Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fundamental Christianity = Biblical Christianity

Some Thoughts on Fundamentalism, Inerrancy, and Christianity as I Fold My Receipts.

I have been preparing for a Bible study on the nature of scripture, inspiration, inerrancy, etc., that I will teach coming up in August and during my reading last night, I came across an interesting citation from Robert Reymond's New Systematic Theology on how Fundamentalists read the scripture. It is a quote from some liberal fellow name Kirsopp Lake, who wrote:

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 partial and uneducated survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians. How many were there, for instance, in Christian churches in the eighteenth century who doubted the infallible inspiration of all Scripture? A few, perhaps, but very few. No, the fundamentalist may be wrong; I think 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. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church are on the fundamentalist side. (New Systematic Theology, pg. 16, fn. 32).

That is a fascinating admission coming from an individual who is opposed to a biblical understanding of scripture. At least he has the honesty to properly distinguish between the historic, Christian view of scripture (what's held by fundamental believers) and the view of those pretending to be Christian in our modern times (read either cultural conservative/leftist activist) who deviate away from the historic view. Even if a person may reject the authority of scripture, at least he should have the courage to say so.

I think the same point can be made about Islamofascism. As I have been arguing, these so-called fundamental extremists represent the historic, Islamic understanding of the Quranic literature. It is the mainstream, moderate Muslims in our western society who are the deviants from their religious heritage.

Believe me, nothing is more annoying than listening to liberal mind people in Christian garb pontificate on how fundamentalist, right wingers have taken control of the Bible and the Christian faith and distorted it with their rigid, "literalism." See my various articles evalutating the Christian Alliance for Progress, for example. But, conservative, "God and Country" Republicans who extol the virtues of 10 commandment plaques in courthouses and will die defending the phrase, "one nation under God" ironically become allies with their liberal opponents on the issue of the Bible, because they deviate from the biblical authority in practice.

Consider Phil Johnson's comments in response to a questioner who asked, "What does it take for something to be downright destructive to the core distinctives of evangelical doctrine? How does one destroy doctrine in the first place?" Phil's response is stellar,

Well, it's not the doctrine that is destroyed, of course, but the evangelical distinctives—i.e., the evangelical commitment to certain biblical truths that are fundamental and essential. When in order to increase their clout and visibility evangelicals move the boundaries of their movement so that even non-Trinitarians (T. D. Jakes, or Phillips, Craig, and Dean) are counted as "evangelicals"; when evangelicals link up in spiritual campaigns with members of sects and denominations where justification by faith in Christ alone is flatly denied; or when they count among their closest friends and allies religious leaders who deny essential doctrines—they have sacrificed evangelical distinctives for political expediency.

He continues,

It depends, of course, on how much of your message or your testimony you have to stifle in order to "team up." If your allies are Jewish and you hold back from declaring the exclusivity of Christ in order to hold your coalition together; or if your allies are Roman Catholic and you carefully avoid any discussion of sola fide or sola Scriptura—then you are sacrificing your distinctives for a lesser cause than the proclamation of the gospel. It happens all the time.

His comments play to the larger point of inerrancy, inspiration, and biblical authority. Christian conservatives may pay lip service to the inspiration of scripture, but they compromise it's sufficiency as the effective spiritual tool God intended His Word to be. This is a sad place, for when Christians compromise the plain revelation of God's Word, they are in essence denying the effectiveness of the entire Christian faith. In practice, they become equal to their liberal counter-parts who also deny the authority of God's Word.

See also Phil's earlier blog entitled, Shall We Sell Our Birthright for a Mess of Faddage.


Blogger centuri0n said...

I beat you to the Kirsopp Lake quote, bro.


I found it in Richard Saucy's book on Scripture, however. :-)

7:46 PM, July 28, 2005  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Man, I tend to be behind everyone else. Thanks for the comments though.

BTW, I saw one post talking about you living in a dry county in Northern Arkansas. I am from Northern Arkansas, where do you live?


4:20 AM, July 29, 2005  

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