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August 18, 2006


Just Me

Most important question - why would you ever rely on a definition in Wikipedia?

Just Me

Preface to second question - I am strongly anti-abortion, but not the "pro-life movement." I believe we are called to be "in the world but not of it," but would NOT call myself a separatist. I bemoan the passing of a code of social conduct, but it is the conduct of civility-not of Christianity (though the secularization of society and the passing of civility may indeed be linked.) I have a skeptical, I believe healthy, fear of ecumenicalism but believe that there are many ways in which the churches - working together - can impact the world for Christ's kingdom. I also believe that there are real Christians in all denominations. (forgive the word real, but you know the point I'm trying to make.) I'm pro-Israel but not a Zionist; anti-required prayer in schools, but do not believe it should be banned; and positively push myself and others to intellectual pursuits. I believe marriage is defined by God as between a man and a woman. So - to the question - what am I?

P.S. I believe in all five of the basic tenets of fundamentalism you first listed - though stick to the miracles, don't confuse the issue with a pre-millenial stance.


That would be my question as well. Whenever I start trying to figure out what camp I should be in I end up with a paraphrase of a song:

"Emergents to the left of me, Fundies to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."


I guess there's a difference between believing the five fundamentals and believing that they are fundamental.

I don't think you have to agree to those five things to be a Christian and I don't think your view of them should be foundational either. For example, lots of people are questioning "substitutionary atonement" as the be all end all of soteriology. Historically, there have been various models for describing what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

I also think that holding to the inerrancy of scripture hinders theological reflection. Fundamentalists, in my mind, interpret scripture too literally, trying to make it apply in ways that they shouldn't.

Another big part of fundamentalism that I didn't emphasize that much in the post is a rejection of higher criticism. This is one of the things, in my mind, that separates fundamentalists from the rest of the evangelical camp.


But Higher Criticism has been so discredited. It's key advocates were Grotius, Kant, Reimarus, Semler, Spinoza, Tindal and Toland. Only Semler was a theologian the rest were philosophers and came to scripture with a "anti-miracle" "anti-God*" philosphy. (*anti God as in anti God the way He is described in the Bible). If you start from the point of wanting to discredit the Bible and that is your goal you will probably come to that conclusion, as they did.

So much of this was ripped to shreds 30 years ago and yet Satan being incapable of coming up with anything new just rehashes it every new generation.

I'm almost afraid to ask this but what can yo possible question about substitutionary atonement? So Jesus did NOT die on the cross for us? His death is NOT the only way to salvation? We don't NEED a substitute?

By definition, I would think that if you do not believe in Jesus' literal death and resurrection, his virgin birth, that he died to pay the penalty for our sins and that HE IS GOD, then you are not a Christian.

Please explain if I'm misunderstanding your post.

Also, I have to agree with "just me" what are you doing using Wikipedia? Don't you know anyone can put anything there?

I resent #8 anti-intellectualism (anti-academia). That's always from critics who will believe any idiotic thing but proclaim themselves smarter than us'n "poor ignorent fundeementalistsssis". If they knew so much we'd believe them but since they constantly get proven wrong why bother? They used to tell us that certain kings in the Bible never lived or that certain cities did not exist or that so and so was never governor, yet archeaology keeps proving them wrong and they never admit it.


Another thing that is missing is that fundamentals are defined as much by what they don't do as they are by what they do do. If you ask them what they are or believe, they will often answer in the negative: "we don't.., we aren't..., we shouldn't..." This can also be found in their statements of belief.



You wrote: "But Higher Criticism has been so discredited."

Not true, George. Higher criticism is taught in any school that is not hopelessly encumbered by fundamentalism.

You wrote: "I'm almost afraid to ask this but what can yo possible question about substitutionary atonement? So Jesus did NOT die on the cross for us? His death is NOT the only way to salvation? We don't NEED a substitute?"

You're misunderstanding what I said. I'm not denying substitutionary atonement, I'm saying that many people have questioned whether that model is sufficient enough to explain Christ's work on the cross all by itself.

You wrote: "Also, I have to agree with 'just me' what are you doing using Wikipedia? Don't you know anyone can put anything there?"

The wikipedia is valuable in that it is easy to use and is open source. I never said I trust everything it says, but did you disagree with anything that it said? You can't fully trust ANY source. If you have a specific problem with the description given, state it.

You wrote: "I resent #8 anti-intellectualism (anti-academia)."

That's not saying that all fundamentalists are anti-intellectual. I do think it's an accurate description of the overall vibe of fundamentalism, however. Mark Noll of Wheaton College has written a book on this subject called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Read the Publishers Weekly review to get an idea for what he wrote about.

I have personally witnessed this trend in speaking with Christians and heard the testimonies of friends as well.

George, I hope you know that nothing I've been writing is meant as a personal attack against you (or anyone else). From what you've told me, you have tried to read "both sides" of various issues and I commend you for it.


