Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From the "That just about sums it up, doesn't it?" Category

Check out Jenni Naselli's salient and incisive observation on the first night of the FBFI conference.

21 comments:

Nathan Williams said...

Is this for real or was Greg just joking when he posted this at SI? I can't really tell...

Greg Linscott said...

It is real.

Ben said...

Nathan,

You just can't make stuff like that up.

And even if we could, it's one of those things that's so appalling I can't imagine joking about it.

seeingclearly said...

Terrible, huh, that a group of fundamentalists would want their kids to become such? blasphemy!

Jim Peet said...

It's a nit ... move on!

'Nuff Said!(just had to say that! :) )

Ben said...

Jim,

If it's no big deal to you, I'm not going to argue with you why it should be. But it might be useful for you to understand that this sort of emphasis—particularly in contrast to the emphasis of gospel-centered organizations led by people outside the fundamentalist movement—speaks volumes to many of us.

It confirms our choices about our relationships in ministry. It confirms the fact that we have no real hope of being "together for the gospel" with the FBFI because the FBFI consistently communicates a greater interest in the fundamentalist movement than the gospel. And on top of that, its speakers frequently demonstrate that they don't understand the gospel.

So you may disagree whether this is a big deal, and that's fine. And in and of itself, it's not a big deal. But some of us believe this sort of thing reflects deeper priorities, and in that sense it communicates volumes.

Tim Tsuei said...

Jim, I believe that unintentional choices sometimes reveal more about heart intent than deliberate statements. That's why the choice of title for this kids' program is perhaps revelatory as to the priority of fundamentalism.

Ben, I found this quote from Greg's liveblogging to be... interesting.

In John Vaughn's concluding remarks, he noted that though the FBFI board had not resolved all of the business before them, the board had agreed to the following statement:

“We are together with the gospel only with those who are separated unto the gospel.”

Again, the emphasis seems to be away from the gospel, but instead on separation.

Andy Efting said...

I am a fundamentalist. I am a Baptist. I have several conservative philosophies regarding many matters. I want my children to grow up and embrace those same ideals, positions, etc. I want that for my children because I believe they are the best expression of Biblical Christianity. If I didn’t I would be something else, embrace other positions.

That said, I think the title of this program is completely ridiculous. It focuses on a human expression of Christianity that is and will always be flawed. We need to point kids to the ultimate standard: Christ-likeness.

Tim, how can you be for the gospel in a Biblical, Gal 2:5 sense, unless you are committed to separating from aberrant expressions of the gospel? Separation and being “together for the gospel” are not at odds with each other, they are both vitally important. Otherwise, what you are together for is not really the gospel but something else.

Ben said...

Andy,

Regarding separation, I see your point, but I think I understand what Tim's reacting against. At face value, I wholly embrace the FBFI statement about being separated to the gospel.

But at the risk of speaking for Tim, I think the issue is that the historical pattern of separation demonstrated by the FBFI gives me little reason to think that they understand what it means to be separated unto the gospel. Their brand of separation is often about other things that I want to part of. And as we've seen over the past year on more than one occasion, FBFI speakers and board members clearly don't understand the gospel.

Andy Efting said...

My comment was based on the merits of the statement alone. I agree with the statement even if I cringe at what is sometimes said, especially recently, as you have noted.

seeingclearly said...

Ben you wrote,

"And as we've seen over the past year on more than one occasion, FBFI speakers and board members clearly don't understand the gospel."

and

"And on top of that, its speakers frequently demonstrate that they don't understand the gospel."

This is a very serious charge, one that I think you may regret one day.

What are the ultimate consequences for not understanding the gospel? Please tell me you are being hyperbolic in this context!

seeingclearly said...

P.S. Are you trying to say that Pastor Sweatt made it clear that he doesn't understand Calvinism? That I can understand, but saying that they don't understand the gospel is something entirely different, in my way of thinking.

Ben said...

Andy, agreed. I think we're on the same page, and I'll be curious to hear if Tim thinks he is as well, once those people on the West Coast wake up. I'm guessing we'll find common ground.

Ben said...

S.C.,

I'm referring to more than Sweatt. Perhaps lazily, I'd let some of those other sermons slide by without comment, but maybe I should pick it back up.

As for Sweatt, I fear that he may be affirming universalism unintentionally and carelessly. When he attacks Calvinists for understanding "world" in John 3:16 to refer to only some people in the world, I have to wonder what he thinks of verse 3:17. There, Jesus says that God sent his Son into the world to save the world.

