The Fundamental error in Fundamentalism

Have you ever wondered why people just do not get along? I know that in my context (growing up as a missionary’s kid ,aka MK, in an independent fundamental Baptist home) the people we knew were staggering in number. Yet of those, very few were close friends, and even fewer were co-laborers in Christ (those with whom we would do more than just fellowship but also have them work in our church and us in theirs).

For many years I thought this was “just the way things were supposed to be” and left it at that. In recent years I have pondered this very thing, probably spending too much time on it, but I simply could not let it go. I know that what I am about to say is not going to be popular but it is the result of nearly ten years of thought and discussion on the topic.

Be it the many “stripes” and “colors” that can be found within the Christian movement called “Fundamentalism,” or the conflicts within a family unit. Any time that people do not get along it all boils down to one thing. Sin! Yes, I said SIN!! Yes, I did mean that the different groups within fundamentalism who constantly fight amongst themselves and have earned the “shooting our own wounded” moniker, are indeed in sin.

Now before you try to find and pound me, or just write me off. Give me a moment to see if my evidence holds up to the scrutiny of the only yardstick that matters, the Scriptures. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride cometh contention.” I know that this may seem simplistic but the saying is that “truth hurts” not that truth is complicated.

I will be the first to admit that there are subgroups within Christianity who are where they are by choice and have done so peacefully and (I believe) within the guidelines of Scripture. The ones I am talking about are the groups who are constantly being pejorative toward other believers in Christ. I know that I have been guilty of this myself. I am not innocent. And it is from this viewpoint that I speak. I have been judgmental to the point of argument and heated words of anger toward another believer or group of believers. But why? There is only one answer. Sin. What sin? Pride.

Allow me to elaborate. We know that putting people down is only to make ourselves look better. And we readily acknowledge that this is the result of pride. Yet how quickly we come to the place where we justify our actions based on what we call “spiritual principles”. Now, I know that there are very clear directives in scripture, and there are spiritual principles derived from the Word. I readily admit that both are good things. My problem is that we have at times made a spiritual principle out of a personal conviction. What I believe about issues like, music, Bible translations, etc. is exactly that; what I believe. This is what I feel that God would have me think and do in regards to these matters. However, when I come to the point of believing that if you do not agree with me you are wrong and in sin, I have crossed a line that I should not have crossed.

The Spirit of God indwells every believer, and HE is the one who instructs each believer as to what would please the Lord. When I presume that I can tell another believer what he should do I have taken on a role that is not mine. I have committed the sin of pride. I know that some of you are going, “Whoa! Hold on just a minute there buddy. What about accountability.” To you I ask, “do we have the right to hold someone accountable to our own personal convictions or is that line drawn at the biblical principles and imperatives?”

When we begin to “throw stones” at others are we standing on solid ground? The old saying is that when you throw mud at someone all you are doing is losing ground. I think this is exactly what is happening to fundamental Christianity. Why? Because our judgment is impaired by sin in our midst.

Some of you out there are probably thinking that I am guilty right now of the very thing that I am decrying. I would submit to you that I have sought diligently to seek God’s face in this. I also believe that in this case I stand firmly on the unshakeable ground of Scripture.

It is time that we stop pointing fingers, throwing stones and what have you. The bottom line is that if we do not we are violating Scripture, which commands us to love one another and to admonish one another in the Lord. This can only happen when we put ourselves under the authority of the Word, and stop trying to prove that we are right on every little detail. Humility is the only antidote to pride. Paul said it best when he said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Php 2:3. NASB)

Anyway, pointing this out without at least attempting to provide a solution is not right either. So, what do I propose? I suggest we limit ourselves to examining our walk, and only speaking out about what the Scriptures clearly spell out as absolute. Anything beyond that is believing we know more than we do, and that my friends is pride.

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5 Comments

Filed under Fundamentalism

5 responses to “The Fundamental error in Fundamentalism

  1. Jennifer Mular

    OK, I am in no way biased =), but I am going to agree anyway. I would also like to add to what you said a little, too. “Throwing mud” ends up being just that, a lot of “mudslinging” and nothing is accomplished except getting our hands dirty. How is that glorifying to God (which is the sum total of our purpose in life)? How is that edifying to other Christians? How is that helping them to be more Christ-like? It just puts up walls (to stick with the metaphor). When people who are outside of Christianity (i.e. unsaved) or even outside fundamentalism looking at us, they see how petty we are being. How is it that we can’t? Is the beam too big that is sticking out of our own eyes?

    Now, when someone IS violating Scripture then we DO need to confront them. I think this is another area where a lot of us (yes, me included) fail. We should be going to our brothers and sisters in a spirit of humility with Scripture and confront, but what we end up doing is pridefully building ourselves up again and putting them down, sometimes even behind their backs (aka gossip), which, again, leads to contention. Or another reaction we might have is to not confront or even bring up the matter at all which is also sin in that we are too afraid of man to do what we are supposed to do.

    I also agree with your solution to the problem, but we need to be careful that that doesn’t bring on pride as well (thinking we are Spiritually better than someone else because we are more “in tune” with God). The thought of Who God is and Who Christ is should be so humbling to us of who we are.

  2. Stewart

    Ok Pete,
    I, for the most part, agree with you. However, I have a question. While I agree that in may cases pride takes us down the path of ruin… what if someone genuinely believes that what they are holding to, and attempting to fight against, is doctrine that cannot be violated?

    To these individuals, their outward zeal and pride are really founded in a love for God and His statutes.

    Is that really sin? For sin is rebellion against God.

  3. Peter Mular

    Stu,

    I see what you are saying and I did consider it. The answer I have is two-fold. First, Pride ALWAYS leads to ruin for Pride is SIN, and it is listed in Scripture as one of the six things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19)
    Second, sincerity does not equal correctness. In other words, you can be very sincerely wrong(i.e. the KJVO people are very sincere but they are flat out wrong!)

    I guess my point is that even standing on the “Moral High Ground” one can become proud and try to rationalize it all away. Right doctrine will NEVER cause you to put a brother in Christ to shame. Love for God manifests itself in Love for the brethren. Anything less is not true Christian Love.

    Also, my point in the OP was that the major error in “F” is that we have made a battleground of things about which the word is at best non-specific. (i.e. Music, When did the church start?, Local vs. Universal Chruch, etc. Not to mention the C v A debates)

    In summary, my point is that SIN in the movement has robbed us of the ability to discern right and wrong. Pride has done from within what no amount of challenge from without could do, it has crippled our ability to sense and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in these matters. Without which we will not be able to live as the word commands us to.

  4. Anonymous

    Peter,

    I don’t know you, but want to encourage you to keep thinking and keep writing. There was a time that I was where you are and I am thankful for His sustaining grace through those years.

    Because of Christ,

    Dan McGhee
    Senior Pastor – Harvest Bible Chapel of Canton
    http://www.harvestcanton.org

  5. Scott

    WOW!I’ve been dealing with the same issue for the past 10 years also and I’ve never been able to put it in word. Even if I could I don’t think I could be assertive enough to let anyone else know what I thought!
    I agree with you 100%!
    Scott

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