Upping the Ante on Doctrinal Disagreements

Meet a true fundamentalist and you will meet a person who is plagued with an overactive case of certainty. For the fundamentalist knows that he knows that he knows that he is right about…everything. For to be wrong about anything, even the smallest, tiniest detail would be to open himself up to the attacks of the Enemy. And the Enemy is behind every bush and tree.

Because of this belief that any small slip may result in utter doctrinal catastrophe, to fundamentalists there is no such thing as a minor doctrine. For if your ecclesiology should falter then your eschatology will wobble and your pneumatology cannot be far from total destruction. Like a tower of Jenga blocks the whole sorry mess will come crashing down around your ears. And all because you had the wrong opinion on when the church really started or what apostles do. For shame.

There is a great technique used by fundies to accomplish this kind of escalation: ‘upping the ante.’ Take the issue of gender roles, for example. Not content to merely defend the literal reading of the command to wives to submit, the fundamentalist (and more recently the CBMW folks who have apparently drunk from the same stream) will up the ante by declaring that to ignore this command is to DESECRATE THE RELATIONSHIP OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH! See how that works? From minor doctrine to major doctrine in 0.8 seconds.

You too can play this game of upping the ante. Simply follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Stake out a position on a minor doctrine — the more obscure the better.
Step 2: Tie the minor doctrine firmly to a major one
Step 3. use words like “heresy” and “compromiser”
Step 4: Profit.

25 thoughts on “Upping the Ante on Doctrinal Disagreements”

  1. Step 1: Stake out a position on a minor doctrine — the more obscure the better.
    Step 2: Tie the minor doctrine firmly to a major one
    Step 3. use words like “heresy” and “compromiser”
    Step 4: ??????
    Step 5: Profit.


  2. Today’s blog really hits home for me. Over a year ago, I made the mistake of not agreeing with a statement from a book, written by a man, (a BJU man, at that). I raised my hand and spoke out. The teacher didn’t comment on what I said. Later I was told that “everyone” was offended. I was told I was a heretic and didn’t believe in preaching. Never said that. But no matter, it is HOW I said it, or was it WhAT I said, or was it WHO I didn’t agree with…oh and that statement that I found fault with is in our constitution…um looked and couldn’t find that. Didn’t know that the book author even attended our church…..um, they burn heretics, don’t they….or do they just shut them up as an example to the “others” so they won’t speak their minds. And the brain washing continues…..

  3. Step 1: Jesus walked on water
    Step 2: We need to be like Christ, even if we sometimes fail
    Conclusion: That is why we fully immerse.

  4. I’m not that good at these things…Anyways. I’m just going to assume that the fundy wouldn’t dare mention the terms “ecclesiology”, “eschatology”, or “pneumatology”. I know this is off topic, but it’s just one of those annoyance peevs. Fact that a fundy has no clue whatsoever on church doctrinal names and such. Ok. Random thought process completed.

  5. You must have been reading the WHAT IS TRUTH? or Jackhammer blogs lately. This is how I feel when I differ on any of their points. I’m on the verge of damnation.

  6. @Nathan I learned all of those terms in Bible college, which, as you know, was IFB. Granted, I didn’t learn them until then, but the point is that I DID learn them in the IFB world.

  7. Love the Jenga comparison! Is it coincidence that the only times I’ve played it were in my IFB Bible college?

  8. If you isolate yourself as the only source of truth and thereby create a spiritual monopoly, then money and power inevitably follow if you can convince enough people that you are right.

  9. I’ve seen the ante raised to the point where all CCM impugned the holiness of God and therefore equaled apostasy.

  10. I’ve lurked here for a while, but this one just hit home.
    I graduated from a Fundy Christian high school. Here is just one example of this.

    Boys had to wear shirts with collars. A turtleneck could not be worn as a shirt or even under a sweater by guys. When a good friend of mine asked for the Biblical reasoning behind this Biblical collar vs. Unbiblical Collar rule, the Pastor of the church told him just by asking a question about dress code, he was being questioning authority, which was rebellion, and rebellion is no different than witchcraft.

    Thus, wearing a turtleneck, or even asking if you could, was no different than black magic and Satanism. Yup… that went over well with the young man. He later left the faith and sadly ended his own life several years later.

  11. At a Christian school where I used to teach, My son’s high school Bible teacher used to try and squelch questioning by the students by telling them that their questions were causing confusion and God is not a God of confusion.

  12. “Upping the Ante?” What’s really behind this allusion to gambling? You must be awfully covetous, or intend to sow discord by emboldening the brethren who are otherwise committed to no card games or other games of chance, as disclosed on their Bible College enrollment forms.

    How’d I do?

  13. I see your reference to “upping the ante” as a gambling allusion, and raise you a…

    oh, nevermind.

  14. …unfortunately, this sort of thinking is not confined to “Independent Fundamental” Churches. I’ve come across it in many, many other denominations, and I’m actually dealing with it RIGHT NOW, being reprimanded for thinking outside of the box by people who claim to think outside of the box.

    Rob Bell once said (in his book ‘Velvet Elvis’) that doctrines, when viewed like this, often seem like “bricks”, which, when stacked, form the foundation of one’s faith. If one of the bricks is found to be faulty, and is removed from the stack, a person’s faith often collapses (much like your “Jenga” description above).

    He made a great point in suggesting that we should view doctrines as “springs” rather than “bricks”. Springs can help you bounce closer to God and, if one of them is faulty, you can simply discard it in favor of a more stable doctrine…

    1. I think Darrell was actually, I hope, referring to their silly pet “doctrines” like women in pants, or KJV or hair length or their view of submission or whatever a Pastor wants to use that week to keep people in line.
      Oh dear. When I read Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” and his flippant approach to tossing out doctrines and truth of the Scripture I wept. Christians believe God because He cannot lie. It’s the very truth of the Gospel that has set me free. If you think that Truth(not man-made doctrines that you often hear in fundy sermons) but actual Truth about Jesus, who called Himself the Way, the TRUTH and the Life is optional then you are effectively stepping outside of christianity. Read I Corinthians 15:14-18. It was obvious that Rob was headed down a dangerous road and thankfully now he’s made that very clear. Keep praying for him.

  15. Step one is messed up to begin with…there are NO minor doctrines!!! Duh! That’s why if someone disagrees with you on the nature of hell then they clearly are a false teacher and should be damned to hell.

    Actually, this one ALWAYS worked (with slight modification) with the music issue. They were even explicit in my church: “The first thing to go in a church is the music. Then the dress. Then all their doctrine goes out the window.” If I had a quarter for every time I heard that, I could up the ante all day long!

  16. “know that you know that you know” is totally deserved by fundies. Apparently if you say something often enough in fundy land it just gets accepted/assimilated.

  17. Oh I love this post, very timely! How ironic that I received this tweet yesterday “If you’re not IFB, then you’re a liberal compromiser!” Of course the stupidity shines through since the equal and opposite statement would be if you are IFB then you are not a liberal compromiser. Clearly the imbecile that tweeted that to me has never heard of Jack Schaap.

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