Response to Tyler Robbins

This article is to respond to a lengthy piece by Tyler Robbins reacting to an article in our most recent FrontLine magazine. Tyler is unhappy with the article by Dan Unruh entitled, “Why I Left My Fundamentalist Church.” Dan’s article is among a collection of articles in this issue dealing with what we are calling “convergence,” that is, the phenomenon of individuals formerly connected with the fundamentalist movement who are now embracing certain aspects of the Evangelical movement. This change of position really is a new thing, it isn’t fundamentalist and perhaps it isn’t strictly evangelical either. Dan is writing about one part of that phenomenon where convergent pastors have decided to move their formerly fundamental churches into a more evangelical position. I wrote an article on this myself some months ago, entitled “What to do when your church leaves you.”

I should also say that my answers here are my personal opinions. I am not speaking for the FBFI at all, the only individual who speaks for us is Dr. John Vaughn, otherwise when the board speaks, we speak through position statements adopted in our meetings.

Tyler had 48 questions in his article, I pointed out to him that he was quite repetitive! He was asking questions as he worked his way through Dan’s article, but he has helpfully reduced his questions to just these four:

1. What are the marks of a “Convergent” fundamentalists and how can we identify one?

2. Do you believe in “big-tent” fundamentalism; that is, is this movement bigger than Baptists? If so, how do, how would these “big-tent” fundamentalists avoid being “Convergent” from your point of view.

3. Bro. Unruh compared “Convergent” fundamentalists to (a) the rebel Absalom who defied God, (2) the “fierce wolves” and false teachers from Acts 20:29-31, and (c) a possible allusion to Satan (“craftily”). Why assume sinful intent, instead of prayerful and honest conviction?

4. How can younger fundamentalists better learn from you AND perhaps even honestly disagree without being considered “heart-stealers?”

I think these are pretty fair questions. Let’s see how I do answering them.

What are the marks of a “Convergent” fundamentalists and how can we identify one?

Perhaps the first thing to say is to quibble with the question. In my view, someone who is convergent is not a fundamentalist. He once may have claimed to be a fundamentalist, but he has changed his views and really exhibits disdain for fundamentalism now, regardless if he continues to claim the label.

  • Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism)
  • Embrace of a philosophy of fellowship, social action, cultural relevancy that is at least similar to new evangelicalism
  • Movement from fundamentalist to the convergence philosophy – i.e. the philosophy that embraces evangelicalism and its positions as opposed to fundamentalism and its positions
  • “First-love” Calvinism – the love of a zealot for the new found perfect theology (as opposed to the Calvinist fundamentalist who willingly co-labors with non-Calvinists who share a fundamentalist philosophy)
  • A new emphasis on Christian liberty (often expressed in use of alcohol and a broader taste in Christian music)
  • Pragmatism in church polity (Application of modern business models to church governance and business practices)
  • In some, questionable pastoral ethics, seen in shifting existing congregations away from fundamentalist roots
  • An openness or even embrace of supernatural gifts, especially prophecy, as legitimate modern phenomena
  • A keen interest in the “star” evangelical writers as the “go-to” guys for ministry philosophy, doctrine, reading, etc. And perhaps not only interest, but promotion of their writings as the last word on the subjects they address.

This list shouldn’t necessarily be considered exhaustive, there may be a few more characteristics, but I guess these are the main ones. Also, not all convergents will share every characteristic on this list. I am thinking here in particular of the “First-love” Calvinism point. Some convergents are not Calvinistic. BTW, not all Calvinists are convergent. Don’t accuse me of saying that!

The most important characteristic is anti-separatism, and a disdain for separatists.

For further insight, please read again the interview article from Dr. Vaughn, “An Interview With Dr. Vaughn on Current Trends in Fundamentalism.” The article addresses this question in much more depth.

Do you believe in “big-tent” fundamentalism; that is, is this movement bigger than Baptists? If so, how do, how would these “big-tent” fundamentalists avoid being “Convergent” from your point of view.

Fundamentalism is a philosophy that transcends denominations. There are fundamentalists among the Presbyterians and among other groups, though the majority of fundamentalists today are probably Baptists. Convergence isn’t denominational, like the New Evangelicalism, it is a mood or philosophy that affects how the ministry is conducted, what issues and ideas are promoted, what actions are taken individually and through church ministries (assuming the convergent is in a leadership role in the church).

