Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fundamentalism Needs to Return to the Sufficiency of Scripture

Chances are, you or someone you know thinks that the young punk fundamentalists point out flaws in fundamentalism because they want to destroy or maim it. Well, folks can think what they will, but when past and present presidents of a fundamentalist seminary the same arguments, those folks might want to reconsider their assessment. Listen to the last four minutes of this interview to hear Sam Harbin of Calvary Baptist Seminary and Dave Burggraff, formerly of Calvary and now of Clearwater Christian College, talk about how fundamentalism needs to reestablish its commitment to the Word.

Listen to the whole interview, as well as part one, to hear Burggraff and Harbin talk about the kind of spiritual formation and conformity to Christ that would characterize genuine allegiance to the Word.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Racial Prejudice and the Gospel

Many sermons have been preached about the evils of racial prejudice. I suspect that many of them have missed the fact that the greatest evil of racism is that it lies about the Cross. John Piper doesn't miss this point in his (two) (part) series on racism, preached a few years ago, but podcasted recently. Those of you who are familiar with Greenville, South Carolina, may be interested in Piper's anecdote early into the first part about how both Jesse Jackson's mother and John Piper's mother listened to the same radio station—and the same evangelist-turned-college president.

Piper makes an intriguing observation:
Should we be surprised that there's a liberal twist to the most articulate, strongest black leadership . . . when in fact, the only schools open to them were liberal schools?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Historic Separatism: What Issues Mattered to Baptist in the 1800s?

In 1891, Jeremiah Bell Jeter wrote The Recollections of a Long Life, an autobiographical refletion on decades in pastoral ministry. Mark Dever quotes from this book in Polity, his compilation of 19th century Baptist documents on the life of the church. Jeter had some very interesting things to say about the kinds of theological issues that spurred Baptist pastors to militancy during his youth in the 1820s:
"Presbyterians and Baptists were quite ready to assert and defend the doctrines of election, and the certain salvation of all believers; nor were they slow to attack what they considered Arminian errors. While they did not give "undue prominence to their distinctive views," the Baptists of fifty or sixty years ago "believed, and were ready to fight for, 'the five points,' . . . Baptists of the present day . . . are less carefully indoctrinated than were the fathers." (Dever, Polity, 11-12)
And here's a little bonus quote from Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church booklet (not the full book):
Our understanding of what the Bible teaches about God is crucial. The Biblical God is Creator and Lord; and yet His sovereignty is sometimes denied, even within the church. For confessing Christians to resist the idea of God's sovereignty in creation or salvation is really to play with pious paganism. [emphasis added] Many Christians will have honest questions about God's sovereignty, but a sustained, tenacious denial of God's sovereignty should concern us. To baptize such a person may be to baptize a heart that is in some ways still unbelieving. To admit such a person into membership may be to treat them as if they were trusting God, when in fact they are not.

As dangerous as such resistance is in any Christian, it is more dangerous in the leader of a congregation. To appoint a person as a leader who doubts God's sovereignty or who seriously misunderstands biblical teaching on these matters is to set up as an example a person who may be deeply unwilling to trust God. Such an appointment is bound to hinder the church. (19-20)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mohler: Lessons Learned in Crisis

A reader once admonished me that John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer" wasn't very meaningful since his cancer stage wasn't all that life-threatening. Well, hopefully Al Mohler's multiple pulmonary embolisms and trip to the ICU qualifies him to share this biblical perspective on lessons learned.

From the "News You Already Knew" Category

Barna's latest survey says, "Over time, people have become sloppy in [how they define and count evangelicals], as evidenced by the fact that one out of every four self-identified evangelicals has not even accepted Christ as their savior."

In other words, 75% of evangelicals would look at you funny if you suggested the term actually ought to reflect something about what you believe.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Yes, I Do Have Product in My Hair

I want to welcome any visitors that are a result of the recent free advertising, and I also want to invite you all into my life to speak truth concerning the point of Sherwood's edifying scorn. I'm open to suggestions.

And by the way, lest rumors start, that was my sister, my nephew, and my niece in the photo.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Sword and the Trowel

I recently finished listening to Chris Anderson's helpful message at the OFB "Young Fundamentalists" conference on the necessity of balance between building and battling. In that message Chris refers to the "sword and the trowel" metaphor popularized by Charles Spurgeon.

Also this week, I happened across an even earlier reference to this metaphor in Charles Bridges' neglected 1830 classic, The Christian Ministry:
Our constancy and love have been often put to a severe and searching trial; and though we can never forget the dignity of character and the principles of encouragement connected with the Ministry, we are made to feel, that "if a man desires" the office, he desires a toilsome and self-denying, as well as "a good work." We must work, like Nehemiah and his men, with the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other. The progress of the work would be stopped by the laying down of the trowel. The enemy would gain a temporary advantage by the sheathing of the sword. Nothing therefore remains but to maintain the posture of resistance in dependence upon our wise Master-builder, and the Captain of our salvation—waiting for our rest, our crown, our home.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Calling Many Fundamentalists "Fundamentalists" Is a Misnomer

Greg Linscott links to an article by a Southern Baptist, who argues that calling the "overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists" fundamentalists is a misnomer.

