Ok, then, I'm a Fundamentalist

The Enemy of the 21st Century and the New Church Order

By Scott MacIntyre

 

 

Article Courtesy of Wood & Steel Ministries

 

There it is…the new "f" word representing all that is terrible and wrong within the church. It's Fundamentalism. Just saying the word in the New Church Order* in America today is probably far worse than blurting out the old "f" word…which they might tolerate much better.

 

In an e-mail recently received from Deborah Dombrowski's Lighthouse Trails Research Project, I was discouraged to see Rick Warren criticizing 'fundamentalism' again. The quote from the Philadelphia Enquirer article reads as follows:

 

"Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be 'one of the big enemies of the 21st century.' "Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism - they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.'"1

 

Seems that Rick Warren is peddling a bit of fear himself. Just what does he need to fear from Christian fundamentalism? Why does he feel the need to identify Muslim fundamentalism with Christian fundamentalism? They are not the same. Far more than mere implication, Warren seems to lump fundamentalists all together to imply that Christian fundamentalism is just as bad as Muslim fundamentalism. And we all know the fruits of Muslim fundamentalism…terrorism, murder, fighting, war, and such.

 

This is not the first time that Rick Warren has addressed Christian fundamentalists…

 

"Today there really aren't that many Fundamentalists left; I don't know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren't that many Fundamentalists left in America." 2

 

If so few Christian fundamentalists exist, how can they possibly be viewed as one of the biggest enemies of the 21st century? Warren is involved in a bit of double-speak. On one hand, he minimizes their influence, and on the other hand he declares them one of the biggest enemies of the 21st century. I wonder, as does Lighthouse Trails, which one of the five fundamentals of the faith does Rick Warren find so offensive or dangerous? Could it be the Deity of Jesus, or the Virgin Birth? How about the Blood Atonement, Bodily Resurrection, or Inerrancy of Scriptures?

 

With an almost unlimited repertoire of quips and anecdotes, Warren seems to offer as much criticism of the church as he does so-called hope for the world. From the Philadelphia Enquirer article, Warren says,


"The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it's been known for what it's against,"
Warren said during a break between services at his sprawling Orange County church campus. "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against." 3


What an interesting comment from a man who has been so outspoken against many aspects of the traditional church. He's criticized other people's methods of evangelism, their music, and now fundamentalism. In other words, it's okay for Rick Warren to be critical of the church, but not for the church to be critical of the world. Hello? There must be privileges to being '
America's pastor'.

 

Being a fundamentalist has become as negative as being a Nazi. And those who call themselves 'fundamentalists' are seemingly deemed as evil as Hitler. This is unfortunate. The whole Christian fundamentalist movement was a call for the church to return to sound doctrine and away from liberalism. The landscape is littered with benign liberal churches, which having claimed some form of godliness, ultimately denied its power.

 

It is true that some elements of Christian fundamentalism took on certain characteristics of conservative style that were regarded as vigorously as conservative doctrine. When I was younger, fundamentalists looked all the world like Ward Cleaver characters, with baggy slacks hiked up to their armpits, a white shirt, and a tie. Hair style was the standard white sidewall cut, with absolutely no facial hair. They sang only hymns and tolerated classical music. The King James 1611 was the only Bible, and all other churches were suspect. The sign on their church could easily have read, "KJV 1611, Soul-Winning, & Separated".

 

Moving beyond the mere bathwater of style, one can discover that true fundamentalism is far deeper than what many interpret it to be, or what some have made it. A passion for biblical integrity is far more important than the trappings that have traditionally encased the fundamentalist image. And it is on this level that I have deep concerns over Rick Warren's comments. From Warren's perspective, are the few churches that have "KJV 1611, Soul-Winning, & Separated" on their sign the biggest threat to the 21st century, or is it those who believe the Bible to be more important than the Purpose Driven Life book? Knowing Rick Warren's definition of a fundamentalist Christian would be helpful, but I'm leery that he might be setting up to discredit his critics.

 

It is difficult to believe that it is only the small number of fundamentalist-styled churches that invokes fear within those who are recreating church. Could it be that the Word of God itself is a threat to the aspirations of those who would recreate the church to their own designs, and therefore must label and marginalize the Bereans who want to compare those designs to the truth of Scripture? I think there's a larger group of people who have awakened by the leading of God to stand up and proclaim the sufficiency of Scripture. In reality, if there's a threat, it is the truth of the Bible. And I look for Warren's definition of a 'fundamentalist' to expand, and become a bit more inclusive to anyone who opposes the New Church Order on biblical grounds.

 

When we were emancipated from a purpose driven church three years ago, the pastor referred to me as becoming a fundamentalist, and leaving to attend a fundamentalist church. Hmmm…Calvary Chapel was not my idea of a fundamentalist church. You know, longer hair, contemporary music, New King James, and all. His comment confused me at the time, for nothing in me resembled a short-haired, "1611 KJV" kind of guy. I even have a beard. But it all makes more sense to me now...I needed to be marginalized. It's all part of the process of eliminating any threats to the status quo of the Purpose Driven system, so it can thrive on center stage.

 

Those of the New Church Order must create some distance between themselves and those of us who are 'peskily' going about comparing new church doctrine with what the Bible says. And perhaps the most efficient way, though not Biblical by any stretch, is to label those of us who are toting a Bible as dangerous Fundamentalists, thereby taking advantage of the public disposition against other types of fundamentalism rampant in our world today. As the New Church Order is being sold to America's churches, how wonderfully convenient to use the 'fundamentalism card' to silence those who would be good Bereans, and search the scriptures to see if what we're being sold is truth.

 

It is reminiscent of the political landscape. Yesterday's liberal is today's 'centrist'. Yesterday's conservative is today's 'whacko'. In the New Church Order, yesterday's teacher of the Bible is today's 'fundamentalist', complete with all the negative aspects of public opinion they can muster. And the implication to 'whacko' is not far behind.

 

So I guess I'm a fundamentalist...at least in the technical sense of the word, as it relates to reclaiming the fundamentals of the faith as taught in Scripture. In all honesty, I'd rather be thought of as a good Berean. Turn the light of Scripture on, and let the scurrying begin.

   

*The New Church Order...the best words I can use to describe what is happening in the church today. Whether purpose driven, emerging, or a dozen other manufactured variations, the new church order is any man-created overlay that seeks to move people away from the New Testament church as taught in the Bible. Emphasis is on what the 'organization' or 'corporate' can do, not what God will do through His Holy Spirit.

 

1 http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm
2
http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80
3
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm

 

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