The most important way to avoid being convergent is to be committed to personal and ecclesiastical separation. That commitment will manifest itself in various ways, but the other marks I mention above will dissipate if that biblical commitment is made and applied consistently.

Bro. Unruh compared “Convergent” fundamentalists to (a) the rebel Absalom who defied God, (2) the “fierce wolves” and false teachers from Acts 20:29-31, and (c) a possible allusion to Satan (“craftily”). Why assume sinful intent, instead of prayerful and honest conviction?

I think if you read the article carefully, you will find that bro. Unruh is not speaking of all convergents, but a specific subset of them. His concern is something that I have seen repeatedly in my ministry – men join a pastoral staff (or become the pastor) and attempt to lead a fundamental church away from its fundamentalist position. On some occasions, these men, having failed to lead the whole church in the direction they want to go will attempt to take a faction out with them, causing a church split and a lot of heartache. That is not to say that every church split is of this character, but the fact remains that men have entered church leadership positions with a non-fundamentalist (convergent) philosophy in their minds. They think they can do better than the fundamentalists who preceded them and over time sway the people in their direction.

The church doesn’t belong to the pastor, it is unethical to hold a pastorate with mental reservations about the founding documents of the church, whether it be constitution or covenant. If a pastor sincerely comes to a new conviction, the ethical thing to do is to resign his position and find a pulpit more conducive to his point of view. Instead, men move away from the fundamentalism on which the church was founded, and seek to take the church with them.

Further, when it comes to the comparisons you mention, the comparison in the article is made with Absalom’s methods, not with his relationship to God. “A fitting lesson is provided in the story of Absalom, a man whose methods seemed to be virtues but were actually vices.” (paragraph 3, emphasis added). With reference to Acts 20, bro. Unruh is referring to verse 30, not verse 29 when he says, “The purpose of this article is not to warn the heartstealer but rather to warn those who are susceptible to having their hearts stolen—a warning that must oft be repeated even as the apostle Paul ‘ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears’ (Acts 20:31) about those of their own assembly who would arise to attract disciples to come behind them.” (same paragraph, emphasis added for comparison with the wording of v. 30: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”) Paul doesn’t refer to these heartstealers as wolves (v. 29) but as troublemakers from within. Finally, regarding “craftily” — why must Satan be the reference when we speak of craftiness? Jacob was crafty, his sons were crafty (deceiving their father about Joseph). Craftiness is a trait of men as well as of Satan.

If you look at the article in the light it is intended, I don’t think the comparisons are unreasonable.

How can younger fundamentalists better learn from you AND perhaps even honestly disagree without being considered “heart-stealers?”

As to the first part of this question, the way to learn is to take time and get involved in fellowship meetings where you can gain instruction and encouragement. As I look back on my own ministry, I realize that pastors with young families have precious little time and many responsibilities which sometimes make involvement in good fellowship difficult. There are only so many conferences, meetings, etc., that one can afford both the time and money. I am afraid that many fellows start developing disdain for fundamentalism by making “stars” out of evangelical writers, spending their “fellowship dollars” on evangelical conferences, find the local fundamentalists to be provincial, ungifted, uninspiring, and the drift is inevitable. Personally, I have found that getting to know other fundamentalist pastors and attending fellowship meetings has been a great encouragement to me in facing the challenges of the ministry. Here are the fellowship opportunities that I have availed myself:

  1. Our regional FBFI fellowship meeting – I’ve rarely missed for the last decade and a bit. This has been invaluable, and has provided other pastors I can bounce ideas off of, observe their ministries and challenges, etc. And we’ve had some good preaching.
  2. A local reading group we call our Whetstone fellowship. We got this idea from Mark Minnick years ago, but four of us read books together, then meet to have lunch and discuss. For us it involves geographical challenges and an all-day commitment when it happens, but it is worth it. We talk about more than the book! And we’ve read a lot of interesting books, mostly by evangelicals I guess, but our commitment to fundamentalism is strong and we can profit from reading together and noting strengths and weaknesses of the books.
  3. A local prayer meeting of pastors. Currently it is just one other man and myself, but we meet once a month for prayer for each other’s ministries and for other ministries on the Island. This is a great help to us.

So how to learn? Get involved in fundamentalist groups like this. Make friends of fundamentalists. Find out how they think and the reasons for what they think. I think you will find there are clear biblical reasons for the philosophy of ministry we follow.

