what shall we do with this?

Perhaps you remember an educational game called Amazon Trail. Part of the game involved ‘fishing’ so you could survive on your trek up the Amazon. Whenever you speared a fish, the program would tell you what kind of fish you had captured and a voice would ask, “What shall we do with this?” Over and over and over… as my kids played it, this line kept repeating itself from our kitchen. Enough to drive you batty (short trip for some of us).

Recent happenings in the ecclesiastical world make me ask that question: what shall we do with this?

A fellow who is fairly well-known in fundamentalist circles involves himself with many interesting collaboraters/partners/ministries…

  • He boasts of having his music recorded by Chuck Swindoll’s church choir – the same church that, according to reports here and here, also hosted well-known modalists. What shall we do with this?
  • He operates a blog where some of the regular contributors are on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, on the staff of  Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis – well-known evangelical institutions. What shall we do with this?
  • He publishes a book with a forward by a well-known evangelical who teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary, and is also on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. What shall we do with this?

A few years ago I stirred up a furor about this fellow by creating a category on oxgoad “FINO Sightings?” This was in relation to a post where he had recommended a notorious but popular evangelical. (FINO = Fundamentalist In Name Only)

As the years have gone by, the evangelical connections this man has are steadily increasing. I am not branding these evangelicals as “unclean” or reprehensible people. They all have some interesting things to say at times, but they clearly have adopted an evangelical philosophy. What shall we do with this? Can this fellow legitimately continue to claim to be a Fundamentalist? Should fundamentalist institutions and churches continue to offer their pulpit to him? Should we endorse or use his music? (His music is good, but his alliances are becoming increasingly questionable.) What should fundamentalists who partner with him do about these growing evangelical connections?

I’m sorry to see men go down paths like this. It creates confusion for fundamentalist Christians – if we cooperate with a man like this, are we endorsing the connections that he involves himself with? Can we say that this fellow really is a fundamentalist when he is so actively involved with evangelicals?

don_sig2

Comments

  1. If a company is selling organic food, and it tastes good, and the price is ok, I’ll buy it.

    If they are selling non-organic produce, and it tastes good, and the price is ok, I’ll buy it.

    If they are selling non-organic produce, but label it as organic, and I know it, I probably won’t buy it even if it tastes good and the price is ok. It bothers me a lot if the label is inaccurate.

    ***
    I don’t usually mind using good music from conservative evangelicals, even though they don’t practice Biblical separation, if they aren’t too wacky, and as long as you know who they are and what you are getting..

    I like using good music from Biblically-sound separatists.

    I’m getting more and more nervous about the label issue.

    • @Jon

      I’m not clear on what you mean by being “more and more nervous about the label issue”

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Sorry for being obscure. Let’s put it this way. I have a lot more confidence in the books / music of a conservative evangelical who says that is what he is than I do those of a conservative evangelical who says he’s a fundamentalist. If someone adopts one label but it isn’t really accurate, I don’t trust his product so much anymore.

        And as you pointed out, our friend’s fundamentalist label is starting to be called into question.

        I’d have no hesitation in profiting from his books / music if he came out and said, “I’m a conservative evangelical.” I’d have no hesitation in profiting from them if he remained a consistent separatist. It’s his labeling problem that is bothering me.

        • Right, that’s exactly my point. It is not that I see evangelicals as the embodiment of evil and those whom we must avoid like the plague. But it is the issue of integrity and honesty.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

          • So the basic situation here is that I was agreeing with you but found a long and obscure and confusing way to do it. Ain’t the Internet great? :) (Notice how I shifted blame for my own incompetency to the big bad Internet?)

            It’s all too bad. I’m pretty sure I remember him writing an excellent defense of a good separatist position on SI some years back. Wonder what changed….

            Hope you’ll excuse me now, I need to go find another blog to leave a confusing comment. If they haven’t all banned me yet.

  2. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Good post.

    But would you say the same things about Chuck Phelps? After all, he’s hosting Les Ollila who has made ovetures to J-Mac and who watched his school go through unchanging change and said nothing. According to Dan Patz the changes we see now at NIU have been going on for at least two years, and Les remained supportive of them and, along with Mat. Olson, denied they were even happening!

    TJP

    • Well, let’s wait to see what Les says.

