elephantine update

Thabiti Anyabwile comments on the Mark Driscoll / James MacDonald / T. D. Jakes love-in. You need to read it.

Money quote:

 And we kid ourselves if we think the Elephant Room invitation itself isn’t an endorsement of sorts.  We can’t downplay the associations by calling for people to suspend judgment and responding ad hominem against “discernment bloggers.”  We certainly can’t do that while simultaneously pointing to our association at The Gospel Coalition as a happy certification of orthodoxy and good practice, as Driscoll seems to do here with MacDonald. [emphasis added]

What a blessing it would be if men like Thabiti and the more conservative evangelicals would finally see that this is the crux of the fundamentalist-evangelical divide, and then get on the right side of it.



  1. Jonathan Hunt says:

    One doesn’t have to be a fundamentalist to exercise a reasonable degree of biblical seperation. But then again, perhaps I’m a fundamentalist in denial.

    • hi Jonathan,

      Well, the UK context is a bit different, so maybe what you are is a “fundamentalist in the UK”.

      I agree that not all separatists are fundamentalists. Even Christianity Today types will separate over some things. (Their bar is very low.)

      But I do think Thabiti is being confronted with that particular aspect of separation that distinguishes fundamentalists from evangelicals. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. What is Thabiti to do now, having come out so strong? Will he follow up on his tough words when TGC does nothing (which it will)? Will he break with them? That would be an amazing statement.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. d4v34x says:

    He’s not going to break with TGC. I’d guess MacDonald will before Anabwile will. I mean, if you play “one of these kids is doing his own thing” with Carson, Piper, DeYoung, Anabwile, and James MacDonald, who is the odd duck?

    • Oh, I agree. The typical pattern that this follows is someone fulminates, a controversy ensues, nothing is done, and we carry on as usual. Talk about preserving movements for the movement’s sake!

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. d4v34x says:

    As far as your crux of divide comments, I think some of “them” may well become more separatistic going forward (especially with Lou coaching them [wink wink]), but I see them restricting the practice to fundamental heresy like modalism rather than, say, disputes about cessationism. Just my .02 (US, sadly).

    • Dave, you might be right on some movement to a separation restricted to such things as modalism. I have my doubts that many of them will go that far. Voices like Thabiti will be raised, a kerfuffle will ensue, the dust will settle, and nothing will happen.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. d4v34x says:

    What in the world are you doing up at this hour? Get some sleep, man!

    • Only 2 AM here!

      Unwinding after the day. I often stay up late on Sunday nights.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Would agree with you Don, these will have their say and then move on seemingly satisfied that they have done their due diligence at upholding some form of consternation about these aberrations. The same is being done now concerning Perry Noble at NewSpring in Anderson, SC and his speech problem (among other things). I am really wondering what all the hubbub is about anyway since Driscoll has already crossed that bridge and has acceptance.
    Then we have these so-called fundamentalists defending these evangelicals and saying that they are indeed “separatists.” They have touted that Dever is a separatist. Really, why is he scheduled for Elephant Room 2?

  6. I know this post is now old but I have a question regarding cessationism. At what point did being a cessationist become a requirement for being a fundamentalist or indeed is it? Would men of the past and present who hold to all other tenets of fundamentalism and exercise biblical separation from the false teachers, liberal theologians and other corrupters of the gospel message while maintaining a non-cessationist stance be considered non-fundamentalist? I’m not talking about the modern charismatic movement which is unbiblical or most of Pentecostalism that exists today.


    • Good question, MJ.

      Well, there have been some Pentecostals who could be called fundamentalists, at least of a sort. I think most fundamentalists have tended to look at them somewhat dubiously, although there have been some cooperation at points. O. Talmadge Spence comes to mind as an example, although I am not sure he or his followers are in fellowship with many other fundamentalists today, probably because of the versions issue along with the cessation issues. Cooperation with such men would still be fairly limited … mostly special speaking engagements and conference work, where you could leave aside the tongues-issues for the sake of the meeting.

      I wouldn’t say that non-cessationism is an absolute bar to Fundamentalist cooperation, but it certainly puts a stumbling block in the way and makes it very difficult, especially in the modern context. There are very few non-cessationists today who would address critical issues in such a way that allow them to be considered fundamentalists, if any.

      Not sure if that helps any, ask again if you think I am not clear.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Fundamentalism is founded on the absolute authority of Scripture. If you don’t have that, the fundamentalist philosophy collapses.

    Continuationism has a tendency to dilute that authority by adding other authorities (prophets, personal experience, etc.). I’m not saying this is true of every continuationist (I certainly know some who would brook no dilution), but rather that is the tendency. The continuationist view certainly permits such dilution, if applied consistently.

    As a result, many continuationists wouldn’t want to be in the same boat with fundamentalists, and many fundamentalists would view continuationists with at least some measure of doubt.

  8. Mark J says:

    Don, Thanks for your reply, you did clear things up for me. I was interested to see that RA Torrey was an editor and contributing author of “The Fundamentals” which is considered a foundation of the modern fundamental movement and Torrey could hardly be considered a cessationist.
    It is lamentable that a high proportion of those today that are non-cessationist could in not be considered fundamentalist. I think this has contributed to a dim view of non-cessationism by many.
    Anyhow, thanks again. I was getting the impression from some comments on a few fundy blogs that non-cessationism was a outright no no. I guess for some it would be.


    • Hi Mark

      Well, see Jon’s comment above, just before your last. Non-cessationism as currently taught would be unacceptable to most fundamentalists. I personally would have a problem with any view that allowed for ‘heavenly language’. A view that allowed for real human language gifts at times, not worked up in a ‘tongues meeting’, would be cautiously accepted if the one holding the view didn’t claim ongoing revelation by means of the so-called gift.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Mark J says:

    Yes I agree as currently taught by most. And its exactly the reason Jon mentioned, the absolute authority of Scripture and being steadfastly grounded in it.

    Do you agree and consider that RA Torrey was a fundamentalist? I ask as I have really enjoyed and benefited from reading his books, sermons etc. Also those of D.L Moody (sermons and bio’s).

    The reason I am asking these questions is that I have for some time considered myself a fundamentalist. I am also a very conservative continuationist (thanks Jon for that term is much easier) by modern standards. How I came to that view is a long story, and it is at odds with the views of the only church I have attended so its not a decision made lightly.

    There is a vast difference between the beliefs and practice on these issues between men of the generation of Moody and Torrey, than has existed in the main for at least 60 or so years. I couldn’t imagine a ‘tongues meeting’ in that generation.

    Thanks Don and Jon for your responses.