And to the question about honest disagreement, well, none of the men I mentioned in the fellowship activities above agree with me 100%. Some of our disagreements are quite sharp. We mostly don’t talk about those areas once we discover the sharp edges. The basic commitment to fundamentalist philosophy is there. So we agree to disagree. The same would be true of any other fellow who would join with us. It isn’t at all that we must walk in lock-step with one another. But there is a core philosophy that binds us together. If you don’t have that, well… how can two walk together except they be agreed?

As for being considered a ‘heart-stealer,’ remember that is a characteristic of some but not all convergents. You won’t be considered a heart-stealer because of diverging opinions about non-fundamentalist issues. You will only be considered a heart stealer if you are the kind of guy who ingratiates himself into a group with an ulterior motive to re-orient or to divide.

I hope that helps answer your questions.

Comments

  1. Don,

    Can you give me an example of what you mean by this: Pragmatism in church polity (Application of modern business models to church governance and business practices). I’m not sure what you are getting at here.

    • Hi Andy, good question. I can see that isn’t that clear. Perhaps this is more of a pet peeve than a characteristic of any one group. I have been critical in the past of creating “mission statements” for churches (as if we need to improve on such passages as Mt 28.19-20 and Eph 4.11ff. I have also seen pastors adopting a CEO approach, where the church seems to be his private corporation for the purpose of advancing his career and prestige. I will have to think about this a bit more to be more specific. You have hit on a spot where I “know what it is when I see it” but am less able to articulate it than I thought.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. To me, the most telling marks would be 1, 2, 3, 5, and perhaps 7. I would perhaps add another to your list and that would be Fear of Legalism. This mark would be similar to your “new emphasis on Christian liberty” except that it goes well beyond alcohol or music. This fear expresses itself in an aversion (1) to preaching against specific sins, (2) to encouraging spiritual disciplines, or (3) to making modern-day applications to the text, especially in regard to worldliness. Part of this is an unwarranted fear that people will try to do these things in their own power, rather than relying on the Spirit. Part of this is a general acceptance of worldliness.

    • You are probably right. Some marks are definitely more important than others. I would agree with your description of a fear of legalism as an additional mark, or at least a corollary to what I have above.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. Hi Don,
    This is very helpful. I am wondering, has Dan Unruh seen your interpretation of his article, and does he agree 100% with it?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Dean,

      Yes, I shared it with Dan before posting. He agrees with all that it says, I think. I added a few points at his suggestion, especially the paragraph that begins, “Further, when it comes to the comparisons you mention, the comparison in the article is made with Absalom’s methods…”

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks for the great article Don. You can tell those that are Convergents because they are the ones that are making a big fuss about the FontLine article. I know way too many “fundamentalists” that hate fundamentalism. I came into fundamentalism after years in evangelical churches. These so called fundamentalists are just evangelicals that want, for some strange reason, to keep the label of fundamentalist. I find it very ungracious when “fundamentalists” attack those that are against drinking, CCM and the King James Bible. I’m sad to say by when I read these attacks online by Convergents I see the fruit of the spirit lacking.

    • Well, we are all prone to give in to the flesh, so I would be cautious in being too critical. I think that those of a convergent mindset generally show themselves for what they are in reaction to these kinds of discussions.

      However, I should be clear that I wouldn’t be classed as a supporter of the “King James Bible” as such. I still occasionally use the King James Version, but my main preaching Bible is the New American Standard Version. I prefer its modern English and its accuracy. Fundamentalists have held differing views on the versions without separating over it. In my view, making it a matter of separation is a serious problem.

      I should also say that I don’t want this thread to go off on a pro/anti KJV tangent, so I won’t approve posts along that line. I will entertain sincere questions, but won’t let the thread get sidetracked by that squabble. We’ll never solve it here anyway.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Brian says:

    Don,
    Thanks for the article. Very helpful in conjunction with the Frontline article that prompted this one. The fact that some “hollered” elsewhere on the internet seems to say that the “shot” hit home about “convergence.” They do say, “The truth hurts sometimes.” As Matt noted, it has surprised me that some of these guys still try to fly under the flag of fundamentalism when in reality they have left, if they even were in it at all.
    Thanks again for posting

  6. Bro. Johnson:
    The first part of my response has now been posted: goo.gl/jCpCnc.
    Thanks!

  7. Greg Linscott says:

    Don,
    Re: Marks of a Convergent… How do you distinguish between Convergents and people in good standing with the FBFI?
    * Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism)
    Who defines this? Is a Baptist who has a Presbyterian speak in the pulpit not a separatist? If a Fundamentalist takes part in a homeschool group that includes Evangelicals, or a seminary professor participates in ETS, is that “Non-separatism”? Is it only “Platform Fellowship” that is the criteria here? In insisting on hardline separatism of the first generation be imposed on the 3rd and 4th generation, you do not allow for any acknowledgement that some of the 3rd and 4th generation of the other side–even if they aren’t exactly like us– aren’t exactly what their predecessors, either.

