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Don't you hate it when ...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

(Oops, I did not realize that this got buried behind a number of other posts. Also, note it was [mostly] written before the more recent post that I mention.)

Don't you hate it when... you write an anti-Fundy post that seeks to paint a Fundamentalist Bible college as hypocritical only to have commentators show up and point out that in the one small paragraph of your post you have 1) misrepresented the school's involvement in the one conference as well as 2) misrepresented the school's reaction to the other conference.

Then to top it off, you reveal in the comments that you do not even understand why there is and ought to be a different reaction to the two events.

Our internet friend, Ben, over at Paleoevangelical had that happen to him recently (not sure he realizes it, though) :).

Pretty impressive, Ben.

I tend to like Ben. He has some legitimate concerns at times - including some of the questions he raises in his most recent post, but this post is the type of post that HE would attack if a Fundamentalist made such a post regarding one of the current CE "bigwigs."

Notice this post

You Might Be a Fundamentalist If . . .

. . . you think it's a good idea for a fundamentalist college to send students to an Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Conference" to "share their faith" by singing the "National Anthem" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," but a bad idea for a fundamentalist college to give its students permission to attend Together for the Gospel.

As you read the comments, you find out:

1) He has misrepresented the school's involvement in the first conference.

Thankfully, someone who actually knew the situation being mentioned happened to read Ben's blog as well. Consider these comments from Dave Marriot (who, based on the context of other comments, I assume is the son of the President of Maranatha Baptist Bible College):

Ben, perhaps you have mistakenly twisted what the newsletter says?

I quote:
The Third Annual Defending the American Dream Summit will be March 12-13 at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. A men's chorus from Maranatha will open Saturday's session by singing the National Anthem as well as The Battle Hymn of the Republic. This is a unique opportunity for us to share our faith and showcase our college to thousands of politically and economically conservative people who might consider supporting an educational institution that promotes those ideals. Please pray that our men will have a powerful testimony there."

Your article says, "to share their faith by singing the National Anthem..." which makes it sound like the content of the faith is the same as the content of the Anthem or Battle Hymn. The singing of these songs at this event will allow the students an opportunity to be there at all, and thus share their faith with those there and in the organization. I have been to events like this where I was seated next to seemingly powerful people, and have had opportunity to open my mouth boldly and make known the gospel.

As to the charge that Ben misrepresents the school's reaction to the second conference, notice these comments from Jeremy in the same thread.

"It is important to point out that Maranatha has not prohibited attendance at T4G."

As I read through the comments and see Ben's attempt to explain himself, he makes the following statement which seems to be the key to his case:

"Fundamentalists raise the issue of conservative evangelicals and separation and point out that their relationships and alliances can create confusion over the gospel. That knife cuts both ways."

Ben's point is true. Relationship and alliance can create confusion over the gospel - and that applies whether the one with the questionable relationships and alliances is a Fundamentalist or a Conservative Evangelical. All of us ought to be careful in regards to the message that our alliances and relationships. Just having on one label or another does not make us automatically right or automatically wrong in this area.

The problem, however, is that Ben seems to fail to realize that their OUGHT to be a difference in regards to the response to these two types of events. (I am moving out to general principles here rather than necessarily the specific cases.)

The key thing that Ben seems to be missing in this post is that the nature of an alliance makes a huge difference. All of us have various forms of alliances with others - as John Donne wrote, "No man is an island." The issue is not whether every alliance I have is completely void of anyone with whom I have legitimate - and even profound - disagreement with, but what is the nature of that alliance.

If Ben is in a home owner's association with a Catholic Priest and a Muslim Cleric, I don't think anyone would raise an alarm - because the nature of the association is such that it is secular by nature and deals with this specific area of life - their roles as homeowners. The same thing could be said in regards to a membership in AAA, an Eagles Fan Club, or a political party or event - in each case, the area of association is clearly secular in nature. This does not mean that our Christianity is a mute point in those circumstances, but that we are not promoting those things as a Christian or spiritual activity. We are not indicating that the fellow associational members are co-belligerents for the cause of Christ.

However, when one is involved in a conference or activity that is promoted as spiritual or religious in nature, the presence of one who attempts to proclaim the true Gospel alongside of those who reject or twist the true Gospel is a serious concern. In these cases, the one that is right on the Gospel is providing spiritual ground cover for those who corrupt the Gospel. (This is why I have a bigger concern about the more recent conference that Ben has highlighted.)

By the way, this is also why Albert Mohler's recent involvement with the Manhattan Declaration has raised some eyebrows - and not just among Fundamentalists. The religious wording of the Manhattan Declaration makes it clear that this is not just political, but religious.

(BTW, I find it a little odd that apparently Dr. Mohler sometimes "gets it" - at least somewhat - in this area - consider this post, where he states:
I cannot participate in any setting that would confuse the Gospel or the nature of the true Gospel church.

but then he signs The Manhattan Declaration and in doing so violates completely the sentence above.)

Just my thoughts,