thinking it over

Everybody does it about this time of year, don’t they? Look back through the year and take stock; look forward to the new year and anticipate, I mean.

I thought I’d look back over the year of blogging and note my most commented posts. It might be instructive concerning the things that interest me which also interest a generally fundamentalist oriented reading audience. It might also serve for us to consider the issues facing us in the coming year.

The numbers of comments following these posts may be somewhat surprising. Some may think my numbers are kind of low. This is a function of several factors.

  1. My readership isn’t huge, although it has picked up considerably at the end of the year (largely due to SI linking on some controversial posts).
  2. Most blog chatter is generated by the most passionate few, there are many more readers than commenters.
  3. Blog commentary does have a way of wearing itself out after the arguments have been beaten to death ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

With all those caveats in place, I’ll start with the list of most commented posts (in reverse order of posting):

The following list is in the format of ‘Date’ – ‘Post Title’ – ‘Comment Count’.

12/11 – kjo = neo-e? – 72
11/23 – are we still friends – 76
11/01 – show me the silent majority – 42
10/08 – fundamentalism – PLUS? – 38
9/23 – phantom movements – 16
9/1 – new methods in a spiritual wilderness – 54
8/25 – a new-fundamentalist manifesto – 41
8/1 – Van Til – not a fundamentalist – 18
7/19 – a perfect argument? – 31
6/22 – keeping our distance – 42
5/12 – it’s not simple – 40
4/5 – it’s not about separation – 27
3/16 – is SG music an entry level drug? – 21
2/17 – the vision thing – 18
1/20 – pin the tail on the fundamentalist – 11

Here is my analysis of the subject matter of these posts:

Issue of Conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism Together OR Not (EFT)

The next few are actually sub-sets of this first topic, but they are also responses to the writings of several individuals:

Issue of Separation (more tangentially related to the CE vs. Fundy topic)

Issue of Calvinism

Issue of KJO argumentation

Issue of Music

What are we to make of all this?

What this shows, first of all, is that I have been obsessed with talking about the question of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together (EFT). This, it seems, has been the Fundamentalist conversation piece for the last five years. It has been steadily increasing in intensity, and is now bearing fruit in actions.

Ben Wright comments on it today and notes six things that we weren’t hearing from ostensible fundamentalist leaders six years ago, but are now:

    1. I have more in common with some conservative evangelicals than much of the fundamentalist mainstream.
    2. Let’s invite a particular sort of conservative evangelical to be our guest speaker.
    3. We need to apply separation just as aggressively towards people to the right of us as to the left of us.
    4. We need to recognize that some of these issues are complex judgment calls, not all of us are going to see all the issues the same way, and we need to grant one another the freedom to apply biblical principles in the ways their consciences dictate.
    5. Platform fellowship doesn’t imply full mutual endorsement.
    6. All of us are "disobedient brothers" in one way or another.

(BTW, the conversation following Ben’s post is quite interesting, and revealing, I think. KTB joins the conversation and, as usual IMO, muddies the waters with revisionistic statements. I think Ben has a better grasp of the history than KTB does.)

The interminable argument that we in Fundamentalism are engaged in these days is all about this question. The difference we are seeing now, as 2010 has closed, is that certain erstwhile Fundamentalist leaders are now willing to turn words into deeds.

Because of these deeds, the argument is becoming more sharply focused.

Some men have done things that Fundamentalists typically have not done for the last decades of history. Now we are going to have to decide what to DO about it. I am not sure that 2011 will see a resolution to the question, but I suspect we are going to see additional deeds of EFT in the coming year. The pressure will mount on the rest of us to react.

Three options occur to me:

  1. Opening our fellowship to wider cooperation as the agents of change desire.
  2. Resisting the change and experience a sharp split in what has heretofore been known as Fundamentalism.
  3. Quiet, tacit, albeit uneasy, tolerance (the status quo response to the argument) which leaves the question on the table with no resolution in sight.

Which way is best? I favor number 2, but I am afraid we will get number 3.

don_sig2

Notes:

  1. This one is least on the comment count, but is one of my favorites of all the posts I made this year. []

Comments

  1. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Don,

    Thanks for recapping your blogging year and boiling it down. I would agree with you on desiring option 2. While it certainly will not be the most peaceful of the options, it is the most Biblical. If we are indeed IFB and hold to the principle that the Bible is our ONLY rule for faith and practice then really option 2 is the only option to consider. Just my opinion.