    * Embrace of a philosophy of fellowship, social action, cultural relevancy that is at least similar to new evangelicalism
    Too ambiguous to be helpful. No matter how “tight” you might be, there’s always going to be someone who things you are more “new evangelical” than them. Even your comments on this article reveal that with you and the version issue. Someone is going to conclude you are to their “left.”

    * Movement from fundamentalist to the convergence philosophy – i.e. the philosophy that embraces evangelicalism and its positions as opposed to fundamentalism and its positions.

    Same comment as the previous point.

    * First-love” Calvinism – the love of a zealot for the new found perfect theology (as opposed to the Calvinist fundamentalist who willingly co-labors with non-Calvinists who share a fundamentalist philosophy)

    This is a prominent and discernible trend… But it’s not the only ditch people veer off into. KJV, Keswick, Revivalism, certain methodological approaches… It’s the latest manifestation.

    * A new emphasis on Christian liberty (often expressed in use of alcohol and a broader taste in Christian music)
    Many FBFI members openly acknowledge that they have implemented a “broader taste” in their congregational repertoire, even if it is with a proverbial discernment asterisk. You have arguably one of the primary enablers of “Broader taste” serving as an institutional head, voted into that position by many FBFI members. If this is a mark of a Convergent, you have quite a few within your own ranks.

    * Pragmatism in church polity (Application of modern business models to church governance and business practices)
    Again, look within your own ranks. I’ve sat in a workshop led by a prominent FBFI board member advocating that pastors need to be less of a shepherd and more of a “rancher.” If this is a mark and trend, it’s not the kind of thing that happened instantaneously, or with no contribution or influence from preceding generations.

    * In some, questionable pastoral ethics, seen in shifting existing congregations away from fundamentalist roots
    While there may be some truth to this, Baptist churches are congregational in polity. One person should not be able to lead a well-taught and thoroughly discipled congregation very far astray. You have to ask how much if this is responsibility is with the will of a congregation to be led, or sometimes even with a shift a pastor exercising discernment and influence to keep a congregation from changing more radically than they actually did.

    * An openness or even embrace of supernatural gifts, especially prophecy, as legitimate modern phenomena
    This is a troubling trend, but again, preceding generations have left the door open to this to some degree, with a lot of subjective “God told me” or “the Spirit led” kind of language that is tolerated and sometimes even encouraged in our circles. It is something that needs to be addressed as much within as it does to those perceived to be leaving the ranks.

    * A keen interest in the “star” evangelical writers as the “go-to” guys for ministry philosophy, doctrine, reading, etc. And perhaps not only interest, but promotion of their writings as the last word on the subjects they address.

    As opposed to previous generations, who quoted different “star Fundamentalists”?

    ———————————————–

    Some of these things you list may be worth noting and being aware of, but they should hardly be criteria to establish clear lines of demarcation between “us” and “them.” What you (collectively) are accomplishing with this whole “Convergence” issue of _Frontline_ is reducing the influence, and communicating to a generation of leaders facing new challenges that they have no room to figure anything out… that the attitude they will be met with is “conform or be cast out.” That’s sad… because there are things each side could stand to benefit from with the other side.

    • Greg,
      First of all, my bullet list is not meant to be exhaustive, nor is it the last word, as if I am the great authority.

      What I am attempting to do in answer to Tyler’s question is highlight areas or trends that mark out the difference as I see it. Your quibbles notwithstanding, when a majority of these traits exist in an individual, especially the resistance to separation, you probably are dealing with a convergent mindset.

      You are entitled to your opinion, but I’m not particularly concerned. I will attempt to preach the Bible as I understand it. I hope that will encourage a fundamentalist philosophy. If some turn off on the other side, that is their choice.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Greg Linscott says:

        “You are entitled to your opinion, but I’m not particularly concerned. I will attempt to preach the Bible as I understand it. I hope that will encourage a fundamentalist philosophy. If some turn off on the other side, that is their choice.”

        Just to be clear, are you arguing that there is no capacity for a person or group of people to say the right thing in a wrong way?

