Perhaps you too have heard about those who call themselves “recovering fundamentalists.” I don’t personally know those in this new “camp” but assume that they know and love the Lord just like I do. That being said, I am not in their camp and below are five reasons why.
- I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist because I believe some doctrines are essential (fundamental) to the Christian faith.
Being a fundamentalist means that I believe some doctrines are essential to our faith and that without them there is no faith. Fundamentalism, in its original and purest sense, is about essential doctrines and therefore is not a movement. I don’t need to recover or reform from the essentials which I believe the Scriptures teach.
- I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist because there is a difference in being a Fundamentalist and being part of a particular group within the Independent Baptist movement.
Sometimes good people equate the word fundamentalist with a specific “camp” within the Independent Baptist World. As an evangelist, I preach in a variety of “camps” and for a variety of pastors and churches. Every church where I preach would believe in the fundamentals and, at the same time, many would have varying positions on everything from dress to music to beards. We can agree to disagree on these and many other positions and still serve together. There are other pastors and churches, however, that would embrace ideologies and positions that I absolutely reject. In that case, I choose not to preach for or recommend those men and their churches. Regarding such specific errors, see the next point below.
- I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist because sin needs repentance, correction, and separation instead of ridicule and humor.
Within parts of the Independent Baptist world, there are several sins that have, on occasion, been tolerated, overlooked, and practiced. Some have been guilty of racism. Some have taught errors regarding who is to blame for a man’s lust (they preach that the woman who is immodest and “out of line” is to blame). Some have overlooked fornication and adultery and even continued to promote and serve with men who were blatantly guilty of such sins. Others have taught a “Man-of-God-theology” that basically says the “Man-of-God” is always the absolute authority, and when he is wrong, simply refer back to the first statement. In regards to such matters the Bible response should be repentance, correction, and separation. We should call men (and women) to repent (and we should repent ourselves if we are guilty). We should correct these matters in our own lives and challenge everyone within our influence to do likewise. Finally, we should separate from those who practice these sins and who refuse to repent and be corrected.
- I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist because some of the issues mentioned by recovering fundamentalists are somewhat silly to address.
This week, I listened to some conversations by those who consider themselves to be recovering fundamentalists. Although they did eventually and rightly mention several areas of “error,” they spent a majority of time listing and ridiculing things that are in fact silly to address. Wearing culottes may not be a preference for many, but it isn’t hurtful that some wear them or believe they should, in fact, be worn by all. Having to swim in long pants (I did), being asked not to wear beards (I was), and believing that shorts on men is carnal and worldly (I was there too), may be foreign and problematic to many, but I never felt a need to “recover” from these standards. I have changed my view of them, but I wasn’t “hurt” by them at all. Many of the other “humorous” references by the recovering fundamentalists crowd are held by some very godly and very sincere people. I believe that it is entirely Biblical for people to have personal standards, to embrace them, teach them, and even raise their families by them. I do believe in loving and giving grace to those who differ, but I have no issue with people who have standards that I don’t like, don’t prefer, or don’t practice any longer. In the spirit of Romans 14, I still honor them and receive them. That is the Biblical response we are to have.
- I am not a Recovering Fundamentalist because GROWTH is a better word than recovery.
Instead of ridiculing and being condescending, each of us should seek to grow in grace as we allow the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly in all wisdom. Keep applying God’s Word to your life. Live by Biblical truth and seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit to help you live truth. If you have been hurt by the sins of a particular “camp,” then the key to your overcoming the hurt will also be spiritual growth. A legal matter, of course, should be handled legally. A personal hurt, however, will only be overcome as you grow in grace and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth. If counseling is needed, get it. Biblical counseling is not a matter of “airing” our disagreements and ridiculing those with whom we disagree. Politicians do that. Biblical counseling is a matter of learning truth so that we can apply it to our lives and become more and more Christlike every step of our Christian journey.
So what do you think? Are my thoughts valid? Am I right? Am I wrong? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,