Without Addition or Substraction

Let’s do some recapping, then come back to the subject of the last two posts.

I have argued that there is no coherent and distinctive Fundamentalist movement at this stage of the game while acknowledging that there are still Fundamentalists (i.e., people who hold to the fundamentals of the Faith and are committed to the practice of separation over their denial). It is mystifying to me that some people just can’t or won’t grasp that I am making that distinction. I am not asking anyone to agree with me, but it is intellectually dishonest to take what I have written about the “movement” as a rejection of the principles which animated Fundamentalism when it was a coherent and distinctive movement. Some people’s prejudices seem to make them very thickheaded.

I have argued that believers must separate from those who deny essential doctrines of the faith. I have argued that we must withdraw or withhold fellowship from those who disobey what the Bible teaches about this. I have argued that taking the step beyond these two necessary steps is a matter of judgment for which we need to leave room for differences of response.

The last two posts attempted to make my point regarding that next step by illustrating from the IBFI conference. Jack Schaap presides over a ministry that has been marked by gospel and moral infidelity. Until there has been a clear and unequivocal rejection of the false doctrine that has been taught there and public repentance over the moral debauchery that was covered up, gospel loving churches should not partner with FBC or its pastor(s). Because I believe that firmly, I will not partner with those who do so. They are not obeying the clear command to mark and turn away.

Not everybody, though, agrees with me about these matters and that’s where the separation discussion always gets complicated. Some, like a certain man from the toxic state of Illinois, think the answer is to ignore the problems on our side of the fence while relentlessly saying the same thing about conservative evangelicals again and again, pausing from that only in order to promote his book or take shots at Kevin Bauder and/or me. (Don’t get me wrong, in a sense I’m thankful for his dogged persistence in that it does something similar to what the PCC videos did several years ago—it draws a line in the sand and helps people see what the options are. He is a perfect example of the “if you don’t agree with me then you’re a pseudo-fundamentalist or not even a fundamentalist at all” school. No link—I don’t want to help sell his book.)

At the other end of the spectrum are those who are wrongly concluding that problems with fundamentalism necessarily invalidate the principles. Anybody who has been watching the ecclesiastical world of the last year has to recognize that separation problems are not the exclusive property of fundamentalists. Whatever is left of fundamentalism as a movement could implode and it would not change for one minute the obligations which the text of Scripture places on believers regarding separatism.

Strangely, both ends seem obsessed with fundamentalism–either its blind defense or constant prosecution of its foibles. The point I have been trying to make is simply that the presence of an historic label (whether self-applied or stuck on by someone else) is an insufficient means of deciding the fellowship question. Creating categories in order to simplify decision-making is understandable at times, but it also can represent stunted discernment. When the categorizing system has broken down, clinging to it anyway is more like prejudice than discernment.


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