Fundamentalists and Evangelicals actually speaking to one another

Kevin Mungons at Baptist Bulletin posted an article this week that recorded the conversation of Kevin Bauder (a prominent voice in the Fundamentalist movement) and Al Mohler.  As someone who is very familiar with the (sometimes bloody) history between conservative Evangelicals and Modern Fundamentalist, I found the article to be immensely helpful.

When asked about the future of the conversation between sides Bauder placed much of the responsibility for ongoing conversation squarely on the shoulders of Modern Fundamentalists:

I don’t know. I think there are two factors coming to bear. One is that more and more of fundamentalism is being co-opted by what I call hyper-fundamentalism. We’re being slowly eroded by the hard right. That is forcing us to wake up to the fact that there were tough choices that we should have made a long time ago that we didn’t. So our hands aren’t entirely clean in the way we have conducted ourselves. Some of the blame that has been laid against us from outside fundamentalism has been merited. We deserved it.

On the other hand, the conservative evangelicals are people who have never been fundamentalists, or who are reacting against the way fundamentalism treated their parents. They have never seen what I would regard as a really robust, balanced Biblical fundamentalism. And because of that, they are working their way toward a more separatistic position from a less separatistic position. If we articulate our ideas well, I think we have the opportunity to persuade them to a better position that they might not otherwise come to.

Mohler provides his own glimpse at the future as he sees it:

Let me put the big picture out there. I think that over the next 10 years there is going to be a radical separation between Bible-believing Christians and all others. And I think this massive divide will be driven by issues ranging from the legalization of same-sex marriage, questions of gender, questions of women serving in the church, and questions as basic as the exclusivity of the gospel and the inspiration of Scripture. And so what had once been a divide that separated, at least to some extent, fundamentalists and evangelicals at one end of the spectrum, and then evangelicals and liberals on the other, is going to be eclipsed by one massive new divide that is going to separate those willing to go to jail for the inerrancy of Scripture, the exclusivity of the gospel, and the objectivity of divine revelationСand those who are not.

You can read the entire article HERE. It’s worth the read.

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Critical Appreciation & a Gene Kelly vs. Michael Jackson Dance Off

Carl Trueman, in his typical witty style, asks where has the art of critical appreciation gone:

the art of critical appreciation seems to have disappeared from the culture of the modern world, especially the modern evangelical (for want of a better term) world.

Even as I write, I have just been passed an article from USA Today in which Stott is described as one of the Christian church’s `most universally beloved figures.’  Only an American could have written that.  Back home in Britain, Stott was a more ambiguous figure, great man though he undoubtedly was.  Like all great men, his faults were as dramatic as his virtues, from his conscientious objection to war service in World War II to aspects of his theology to his ecclesiastical strategy.

Death is, of course, the great atonement.  I have commented before on how you only have to die these days in order to have all of your sins, both great and small, cast as far from you as the east is from the West.  The late Ted Kennedy is a good example. So is Michael Jackson.  Jackson, in fact, is an even more dramatic example of how death – particularly death in absurd circumstances at a comparatively early age – not only washes away one’s sins in the public eye but also lifts one’s modest talent to the level of that of the Olympian gods. Watching Gene Kelly in the wonderful film An American in Paris recently, I commented to my wife that Kelly could dance, he could really dance. In comparison, Michael Jackson was able to do what?  Walk backwards with a certain amount of style? There is no comparison; yet Jackson is a god; Kelly is all but forgotten.

He goes on…

critical appreciation seems to be a lost art these days. My suspicion is that this derives from the rather effeminate nature of modern culture where we regard any criticism as deeply personal and a fundamental attack on character. Add to this the American cultural proclivity of investing unreasonably huge amounts of hope and expectation in single individuals and you have a powerful sedative which will dull the senses to matters of real concern.

(This from a guy watching Gene Kelly movies…)

What’s the take home? For me, don’t take myself or the criticism to seriously; 2) don’t invest huge amounts of hope and expectations in individuals–hope in God.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Monday Wrap Up…

I had the opportunity to preach twice yesterday from Mark 1:35-45:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Here are the main points:

1. Jesus has auhtority over our priorities. (vv.35-39)

2. Jesus has authority that should not be ignored. (vv. 40-45)

As you think through this text here are some questions to help you think through the implications:

  • Why can it be easier for us to accept Jesus’ authority over the universe than to accept his authority over our day-to-day priorities?
  • What was Jesus’ priority during his earthly ministry?
    • How did he manage his priorities (v. 35)
  • How should this affect our priorities?
  • Self-evaluation: when you think about your life and schedule are your priorities temporal & fleshly OR eternal & spiritual?
  • How can we improve and encourage one another in this area?
  • Do you think the leper in Mark 1:45 accepted the authority of Jesus? Explain.
  • Do you ever respond to Jesus’ authority the way the leper did?
  • What are the consequences of refusing to accept the authority of Jesus? (eternal and temporal)
    • How did Jesus deal with the eternal consequences for us?

Book Review: Worship by the Book

Worship by the Book. Ed. D.A. Carson

Worship by the Book is neither a comprehensive theology of worship or a “how to” manual on corporate worship.  “Rather, after a preliminary chapter on the biblical theology of worship, the remaining three chapters move from theological reflection to practical implementation of patterns of corporate worship in the local churches [the authors] represent.” (7). The preliminary chapter, by Carson, provides an overview of recent developments in the area of a theology of worship and looks at the subject of worship through the lens of biblical theology.  Three points of emphasis emerge from Carson’s chapter: 1) worship encompasses the whole life of a Christian; 2) the corporate worship of the church is a key element of worship that the people of God must participate in; 3) all worship must be done according to God’s standards. As Carson puts it, we must ask the question, “What does God expect from us?” (29)

 

Chapter 2, written by Mark Ashton with C. J. Davis, deals with the topic of worship from the perspective of an Anglican minister. Not surprisingly, this chapter provides an informative defense of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.   Davis’ defense is probably a bit overstated, however he strongly supports his belief that Cranmer was extremely balanced and measured in his overhaul of the church’s liturgy.  As Davis points out, “I a time of reformation some were bound to make novelty their authority rather than the Bible.” (75) Cranmer didn’t that mistake.  Anyone who is not familiar with Anglican history or Cranmer’s work would benefit from this aspect of the chapter.  Additionally, Davis provides an extremely candid portrayal of the Current state of the Anglican church.

Chapter 3, written by Kent Hughes, addresses worship from the perspective of Free Church worship.  In this chapter Hughes does an excellent job of balancing what the Scriptures say about “whole life worship” and “gathered worship.” as Hughes puts it, “Because worship is a way of life, you cannot worship corporately on the Lord’s Day if haven’t been worshipping throughout the week–apart from repentance.” (141) For someone ministering in a Free Church context (Baptist, Independent, etc.) the practical suggestions and personal experiences will provided wise guidance for planning and leading the church in gathered worship.

Chapter 4, written by Timothy Keller, addresses worship from the perspective Reformed Church worship.  For anyone interested in church history, this chapter provides an excellent description of the Calvinistic roots of reformed worship.  At times Keller leaves the reader wanting more details to support his conclusions, especially with reference to his negative evaluation of Zwingli’s view of corporate worship (Keller concludes the Zwingli made the gathered worship service into an intellectual classroom atmosphere).  Keller’s presentation of Reformed worship makes it clear that a balance between simplicity and transcendence is key to reformed worship.  One strange element to this chapter is Keller’s justification for allowing unbelievers to play an instrument in the music portion of gathered worship.

10 Signs you’d be more comfortable with the Pharisees than with Jesus (pt. 5)

1. You can tell a sinner that unless he repents and believes he is going to hell, but you won’t love him through the process of understanding the implications of these truths.

2. You only want to “hang out” with Christians who are as serious about the Christian faith as you are.

3. You protect your personal ministry because it is your identity.

4. Your conscience is etched in stone.

5. Your goal in conflict resolution is proving the other person wrong.

6. You end discussions by saying “this is the way we have always done it.”

7. You never find a church that get’s it.

If you have looked and looked and looked and you can never find a church where the pastor is as theologically informed as you are… if you have decided simply not to go to church since there are none that really get it… then your spiritual life is more like a Pharisee than a disciple.  The Pharisees 1) thought they were the final religious authority & 2) they would not mingle with people who were not as spiritual as they were.  Disciples are 1) humble learners who understand that they have not “arrived” & 2) they are focused on finding people who don’t get it and lovingly helping them get it.

8. You evaluate the Christian life by standards other than the fruit of the Spirit.

The Pharisees evaluated a person’s spiritual maturity based on outward performance, disciples evaluate spiritual maturity by inward transformation.  Pharisees will say things like “he must be spiritual because he prays so often and his prayers are so powerful” OR “he must be serious about his faith because he spend “umpteen” hours a week evangelizing” OR “he must be spiritual because he doesn’t even have a TV.” Now let me say, that these CAN all be good things.  However, they are also things that an unbeliever could outwardly perform.  That is why as Christians we must evaluate our spiritual lives by looking for inward transformation.  In other words, is there evidence that I am growing in ways that I could not grow in apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.  In this respect, I know of no better tool for evaluating spiritual maturity than the Fruit of the Spirit recorded in Galatians 5:17ff:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

9. You get frustrated when other Christians don’t serve the same way that you serve.

When Jesus showed up ministering to the people the Pharisees did not embrace a new style of teaching (you know, teaching authoritatively from the bible) because they didn’t want to submit & because they felt threatened by the success of his ministry.  We may not like to admit it, but some times we can feel the same way about our ministry.  When someone else is ministering in a different, and possibly more effective way, it is easy to become defensive.  Don’t do it! That it what a Pharisee would do.  Disciples understand that we minister according to the gifts that God has given us, and that our identity is in Christ not our area of ministry.

