be a part of any movement although I naturally am because of my beliefs. I am an independent fundamentalist. I’m not happy with some things other fundamentalists do. That is okay. I have talked with many men over the years who, in seeing the warts of fundamentalism, looked to go elsewhere . . . Where is there to go? So the problems you see in fundamentalism will not resurface wherever else you go?This kind of thinking is completely foreign to me. That doesn't mean it is necessarily bad or wrong. I just don't get it. Maybe the best way to explain where I'm coming from is to break down the statement sentence by sentence.
I am a fundamentalist and I always will be.
Yeah, me too. Provided, of course, that being a fundamentalist does not demand that I also be a revivalist or separate from anyone who does not agree with me on every point of biblical teaching and practice.
I don’t need to be a part of any movement although I naturally am because of my beliefs.
I'm not sure what this means. If a church in the remote Nevada wilderness believes and practices biblical teaching but never has contact with any other churches, are they part of a movement? Aren't they just practicing biblical Christianity? I've seen lots of people say that we can't avoid being part of a movement, but I simply don't understand this presupposition.
I am an independent fundamentalist.
I am too.
I’m not happy with some things other fundamentalists do.
I agree, and I'm also not happy with lots of things I do.
That is okay.
I have talked with many men over the years who, in seeing the warts of fundamentalism, looked to go elsewhere.
I haven't talked with very many (if any), but I'm sure it's true that they exist.
Where is there to go?
This is what I simply don't understand. Why do I have to go anywhere? Why can't I just be biblical? I don't want to play some moral trump card, but this just sounds like a self-centered craving for affirmation. I don't think that's the intent of this writer, and he said above that he does not "need to be part of a movement," so I'm going to take those words at face value. But how do we slide so easily into this thinking that we must align ourselves with one ship or another?
That's the failure of the whole ship analogy that was propagated (albeit humorously) by the SharperIron cartoon and by the original author of the post I'm tangentially discussing. It implies that we need to align ourselves with a circle or a movement or a group, when I can't see how we need to be aligning ourselves with anything other than orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The whole idea that "If I leave fundamentalism, where would I go?" implies that we must have broader associations outside our local church and also that we must adopt associations with one group to the deliberate exclusion of another group. And I wouldn't be the first to suggest that the priority of the associations very quickly becomes far greater than the priority of the essential ideas that generated the associations.
So the problems you see in fundamentalism will not resurface wherever else you go?
Some will. Some won't. Some problems will be greater, and others will be diminished. Al Mohler made that point rather well, as I documented in my recent post.
Here's my experiential argument: By the nature of my job and my status in life, I wind up spending a fair amount of time every year at conferences and conventions. People who would identify themselves as fundamentalists or evangelicals are most of the attendees of those conferences, and typically, the evangelicals gravitate towards their own conferences, and the fundamentalists gravitate towards their own. Most of the time, the people I meet at either kind of conference have a great deal in common with me theologically. Sometimes, however, I meet people who are radically different from me, and that happens at both kinds of conferences.
During the rest of my life, I'll probably not have the opportunity to cooperate directly in ministry with more than 1-2% of the people that I'm privileged to meet. I do know that I would be violating my own convictions—some might call me a "disobedient brother"—if I were to cooperate either with the theologically reductionistic ("fuzzy') evangelicals I've met or with the fundamentalists I've met that Mark Minnick has called cantankerous legalists.
So here's this question: "Where should I go?" Should I want to set sail on either ship? Do I really have to pick one?
I think we need a new paradigm. You don't need to go anywhere. You simply need to be. You need to practice biblical Christianity in your church and "let goods and kindred go." I don't mean you should be an isolationist. Make friends. Seek those older and younger, wiser and less experienced. Learn from them all. Seek to edify them all.
Or maybe I'm just an optimist.