But search for serious material that carefully discusses biblical guidelines for making [distinctions between core and peripheral doctrines] wisely, and you’ll come up mostly dry. This is an issue I fear most Christians have not considered as soberly and carefully as we should, and it would be my assessment that one of the crying needs of the church in this age of mindless postmodern subjectivity is a clear, careful, and thorough biblical understanding of when it’s time to fight and when it’s time to fellowship.It's also great to see Kevin Bauder back in the blogosphere with his comment to Johnson's post. In part of that comment, he says:
Few subjects interest me more than this. It seems a pretty obvious and foundational issue for the church and her leaders to settle. You might think the early fundamentalists ought to have done extensive work on the subject, but as far as I can see, they didn’t. They treated several key doctrines as fundamental, based mainly on what happened to be under attack by the modernists, and they declared themselves devoted to “the fundamentals.”
But they didn’t always keep very clear focus on the distinction between what was fundamental and what was not. As a result, later generations of fundamentalists often fought and fragmented over issues no one could rationally argue were “fundamental.” Predictably, the fundamentalist movement slowly collapsed on itself.
The fact remains that mainstream fundamentalists today have as much (more?) in common with conservative evangelicals as they do with professed fundamentalists who proclaim the re-inspiration of the King James, who hold a magical view of the blood of Jesus, or who engage in the tactics of personal destruction (whispering campaigns, half-truths, and innuendos) against their opponents.Though I wouldn't want to minimize the differences between Johnson and Bauder, I can think of few things that would be more profitable for the future of confessional fundamentalism and evangelicalism than to build personal relationships, think through these differences together, identify those levels of fellowship at which cooperation is possible, and work together for the recovery of the gospel in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism.