Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fundamentalist vs. Fundamentalist

Is it possible that some fundamentalists cause other fundamentalists to abandon their post?

I'm no expert, but, I have always learned a lot just by observation. I listen, and watch, and see pieces at play. I want to know what it is like to think like a fundamentalist, and that takes a bit of work, but it is very interesting to me, and I want to put the knowledge I might possibly gain, to good use.

If you have read Lou Martuneac's blog in the last week, you are familiar that he has started a conversation with other fundamentalists at the Sharper Iron Forums. He began a thread at the SI Forum on the sub-par (perhaps sinful) language choices of writer/teacher Mark Driscoll, titled, "John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Harsh Language." I provide, below, links to highlights from this thread that taught me a few things about how fundamentalists see themselves in community with one another....

Here is an account of the thread's evolution.

The thread was started by Lou, where among other things he lays a choice before his readers to choose which is more important: "cultural relevance" suggested as worthy of discussion by Kevin (in comment #6), or, is it more important to guard the flock? Lou (#12) supports his stance concluding that it is more important to protect Christians (from, in this case, sub-par language from the culture), by this [1] pivotal quote:

By failing to faithfully address sin and by continuing to extend invitations to an unrepentant sinner who professes Christ yet continues in unbroken patterns of unrepentant sin and rebellion against God’s Holy Word, John Piper is guilty of enabling sin....

Following that is a reply, by Pastor Joe Roof, who says (#13) essentially, "Yeah, but, we have problems with this sin, ourselves."

Lou interprets this (#15) as an attempt to sidestep the issue of Driscoll's sin, writing back to Joe:

You seem to ignore issues like this one with Driscoll and instead lash out at Fundamentalists fairly consistently of late; why is that?

As an aside, I have two questions about Lou's reaction:
1 -- Why does Lou ask this question?
2 -- What is the answer to his question?
Draw your own conclusions, but this I believe is representative of the communication gap between the two sides.

Next: Greg Linscott takes the thread to a new place by accosting Lou himself for his behavior as a fundamentalist (#19):

At this rate though, Lou, I probably will begin to think twice before continuing to interact with you on much of anything. While we would share concerns on many issues, your demeanor (or at least what's being evidenced online) is helping me to conclude my energies are probably better spent dealing with others than yourself.

This is the first, in a long line of comments made upon the manner and substance in which Lou's defenses of truth are being made. In his replying comment Lou asks for criticism of his self, and asks if he has earned a reputation to be avoided on behalf of his handling of the so-called "crossless gospel" debates? (#20) Many people now join in the conversation, prompted by Lou's request to be informed on where he might have gone wrong.

Here is a list of the sequential criticisms of Lou's (and those who side with him in the thread) manner and substance.

-- Bob Nutzhorn says, "Too many in fundamentalism give a pass to those in fundamentalism who are doing wrong while attacking Evangelicals for their wrong. Consistency." (#21)

-- Ellis Murphree says, "And by your own admitting, many of your 'facts' have been second-hand information - which is irresponsible and uncharitable." (#26) (This is an important clue because of the fundamentalist tendency to avoid people so as to avoid sin....)

-- Joe Griffin makes a point about responsibility of all to discern a message when he says, "You want me and others to defend a position which we (I think) do not hold. ... But maybe if you put a picture of him beside President-Elect Obama I will change my mind." (#29) (This was a more abrupt reply amongst those of the thread.)

-- N. Jones admits that the fundamentalist's approach originates its own trouble: "Lou often mentions the problematic issues with men like Driscoll, inducing some to feel they must defend him/them." (#33)

-- Larry makes a cutting criticism saying that pointing out Driscoll's unrepentant sins is not worthwhile "because [Driscoll] doesn't have a great affect on the people to whom we minister" at any rate. (#34) (This was another abrupt reply of the thread.)

-- John Brown points out that "Rather, Lou's propensity to declare it here and elsewhere multiple times does seem emblematic of what I and some of the others here are seemingly trying to enunciate; that Lou is outwardly taking on the job of having to be the voice of the Holy this case having to protect others here from me. " (#50)

-- Joseph says, "This whole thread is close to sickening: Fundamentalism true to its stereotypes. ... I'm probably going to remove my membership from SI." (#66)

-- Susan R. justifies her freedom to speak in a way comparable to Driscoll, having grown up on a farm. (#68) (While she admits that context is important, she fails to realize altogether that context is Lou's chief concern.)

Then, the comments get a teensy bit ridiculous:

-- Joe Griffin says, "I would argue that because I have heard Driscoll give a vigorous defense of the Gospel, he equals the apostle Paul. Please view the 'spot on' pictoral below." (#49) (This is significant because it illustrates the emotional/mental offense made by fundamentalism.)


And so on.

At this time, let us take a view of the evolution of Lou's comments to other posters and criticisms of Driscoll.

Lou goes on from Pastor Joe Roof's so called "side step of the issue" when Joe asserted that sins of language occur within their own group too.

