more on the FBF symposium

In my earlier assessment of the FBF National Conference, I posted the following in summary on the symposium session held on the last day of the conference:

Symposium – a good start. Maybe too long in defining terms, or too short a session. We need to have more on this line next year, to flesh out the FBF position more clearly. I thought most panel members acquitted themselves well. I’ll want to listen to this again and give some detailed analysis.

I’ve now listened twice. If any venue at the meeting had the potential for fireworks, this one did. I thought Dr. Vaughn did a good job conducting the session and several important subjects were addressed.

Of course, the announced subject was only all too briefly addressed, much to the disappointment of many. The subject, as I understood it, was Conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalist relationship with the same. Several observations come to mind:

  • The lengthy preliminaries, given to defining terms, was probably necessary. It is too bad that the time given up in the previous session due to Stephen Jones’ illness couldn’t have been given to the Symposium.
  • The Symposium as a whole is a good start to the conversation we need to have within Fundamentalism. We will need to hear more about this in the future. I wonder whether the Symposium format is really the most efficient way to accomplish this, however.
  • As we listen to the speakers in the Symposium, it seems that some differences exist between participants, but in the main, there is agreement on two things: Fundamentalism means militancy and there remains a clear philosophical divide between Fundamentalists and Conservative Evangelicals that precludes cooperative fellowship.
  • Militancy/Fundamentalism does not mean a sense that the Conservative Evangelical is not a brother, but that he is unwilling to join the battles the Fundamentalist is willing to fight (though the CE may fight some battles).

I would hope that next year there might be an opportunity for this discussion to continue. Perhaps a smaller group or a different format might be better. We do need to address the divide, identify it, show the young preachers (and older preachers) where the divide is, why it is right to maintain the divide, and what we can do to call those on the other side of the divide to come our way. It is unacceptable to move in the other direction, unless you want to abandon Fundamentalism altogether.

Lastly, I would like to commend Dr. Mark Minnick’s message from last Sunday night at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. This message is very transparent, clear, and explicit about all these things people have been wrestling with concerning the current state of fundamentalism. When I heard it, I thought, “At last!” At last someone is saying the same things I have been blogging about for years. We need those men who are leaders among us to be vocal about our reasons for existence. The silence needs to stop, and the chips need to fall where they may.

I would hope that in the coming year many of our men, especially those with the stature of the men on the Symposium, will speak out about the issues Dr. Minnick addressed in this message. Let’s be forthright about why we hold to a distinction and a division from Evangelicalism as such (including the Conservative Evangelicals). Let’s be forthright about why we hold to a distinction and division from worldliness (and let’s work at purging it from our own house!).

One comment that was made during the symposium (I don’t know who the speaker was) went this way:

“Men are weary of the fighting.”

That is probably true. But let’s remember the definitions section of this Symposium. The fight is exactly what Fundamentalism is all about. Are those who are weary of the fighting also weary of Fundamentalism?

I hope not.

But they may be weary of fighting over petty differences among ourselves. I, too, am weary of that. I hope that our leaders will be not weary in well doing and will regularly and plainly articulate the reasons for our differences with Evangelicals (including the Conservative ones) so that our young men will grasp what it is we are about.

And last, PLEASE, let’s lay aside the bickering over Calvinism. I think there is a link between the attraction of some to the Conservative Evangelicals and Calvinism, but it isn’t the Calvinism of the Conservative Evangelicals that we have a problem with. Our problem as fundamentalists with the CEs is that they are not separated to the Gospel.

“We are together for the Gospel only with those who are separated to the Gospel.”



  1. tjp says:

    Bro. Don,

    Don: [But they may be weary of fighting over petty differences among ourselves. I, too, am weary of that.]

    tjp: What do you consider petty differences, and can you cite some examples of fundy leaders squabbling over them?

    Don: [And last, PLEASE, let’s lay aside the bickering over Calvinism]

    tjp: This, quite frankly, is an impossible request. The Calvinists have informed us since Kangaroo Dort that Calvinism either wins or losses, but it never coexists. History is clear on this point.

    Besides, if Spurgeon is correct, and “Calvinism is the gospel,” then the Calvinists are committed to overthrowing all that is not Calvinism. To compromise with the “bastard gospel” (The Mercersburg Review term, 1877) of non Calvinism would be spiritual treason. There is one gospel, and either Calvinists have it or non Calvinists have it or neither has it. But they both can’t have it.

    Sorry, Don, your request is denied, and it’s denied on the authority of 400-plus years of church history.

    Have a good one!


    • Well you might be right on that last bit, Tracy. I think if you are talking about the “hard” 5-pointers, you are right. But there are “soft” 5-pointers who don’t make the system their idol and are willing to work with others. And then of course the 4 pointers, etc, are less system oriented.

      As for petty squabbles… well, to me, some of the ‘dress code’ fights that have occurred in the past come to mind. These would be less likely to be fought at a high level, but sometimes in local fellowships, men have made them matters of division.

      I have been looking through the FBF resolutions from the record on their site. It seems to me that the FBF nationally has tried to have a pretty good emphasis over the years, taking good positions on many points. Some of them might be surprising to the young fundies who think fundamentalism never does anything about error in their own ranks. I’ll say more about that later.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. “We are together for the Gospel only with those who are separated to the Gospel.”

    — I am very pleased with this statement.

  3. The Gospel is the gospel no matter what. The gospel is not about separation but about salvation. Satan has never won the war with God. God is going to do what He is going to do with grace, and righteousness, and justice. We might have some points wrong, but God is perfect. The Gospel of Grace or Salvation is not Calvinism. Calvinism is a viewpoint about the Gospel.

    I am not sure what you are saying about the statement: “Our problem as fundamentalists with the CEs is that they are not separated to the Gospel.”

    “We are together for the Gospel only with those who are separated to the Gospel.”

    I am separated unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is the point upon which I will fellowship.

    • Hi Charles

      I am not sure what all the FBF men would mean with the slogan, but for me it means that I won’t be supporting a John Piper any time soon because of his many entanglements with people who corrupt the gospel in many different ways. That is not to say Piper doesn’t preach the gospel, but that he isn’t separated completely to the gospel.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3