Thursday, July 13, 2006

What I Really Like About Fundamentalism

This is what I like about the fundamentalists I've known: When someone points out inconsistencies, faulty theology or practice, or hypocrisy, they usually don't call the critic arrogant or a pontificator. They realize that ideas matter—truth matters. That doesn't mean all self-proclaimed fundamentalists grasp it or apply it, but at least fundamentalists will agree that there is something objective and tangible that can be debated and disagreed upon.

Don't get me wrong. Fundamentalists will certainly argue for their point of view, but they seldom (not never) attack the critic's right to protest. And besides, a healthy, mature debate can be valuable to both sides. Granted, now and then you'll find folks implying that the younger rabble-rousers should just hold their opinions in abeyance until they have a head full of gray hairs, but advice along those lines that is genuinely condescending is relatively rare. Most of the "you're arrogant/pontificating/unloving" comments (at least the shots I've taken) come from the Christian-bookstore-bestseller-devourer crowd.

I like the way Dan Phillips contrasted Paul's letter to the Galatians with contemporary syrupy-spined evangelicalism today at Pyros:
So some pneumatic phlegmatics can be passive, calm, indifferent and unengaged in the controversies over the nature of the Gospel today. Some of them speak and write as if the Reformation were much ado about nothing. They seem to think it was an unfortunate mistake. They are unwilling to contend for this, the sola Gospel, the heart of the Christian faith. Worse, they instead gladly contend with those who are willing to contend for the Gospel.

I have to conclude that their problem is the opposite of their own estimation. It isn't that they are just so abounding in love that they won't fight. It is that they are bereft of love. For if they truly loved their fellow humans, they'd be unable to rest easy as men and women are sold the poison of a false, damning "gospel" -- no gospel at all, no Good News, but a dyspel, bad news. And if they loved God's Word, they'd never accept seeing its core message perverted and subverted.

And if they loved the Savior, they'd never make peace with His perfect and final sacrifice, His love, and His accomplishment on the Cross cast to the ground, there to be mixed with the dung and muck of human merit.

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