Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome!

So evidently my blog has shot to the top of Google search results concerning the Schaap Fugate KJV controversy. Now I wish I had a counter on my blog so I could keep track of the traffic! But that's ok.
If you are new here, welcome! I used to be in churches that associated themselves with men like Hyles, Schaap, Gray, Chapell, Sexton, etc. You know, the KJVO IFB super-seperate crowd, so I still sometimes keep track of what is going on in those circles.
One day as a good IFB I realized that the branch of Christianity I was involved in was merely a small fringe of fundamentalism, and that I was massively to the right of almost everyone else who claimed the name of Christ. Heck, even Bob Jones and Jerry Falwell were liberals to my crowd!
The leaders of our churches told me that all these others were apostate and liberal and compromising, and they certainly weren't Bible believers.
This didn't sit well with me, it didn't make sense that the only Christians God was pleased with were our brand of KJVO ultra-seperate IFBs.
In 2002/3 I researched all the hot issues like translations and music and dress and came to the conclusion that they were all preferences without Biblical mandate.
For awhile I considered myself a progressive fundamentalist. But I realized that I was not willing to be as strongly against those to the left as they were, as a matter of fact this type of attitude is what got me started down the trail away in the first place.
So, in 2008 I came down on the side of conservative evangelical- for better or for worse. Every label has it's abuses, and I doubt this label is entirely accurate. But it works.
In closing I would refer you to the letters to the churches in Revelation. I believe strong IFB types fit the mold of Ephesus. They judge them that say they are apostles and are not- they diligently seek out truth and right doctrine and test every self-proclaimed teacher.
But what was their need? They left their first love. No, this doesn't mean they left soulwinning, despite what any IFB preacher has told you. This means the first and second greatest commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. THESE are to be our first love- according to I Jhn 4:20 they are the same love. Truly the church at Ephesus worshiped in truth- but not in spirit. They were willing to judge hardly and assure themselves that they had the truth with little regard for being totally Christ-like to those who weren't up to their level.
The book of Ephesians affirms this... whereas with the Corinthians Paul had to correct errant doctrine and unholy living, with the Ephesians Paul had to stress unity and reconciliation within the body. Nowhere have I seen the principles of Ephesians (especially chapter 4) violated so blatently as within the IFB movement.
Finally, consider what else Christ had to say to the church at Ephesus:

Rev 2:1
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;"

Christ had to remind the Ephesians that ALL churches are His- He holds them in His hand. He is the One Who walks among the candlesticks, He will judge each one. Ephesus, like all the other churches, must get right with God, or run the same risk of becoming nothing- of being removed.

6 comments:

Joshua said...

Hello sir,

I dropped by your website and spotted this post. I read a few other things you had written and found myself quite interested, but this post in particular grabbed me.

It was what you said about the church at Ephesus. I had the exact same thought before. It nearly bowled me over when I read that chapter of Revelation. However, we seem to have come to different conclusions.

I agree whole-heartedly that often the first love is completely absent. That was what stuck out to me the most as the biggest problem. However, I had been wondering if the cause of that problem had been that we stood too strongly (and cared more than we should) against worldliness and false teaching.

But you don't see Christ rebuking them for hating false doctrine and exposing false teachers. In fact, he congratulates them on "not bearing them which are evil", for exposing false teachers, and then again at the end reaffirms they are doing right to hate the false doctrine of the Nicolatians.

But it's still their heart towards God that is the primary problem, and He said He would remove them if they didn't get it right.

So we agree on the heart problem, it's just from reading the rest of your blog, it seems like you didn't follow the line of reasoning all the way through. I see you quoting approvingly from a ex-Baptist Catholic who has returned to the heresies of Rome. I read you state that several things in Scripture are written in pen, and the rest is written in pencil for the purposes of formulating doctrine. You quote unsaved men like Jimmy Carter in their attacks on fundamentalists in general. I read your list of "music that takes you back", and the sheer carnality of it is evident from the very CD covers, let alone the music itself. Blessid union of Souls? TLC's crazysexycool? Do you honestly believe Christ is glorified in any of that?

