Sunday, May 01, 2011

Arminian Today

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Harry E. Fosdick

This morning we are to think of the fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches as though already they were not sufficiently split and riven.
Already all of us must have heard about the people who call themselves the Fundamentalists. Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. I speak of them the more freely because there are no two denominations more affected by them than the Baptist and the Presbyterian. We should not identify the Fundamentalists with the conservatives. All Fundamentalists are conservatives, but not all conservatives are Fundamentalists. The best conservatives can often give lessons to the liberals in true liberality of spirit, but the Fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant.
Here in the Christian churches are these two groups of people and the question which the Fundamentalists raise is this—Shall one of them throw the other out? Has intolerance any contribution to make to this situation? Will it persuade anybody of anything? Is not the Christian Church large enough to hold within her hospitable fellowship people who differ on points like this and agree to differ until the fuller truth be manifested? The Fundamentalists say not. They say the liberals must go. Well, if the Fundamentalists should succeed, then out of the Christian Church would go some of the best Christian life and consecration of this generation—multitudes of men and women, devout and reverent Christians, who need the church and whom the church needs.
Consider another matter on which there is a sincere difference of opinion between evangelical Christians: the inspiration of the Bible. One point of view is that the original documents of the Scripture were inerrantly dictated by God to men.

“Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”

Roger E. Olson

The two evangelical movements went their separate ways for decades and there is still real division between self-identified fundamentalists and heirs of the new evangelicals.  In my opinion, this was fully in display at the Pilgrims on the Sawdust Trail conference at Beeson Divinity School in 2001.  A leading self-identified fundamentalist professor of theology spoke and rebuked new evangelicals such as those at Fuller Theological Seminary for compromising the true evangelical faith.
My argument is that something similar is happening now.  A group of conservative evangelicals are behaving in the same ways as the fundamentalists of the 1940s and 1950s.

"Division in the evangelical house"

After The Battle for the Bible was published, while I was still in seminary, the denomination’s pastors pressured the seminary to adopt a binding statement of the Bible’s inerrancy in the original autographs.  The faculty were asked to sign it.  I noticed that several of my professors who had criticized inerrancy in class signed it to keep their jobs.  One resigned and went on to a stellar career in American and Canadian Baptist seminaries.  The ethos of the seminary changed.  A chill came over the classrooms and student-faculty lounge and chapel.  At my graduation a fundamentalist pastor and radio preacher delivered the commencement address, much to the chagrin of most of the faculty and students.
However, what I call a fundamentalist ethos has bled out of movement fundamentalism and begun to have a pernicious influence among people who are heirs of the original postfundamentalist evangelical founders and leaders.  I call this “neo-fundamentalism.”  It is beginning to coalesce as a distinct movement within evangelicalism and is attempting to take over the entire evangelical movement (as it did the Southern Baptist Convention).
What are the distinguishing features of neo-fundamentalism?
First, a certain militancy in defense of perceived evangelical doctrinal tradition.  Self-appointed spokespersons for neo-fundamentalism are actively seeking to get those evangelicals they consider doctrinally impure or compromised fired from evangelical organizations and not published by evangelical publishers.  They congratulate each other and give each other pats on the back for pointing out heresy or heterodoxy where it has not yet been recognized.
"The New Fundamentalism"

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a bit like The Downgrade Controversy all over again.

    Liberals are like weeds.

    One can pluck them up by the roots, but by the time one sees enough above ground to pluck them out, they've already spread their seeds which are taking root out of sight, ready to shoot forth.

    There's a reason the Lord described it thus.

    In Christ,