The author of the article acknowledges the proper historical distinction between theological conservatives and fundamentalists. That distinction is grounded on the practice of separation from unbelief. Even the theological liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick recognized that distinction in his famous sermon, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?", preached way back in 1922. He loved the "conservatives," who were content to affirm the historic, orthodox faith of Christianity, except for the part that required repudiation and separation from false teachers.

I am in no place to comment on what portion of Southern Baptists are mere conservatives, and how many are militantly repudiating and separating from apostasy. The direction of the Convention as a whole is undeniably toward the former.

What does seem clear to me is that not all within the fundamentalist movement meet this definition of historic fundamentalism. Obviously, affirmation of the five fundamentals are not all that define fundamentalism. I think we’ve all learned that by now. Even the willingness to separate based on those five fundamentals alone is insufficient. Those points were merely a reflection of a particular set of issues most prominent and reflective of apostasy at one particular period of time.

But I wonder, how many fundamentalists would be willing to apply that separation test to folks within the “fundamentalist movement”? Would there not then be many “Fundamentalists” who are not true fundamentalists? Are there not many Fundamentalists who not only practice but tolerate aberrant doctrines and practices? Are there not associations of Fundamentalists that have refused to affirm the plain meaning of their own historic confessions of faith? Was that tolerance not the common practice of the denominations on their long, slow, certain slide into theological liberalism? Would it not be quite simple to make this paragraph much longer if one chose to do so?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Out-Fundamentalling Fundamentalists?

Doug Smith has written a great article for SI that summarizes a Capitol Hill Baptist Church Weekender. Doug's experience closely mirrors mine from spring '05. It had such an encouraging impact on me in my love and appreciation for the church that I applied for one of the internships to which Doug refers.

Doug wrote this about CHBC and fundamentalism:
Several Weekender attendees were current or former students at fundamentalist seminaries. Several CHBC members had come from fundamentalist churches and schools. Have these individuals become liberal? Or have they only joined because they could not find a “fundamental” church in the area? I don’t know about the second question, but as for the first, the answer is no. They have not turned liberal. They were attracted by the focus on practicing the Bible as a serious community of believers at CHBC and appreciated the sound teaching and preaching. They were not against separating from false teachers, but they obviously had jettisoned some of the more extreme varieties of secondary separation. While many fundamentalists certainly would not laud CHBC as a bastion of Fundamentalism, they should admit that there is much to be thankful for there.
Doug said this quite well, but I'll take it a step further. I absolutely do think CHBC is a bastion of fundamentalism. I think it is "out-fundamentalling" most of the fundamentalist movement when it comes to foundational matters of Scripture, the gospel, local church health, discipleship, and evangelism.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fundamentalist Episcopalians?

Not two minutes after I finished writing a paper on Harry Emerson Fosdick's sermon, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win," for the CHBC internship, I read this editorial from the Washington Post written by prominent members of The Falls Church. John Yates and Os Guinness explain in detail why they left the ECUSA, and as I observed recently, it's about far more than homosexuality, as many news reports have suggested.

Thinking about these two situations in such close juxtaposition reminded me how many of the same concerns, values, and ideals Yates and Guinness and the 1920s fundamentalists share.

The conclusion of the editorialfollows. Regardless of our remaining denominational differences, this stand is cause for rejoicing:
These are the outrages we protest. These are the infidelities that drive us to separate. These are the real issues to be debated. We remain Anglicans but leave the Episcopal Church because the Episcopal Church first left the historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, "Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other."

Read Fosdick's sermon here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does Your Church Tolerate Unregenerate Members?

Here's a great article on how many Baptists seem not too concerned about a regenerate membership. Have you ever thought about how many non-attending members your church maintains on its rolls?


Monday, January 08, 2007

Here's Why OSU Never Had a Chance

Tim Tebow, Florida's platoon quarterback, is a dispensational, pretrib, missionary evangelist:
On one hand, Tebow is a 6-foot-3, 240-pound quarterback with the mentality of a linebacker — Louisiana State coach Les Miles called him a rock-’em, sock-’em kind of runner — who revs fans in the Swamp by pumping his arms to the crowd.

On the other hand, he is a mild-mannered missionary who during three of the past four summers accompanied his father, Bob, on evangelistic trips to the Philippines.

"In 2005, Timmy preached on one day to over 29,000 people and over 25,000 put their trust in Christ," said Bob Tebow, a Florida graduate who began his ministry 22 years ago.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"If you want me to I'll make you whole. I'll only do it though if you say so."

Ripped straight from the biblical text . . .

Apparently, "only willing love is worth the price" of Christ's atoning death. This is so bad I really thought I was watching a parody until I saw the video caption that tells where this came from.

The really beautiful irony is that the first words you see are "Jehovah reigns." The rest of the song proceeds to define the limitations of his "reign." The unwillingness to separate from those who trumpet this kind of abuse of Scripture is just one of the reasons fundamentalism has lost its credibility as a movement.

HT and tip from Paleoinformant "Lumpy"