As I mentioned in my post, The Best and the Brightest - Redux, there were essentially three areas that were brought up in the comments by Michael regarding the article entitled The Best and the Brightest.
My response to the first area is on the article entitled, The Best and The Brightest - Criteria for Evaluation.
This post is concerned with the second point that was addressed in the comments, namely, the idea that it is not so much that the sharp young guys are leaving as much as it is they are being pushed out, written off and told to "walk the plank." The heart of this aspect of the issue, in my opinion, is the question - how are we to deal with those who are questioning?
Specifically, Michael C. makes the following comments:
Finally, there is the question of how they could be the best and brightest if they are leaving fundamentalism. I think there are several possible answers. One is that many of our best and brightest don't leave, they are told to walk the plank (to use a popular phrase right now).
I believe that there is a legitimate concern here, although I am not sure that the perception matches the reality. The perception that Michael has indicated is that The Best and the Brightest are being "pushed out" from Fundamentalism or told to "walk the plank."
Some of the latest punching bags for this perception have been Dr. Rolland McCune of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor Don Johnson, BWM Missionary in Canada. For Dr. McCune, the attacks were directed at some comments that he had made at the American Council of Christian Churches Convention in October in Ohio. Pastor Johnson's claim to fame in this regard is his now famous statement (made in the Sharper Iron discussion of McCune's comments) that certain individuals should be made to "walk the plank."
I am not here to defend either of these men. On the one hand, I am sure they can defend themselves much better than I ever could (see further comments by Dr. McCune on this over at Every Thought, Every Word) and on the other hand, I am not sure they need to be defended when understood in context.
The bigger question at stake, however, is not the nature of these men's comments, but how are we to deal with the questions of the younger guys - are they really being "pushed out" for asking questions?
I believe that those of us who are "strict separationists" (I can't bring myself to call me an "old fundamentalist" yet) need to be careful to answer the legitimate questions of those who are sincerely searching and trying to figure out a Biblical response to the situations that face Fundamentalism. I believe that there is an ongoing attempt to do this - as evidenced by those very conferences and meetings that were mentioned by Michael in his comments.
I have personally taken time to answer questions in this area, as have other men of much greater stature (such as Dr. Minnick). When the questions are asked properly and with a desire to learn, I have found most of the Fundamentalists that I know are more than willing to sit down and have the discussions in these areas. I will gladly sit down and walk with someone through the Biblical reasons we need to separate from X or why we should do this or that. I know that I am not alone on this. Even though I am a nobody and I don't have the type of bold personality of someone like David DiCanio, I have found many of the men whom I view as leaders of Fundamentalism are very approachable and willing to answer questions - even if I have at times not liked the answers I received.
The problem that sometimes comes up, however, is that some who are asking the questions are not interested in the answers unless the answers are what they want to hear. If, for instance, they are wanting justification for having fellowship with MacArthur (since he seems to come up often in these discussions) and they ask and the principles are laid out, this type of questioner typically falls back to a "well, that Fundamentalist did X" as though that counters the argument. The reality is that it does not counter the argument any more than my 9-year old's claim that his little sister stuck her tongue out at him counters the reality that hitting his sister is a legitimate cause for punishment. The fact is that this person's questions were addressed, just not with the answer that the person wanted to hear.
This, by the way, is part of the problem that both Dr. McCune and Pastor Johnson were addressing in their comments that got so much heat. There are a number of guys who have already decided that they want nothing to do with Fundamentalism except for the name. (Why they would want the name without holding to the principles is beyond me.) The comment to "walk the plank" was directed towards those types of individuals - and while I may not have worded it the same way, I would agree with that concept - if a person has determined that some of the key principles of Fundamentalism (usually the concept of "separation from disobedient brothers" in most instances that I have seen) are not in line with what he believes, then the honest thing for that person to do is to indeed leave and leave the name "Fundamentalism" when he leaves. A failure to do so is on par with the Mormons who try to pass themselves off as "Christians."
Michael goes on to comment:
If a student graduates from a fundamentalist institution then chooses to go to a conservative evangelical seminary, he will likely be written off (assuming he is preparing to be pastor, not a professor at a fundamentalist seminary).
Regarding the situation with guys being "written off" for going to non-Fundamentalist seminaries, maybe it is just the circles that I have been involved with, but I don't agree that a person is generally "written off" in this situation, but I do agree that this person is usually (at least in the minds of many) moved into a "watch and see" category. Why is that? Perhaps because years of experience have revealed that most of the guys who come out of those seminaries adopt the philosophy of those seminaries. Another reason why guys that like are placed in a "watch and see" category probably deals with motivation - why did that future Pastor think it necessary to go to the new evangelical seminary rather than going to a fundamental seminary? Is this choice indicative of his belief that the philosophy of that seminary (including its lack of Biblical separation) is somehow to be preferred to what one would receive in a Fundamental seminary?
Just my thoughts,
File under Popular_, Fundamentalism_, Christianity_, Hot_Issues