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Cultural Fundamentalism - A Rejoinder

Friday, February 18, 2011

This post is a little old because I just happened to find it in my "drafts", but I thought it was still relevant since it is not really "time-sensitive" in nature. I updated my original thoughts some to account for the time difference between the original writing and now.)

Pastor Larry Rogier over at Stuff Out Loud made some comments a few months ago on "Cultural Fundamentalism."

He starts off the comments by saying that the term "cultural fundamentalism" has recently been used and I seem to remember reading some comments on that term myself recently, but I can't remember where I read it.

Anyway, the heart of Larry's comments is the following:

But what most people ask about is cultural issues, because that is what people think fundamentalism is. Now, one might attempt to make the case that the Bible version is not cultural, but theological. I think that is partially true and partially not true, but I don’t want to deal with that argument here.

You see, they know exactly what a cultural fundamentalist is … It is a fundamentalist who is known first for his stands on cultural issues. He is not known for loving the gospel, sound doctrine, theology, and the church, though he may do all those things. He is known for cultural standards.

Now, there may be some truth to his comments, especially in the minds of some, but I believe as I read his post, he does not really support his position because he bases his comments on some faulty thinking.

(I am not trying to pick on Larry. I generally appreciate much of what he writes at his blog and on SI).

As you read, you find that he supports his assertions regarding fundamentalism being known primarily due to the cultural issues by giving a summary of questions he has been asked recently by Pastors and indicating because most of those questions are culturally based that it means that Fundamentalism is known mostly for the cultural issues instead of about "the gospel, the church, doctrine, ministry fellowship/participation."

I would think, however, that there is at least one other legitimate interpretation of the fact that these are the questions that were asked - in fact, an interpretation that actually speaks well of Fundamentalism rather than negatively of Fundamentalism.

That interpretation has to do with the natural assumptions that come from the term. By declaring that I am a Fundamentalist, I am already stating that I believe the Bible is the Word of God and that every word of it is true. I have already identified the fact that I believe in the Biblical gospel, the importance of the local church, carefulness in fellowship, separation from apostasy and disobedient brothers, etc.

Therefore, because the answer to those questions are already assumed by my previous identification as a Fundamentalist, the subsequent questions are therefore to clarify more specifically where I stand on other more specific issues.

I had a conversation the other day with a rather liberal Methodist preacher while I was working. Due to the location of the conversation (I was working and in a store), we did not get into a lot of details, but his general questions and statements revealed he was coming from a totally different perspective than most of the preachers with whom I deal. Because he was not familiar with Independent Baptists (he has asked what kind of Baptist church I pastored and when I told him it was an Independent Baptist Church, he said "good at least you are not Southern Baptist :)". When it came up that I was generally more conservative than Southern Baptists, he was surprised and wanted to know in what ways that would be the case. He asked about speaking in tongues. He was surprised that I did not think that all churches should just get along and join together and and seemed generally shocked that I believed there was a Biblical responsibility to separate from apostates, rather than support them and their ministry, etc.

My point about this conversation is that because this person was not familiar with where I was coming from, his questions were of a different nature than the questions Larry received - and I generally receive questions a lot closer to Larry's list than this man's questions.

Those familiar with Fundamentalism are going to ask the questions that Larry points to - questions about Bible versions, cultural standards, etc. because they are already know the answers to the "other" questions and are wanting to differentiate between what "type" of Fundamentalist the person.

However, the fact that these questions are asked does not mean that these are the areas for which Fundamentalism is known any more than asking a self-identified "college football fan" about Boise State means that college football fans are primarily known about where they stand on non-AQ schools.

Just my thoughts,