Silent Change

Everything changes — even fundamentalists. But much like any other organization that claims for itself absolute and final authority on, well, pretty much everything, fundamentalists are loath to admit that sometimes they do in fact re-think their stances on things.

One day you’re hearing Steve Green’s music being decried as having crawled from the ninth circle of the underworld. Then suddenly, without warning, your choir is blasting out “Find us Faithful” as if it had been written at least a hundred years ago. The trick here is that nobody in leadership will ever actually come out and say “Hey, guess what? We were wrong about that Steve guy. His music is actually ok.”

Ladies, that skirt had better be down to your ankles…or below the knee…or “at” the knee…or at least at the knee while leaning slightly forward and holding your breath. And if you’re paying enough attention to realize that something is definitely up with fundamentalist hemlines, I’d advise you to also have better sense than to mention it where they can hear you.

And of course, the fundamentalist can absolutely defend every single new nuance of standards directly from the unchanging Word of God. It would seem that even travelers on the old paths have to put up with a certain amount of construction.

30 thoughts on “Silent Change”

  1. Wow… just WOW. This is so, so true.

    In fact, I’ve seen it many times where fundies will actually try to retroactively interpret past rhetoric in order to argue that their positions haven’t changed. Or say that “we knew that the principle was more important than the specific application all along.” Mhm, sure.

  2. I kind of liked Steve Green’s music. Ray Boltz (spelling?) is another good one to bring up if you want to create contention between fundies of different camps. 🙂

  3. Twenty-five years ago there were some popular Christian contemporary songs that I figured would be acceptable in church if I waited about 25 years. I waited. Some of them are now even printed in hymn books being used in IFB churches today. I love it when I’m right.

  4. @Josh @JoshJ No kidding. I’d never heard of Ray Boltz till I went to Pensacola they they covered him at least once a month apparently. I’ve wondered whether they still do or not since he came out. I’m assuming most churches who did his songs, stopped. I know a lot of my friends didn’t know and when I told them, they wouldn’t even admit that the music was still the same words & tunes, but instantly was utter filth & needed to be destroyed & decried. Am still trying to find the pro-gay themes in his tunes myself. They must have a better ear/eye than I do.

  5. You think that they will have a revelation that the KJV Bible is not the only Bible that is God’s Pure Word for the English speaking people?

    I think we can wait a few more years until nobody understands the archaic 1600 language that is used until they decide that the modern translations aren’t perverse after all.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, but, man this has already happened! Nobody in the fundy movement has the slightest idea what the 1611 English means half the time. But the MOG will TELL them what it means and they will say “amen,” amen?

  6. The part that always struck me about the criticism Steve Green used to get was that his music (and by extension Sandi Patty) were about as IFB-friendly as you could get in CCM.

  7. Great post. I love how songs that were “contemporary praise and worship” are showing up in fundy hymnals as “choruses.”

    And then I hear that my alma mater is allowing girls to wear pants around town and at sporting events *gasp* I wonder what that does to all the messages from 75 years of decrying the evil of pants wearing women.

    On the bright side, at least things are changing, even if they don’t admit it.

  8. @Morgan.

    They can’t understand the 1611 Bible now. They need Preacher boys to interprest the texts for them.

    IFB pastor’s use their secret weapon: Scofield! There are word changes that make the text easier to read. And if it’s still confusing they preach right from the notes in the margin.

  9. @Lizzy. Lol. That’s pretty true and funny.
    @Morgan. I’ve waited for that my whole life…despite it’s not that long in certain terms. I’m still doubting that’ll change. But hey. Ya never know…

  10. “I think we can wait a few more years until nobody understands the archaic 1600 language that is used until they decide that the modern translations aren’t perverse after all.”

    Language change! Ha! The KJV has worked for 400 years and it can work for 400 more. Because, you know, the English we speak today is *exactly* the same English that the Anglo-Saxons spoke in England 1,000+ years ago, and people everywhere read Chaucer the way he originally wrote, not a translation of his work. Yep.

    “They can’t understand the 1611 Bible now. They need Preacher boys to interprest the texts for them.”

    I once had a professor say that the reason pastors preach from the KJV is because that way they can spend half the sermon translating it into modern English. If they didn’t have to do that, then they’d be forced to actually find something to say.

  11. @Amanda: I’ve heard that, too. True stuff is the funniest.

    And re. Anglo-Saxons and Chaucer, I nearly chew through my arm every time I hear people say that the King James is “kinda hard to understand because it’s in Old English.”

  12. I just got a parallel Bible at the used bookstore. It has the KJV, the Amplified Bible, the New Living Translation and the RSV verses on the same pages.

    What a revelation it is to study the Bible this way. The Bible comes alive. One thing it certainly points out is that the KJV language is even harder to understand than I thought it was. Poor fundies.

