Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Sound You Hear Is Fundamentalism Imploding

Dave Doran grapples with the implications of his separatism. I think this is the most fascinating paragraph:
Once I have decided that someone is violating biblical principles and that I must withdraw or withhold ministerial fellowship from him, does the failure of others to go along with my decision necessarily mean that I must withdraw or withhold ministerial fellowship from them too? And does the same question come up at a new level after each decision? I believe I must separate from Pastor A because of his disobedience to biblical truth, but Pastor B isn’t ready or willing to do that yet. Must I separate from Pastor B too? If you say yes, then what do I do about Pastor C who won’t separate from Pastor B (even though he might separate from Pastor A)?
Many fundamentalists have incoherently and hypocritically answered these questions. I believe that's a large part of the reason so many men who grew up in fundamentalism are convinced that, regardless of what might be the most healthy set of pastoral and church associations where they might teach and apply the convictions they learned from fundamentalists, the fundamentalist movement most certainly is not it.

Doran's answer in the next paragraph of his post is that he would vehemently disagree with some of the people in that alphabet soup. Certainly A. Maybe B. Possibly even C. I can't tell. He doesn't say. And in a sense, I don't blame him, because several of the "C"s are guys who speak at his church and/or graduated from his seminary and/or invite him to preach at Bible Conference.

I appreciate the fact that he's exposing the complexity of his dilemma. I agree with his conclusion: "I need to leave room for them to differ with me on this call or else I run the risk of making my conscience the standard for everybody else." What he says there, without explicitly saying it, is that the case for secondary (tertiary, quadruciary, etc.) separation that so many fundamentalists have championed is neither biblical nor viable.

But of course, if you're reading this, you probably already knew that.

Update: Doran just posted again. Read this part, at the very least:
For instance, when well-known fundamentalists make a questionable decision, it is sometimes explained with reasons like: (1) personal friendships with the hosts; (2) assurances that the hosts do not agree with the stranger views of the other speakers; (3) explanations that while those guys do hold some strange views, they really love souls (or have some other commendable trait); (4) in spite of their errant views, we think we can help that circle move toward a more biblical position; and/or (5) lack of knowledge regarding who all was involved in the event.

Yet, when some “non-fundamentalist” speaks alongside a person with questionable theology or ministry practices, he might offer the exact same kind of explanations and be soundly rebuked for (in corresponding order): (1) putting friendship ahead of the truth; (2) failing to realize the confusion that platform fellowship creates; (3) exalting man above God; (4) embracing an end justifies the means mindset; and/or (5) being careless about his ministry and with the Truth.
Of course Doran's right. And if you think the approach he critiques sounds like hypocrisy, it's because it is. And if you think you've been hearing people say that for years, it's probably because you have.


John I said...

It's good to see someone in Doran's position speaking so plainly on these matters.

Anonymous said...

Amen Ben.

And, John, yes it is good to hear. But, it's for just such occassions that the expression, "Better late than never," was coined.

Where was this admission of the obvious by any fundamentalist leader 20 years ago? 10?

And, as Ben says, the whole thesis implodes the "fundamentalism" of the last 20 to 30 years.


Paul said...

Rather than ask why in the world it has it taken so long for the inconsistency and hypocricy of the fundamentalist movement's view of separation to be openly acknowledged by more of its leaders (Bauder has been here), I will sipmly rejoice that it finally has.

May humility and reason prevail.

Anonymous said...

I rejoice with you. "Better late than never" acknowledges that a good thing is a good thing -- whether on time or not.

Nevertheless, a couple of related points for discussion would be:

1) Will there be apologies for the fact that the now acknowledged non-viable (in Ben's words) approach to separation was previously used against good brothers.

2) What makes fundamentalism fundamentalism without this unviable form of separation?


Anonymous said...

Wow. I am not sure how much this played into things, but I do wonder about how people are able to access so much more information today than before. This has to be a huge factor.

Before the internet and all the availability there, people relied on very limited news sources for information. Convincing someone of someone else's... evils are harder to do when you can verify so much.

Let us not forget that fundamentalism existed to fight modernism. When they lost (restructured if you please), who else was their to fight except themselves.

Fundamentalism reformed themselves into an anti new evangelical movement. Are fundamentalists really even fighting them anymore? My limited exposure to fundamentalism has been more about keeping the conservative evangelicals on the outside than anything else.

Lou Martuneac said...


It might be worth considering that Doran has essentially shed, divested himself of the label, “Fundamentalist.” So, as you read, you might consider that as he is speaking to and about certain segments of Fundamentalism, he is no longer speaking as a Fundamentalist.

Why don't you ask him about this.



Anonymous said...

What do you mean Lou, could you expand on what you are saying?

ben said...

John I, is that as in "King" or "Pope"? ;-)

James, an older pastor friend from one of the most separatistic fellowships I know told me a couple years ago, "The internet changed everything. Pastors can't just say stuff about men like MacArthur and Piper anymore and expect their people to believe it when it's not true. Their people are reading and listening to all those guys."

Anonymous said...

Ben and James,

I'm open to the idea that it's the internet that changed it, but I'm not totally sold yet.

Way back in the mid to late 80's -- a good bit before everyone had a computer and the internet was in wide use -- most of us had access to pletniful, cheap paper-back books, radio programs, and conferences by the dreaded likes of MacArthur and the other "Neos". It was clear then that these folks weren't "liberals" and that they didn't wear red and carry pitch forks.

Nevertheless, the big-shot fundamentalists and those who wanted to be in their orbit and good graces managed to enforce a prohibition on those "heretics" and "outside the camp" dwellers -- by using the requirement of the kind of "separatism" that Doran is now repudiating.

I'm sure the internet helped put an end to the charade. However, I wonder what other factors contributed. And, I'm thinking the "Too many cheifs, not enough indians" phenomenon may have been one.


Joel said...

What was it, Lou, do you think was the last straw for you with Doran?

Lou Martuneac said...

James Kime:

Yesterday you submitted a question at my blog in the current article. It did not upload. Resend and I will publish it in the thread. If you need the text I can e-mail it to you if need be.


d4v34x said...

I think the beginning of this kind of dialogue is very positive and highly preferable to the demands for resignation you (tongue in cheekly) anticipated.

ben said...


I guess I'm naïve. I actually thought people like Harding, Minnick, etc. would have withdrawn by now. Maybe more will shake up after the summer FBF conference. Or maybe they're seeing a need to revise their practice of separation. I haven't a clue.

d4v34x said...

I think Doran was dead on. Within fundamentalism we seem to take a smoking flax he will not quench attitude, which to an extent, I'm fine with. But as to those outside fundamentalism, its have no fellowship but rather reprove. I don't think it's going to turn on a dime, but I think Doran's thoughts signal the start of a positive dialogue.

Anonymous said...


You think Harding and Minnick will withdraw from FBF?

Are you postmillenialit? You are hopeless optimist.