I'm not trying to "tear strips off you" or say I'm a better Christian and I've got it right and you've got it wrong. You say heaps of stuff that I agree with strongly. I don't think you should just run back into the arms of IFB Christianity.

Brother, it just looks like something is off. Perhaps I'm too cold and dead and unspiritual inside? Have I been brainwashed by my 3yrs in an Australian IFB church?

I can't say for sure, but I'm worried that you've latched onto the "first love" part of the Ephesus verse, and ignored the rest. When folks swing from dead legalism to amazing grace, it's very easy to end up an extremist on the other side, just as deeply in error as the far side of the pendulum.

Either ways, I hope this doesn't come across as an attack.

Have a good day.

David T. said...

Wow! Thank you for your comment, Joshua! I don't mind being challenged at all.
You seem to be a seeker of the truth, as I am. So many Christians are not. They take whatever they are taught in churches and run with it without trying to understand it.
I am sure that in Australia, things are somewhat different than here in the US. I have had the opportunity to hear Wayne Sehmish preach (you may know him). I remember his testimony of conversion to IFB, where he stumbled across some old John R. Rice tapes and became convinced of those ways.
Taken plainly, the letter to Ephesus is not a rebuke of doctrinal diligence. It is a rebuke of attitude. I understand what you are saying, but I long to see it in practice!
Let me theorize for a moment. I think what has happened among IFBs, is the attitude became so overweening, that it supplanted true doctrinal diligence. In other words, I have been in IFB churches that knew what they "stood for" but their preaching was always topical, shallow, and/or philosophical, and when I dared air my opposing point of view they did not reason with me they ran me out.
IFBs, at least the ones I have been around, don’t fight the fight anymore. Sure, they often take brief swipes at evangelical leaders. But then it’s back to preaching to choir on versions, dress, and music. This has left them unequipped to formulate a reasoned offense to true threats such as postmodernism, the emergent church, open theism, new perspective-ism, and the like. The one message I have heard from an IFB on any of these topics in recent years (postmodernism) died when he identified examples of the effects of postmodern thought as evangelical churches. He proceeded to blast Jerry Falwell, "neo-evangelicals," and modern Bible versions. It always comes back to that, somehow.
(The message was by Dr. John Goetsch of Lancaster Baptist Church at Lighthouse Baptist Church, San Diego, CA, 12/5/04 PM)
Having the right attitude requires some openness of mind. Many IFBs pride themselves on having a closed mind, saying things like, "you don't your mind so open your brains fall out!" But it's a part of humility.
We are fallible in our understanding of Scripture and of God. Did you know the Mormons prefer to use the KJV? Just using what some would say is the right Bible does not ensure that you have the truth. You have to allow a gray area for this very reason- not a personal gray area- you should know what you believe- but a collective gray area, where it is ok to disagree. That is what I mean about pencil and pen. Not everything in Scripture is worth starting a war over.
One of the reasons I link to the “Ad Hominem Fallacy” on the side of my blog is that IFBs like to discredit a perfectly true statement on the basis of who said it. I certainly am not a Catholic, and I doubt I would agree with Jimmy Carter on everything. But what they have said is incisive and provides needed perspective, IMO.
You mentioned my post about music that takes me back.. yes, many songs do take me back, whether I like them or not. Music has the ability to transport you to entirely different settings, at least in your head. I do like a lot of that music. The “Blessid Union of Souls” album “Home” is particularly good. There is a song in there where the guy talks about having a baby out of wedlock- however you need to keep in mind whether an experience is being related or a lifestyle is being promoted. The Bible relates a lot of less-than-righteous experiences but they are there to cause us to reflect and understand.
Take the word “sexy.” Is “sexy” sinful? That depends on how I apply it. An unmarried person might attribute sex appeal to anyone that attracts him, whereas a married man would do well to limit that to his wife! In broader usage, “sexy” can be used of anything that is “deliciously attractive.”
We are getting close to the whole flesh/spirit issue here which my comment does not have the space or time to review. Please, take a look at the Modern Music link to the right of my blog. Let me just say this: hot showers are fleshly. Delicious food is fleshly. Relations with my wife are fleshly. Downing a glass of lemonade on a hot day definitely appeals to my flesh. Today’s secular music is fleshly. Nothing is wrong with fleshly desires. The problem arises when they come before God in causing you to violate his commands, or put Him second to your desires. Our rejoicing in the good things He has allowed us to have is a form of worship.
I don’t think you are trying to “rip my head off” (the US version of “tearing strips off”)! This is just my perspective. To me, the battleground is theology, not culture. IFBs today are fighting the fight of culture, not theology. This is a result of attitude trumping teaching and study. As a result, they are becoming weaker and losing their children. IFBs today, in my opinion, push a form of neo-monasticism in their teachings on personal separation. This is due to the Puritan roots of American Baptists which have dominated fundamentalism as it has spread throughout the world.
When people think of the Puritans they think good, if not austere, thoughts. I feel this sect is due additional scrutiny given its profound influence on American fundamentalism/evangelicalism and I plan to do so when I have the time & money for books.