One more thought:

I think you should consider the idea that there is both good and bad in what higher critics have written. Do you think there is something inherently wrong with examining who the biblical authors were or when various parts of scripture were written, etc.?


It seems to me that based on the definition givent that the EC is " fundamental". Is'nt the arguement thats given for the ec movement is they want " to return to what is considered the defining or founding principles of the religion" and that they don't want to be " identified with the larger religious group in which it originally arose" because the larger group i.e. evengelicals/fundementals have "become corrupt or displaced by alternative principles hostile to its identity".


I see where you're coming from, but there are vast differences. If the EC is calling people back to anything, it's to the words and actions of Jesus. But I think it's also a desire to move forward theologically. There's no reason for us to think we've gotten everything right.


Bill said "There's no reason for us to think we've gotten everything right."

I would ask, Why Not? Who would be more accurate the eyewitnesses or the anti-christian philosophers of 1700 years later?
All those people who died for the Gospel, who lost everything have a lot more credibility than the ones make huge profits on book sales and speaking tours.

Liberals want to break down the book and "figure out who wrote what". God wrote it. To try and make up little people that put together this piece and that piece is really to just deny the authority of Scripture.

By your fruits you will know them. Look at the lives of the great Christians who believed God and lived according to His word. Then look at the lives of the Liberal theologians, look at the fruit of what they've produced, look at how they are killing their own churches with less and less attendance.

God won't be mocked.



My comment that you quoted wasn't supposed to be about "eyewitnesses," I was talking about all of the theology that's been done over the 2,000 years since Christ. This includes both liberals and conservatives (and all the people before the Enlightenment). There is much good there, but there is always room for improvement. Did you read my post about conceptual idolatry? Do you think it's possible that we are prone to worship our conceptualization of God instead of God himself?

You said, "God won't be mocked." I say, "God won't be defined."

We can attempt to express what we observe and understand about God. As a matter of fact, I think this is a good thing. But our "definitions" of him will always be lacking...always influenced by our own perspectives, human sinfulness, lack of understanding, etc.

Looking at church history, here's what I see:

1. You have eyewitnesses and those who were directly affected by eyewitnesses. There was much power here. There were many who had seen Jesus with their own eyes and any others who were hearing accounts from those who did. They were still trying to figure it all out, though. There were disagreements among the apostles. Mainly, there was the resistance of the judaizers.

2. You have the church fathers. They began to formulate Christian theology. There was a wide diversity of thought, some of which isn't talked about in your typical Sunday School class.

3. You have the rise of the Catholic church. Little by little, dogma was set in place. This was not all bad. The church was gaining an identity. Important theological discourse was done by people from both the priesthood and the monks who sought to withdraw from the world.

4. You have the Reformation (I'm painting with VERY broad strokes here). People like Martin Luther and John Calvin revolted against some key problems that had cemented themselves in the dogma of the church. They did not desire (at least at first) to start a new religion or denomination. They wanted to REFORM the church. Much good was accomplished, but some of the principles by which they reasoned were affected by Enlightenment thinking. There was also the platonism that had infected the church, basically since day one.

5. You have the liberal-conservative Modernist controversy. Fundamentalists revolted against liberalism, but their thinking was also affected by post-Enlightenment ideals. Reformed believers kept going back to the Reformation, idealizing their predecessors. They forgot the battle cry of "Semper reformanda" -- "Always reforming!"

6. This brings us to today. Should I have some reason to believe we've "gotten it all right?" Or that we will in the near future? I'm not denying that there is truth in what our forefathers (and mothers) have taught. I'm simply saying that we haven't "arrived" yet. We do have advantages, though. We have better scholarship than those who have gone before us. We have computers that can sort through massive amounts of information, giving us new abilities to analyze things. We have a globalized world that has opened our eyes to how culture affects our thinking. We have more hindsight, so to speak, then people from the past. And I could go on. I think we can learn more if we are willing to be humble about what we don't understand.

Sorry that got kind of long. I'm just trying to provide a little window into why I'm skeptical that "we've gotten everything right."



I don't know if you're familiar at all with N.T. Wright, but he is a noted theologian of our time whom many people no doubt oppose. The following is from an article called "Why is Wright Misrepresented and Misunderstood by so many of his Reformed Critics?" The author is making the same basic point that I was trying to make above.

"The idea that the acme of theological achievement was reached in 17th century Reformed confessionalism leads many people to reject the idea that the major Reformed confessions were products of their own time that may be revealed to have serious weaknesses. I think that many Reformed people are scared by the notion that God might have new lessons to teach His Church. God might even lead us beyond Protestantism and the Reformed faith to something even more glorious.

For those for whom Protestantism and the Reformed faith have become ends in themselves and the theological zeniths to which God will lead his people this is a very uncomfortable truth to swallow. It would involve uprooting them from their theological comfort zone and would also alert them to the fact that many other traditions (even more liberal ones) have proved far more willing to make progress than they have. They would find themselves in the position of the older brother once the prodigal had returned."


I also posted the above excerpt in a new post here.

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