08 June 2005

Speaking of fundamentalism. . .

For a couple of months, I've been carrying on a sporadic but lively conversation with some astute fundamentalists about their movement's past and future. Andrew Naselli has compiled the best of those dialogues, and they are posted at the Kara Ministries website. These discussions originally took place at SharperIron.org, my favorite blogforum. There you'll also find a transcript of my Shepherds' Conference Seminar titled "Dead Right: The Failure of Fundamentalism—which is what ignited this discussion in the first place.

"Dead Right" is included in Andrew Naselli's comprehensive document. Here is the link to that document, courtesy of Kara Ministries:

Dialogue on Fundamentalism and Separation: Phil Johnson and Dave Doran (choose PDF or Word doc). Posted on SharperIron.org; compiled by Andrew Naselli
updated 5/30/2005


moledog said...

You are a blogging machine.

Matthew said...

Excellent link. Thanks!

SoccerReformer said...

Wow. All I can really say is, Wow.

It wasn't as good as my reading in James this morning, but it was some pretty good reading nonetheless.

A lot of this sends me down memory lane, to my own pre-conversion experience with some hard-core fundamentalist churches, my conversion at a GARB church and the steady progression beyond fundamentalism.

I understand it wasn't the emphasis of your paper Phil, and the subjects debated here were more than worthwhile, but I can't help but thinking that whenever we talk about a subject like fundamentalism, we do well to remember the tens of thousands of people involved in that movement whose spiritual maturity or even spiritual position have been affected greatly by many of the excesses and otherwise foibles that you talk about. Ultimately the enduring legacy of fundamentalism won't be churches or organizations, but people's hearts and lives, and what they ultimately did on earth to glorify God.

The systemic inhibition of biblical maturing for saints, along with the hardening of large swaths of ground worldwide to the Gospel, is I think the lasting tragedy of 20th century American fundamentalism, or at least the large segments of it that have lost their way from the days of Spurgeon.

Phil Johnson said...

Well said, ReformedSoccerGuy.

stribs said...

As one currently in the fundamentalist movement I have to disagree with the evaluation of fundamentalism by reformedsoccerguy, even though I am a guy who loves reformed thology and soccer. :)

I admit that fundamentalism has not been everything it should and has damaged the kingdom of Christ through abherent theology, eccentric personality cults, and the elevation of secondary things to a primary position (i.e. duty over doctrine, revivalism over evangelism, and application over interpretation).

Without getting into a wart counting contest, however, I would suggest that influential men like Billy Graham (I know, the favorite wipping boy of fundys) who send "converts" into the churches of liberals and catholics alike bear some great blame for hindering maturity. I believe he has individually done more harm than any other evangelist/evangelical personality in the 20th century. (I know, that was a bold statement, but I offer it as my opinion)

Phil has been accused of broad brushing fundamentalism and has taken appropriate steps to clearify and defend his statements, for which I am appreciative. This post seems to me to be somewhat out of touch from "the large segements" that are in the slow process of change for the better.

I am cautiously hopeful for the future of fundamentalism, but not afraid to "jump ship" when it becomes necessary.

Phil Johnson said...

Stribs, I agree with you, too—except that I can't see how anything you said justifies any disagreement with ReformedSoccerGuy.

I keep trying to tell my fundamentalist friends that criticism of fundamentalism isn't necessarily an argument in favor of the evangelical movement, and vice versa. Both movements have melted down in recent years, and instead of arguing over which movement's meltdown was more spectacular, those of us who love the Lord ought to admit the failures of our respective movements and get busy with the task of reform, or rebuilding, or whatever it is we are going to do.

The argument seems a little like debating whether it would have been more tragic to have sailed in steerage on the Titanic's maiden voyage or working the top floor of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks.

SoccerReformer said...

Stribs - I only mentioned fundamentalism because it was the topic at hand. No question blame for similar ailments, errors and catastrophes can be found for seeker-friendly churches, the charismatic movement, neo-evangelicals and yes, Reformed and Calvinistic folks, with varying degrees of inherent potential for error within each (for instance - if you haven't read Phil's shortie on Quick & Dirty Calvinism here, it is highly recommended).

I've seen it from all of these, it's just that I've lived it more with fundamentalism, and as I said, that was the topic of the moment.

But good to know I'm not the only Believer who likes soccer!!!

AuthenticTruth said...

Phil, your writing on the state of fundamentalism really echoes many of my sentiments as well. It is really a shame that fundamentalism has become so encumbered with issues unrelated to Scripture. Unfortunately, this provides "fuel" for many of the folks in the "emerging" church movement to attempt to justify their aberrant views. Of course, it is not just fundamentalism that is to blame for that, because evangelicalism in general has produced a spiritual shallowness due to their fatal fascination with the latest fads and gimmickry rather than upholding Biblical truth.

Dave and Melissa said...

Having graduated from one of the largest fundamentalist schools (BJU), I would say that Phil is right on target. Keep up the good posts!