  2. Larry says:

    Don,

    What do you think the revisionism in KTB’s statements at Ben’s blog?

    thanks,
    Larry

    • I think that you left a word out there, but I assume you are asking what he is saying that is revisionistic.

      It seems to me that it is becoming increasingly clear that he has a GARBC viewpoint and considers the BJU / IFB viewpoint to be the extremist and minority point of view in fundamentalism. From my perspective, the GARBC was (and perhaps is still) on the margins of Fundamentalism, if it could really called fundamentalist at all. I am thinking of the Tassel-led GARBC and onwards when I say this. This viewpoint distorts reality, in my opinion. I have elsewhere noted that he distorts the history of evangelicalism by his so-called silent majority that were neither fundamentalist nor new evangelical. I don’t think this is accurate at all.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. Don:

    Now we are going to have to decide what to DO about it. I am not sure that 2011 will see a resolution to the question, but I suspect we are going to see additional deeds of EFT in the coming year.

    I am quite certain there will be more EFT convergences this year. What we saw in 2010 is just the beginning.

    Three options occur to me: 2.Resisting the change and experience a sharp split in what has heretofore been known as Fundamentalism.

    Like you, I also favor #2 and wonder what both sides are waiting for. The convergence with non-separatist evangelicals has made this unrecoverable. IMO, the split has happened already.

    Lou

    • Did you see the item about Clearwater and IFCA on SI? That fits the pattern.

      I wouldn’t say a split has happened already, since only ‘pastors of small churches’ etc are saying anything. There will be a split only if other larger ministries censure the EFT moves that have already happened and follow it up with a break in fellowship / partnership of some kind (sometimes called separation).

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Don:

    As far as a split happening already, it is not quite fully tangible, but I think the decision has been made for many men on both sides of the current issues. IMO it will be an increasing drifting apart, that is already underway, not a single event or convention where sides choose to split on the spot as some denominations have been prone to do.

    I saw and have been discussing the CCC/IFCA merger with some friends. I interact with a particular man who had a long history with, but pulled out of the IFCA over another earlier flap. He shared some helpful commets with me today.

    Lou

    • Well, my only point is that for a real fissure to appear, someone else has to publicly go in the opposite direction. Otherwise you just have quiet acquiescence and the marginalization of the few who don’t like it and say so.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Larry says:

    Thanks Don,

    I think the margins of fundamentalism, both left and right, are probably a bit fuzzy. The GARBC is one of those types, IMO. I know there were some big battles, but I am not all that familiar with the history. I did read Tassel’s book years ago.

    There are some people who claim the title of fundamentalist to whom I would never grant the title as I use it and so we have no ministry partnership. I don’t begrudge them, and for the most part say little to nothing about them. But then I am probably more separatist than most (for both practical and theological reasons), though it doesn’t bother me that people differ. My circle of fellowship/ministry partnership is pretty limited.

    I do think a split is already underway and has been for many years. I am not troubled by that. I think there is too much of a difference about some things to profitably work together. So I think it is time for there to be a redrawing of some of the lines.

    For my part, however, I would like to see a bit more gentleness and caution in impugning others hearts and motives. I think these things are not as clear cut as some seem to think. We can all agree that Romans 16:17-18 is true and necessary for biblical obedience while differing in good conscience about where exactly to draw the line. I think it is obvious that 2 Thess 3 refers to more than simply a lazy man in the church at Thessalonica, but exactly to how much more is a matter of some legitimate dispute.

    So I think we need a renewed call for grace along with our firmness. I certainly have a sharp tongue at times and I have repented of that and asked forgiveness from people for the way that I have said some things. I see an awful lot of rancor that is, at times, even uninformed. I don’t mind strong and direct language. I think we need some caution however.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Larry

      Can’t really disagree with any of that. It is way too easy to get carried away in the heat of debate. We are talking about brothers, and we have disagreements. We do need to allow brethren to differ and it may mean we can’t work closely together. I just noticed a facebook page of an old friend from BJU days. He is definitely in a much different orbit than me. I can maintain a personal friendship with a guy like that, but I couldn’t work in ministry with him.

      However, I do think some seriously wrong decisions are being made by our erstwhile compatriots.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3