By Don Boys, PhD:
The very suggestion that modern Fundamentalists (those who adhere to the basics) are really the same as original Christians causes heartburn, palpitations, and hot flashes across the fruited plain. After all, aren’t Fundamentalist Christians uncouth, unsophisticated, and uneducated louts responsible for dandruff, sun spots, drought, and partly responsible for global warming? Aren’t they blamable for the declining population of copperheads and rattlesnakes in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee? Didn’t they organize the Flat Earth Society? Don’t their children live in constant fear and their wives are usually pious, plump, and put-down? Well, maybe those charges are outrageous, but surely Fundamentalists are legalistic and Pharisaical! No, all these accusations are sure indications that the critic is desperate and devious, if not dishonest.
Genuine Fundamentalists are clean, caring, and committed Christians living according to the New Testament, worshiping in simple, relatively inexpensive buildings (or homes), and a few megachurches. Like early Christians, Bible-believers today generally eschew liturgy, human doctrines, vestments, and repetitive and meaningless gestures. They seek to reach others; but, at the same time, cautioning, contending, and confronting laymen and leaders who are too much involved in this world’s affairs. They are what the early Christians were and are willing to experience poverty, prison and persecution for the truth. Most of today’s Christianettes seek prosperity, preference, and popularity.
Even infidel theologians such as the late Kirsopp Lake, Professor Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School and author of the five-volume The Beginnings of Christianity, affirmed that Fundamentalism is original Christianity! He made an incredible statement that should shake mainline churches to their foundations: “It is a mistake, often made by educated persons who happen to have but little knowledge of historical theology, to suppose that Fundamentalism is a new and strange form of thought. It is nothing of the kind: it is the…survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians.” Lake added, “The Fundamentalist may be wrong; I think that he is. But it is we who have departed from the tradition, not he, and I am sorry for the fate of anyone who tries to argue with a Fundamentalist on the basis of authority.” He added that the Bible is on the Fundamentalist side. Remember, he was an expert on the New Testament and ecclesiastical history! Moreover, he agrees with me!
So today’s New Testament churches (that includes some Evangelicals) are original Christianity and should be making an impact on our culture as the early churches did, but the fact is our success is limited because the culture is driving us! Our churches are not the master or the servant of the state but are to be the conscience of the state and society. We must be the state’s critic but not its tool.
Most American and Canadian pastors are silent and most churches could close their doors without anyone noticing since they have become little, irrelevant, homogeneous groups that have monthly pitch-in dinners and weekly hot chocolate huddles in church basements. Maybe a revival meeting each year. Few preachers actually confront society with the Gospel and with Bible truths. That means America’s mess can be attributed directly to our pulpits!
Fact: if a preacher is not contending, he is not a true preacher of God. The truth is that every Fundamentalist is a fighting Fundamentalist. Not fighting everyone, not fighting all the time, and never being mean, but fighting by counseling, cautioning, confronting, and combating political, religious, social, and business leaders while also presenting the claims of Christ to them. We must be scriptural, sincere, strong, and never silent.
Many preachers are telling us that modern Christians are not to contend for the faith as the old timers did; after all, it isn’t cool and drives people away from the church. But then, people should be driven away from many churches! Such critics think they are obeying the Bible but they are not. Compromisers were wrong yesterday, are wrong today, and will be wrong tomorrow and will finally be convinced of it in eternity. These New Evangelicals and Very Mushy Fundamentalists (VMF) have digressed and departed and deserted Bible Christianity. True Fundamentalists (or if you prefer, New Testament Christians) stand where genuine Christians have always stood: upon the inspired, infallible, indispensable Word of God. The corollary is to obey New Testament instructions which involves contending, rebuking, and coming out from among them. But doing so according to Eph. 4:15: “Speaking the truth in love.”
The woods are full of Evangelicals or conservatives, even Fundamentalists, who desire peace above purity and unity over truth. They are willing to tolerate apostasy, not confronting others for their heresy, and are therefore not original Christians! The Bible commands us to “shun” some (II Tim. 2:16); and to “turn away” from others (II Tim. 3:5); then “mark them . . .[in order to] avoid” those who are not doctrinally correct (Rom. 16:17); furthermore, those who do not hold to the doctrine of Christ are not to be received “into your house neither bid them God speed” (II John 10). We are even told to not be involved with and to separate from Christians who walk in disobedience. (II Thess. 3:6.) Finally, we are to “come out from among” compromisers and evil doers (II Cor. 6:17); but that requires all who are members of an unbiblical church or denomination to leave. That means leaving family and friends and joining a fellowship that teaches truth.
The departure from Bible Christianity started at the very beginning of the church age and accelerated into the Middle Ages; however, it exploded during the 1900s until today. The major catalyst for this was the National Association of Evangelicals who were embarrassed to be associated with Fundamentalists. The loosey-goosey NAE wanted to present a soft, sophisticated, and scholarly persona to the world and they had eight complaints against Fundamentalists which were listed in Christian Life Magazine, March, 1956. There was a tinge of truth to some of their complaints but only a tinge. For example, no one could be against true scholarship; however, radical scholarship is really radical unbelief in amateurish disguise.
Get your barf bag ready. Each one is as dangerous as a landmine in a schoolyard: 1) a friendly attitude toward science; 2) a willingness to re-examine beliefs concerning the work of the Holy Spirit; 3) a more tolerant attitude toward varying views on eschatology; 4) a shift away from so-called extreme dispensationalism; 5) an increased emphasis on scholarship; 6) a more definite recognition of social responsibility; 7) a re-opening of the subject of biblical inspiration; and 8) a growing willingness of evangelical theologians to converse with liberal theologians. Ahh yes, converse but never confront.
Each of the eight screams compromise, collusion, corruption, and capitulation. The Evangelicals pulled away from the Fundamentalists which would not have a tragedy but they got a makeover strangely resembling the unbelieving modernists! The Evangelicals’ indulgent, irrelevant, implausible, and inaccurate preaching further added to their error.
Like insecure teens looking for approval, the renovated Christian leaders abandoned the high ground of the Bible for the slime pits of a mushy Evangelicalism. Mushy Fundamentalists march more slowly than the Evangelicals but they march in the same direction and eventually arrive at the same destination: compromise, collusion, corruption, and capitulation.
Too much preaching nowadays pats the back and tickles the ear, but does not get under the skin. There is no conviction and therefore no conversion. I am thinking not only of the ministry of reproof and rebuke but also of the message of inspiration, of encouragement, and of comfort. People leave church at noon with their depths unstirred, their hearts untouched, and their consciences unpricked. They leave church licking on a stone rather than chewing on bread.
Church goers need to hear from Heaven; instead they often hear from a denominational bureaucrat or warmed-over sermons from Rick Warren or Bill Hybels.
The further churches drift away from biblical truth, the more the hatred is dumped upon those who expose the drift away from original Christianity.
Watch these 8 minute videos of my lecture at the University of North Dakota: “A Christian Challenges New Atheists to Put Up or Shut Up!”
© Copyright by Don Boys, PhD, 2014. All rights reserved.