If Sweatt insists that "the world" means everyone without exception, then he either believes that everyone is saved or that Jesus didn't accomplish what God sent him to do. And if he believes that, then he has all sorts of problems, not the least of which would mean that Jesus is wrong when he says in John 6 that all that the Father gives to him will come to him.

TimT said...

(it's so early...)

Andy,
I agree that separation is necessary, but the statement and the history of this movement show that for many individuals, churches and organizations, separation is much more important than advancing the Gospel. I doubt anyone in fundamentalism would say that in such plain terms, but in practice, emphasis and attitude, separation is given a much more preeminent place in fundamentalism than true gospel teaching and practice.

Andy, I agree with you completely-absolutely wholeheartedly-that separation from aberrant, perverted forms of the gospel is necessary. I speak cautiously here knowing that I have many friends in fundamentalism: Man-centered gospel presentations should also be considered as aberrant.

In conclusion, the emphasis on separation for the FBFI isn't anything new. I'm commenting on the fact that the FBFI has a long standing track record of separation. Emphasizing it further in a statement about the gospel seemed to be an unfortunate sign of continued skew in emphasis.

Greetings to you and your family, Andy. It's been a long time.

NotWhatMyHandsHaveDone said...

Ben -

You still didn't answer S.C.'s question.

Nice Dodge

Ben said...

NWMHHD,

If you want to get snarky, at least have the guts to put your name by it.

Which question are you talking about? If it's the first question (in the first comment), I have no idea what the question means. If it's the second question (in the P.S), Sweatt certainly did make it clear that he doesn't understand Calvinism, but that wasn't the argument that I was making that precipitated the question.

seeingclearly said...

Ben,

My first question really wasn't that hard.

You said that there were frequent times when you were assured that these men don't understand the gospel. I'm saying that not understanding the gospel has serious, eternal consequences. Do you really want to go there?

Dave Marriott

Kent Brandenburg said...

This seems to be an amazing amount of angst over throwing in the word "fundamentalist" for a children's program at an FBFI conference. I would assume that they intended to be cute in a joyful kind of way. Love believeth all things. Where is the love in evangelicalism? It seems to me at face value to be a play on words and those nit-picking seem to be pulling a page from what bothers them about fundamentalism. (Throat clearing and then rotund voice) "We call our children's program "Desiring Christ." Sure. Bravo on the title. But Who is the Jesus that you are presenting? Does He rock? Does He hip hop?

I don't believe someone understands the gospel if they don't see separation in the gospel. We are separated from darkness to light, death to life, communion with the Devil to communion with God, citizenship in this world to a citizenship in heaven, old things to new things, old nature to new nature, former lusts to new desires, old way to the freshly slaughtered way, false worship to true worship, child of the devil to child of God, friend of the world to friend of God, and more. Paul wrote that unless we come out from among them and be separate, God would not call Himself our Father nor us His children. I think this is missing in much of evangelicalism and especially in the Southern Baptist Convention.

When I say these things, I mean them in the most loving way possible.

Ben said...

Dave,

Thanks for the clarification. It may been I'm thick, but I genuinely didn't understand.

I don't profess to know precisely what a person has to understand about the gospel in order to be redeemed. As the author of Hebrews clarifies in chapter 6, there are parts of the gospel that are elementary truths and parts that are more complex, and it's most important to grasp the elementary parts.

I think the kinds of errors we've both heard are more likely to fall somewhere deeper than the elementary truths, but probably somewhere short of the details of the Melchizekian priesthood as a type of Jesus' priesthood.

That's just my judgment, of course. I don't think it's a matter that's clear, but I do think it's a matter inextricably linked to the gospel.

And I'm just now realizing the irony that Hebrews 6 is the definitive passage in my mind, since that's one of the texts that's been so astonishingly misconstrued.

seeingclearly said...

Ben,

While I understand that the gospel is complex on one level and so simple on the other, to say, "these men don't understand the gospel" is, in my mind, claiming that they don't understand the simple part, the teachings of 1 Corinthians 15.

However, to take some unfortunate remarks about sanctification (Hebrews 6) from the MBBC platform coupled with a rant against Calvinism by DSweatt at an FBFI meeting and then to conclude that they "frequently demonstrate that they don't understand the gospel" and "FBFI speakers and board members clearly don't understand the gospel" still seems hyperbolic at best to me.

I did appreciate this clarification -- "That's just my judgment, of course. I don't think it's a matter that's clear, but I do think it's a matter inextricably linked to the gospel"

However, are you now saying that it was a clear matter or an unclear matter? Earlier you said that their words demonstrated that they "clearly" don't understand the gospel.

I'm still a little confused and a little frustrated...

Dave