Evidence of a (Not Too) Creeping Fundamentalism

The girls over at SBC Today seem to be quite concerned with what they are inappropriately calling “ecumenism.” They must have gotten their training in theological definitions from the same place they got their Inspector Gadget PI kits. In the words of that famous theologian Damned Barebones, “words have meaning.” Try as you might to redefine the meaning, when you are using words who’s definition has meant something particular for, oh, 70 plus years you’re only going to confuse people. Of course, when words are used more for the purpose of engaging people’s emotions than their brains you don’t mind that sort of thing.

Scanning the Wikipedia article on the World Council of Churches, perhaps the most liberal expression of the ecumenical movement, I fail to find the “very definition of an ecumenical movement” as a quest for the lowest common doctrinal denominator. Not even the WCC’s site makes such a claim. Perhaps the claim is true of the WCC and the NCC. I’m not particularly disposed to argue otherwise. But one would think that if it is a part of the very definition of a movement you would find that definition somewhere outside of a Southern Baptist group blog. But to no avail. Well, as they say, start with a faulty premise, end with a faulty conclusion. Or something like that.

Since we’re all into redefining words and whole movements why not just jump on the old bandwagon, shall we? On second thought, let’s just go with an accepted definition.

Before one reads too far into what I will be arguing for, let it be known at the outset and remembered through the conclusion that I am saying that we have people within our beloved convention advocating a Fundamentalist Resurgence. My claim is that the SBC is becoming both the classic expression of Fundamentalism and that there are portions of the SBC that are being affected by Fundamentalism. By its very definition, a Fundamentalist movement is an attempt to find unanimity in the smallest of theological details before agreeing to do missions and evangelism. However, one need not look far to see that when we focus on the minutiae of doctrine, our brains and our hearts grow hard and cold. Allow me to offer a few thoughts that evidence the invasion of a Fundamentalist attitude into some Southern Baptist circles.

First, preaching is reduced to one acceptable method. Never mind that Jesus almost never preached exegetically. Never mind that Ezekiel doesn’t spend too much time expounding the finer points of Numbers or Judges. There’s only one proper way to sermonize and if you preach any other sort of sermon you are a cultural compromiser, a liberal, uneducated in proper sermon technique or the typical preacher at the typical Southern Baptist Evangelism Conference.

Second, you will add definition upon definition as to the meaning of baptism. It will not be good enough that you have been immersed as a believer and that your immersion had no saving value. You and the church in which you were baptized will be subjected to a doctrinal battery fit for an Episcopal ordination examination. You will have to pass the John R. Rice test or it’s back in the water with you.

Third, the Fundamentalist believes that there is no church but the local church. At the same time they seem to believe that each church is accountable to the larger whole in a way that isn’t too far from the pronouncements of Rome. But if you want to really be safe just profess your accountability to them and all will be well.

Fourth, the Fundamentalist believes that there is no “wiggle room” when it comes to the complementarian position of gender roles. They will even push their women out front to tell you so (Not that I read that article. I didn’t want a woman having authority over me, so pardon me if I assume the answers she gave were in line with the men). No, men, if you can’t keep your woman orderly and in line it is not unacceptable to put a muzzle on her – at least in church. We all know she still leads you around by the nose everywhere else.

Fifth, the Fundamentalist insists that there is an undefined set of doctrines that are necessary to being a proper “Baptist.” For you math people, it is not an empty set. It seems to get added to constantly. You simply don’t know/won’t know what belongs there until some expert in Baptist history tells you. Shoot, he may not even be an expert. He may simply like strawberry pie. Today it is some charismatic practice. Or your view on alcohol. Tomorrow it will be your Hawaiian-styled shirt or your quote from The Message. Oh, wait, that’s actually today as well. Ok. Tomorrow it will be worship styles and Calvinism (while Karin Bear wants you to think that such pronouncements are straw men and red herrings it should be noted that these two didn’t come from some out-of-touch nut job from the left coast but from the Chairman of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee who pastors in the heart of the deep south).

Jerry Fallwell was well-known as a Fundamentalist. Even after joining the SBC, he never renounced his Fundamentalism. To be a good Southern Baptist he didn’t have to. Jerry Fallwell didn’t become more like the SBC. The SBC has become more like Jerry Fallwell, because the SBC has become more Fundamentalist.

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8 Responses to “Evidence of a (Not Too) Creeping Fundamentalism”

  1. davbraz Says:

    Great stuff, witty, dreadfully sarcastique! This is the new blog that I must read everyday, not the one of that “other blogger” who must not be named. Please keep it up, Nancy, I need daily fix of your brilliance or I’ll become too dazed.
    davbraz

  2. R. L. Vaughn Says:

    I find some things with which both to agree and to disagree.

    But, Nancy, when you wrote, “Not that I read that article. I didn’t want a woman having authority over me, so pardon me if I assume the answers she gave were in line with the men,” it left me stunned and worried. Nancy, you write this as if you are a man afraid of the authority of women. Are you transgender? A crossdresser? Or simply someone like ‘a boy named Sue’? I’m stunned. I’m worried. Please clear this up so your readers can sleep well at night. Thanks.

  3. Nancy Drew Says:

    Mr. Vaughan,

    If I consider myself equal with a man then it would seem to me that having authority over a man is the same as having authority over a woman. That leaves us women in the position of being self-taught, or taught directly by God.

  4. R. L. Vaughn Says:

    Obviously you must be self-taught. ;-D

  5. Nancy Drew Says:

    Mr. Vaughan,

    I would say, “You be the judge,” but ultimately you won’t be. You’re welcome to take these posts and comments however you will. 😉

  6. R. L. Vaughn Says:

    I will. 🙂

    BTW, I notice you have a spelling problem akin to the blogger from Enid (at least one of them).

  7. Nancy Drew Says:

    Consider it poor eyesight. Atculy, stduies idnitace taht the hmuan mnid has the cacpaity to porcess wrods if olny the frist and lsat ltetres are crorcet bceuase we do not eevn raed msot of the ltetres in bteewen.

    I will try to do better in the future, Mr. Vaughn.

  8. R. L. Vaughn Says:

    Tnahk you, Ms. Derw.

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