10. You think that your ministry is the most important ministry in the church, or maybe even the world.

The Pharisees killed Jesus because they thought that their ministry and their ideal vision for Israel was more important than anything else.  Think back to the words of Caiaphas:

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

It is possible for us to not only be threatened by the ministry of other gifted individuals, but also to undermine the ministry of another individual for the “great good.” (The greater good of course being what we think is the ideal outcome, rather than what God is providentially doing.)  That’s what Pharisees think and do.  Disciples are interested in serving the Lord as He grows His kingdom.  Their desire is for “His will to be done and His Kingdom to come.”  This is more important to a disciple than some specific areas of ministry in which they are serving.

10 Signs you’d be more comfortable with the Pharisees than with Jesus (pt. 4)

1. You can tell a sinner that unless he repents and believes he is going to hell, but you won’t love him through the process of understanding the implications of these truths.

2. You only want to “hang out” with Christians who are as serious about the Christian faith as you are.

3. You protect your personal ministry because it is your identity.

4. Your conscience is etched in stone.

5. Your goal in conflict resolution is proving the other person wrong.

The Pharisees were great debaters.  They were experts in their field, and very rarely did anyone prove them to be wrong in a debate.  This doesn’t mean that they were wrong, it means that no one was smart enough to overcome their tactics in a debate.  No one, that is, until Jesus showed.  The Pharisees tried every trap they could think of to trick Jesus and defeat him in the court of public opinion.  None of them work.  There is much that we could learn from this, but I would like to point out to you that the Pharisees were only interested in proving their opponents wrong.  They were interested in the truth, they weren’t peacemakers, they were really good debaters.  If your primary goal in a conflict (with your wife, kids, friends, church members, unbelievers) is to make yourself look good by proving the other person wrong, then you would have fit right in with the Pharisees. Jesus wanted, and still wants, his followers to be peacemakers who are interested in the truth and God’s glory.

6. You end discussions by saying “this is the way we have always done it.”

The Pharisees rejected Jesus and the clear teaching of the OT, in part because it was new.  They would have had to change their ways. They didn’t like that idea.  They were completely happy to continue doing things they way they had always done them because, well it was their way which made it the best way.  True followers of Jesus are willing to accept change.  Not change just for the sake of change, or to be innovative.  But change dictated by Scripture.  Think about it, when the Pharisees herd Jesus expound upon the OT they should have changed the way they did things.  But they didn’t, because it wasn’t “they way we’ve always done it.”  True followers of Jesus can accept biblical warranted change because they trust the one who is Sovereign over the change.

They Hate Righteousness not Tebow

*First of all, I am a massive Florida Gator fan.  I love Tebow.  Second, I am not an NFL talent evaluator.  I don’t know what Tebow’s NFL career will develop into. *

Now that I got that out of the way, It is absolutely appalling the way Tebow, as a man not a quaterback, is being treated by the media and the public.  People are being just plain hateful toward a man who has been nothing but kind and respectful.  Why?  Do they hate Tebow? No! They hate righteousness, and it makes them feel guilty that Tebow has chosen (by God’s grace) to live a righteous life.

This is exactly what Jen Engel of Foxsports.com thinks.  Here’s how she puts it,

I could not figure out what was causing this onslaught of venom for a guy almost everybody claims to like, and I finally decided it is more about us. He makes us uncomfortable. He is a reminder that the blue-red, liberal-conservative fight over taking God out of everyday life is intellectually dishonest. He is too good.

Tebow is proof that God goes comfortably into whatever arena of your life you wish to take Him. I used to work with a great guy, Simon Gonzalez, a very devout Christian, and he prayed before every meal. Others would be killing free press meals and he would stop, bow his head and silently say thanks. He was not making a spectacle of his beliefs. He believed that God deserved thanks for what was before him, and not just when convenient for Simon. And people would squirm — not because what he was doing was wrong but because it was right. It is the same for Tebow.

She also makes this interesting observation,

Imagine for a second, the Denver Broncos quarterback is a devout follower of Islam, sincere and principled in his beliefs and thus bowed toward Mecca to celebrate touchdowns. Now imagine if Detroit Lions players Stephen Tulloch and Tony Scheffler mockingly bowed toward Mecca, too, after tackling him for a loss or scoring a touchdown, just like what happened Sunday.

I know what would happen. All hell would break loose.

Stinging indictments issued by sports columnists. At least a few outraged religious leaders chiming in on his behalf. Depending on what else had happened that day, they might have a chance at becoming Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person In The World.

And there would be apologies. Oh, Lord, would there be apologies — by players, by coaches, possibly by ownership with a tiny chance of a statement from NFL commish Roger Goodell.

You cannot mock Muslim faith, not in this country, not anywhere really.

You can read the rest of her article HERE… it’s worth the read.