      • T. Pennock says:

        Don,

        I don’t want this to become an apple of discord, but my point is that, if Chris Anderson is on troublesome ground for his music connection with Swindol, then surely Phelps is on equally troubling ground for giving Les Ollila a public plateform, no? After all, hasn’t Ollila sought connections with J-Mac? Hasn’t he already crossed over to the darkside? It isn’t about what Les will say on Monday but what he’s already done over the past several years that should trouble fundies. In fact, given what has transpired over the past 24-30 months at NIU, I’m not sure what more Phelps hopes to learn.

        Have a good one!

        TJP

        • Hi Tracy, your questions are fair, I was on the road yesterday and didn’t have time for a thorough answer.

          There are quite a few differences in my mind. First, neither Chuck nor Les have sought any kind of ministry collaboration with evangelicals. You could argue that Les’ meeting with MacA is something of that sort, but I don’t have a problem with someone meeting someone else for some kind of ‘information gathering’ type of meeting. That is what I think it was. Furthermore, Les didn’t want to undermine Matt as long as he thought Matt was going too far and he could influence him. From some hearsay I got this week, that situation changed radically over the last six months.

          I don’t see the speakers at Northland as being something within Les’ control. That’s on Matt, not Les. One could argue that Les should have spoken out sooner, I suppose. Everyone has to sort these things out for himself, I suppose there was some hope that things could be turned around, or influence could be had, which of course proved to be a vain hope.

          On the other hand, Chris has entered into ministry partnership with evangelicals. He works directly with them in various ministries. He’s the lead guy in the ministries he’s involved in. He’s calling the shots.

          Also, please note that I am simply asking for a clear identification to be made. It bothers me to see Chris being held up as a fundamentalist when he seems so clearly to be an evangelical. It bothers me to see Chris speak on the platforms of fundamentalist schools where he is held up as an example for the young people to follow.

          That is not to denigrate the various ministries he performs. He is a good man in a lot of ways. He just seems to think you can hang around with evangelicals and enter partnerships with them and still be seen as a good fundamentalist.

          The two situations are entirely different as far as I can see.

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

          • T. Pennock says:

            Don,

            I trust you understand I’m not necessarily criticizing Phelps. I was simply wondering how you understood the comparison with Anderson. By the way, I think Phelps is doing fundamentalism a good in having Ollila. It will give Les an opportunity to state publicly what’s happened at NIU. I’m sure it’ll go far in curtailing the inevitable evil surmisings.

            Have a good one!

  3. Don,

    Chris Anderson wants to be where he’s positioning himself. That’s who he is. He is proclaiming it without apology, even promoting it, using it for what he sees as an advantage.

    He is not where fundamentalism was. This was a no-no. You could not get away with this. You could not be both a fundamentalist and an evangelical simultaneously.

    Chris Anderson thinks he sees and knows the pulse of fundamentalism, and I think he does too. He is a perfect bridge builder from fundamentalism back to evangelicalism. Others have talked. He’s doing it. In a sense, he’s daring anyone to do something about his fellowship, because he knows that no one who could hurt him will do anything about it. I would say Stephen Jones is fine with it. It’s gospel centered. That’s what Chris could defend it with.

    Chris is not just moving himself and flaunting it. He’s trying to bring everyone with him. If fundamentalism does nothing about it, that is in fact what fundamentalism is. Fundamentalists have decided that Chris Anderson is fine. He preaches at BJU and preaches at Detroit. He had preached at Mike Harding’s conference.

    That branch of fundamentalism is sick and tired of the revivalist, Sword-of-the-Lord, KJVO tolerating, anti-intellectual branch. They see more in common with the “conservative evangelicals.” I think they see their new position as a more consistent position with historic fundamentalism than what they were.

    In long distance biking, a biker will break from the pack and get out front. Chris is doing that. He doesn’t care about the people who tell him he’s wrong more than the people who like what he’s doing. The flood gates are ready to open.

  4. T. Pennock says:

    Don,

    Earlier I wrote, “It [Les’s interview with Phelps] will give Les an opportunity to state publicly what’s happened at NIU. I’m sure it’ll go far in curtailing the inevitable evil surmisings.”

    I’m not sure that happened. Needless to say, I was disappointed. I have more questions now than I did before the interview.

    TJP

    • Well, he could have been more explicit, but in the format I thought he said enough.