Monday, December 24, 2007

A Fundamentalist answers the Touchstone questions

Don Johnson asks how a fundamentalist would answer the questions asked to evangelical leaders in a recent Touchstone article. Here are my answers:

1.How do you define “Fundamentalist” in a way that distinguishes Fundamentalists from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?

I would say that both Fundamentalists and Evangelicals agree on the core doctrines of Christianity. However, Fundamentalists distinguish themselves by their consistent, Biblical response to (1) liberalism and other expressions of false gospels and unbelief; (2) persistently disobedient brethren; and (3) worldliness, defined briefly as the influence of Satan, our flesh, and world’s apart-from-God wisdom upon our lives. Ultimately, that Biblical response often involves separation, always following the right steps, implementing it at the right time, and to the proper degree.

2.Has Fundamentalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?

Primarily, I think we have understood that militancy means that we must engage the battle when necessary, much like when Nehemiah would blow the trumpet to gather the workers to the particular point of attack, but that it is the Lord’s battle and so we must use spiritual means to fight it, not fleshly ones. I think we have out-grown the carnal mind set that said pugnaciousness is a virtue.

Secondly, I think we have also grown in our handling of the Word, emphasizing expository preaching through of the whole counsel of God, rather than riding limited hobby horses.

Thirdly, I think we have shed some of the Finnyism that has plagued much of our movement’s history.

Of course, not every wing of fundamentalism has matured in these areas, unfortunately.

3.Has Fundamentalism lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?

I think Fundamentalism has become more worldly. Because of past abuses, overemphasis on externals, and the lack of true Biblical training in this area, churches today are very hesitant to deal with personal holiness issues. Legalism is the major taboo today.

4.Are there any fundamental differences within the Fundamentalist movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?

One major divide exists over KJVonlyism. I see this issue going away as more and more churches deal decisively with the issue, leaving only the fringe-wing of Fundamentalism (if we can still call it that) embracing that position.

I think another area in which we may see a divide within traditional Fundamental circles is in the area of music. From my standpoint, I see a distressing amount of accommodation to and acceptance of groups like Casting Crowns and MercyMe and the whole CCM genre. It may be that those of us who cannot abide this development will find it harder and harder to find a local church they can fully embrace.

5.What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?

I think we fail to see the compromises to the gospel that occur within our own movement. Easy-believism, no-repentance gospels, shoddy expositional preaching, KJVonlyism, and increasing worldliness all compromise the gospel to some degree or another.

6.What would you say to a Fundamentalist tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?

I would say read the book of Hebrews. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall way from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12)

7.What has Fundamentalist to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?

Fundamentalism is simply obedient Christianity. It is following a Biblical philosophy of Christian living, guarding the gospel in faith and practice. That is why I am a Fundamentalist – because I believe that it is a life that most glorifies God. We should be offering the world what the church displays to the heavenly angels – the manifold wisdom of God.

8.What else would you like to say?

I’ve probably said too much already. :)



At 11:25 AM, Blogger Mark Perry said...

Amen, Andy.

Merry Christmas.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Don Johnson said...

Thanks Andy, just what I was looking for.

But re Mark's comment...

Mark, were you Amening Andy's response to #8 or his responses to #1-7???

hehe!! Just wondering. Merry Christmas to you too!

Good job, Andy.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Jim Peet said...

It would be interesting to see these questions on S/I

At 4:17 AM, Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Interestingly enough, I agree with you on everything that you've said. I would add some more, but I'm curious about how "KJVOnlyism" alters the gospel as you have said.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Merry Christmas everybody.

Kent, I was thinking primarily of claims by some "fundamentalists" who say that you must hear the gospel from the pure words of the KJV or you cannot be saved.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the clarification, Andy. I wouldn't consider that KJVOnlyism, but some other error that hasn't received a title. Maybe I'll think of a title for that theological error. I do think it is an addition to grace.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy and Kent,
I generally agree with the tone and content of the 8 points above. My largest concern with KJVonlyism is the extrabiblical isogetical development of this entire "doctrine." I am speaking to the teaching regarding this issue that has nary one verse and yet it is a test of "doctrinal" fellowship and a supposed marker towards apostasy for those of us who have moved to another quality translation. I firmly belive that those who hold to such extremes have plainly identified why portions of "fundamentalism" have moved into the morass of legalism and other equally Biblically repugnant positions. Such utter lack of sound scriptural foundation does indeed challenge and change the foundations of the gospel for that portion o fundamentalism if indeed that is what it still is. I know that not only are they usually self identified with "KJVonly salvation" they often also hold to "easy believism" and other heterodoxies. They all seem to flow out of the same type of doctrinal development.
Jonathan Tillman

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't want to hijack Andy's thread with an answer to your comment. I'm guessing Andy liked it, even though I believe it is wrought with errors.

