… and now, back to work

In the crush of activities for this weekend, including getting the kids off on their journey, see below, I have been neglecting my reading. Last week I started the last chapter of Pickering’s book, The Tragedy of Compromise. The chapter is entitled “Gray Hairs Are Here and There”. In some ways, this seems to be the best chapter of the whole book. Dr. Pickering outlines the appeal of the new evangelicalism to the fundamentalist and then lists little compromises that add up to the slide of fundamentalist institutions and churches into an evangelical mindset.

Quite frankly, I think this is the problem in the many debates at sites like Sharper Iron and others. Most of the participants are not fundamentalists, though they claim to be.

Pickering quotes Dr. David Beale, one of my professors at Bob Jones University, as saying of faux-Fundamentalists:

“Unlike present-day Fundamentalists, they refuse to regard the militant defense of the faith and the full doctrine and practice of holiness as intrinsically fundamental.” [from In Pursuit of Purity, p. 261ff., quoted in Pickering, p. 159.]

One cry of faux-fundies is that there is no adequate definition of what a fundamentalist is. Dr. Beale’s statement here should be sufficient. There are two distinguishing marks:

  • Militant defense of the faith
  • Full doctrine and practice of holiness

When it comes down to it, is there anything else that would distinguish a true fundamentalist position from that of an evangelical? If one could take a snapshot of churches in the 50s, as the seismic shift in the fundie/evangelical world was happening, what would mark the difference between the two philosophies? The difference would not have been doctrinal. Both groups held to the same doctrines. The difference was philosophical: will I wage war for the gospel, or not? Will I wage war for holiness, or not?

Today, the churches are confronted with different issues, but essentially the battle is the same. The faux-fundies want to tone down the militancy and want us to learn to play nice with our conservative evangelical friends. They want to tone down the battle for holiness to the extent that there is little left to fight for. The only thing militant about the faux-fundies is that they will fight you if you disagree with their religious pacifism.

I intend to write more on this in the future. My goal is not to “save fundamentalism”, but to define and perpetrate in my life the biblical philosophy of earnestly contending for the faith. May God help us to be in dead earnest about the battle with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3