-- Lou reasserts alarm over Driscoll's sins by attesting that at least within the fundamentalist's own group, sin is systematically identified and dealt with, saying, "I recall only one 'off-color' remark, not even close to the profane irreverent speech that comes from Driscoll, and that man was rebuked and never invited back." (#15)

-- Christian Markle defends the point Lou makes by drawing them back, saying "I have personally participated in what felt like a lone and lengthy debate on this site regarding gracious speech with a staunch fundamentalist brother. ... Lets stop playing games and call sin sin. Some sin is deplorable and must not be supported or ignored." (#17)

-- Bob Nutzhorn puts himself in agreement that pointing out Driscoll's sins has nothing to do with affiliations as a fundamentalist or non-fundamentalist, and should never be thus jaded. (#23)

-- Lou confirms that of course "I was not aware that we ever stopped looking at our own," in "biblically policing." (#24)

-- N. Jones makes an excellent comment, saying in summary "it is important to protect the freedom to speak of clear deviations without being labeled an 'attacker'." (#33)

-- N. Jones, again, replies to Larry in firm disagreement, saying "God's Word clearly commands us to not allow 'corrupt communication' to proceed out of our mouths." (#37)

-- Lou repeatedly asks those who only will discuss the problems with fundamentalism, to come face-to-face with Driscoll's word choices. He does so repeatedly, asking "So, since you find no wrong in it, I am asking you to transcribe here, without any editing, exactly what he said in the lecture." (#41, #65 and more) (No one does make such a transcription of those items in their posts, till the end of the conversation, and only one person does it.)

-- Lou takes the situation a step farther by alleging, "They interpret legitimate criticism of man’s doctrine as a personal attack because of their personal appreciation and affinity for the man whose doctrine is under scrutiny." (#42) (He mistakenly assumes that charisma of men is the only reason why people forsake a fundamentalist stance.)

-- Lou confesses when he makes mistakes, at one time saying "I agree that Driscoll is 'not a big force in Fundamentalism.'" (#43)

-- Lou never gets distracted from his fidelity to his conscience upon the Word, saying, "go ahead, but I’ll NEVER join you in it. I'll have none of it!" (#48)

As the comments become ridiculous and disattached from the matter presented, Lou evolves to rely on scripture, more:

-- Lou says after quoting many scriptures, "The best response, the right response, the biblical response to his behavior (which he will not repent of), to help restore him, would be to rise as one and walk out of the auditorium 'withdraw' from him the moment he comes to the platform." (#56, #89)

-- Lou shares his testimony and heart for God in it, by saying "I felt that I must speak to him about it and prayed for God's help and blessing. After the chapel cleared I approached and spoke to that preacher. He was very receptive...." (#58)

-- Lou depicts the false notion that wrongs are dismissed if there are other things right, saying "I would have risen walked out on him, ... rather than to wink at his lewd, corrupt communication because he writes 'good' books." (#75)

This is an education, at least for me, in substance and manner of defending the truth.

Lou amazingly describes the irony, and I see it too (#18):

The irony is that Joe G, Joe R. and Greg have remarks right here and links to other objective reports for them to interact on and they refuse. Instead, they redirect away from the public record for broadbrush attacks on Fundamentalism. Odd coming from one who is moderating SI, a site for Fundamentalists.

Who is it that carries the "fundamentalist" mantle, which was outlined by the apostle John in his first epistle; 1 john 2:7?

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

[1] "Would the Real John Piper Please Stand Up?" by Coram Deo


Rose~ said...

Hi Michele,
I am amazed at your stamina for reading such a thread of comments and making these observations. :~)

Sanctification said...

Hi Rose,

I wanted to lay it all out, and then ask, what do you notice?

In times passed I've been offended, too offended to think rationally. But at this time I actually see things I never thought... I would.

For instance, if I look at nothing else, and I had to gather who was acting as the persecutor and who was the persecutee, I'd say that the fundamentalists making the presentation of Driscoll's error (Lou and others), are the ones being persecuted. I think it is obvious, in this thread, based on the kinds of responses being offered by both sides.

Granted, there is most likely a history of interaction that plays into this particular conversation; perhaps the roles were once reversed?

Nevertheless.... Just goes to show how someone can be justified and sound and yet, so staunchly fundamentalist.


Coram Deo said...

By failing to faithfully address sin and by continuing to extend invitations to an unrepentant sinner who professes Christ yet continues in unbroken patterns of unrepentant sin and rebellion against God’s Holy Word, John Piper is guilty of enabling sin....

I recognize this comes from my short piece entitled Would the Real John Piper Please Stand Up?

I read through the SI forum as well and reached the same conclusion as you; that LM was pilloried for calling Driscoll's sin, sin.

In Christ,

Sanctification said...


I hope I sufficiently credited your quote in my piece?

I'm not a fan of fundamentalism, but, yes, somebody has to have the guts to stand up and say the things that need be said. You are one of the few, along with Lou. Thanks for pointing these things out.

Contrary to many of the comments in that thread, I had heard of Mark Driscoll before the start of this thread, and have been directed to reading his books on several occasions. I am glad to be informed of his teaching style, when he steps out of line.

On the other hand, I do wish there was a "nicer" way to get the job done.


Coram Deo said...

I hope I sufficiently credited your quote in my piece?


On the other hand, I do wish there was a "nicer" way to get the job done.

I think many share your wish.

'Til He returns or calls me home,

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