Joshua said...

Strangely enough, I listened to a sermon given by Wayne Sehmish and became convinced of these ways. Prior to that I was part of a charismatic contemporary Baptist Union church. Small world eh?

I think I understand the thrust of your argument. You think they focus on things they shouldn't (holiness, KJV, clothes, music) and don't focus enough on things they should (church discipline, first love, combating rampant false philosophies and theologies).

And I understand therein where we differ. I couldn't agree more with the things you think they should focus on - I want to see and hear that stuff every Sunday. However, I think all the things they currently do focus on are excellent and worthy of being preached from every pulpit - matters worth standing on and separating over. More to the point, I was converted to that line of thinking through the same process you left it - research and study.

Which I guess leads me to why what you write seems strange to me. You want theological warfare, yet cultural capitulation. But the two are intimately linked. The cultural capitulation has come about because of the theological surrender, but you seem to be enthusiastically encouraging and embracing some of the most insidious elements of that culture. Yet, given your experiences in IFB churches, nothing I could tell you about carnal rock music or swimwear or clothing or movies is going to be new to you, and you’ve obviously rejected it on many levels. Indeed, you now teach others to the exact contrary of that now. Not really much more to say.

The only other comment I make is that if you want to convince an IFB, you’re going to have to try different sources. Find something Spurgeon said, or better yet stick with Scripture. I understand that truth said by evil men is still truth, but “Hey Baptists, check out what one reprobate and one apostate think o’ you guys”, even if you agree with it, isn’t going to get you far.

Thanks for your reply. I understand where you are coming from. I wont argue point by point, even though that would be interesting and probably edifying. I appreciate you taking the time :)

*sorry, wife's account :S

David T. said...

You said "The cultural capitulation has come about because of the theological surrender..." I would be interested in hearing you explain that more. Feel free to email if you like.
I appreciate your spirit in corresponding with me. It is obvious you are in the place where you feel God would have you. The best we can do is live according to our conscience as it has been renewed and informed by the Holy Spirit. I respect that!
I know what I believe and feel it is important to be able to provide arguments in support of that. Some people take it very confrontationally, and that saddens me.

Joshua said...

I could stumble my way through trying to explain fully what I meant there, but a lot of what I have learned about the interplay between theology and culture has been said a thousand times better by Kent Brandenburg. You may have read his blog. He did a series on Culture on it that for the most part says it all.

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2008/12/were-getting-our-comeuppance-for.html

In many ways you are quite similar to him - he is an avid critic of the fundamentalist movement, it's just that he is a fair way to the right of them theologically and culturally, while you are a fair way to the left of them culturally.

I do understand what you said about acting on what you have learned and where the Holy Spirit leads. We both know there is a judgment seat waiting for the both of us. We both researched what we believe and are willing to teach it to others. I guess that day will declare what our work in that area is worth in the end.

Thanks for taking the time to answer me. God Bless.

Joshua said...

bleh, link didn't come through:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com
/2008/12/
were-getting-our-comeuppance-for.html

If you are curious, go to his main page and look under the culture section on the bar on your right. The second part of his 6 part series is particularly excellent, although I don't think you'll find much you can agree on.