  13. @Jordan, as someone who has formally studied the history of the English language that one bugs the bejeebers out of me. The translators of the KJV, Shakespeare, and Chaucer did *not* write in Old English. And the whole “language doesn’t change” or “it does change but the change is bad and we must ‘preserve’ our language” thing drives me up the wall. Trust me; you do NOT want to get me start on that one!

  14. Me either. I’m using the Anglo-Saxon “Genesis” and The Battle of Maldon fragment–among other things–in my thesis. Every time someone says the KJV (or Shakespeare, for that matter) is in Old English I want to slap a sheet of Beowulf down in front of them.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing about KJV-only-ers eventually caving to time and accepting new versions may not be true. There’s such an enormous mythos built up around the KJV’s myriad supposed merits that the only thing that can happen to the movement is for it to die out completely. And that day can’t come soon enough.

  15. @Jordan and Amanda, I am not an English major, but I have a friend who is. Not that this qualifies me to comment on this matter, but it does drive me nuts (just slightly) when people say stupid things about the vintage of English with which the KJV is written, or the supposed “reading level” thereof, or any other similar misinformation.

    Oh, and you mean that it’s ok if language changes? My dad still has his old (sometime pre-1950, I think) Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Does he think that English has “gotten worse” since then? I have no clue, but there must be something to it… Anyway, he doesn’t appear to have gotten the memo. 🙂

  16. Yeah, the “reading level” thing is irritating: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2009/06/claiming-that-the-king-james-version-is-easier-to-read-than-others/

    A weird benefit I got from growing up reading the KJV is that it made learning German easy, since Elizabethan grammar was still not that far removed from its Germanic roots. But sentence construction has been turned on its head several times since those heady days under the Stuarts, and, as Darrell points out in his post, vocabulary is a huge problem.

  17. Let’s talk hymns, too. Man, nothing bugs me more than singing at church (I rarely need a hymnal; fundy song selection hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years and I have most of them memorized) and heartily singing wrong words because someone went and tweaked the text to fit their particular theological bent. You wouldn’t know it, though, because there’s no note that the chorus was changed from “Jesus died for sinful men / and Jesus died for me” to “Jesus died for all mankind / and Jesus died for me.” (Compare http://www.sermonaudio.com/hymn_details.asp?PID=gracethisacharmingsound with http://bit.ly/9sQ2v4; pretty sure Doddridge didn’t write both, and I’m not even sure he wrote either.) Why change it? Because if you believe in limited atonement, you are uncomfortable saying Jesus died for *all* mankind. By removing the universality of “all” from the hymn and substituting “sinful men,” you can console yourself that he died only for *some* sinful men, ie. the elect. Subtle change but not completely without reason. Another good one is “Rock of Ages” by Toplady – see http://geoffreyhoare.blogspot.com/2008/06/double-cure-of-sin.html for details.

    One church here in town is notorious for just changing hymns on a whim and not indicating that the text was altered. It’s also one of the most fundy churches in America. Silent change indeed.

  18. I suspect you’ve stumbled onto more of a changing to make the Gospel gender nuetral, more than some secret calvinist plot. At least on that specific one you cited. Didn’t have a chance to click through the second one. I’m sure there are people opposed to that as well, but changing from Jesus dying just for men to all mankind is a good & more accurate phrase gender-wise.

  19. @mounty: changing songs (not just hymns, but modern worship songs as well) because of doctrinal issues isn’t *that* unusual across all of Christianity, and frankly I don’t have a problem with it. What I *do* have a problem with is the deceptiveness of not mentioning that any changes were made. I have a hymnal that occasionally changes the words for doctrinal reasons, but those changes are clearly marked as such.

  20. This is totally unrelated, but it ain’t just one group that changes the words to fit their theology. I remember hearing this from Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral:
    Rise up, O Church of God.
    Rise up o’er all the earth;
    Let men and women, everywhere,
    Proclaim their own self worth.

  21. Ron, many churches change words to hymns to fit their theology. RC’s do it. In the late 20th century, many mainline hymnals changed words to reflect inclusive language. This is nothing new. Although, the Crystal “Cathedral” is pretty weird about it. One of my favorite changes is in the Hymnal, 1982 (Episcopal church) to “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” One line reads, “Feed me til I want no more.” They changed it to, “Feed me now and evermore.” MUCH better theology. The original implies we can get enough of God, the latter implies we never can get enough of God.

  22. For me, it was celebrating Christmas.

    2001: Christmas is a pagan holiday and Christians ought not to celebrate it. (But it’s still okay to give presents.)

    2010: People who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” are taking Christ out of Christmas. We’re also having a Christmas musical which will be a great opportunity to invite folks out to church who don’t normally go!

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