Archives for 2.8.08

beyond outrage . . . a call for a theology of culture

Two recent posts are offered on the approach fundamentalism needs to be taking in the 21st century. The first is outrage is easy, the second is outrage is easy . . . or is it?

My arguments in outrage is easy . . . or is it? fall along what I consider to be traditional fundamentalist argumentation in the last half of the 20th century, i.e., an opposition to compromised associations. I think the argumentation is valid, yet the argumentation fails if the issues over which I object are inconsequential.

Let me try to illustrate [I know that I am often guilty of obtuse language]: Person A engages in practices/preaching that the Fundamentalist shuns and proclaims wrong. Person B does not engage in those practices/preaching but is willing to overlook these matters and joins with Person A in cooperative religious efforts. The Fundamentalist, according to my argumentation, shuns Person B because his association with Person A constitute a violation of clear commands of Scripture to ‘touch not the unclean thing’.

If the practices/preaching of Person A are not, in fact, wrong, then the Fundamentalist is wrong in shunning either one.

Regardless of any other factors, this is the crux of argument against compromised associations. The shunned preaching or practices must be sufficiently antagonistic to the cause of Christ to warrant the shunning [to whatever degree the shunning takes place].

I say ‘sufficiently’ because we are all fallible men and we tend to want to give others the benefit of the doubt to some extent – or at least, we ought to. I say ‘to whatever degree’ because there are what some call ‘degrees’ of separation. It is not my purpose to agonize over such degrees here. I am simply looking at the essential argument as I made it in the earlier post.

It seems to me that the issues we most argue about today in the shunning/separation/fellowship debates is largely culturally focused. Whether it be the culture of music, motion pictures, dress, the use of alcohol, or any other issue you care to name, the argumentation is largely focused on culture. Some say the problem is simply a matter of taste. In the area of music, the ‘good old hymns’ of broad fundamentalism are nothing more than the popular music of the late 19th to early 20th century. Some might add that culture is not theological, no doctrines are at stake, your criticism is nothing but Pharisaism, etc.

In this article, I am going to contend that the challenge to orthodoxy we face today is a much more subtle attack on orthodoxy than we have faced heretofore.

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