Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fundamentalist Cannibalism

Mark Farnham's article on SharperIron today is definitely worth reading. His basic argument is that non-Calvinist fundamentalists need to stop training their rhetorical guns on the rising "threat" of Calvinism, and instead defend the orthodox Christian faith against people who really mean to eradicate it.

Edgy, I know. But let's at least give the notion a fair shake.

I'm immensely grateful that Farnham would take a clear, public stance against some of the nonsense that's been emerging. It seems to me that many more people ought to repudiate it just as publicly. Perhaps I've missed them.

Some of you may have noticed in his brief bio that he's a Maranatha grad. In my book, he's the kind of guy who would make a great president for that institution someday—a former pastor, educational experience in a seminary setting, a clear thinker, a solid preacher, and to top it all off . . . an earned PhD in progress.

In related news, I just started watching the video of a debate in Dubai over the identity of God and how people are saved between Thabiti Anyabwile and a Muslim apologist. (You can start watching it here, and YouTube should be able to help you find the rest of the videos.) So anybody want to tell me that the increasing influence of Reformed thinkers like Anyabwile is the sort of thing that makes these times uniquely precarious? Seriously?


Wondering said...

Anther ridiculous post from a man who has become what he hates. Ben, listen to the clarifying remarks made in the chapel of MBBC, and let it go like most educated non-bitter, logical people have. A quick glimpse at your posts about this topic lead even the least brilliant among us to conclude that the spirit in which you post makes your arguments self-referentially absurd.

Anonymous said...

Wondering, I am gonna venture a guess that Ben's admonition isn't limited to a one-time event at some chapel service somewhere. The noncalvinist fundies have been hating on and trying to warn of the evils of calvinism for a long time.

James said...


I appreciate the post, but my concern is that it isn't even handed. Turn the tables on your thoughts . . .should not the reformed pastors/theologians quit training their guns on the non-reformed guys and KJVO in fundamentalism and quit calling them dangerous, ignorant, etc. A brief survey of reformed blogs show a lack of graciousness towards those fundamentalist that might be different than they are. That has become a unseemly characteristic of reformed people-a lack of graciousness towards others in the theological realm.

As I have seen the landscape in fundamentalism develop in the last 10-15 yrs its both sides of the reformed debate that shoot at each other, not just one side against the other. We in broader Christianity have a whole lot more to deal with than pointing our guns at each other-it goes both ways.

Ben said...


Couple questions . . .
1. Have you previously posted as anonymous, or am I talking to a different person?
2. What clarifying remarks are you referring to? Send me a link maybe? I hadn't heard they exist. It seems that if someone really wanted to clarify previous comments, it would be made in the same forum as the original misstatements.
3. What do I hate? I'm interested to hear.
4. Do you actually disagree with anything either Farnham and I have said, or are you just trying to make a rhetorical point?

Ben said...


I must not follow the reformed blogs you do, but I don't doubt that there have been mischaracterizations on both sides. They should stop. But I simply will not be held hostage by the notion that if I'm going to address one bad idea that I have to address absolutely every other bad idea that exists.

By the way, neither Farnham nor I have suggested that we shouldn't publicly critique ideas we reject. We're arguing that we shouldn't treat them as the enemy.

Anonymous said...

You said, "In my book, he's the kind of guy who would make a great president for that institution someday—a former pastor, educational experience in a seminary setting, a clear thinker, a solid preacher, and to top it all off . . . an earned PhD in progress."
Dr. Phelps' Bio: "Dr. Phelps grew up in a pastor’s home in West Virginia. He graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in Bible, earned a Master of Divinity degree from Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and completed his Doctorate of Ministry degree at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He served as youth pastor for four years in Owatonna, Minnesota, and in Denver, Colorado before accepting the position of pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire in 1989, where he served until coming to Maranatha."

Greg said...

Chuck, thanks for stopping by.

Ben didn't say "All former pastors with educational experience in a seminary setting and have an earned PhD would make a great president."

Anonymous said...

Would you kindly remove my privious Anonymous post regarding Dr. Phelps and this one? I am not Dr. Phelps and I do not want to give the appearance that he posted his own bio. He would not. Thanks so much.

Ben said...


As much as I hate to break my own rule against replying to "anonymous," here goes . . .

That's part of the price you pay when you post anonymously, so no, I'm not going to delete it just because you asked. But if you'd like to e-mail me and chat about it, please feel free.

James said...


I appreciate your response. A question for you-honestly, in the interactions that you have seen on the web and in churches and how they fellowship, do you really think that a good number reformed guys don't view those that don't hold to Calvinistic tendancies as an enemy?

I agree with you and Farnham that non-Calvinistic people have taken their thoughts too far and have simply become divisive to the hurt of the gospel. But I'm saying that to be completely accurate in your assessment of the problem of treating fellow brothers in Christ as the enemy (is this not the root issue and point that Farnham is making?), you have to deal with it from both sides.

Frankly, there is a growing sect of people/pastors that hear both sides constantly complaining about the other and critiquing the other and growing tired of it.

Chris said...


Would you write a post like this if someone affiliated with the 9 Marks franchise were, say, potty-blogging about dispensationalists?

I don't disagree with your premise: most of the anti-Calvin diatribes are an embarrassment to Christianity, but then again, so are the neo-Calvinists who miss no opportunity to call John Walvoord a slavering idiot because they heard so-and-so at that BIG school do so.

Be fair, be charitable.

Chris Ames (not my real nickname)

Coach C said...

I had no idea that Farnham was an MBBC grad. Going to look him up and read his article. I missed it at SI.

Coach C said...

In my personal experience, I have never heard of an Armenian being told to be quiet about his beliefs about soteriology - biblical refutations and earnest debate - yes, but, to my knowledge, no threats to "shut up".

On the other hand, I know of many situations where Calvinist leaning men were told on many occasions to "just be quiet".

Is there anyone else who might share my experience, or am I mistaken?

Ben said...


Could you show me where that has happened? I'm simply not aware of it.