As a presuppositionalist, I start with what the Scripture teaches about the Divine preservation of Scripture. Perfect preservation of Scripture is the historic doctrine of believers. Read the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession of Faith. None of them were easy-believe-ists. Of course, no verse says that God shall preserve the Bible in the King James English; neither does any verse tell us how many books of the Bible we will have.

There is no Scriptural or logical basis for concluding that believing in one Bible will result in amending the gospel. We have many more modern examples of perverting the gospel in the multiple version crowd---think of Billy Graham and Joel Osteen. I recognize that we have the Hyles crowd, but that orbit of churches is far closer to most modern version churches than myself or the many men with whom I fellowship would be.

I encourage you to look at our book: Thou Shalt Keep Them: A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture. You'll find it far from eisogetical.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

I'm planning to respond to some of the recent comments but I've been laid up sick all week now, starting on Christmas.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

There are other ways that KJVonlism can compromise the gospel. There are missionaries that force foreign nationals to read from the King James or to translate from the King James. That practice can certainly compromise the gospel by hiding it under the bushel of inaccessibility. And I say this as a person whose church uses the KJV as its official translation; I think we are close to doing the same thing in America when we continue to use a translation that is increasingly difficult for the average person to understand. 1st Corinthians 14 deals directly with the translation of special revelation and Paul’s primary concern is edification through understanding. Obviously, the KJV is not so outdated as to be completely inaccessible but when the Scriptural emphasis is edification through understanding, why oh why do we not get on board with that philosophy and corporately embrace a good translation that is more accurate and more easily understood?

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Well, since we are talking about this, I'll say that I believe the modern versions definitely result in less salvations today. I'll list why right after I mention something that is not a compromise of the gospel, that is, "understandability." We can compromise the gospel when we don't translate accurately, but that is less a problem. Translating from an English translation I think is poor, although I would say a translation is better than none.

Here's why the modern versions hurt evangelism:
1) They have taken away confidence in the Word of God, since there are different Words.
2) The modern versions don't claim inerrancy and without inerrancy, we lose authority.
3) People who are concerned most about ease in understanding are also concerned about ease, IMO---I've never had a person evangelize me with a modern version.
4) The CT does change doctrine that is a problem to the gospel---until recently, the UBS made Romans 5:1, "may have peace with God." In 1 Peter 2:2, the CT says "desire the pure milk of the Word so that one might grow up unto salvation," essentially teaching salvation by works. In the CT, 1 Corinthians 5:7 removes "for us," thus taking away the substitutionary death of Christ. These kinds of errors weaken salvation doctrine.

I could say more, but you can understand.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Bro. Kent,

You have a lot of great information on this subject, of which, I agree with you whole-heartedly. Could you give me some good resources that I could use to find out more information about the subject so that I can better understand the issues. Websites, books, articles...anything you got.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Andy Efting said...


I’ve been hesitant to reply to your latest post because I don’t want to debate the KJVO issue on this thread – it’s off topic. Obviously, I completely disagree with all four of your points. So, let’s just leave it at that.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very interesting that you quote Hebrews 3:12. I take it to mean that the author is telling us that he hopes we will not be unfaithful to God. If you read the verse in context, as many fundamentalists often fail to do, it goes on to say in v. 13-14, "But exhort one another every day...that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." That seems quite contradictory to the belief of assurance of salvation. If we are saved when we are born again, why would we have to hold firm to the end? If we are already saved, why must we work out our faith with fear and trembling, as it says in Phil 2:12? If our actions don't matter, why does it say in Rom 2:6 that God "will award to every man what his acts have deserved"? The Bible clearly says that we are saved by faith, but are we really saved by faith alone? Just a thought. I suggest you read Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David B Currie. God bless you.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Dear Anonymous,
When I taught through Hebrews in our church’s Adult SS class, I did not fail to treat Heb 3:13-14. I, in fact, taught that believers should take the warning passages in Hebrews very seriously. No one will enter Heaven who does not hold their original confidence firm to the end. Those whom God justifies, I believe God has promised to glorify (Rom. 8:30), but God uses means to accomplish His sovereign will. One of those means is the real warning that if you turn away from belief you will not be finally saved. These warning passages, therefore, will have a corrective affect on true believers. True believers will not finally and forever turn from their faith. Assurance of salvation comes from belief. If you don’t believe, if you don’t live a life of faith, then you will not have assurance (cf., 2 Pet 1:9 that refers to one not growing in his faith and therefore not sure of being cleansed from his former sins). The concept of salvation encompasses many components – justification, regeneration, redemption, forgiveness, propitiation, sanctification, glorification, etc. We don’t gain complete salvation until we enter the presence of our Lord, either through physical death or the second coming of Christ. So, in the mean time we must live by faith, in the power of the gospel, and do works that are consistent with our new position in Christ. Yes, we are saved by faith alone because we cannot contribute anything to our standing before God. It is the imputed righteousness of Christ based on His perfect righteous life and His substitutionary death that atoned for my sins and satisfied the just wrath of God that is the basis of my faith and for which I trust in Christ alone.


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