        • Certainly it is possible to say true things in the wrong spirit, but I don’t think we are doing that.

          I suspect that you don’t really think we are doing that either, so what is the purpose of questioning it?

          Maranatha!
          Don Johnson
          Jer 33.3

          • Greg Linscott says:

            I actually do think that, because when you distinguish between “yourselves” and “Convergents” so broadly, you aren’t really admonishing as brothers. You leave the impression that “we” are right, and furthermore, that it is just as problematic for a church or pastor to permit certain kinds of music with no formal disclaimer as it is to encourage and indulge in consumption of alcohol–which is what is being done when you have these vague “marks” indicative of one overarching term.

            There are matters that justify drawing a line and separating over. I don’t believe that all of those being identified as “Convergents” fit that description, or for that matter, that all of the membership of the FBFI supposedly leveling the collective charge are clearly distinct from what they are accusing others of… especially when one includes the congregations members serve in and the ministries they administer (like Christian day schools).

            Some of the things said in the issue deserve a hearing… as do the counter-points. Some of the cryptic accusations contained, left undefined and relying on unspoken assumptions, amount to schismatic divisiveness.

            The purpose of questioning it, then, is a sincere desire that you and others would reconsider what has been said and how it was delivered. If you really want an audience to hear your concerns, there are better ways to go about it.

          • When talking about admonishing brothers, it might be helpful to include all the context:

            2 Thess 3.14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

            The word “admonish” has a soft tone when taken out of context. In context, however, it involves pretty stern action. How is it that we are to accomplish it without “having no company” and “noting”?

            Maranatha!
            Don Johnson
            Jer 33.3

          • Greg Linscott says:

            That’s only one usage, though. We also have 1 Thess 5:12-13:

            And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and _admonish_ you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

            …and Colossians 3:15-17:

             And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and _admonishing_ one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

            In other words, not all admonishing of brothers has to to with parting company. Part of what should be asked here is what makes something like a musical choice a matter that apparently warrants “noting” and “having no company” (which is the impression the issue and your subsequent defense seems to provide), while some of the doctrinal and methodological differences that you acknowledge exist between members of the FBFI seem to provide no such warrant.

            Colossians 3:14, cited above, reminds us that “the peace of God” should take priority in our _collective_ hearts… it is in the context of relationships between believers that constitute the Body. Obviously to you and me, we would say the primary application is in the local church. I don’t think that means that we have no obligation to consider it in matters such as we are discussing, though.

            While the concerns aired may all be worthy of consideration, I contend not all of the deviations warrant a “mark and avoid” response.

          • But when you say, “you aren’t really admonishing as brothers,” which passage were you thinking of? I suspect it was the 2 Thessalonians one. The other passages are not really relevant, are they? There has been plenty of admonishing going on with respect to the issues we raise and have been raising for years. It is not as if these men haven’t already been admonished.

            Maranatha!
            Don Johnson
            Jer 33.3

          • Greg Linscott says:

            Don,

            They are relevant in that admonishing doesn’t have to mean “mark and avoid.” One brother might admonish another to be more aggressive and have walk-the-aisle invitations, but if the more Calvinist brother doesn’t heed, that doesn’t necessarily mean either 1. mark and avoid, or 2. stop admonishing. :)

            The point is that there should be room for some of these kind of differences not to be a matter that distinguishes to the degree it did in this issue.

          • The phrase “admonish as a brother” is limited by the context in 2 Thessalonians. It’s the passage you referred to, other uses of “admonish” are irrelevant to the meaning of 2 Thess 3. They are not describing the same thing at all.

            Now one could say that what we are doing is not 2 Thess 3, but something else, in which case “admonish as a brother” is irrelevant.

            Maranatha!
            Don Johnson
            Jer 33.3

          • Greg Linscott says:

            Colossians 3:16 certainly would be talking about admonishing between brothers (and sisters), whether or not there is an exact phrase to quote from. If you want to score on a technicality, have at it, but it seems to me almost as if you’re arguing that we only need to be kind and tenderhearted to those we forgive, because Ephesians 4:32.

            If you want to ignore the larger point because of a technicality, that’s your prerogative. There is certainly room to justify both “brotherly love” and exhortation/admonishment in a way that doesn’t warrant marking and avoidance.

            But if you are going to draw the lines here, it not going to be others you cut off from yourselves as much as you cutting yourselves off from others. I suspect you’re okay with that. Unfortunately, more and more of those you’re cutting off are, too.

