Monday, January 26, 2009

A Root of Indifference Springs Up and Troubles Us

The last time I listened to Matt Olson's talk on contemporary issues in fundamentalism, I caught a sentence I'd missed before. he said, "For the Christian, everything should be considered important and weighed out according to the Scripture."

Amen to that. Whatever Olson said or meant or why he said what he said rather than what he meant on the points we've previously discussed ad nauseam, I want to wholeheartedly affirm that statement above.

That's why I don't think the right way to respond to bad ways to talk about doctrine is to minimize the value of talking about doctrine.

That's why, when some expressed surprise that good things Olson said were being ignored, and the one really bad thing was getting all the press, I wasn't dissuaded. Olson is right that fundamentalism has often got it wrong on music. He's right that the associations argument on music doesn't hold much water. And he's certainly right that not all people who are serious about creating the right appetites in music are going to land in the same place. He's right that dogmatizing our personal conclusions puts us in trouble. (And as dissidens points out, he's just a hair outside the historic fundamentalist mainstream on that point.)

But biblical fidelity and robust theology are more precious than the freedom to sing sanitized Sovereign Grace music.

"Everything should be considered important and weighed out according to the Scripture."

We need to labor to squeeze every drop of divine truth out of the biblical text. We need to acknowledge that our differences may often not place significant limitations on our cooperation and fellowship, but that doesn't mean those differences are meaningless.

I wonder if the common binary mindset has produced the functional indifferentism in fundamentalism. The mindset seems to be that either something is a separation issue or it’s not important. Because if it’s important, we have to separate. And if fundamentalists have never separated over it, or if we just have a gut feeling that we shouldn’t break fellowship over a doctrine, then we ought to minimize or marginalize it.

Does this impulse explain why fundamentalist leaders discourage discussion about difficult theological issues in institutions that are perpetuated by support from a marbled constituency? Because they recognize the movement's separatist DNA and don't want that DNA to metastatize to historic non-issues and create new divisions that would further splinter the movement? I can't know with certainty whether that's related to the conversation we've just had, but we'd be fools to pretend it's implausible. And we'd be greater fools if pretend it doesn't matter.


Joel Tetreau said...


I can see that your roots are most definitely springing up and troubling you.

Like, you have to move on baby. You've made your points about Matt and our friends at Dunbar. Hey have you considered that perhaps you should "get out" more often? I mean Matt's a great guy to focus on and all, but there comes a point. Ben, now be honest with you have certain counseling and/or therapy needs left over from your days in Wisconsin Fundamentalism? I can help you with that. Call me.


Think "happy thoughts" Ben...."happy thoughts." Don't worry about Chris's blog. He loves you....everyone loves Ben! Maranatha loved you. Pro-Teen's loved you. The Fundy's love you. Your boss now loves you.....and of course now all those Southern Baptist love you. It's all good brother's all good.

Straight Ahead!


Carolyn said...

Sanitized Sovereign Grace music ... heh...