          • I think, Greg, we are talking past one another.

            Here is what you said to set me off on this train of thought:

            I actually do think that, because when you distinguish between “yourselves” and “Convergents” so broadly, you aren’t really admonishing as brothers.

            You appear to be objecting to our raising questions or disagreeing strongly with the direction that the Convergents are set on. You do so by alluding to 2 Thess 3.15. I point out that the kind of admonishment Paul has in view in that reference is very stern: “note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess 3.14). You counter by citing other references to admonition that are “kinder and gentler.” These other references are fine in their place, but the passage you alluded to is one in which the admonishment is stern and strong.

            I think the current situation calls for strong admonition, especially in light of the fact that these men are not really walking with us. If anything, they are attempting to undermine our position and take over or destroy ministries that took years of toil and investment to build (witness Northland). If you look again at our latest magazine, we aren’t really attempting to call these people back to us but to explain to those who are with us what is happening and to prepare them to avoid allowing the same thing to happen in their own churches and ministries.

            You can shake your head and chide all you want, but I think that what we are doing is in keeping with the Scripture and is the right thing to do.

            Maranatha!
            Don Johnson
            Jer 33.3

  8. d4v34x says:

    My reply to this may be pointless, primarily because I suspect that the only people who really care about being labeled convergents are those to whom retaining the label of fundamentalist is important, which to me it is not. Nevertheless I think a couple of items in this conversation are deficient, starting with the categories being used—Fundamentalist/Convergent/Evangelical (divided into “conservative” and “general” or “broad”?).

    This triage effectively ignores the Confessional Christianity (sometimes called Confessional Evangelicalism) practiced by Reformed Baptists and certain Presbyterians, notably the OPC. Maybe LCMS and WELS as well. I don’t think these can be simply lumped in with the rest of evangelicalism due to a few key distinctives (strict adherence to an orthodox, historic confession being the foremost). Not to mention that these groups, especially the first two, seem to me to model the most conservative extant philosophy of ministry and worship (including music), if not in sheer numbers, then probably by percentages.

    Secondly, of the earmarks of convergents listed above, some are actually as true of Fundamentalists as anyone. Looking to the big names and taking their utterances as the last word is new and convergent? Excuse me, but Jack Hyles, the Bob Joneses, and etc. And looking to business practices as models for pragmatic ministry? Where does the Single Elder CEO model or pack the pew night or VBS come from? Historic church practice? It seems to me secular marketing is well entrenched in fundamentalism. Furthermore, I’ve heard plenty of soft continuationism in Fundamentalist circles. Missionaries walking on fire, pastors told by God to do this or that, again, etc.

    Fair enough, Don, that you point out that generations past may have cracked the door to some of these things. I suggest, however, they actually laid the ground work. Perhaps even pioneered to bold new realms.

    And liberty in some of the things you raise is not new. Look at areas in which the Puritans and the historic church allowed liberty. Not much new going on today.

    Anyway, I ramble. But this fence-posting just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Good to chat with you again, Don. I hope you are well.

    • Thanks, Dave. You make some good points, although I will offer some counter-points in defense. I think especially well-taken is the distinctiveness of the confessionalists. They are a different breed as I understand it, you are right to point that out. They defy our attempts at defining categories, at least the way I’ve laid this out.

      Yes, some of these earmarks are true of Fundamentalists, but they are not ALL true. In other words, a Fundamentalist may be susceptible to the notions of Church as corporation, but he will not be characterized by very many of the rest on this list.

      I do think the single elder ruling pastor is the biblical model, however. I don’t mean dictatorial, but I do mean that the pastor is given the office and title of overseer for a reason.

      I reject the arguments about soft cessationism. That just isn’t what cessationism is about at all. It’s an attempt to confuse the issue. Cessationism/non-cessationism is about the continuation of the at-will miracle gifts listed in 1 Cor 12. To attempt to include other matters (“the Lord told me”) is an attempt to confuse the argument.

      I don’t hold to “the Lord told me”, but the trouble there is mysticism, not cessationism/non-cessationism. I’m not sure about “missionaries walking on fire” – haven’t heard of that one particularly. I have heard of demonic activity in some third-world missions, but not so much that missionaries themselves have participated. Regardless, this is still not the argument for cessationism or not, its a different category.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Interesting (see Theology Central ping-back below), but not sure what this criticism is saying. Perhaps, KTB, you could give us more detail?

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

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