Critiques

Among the spiritual gifts of fundamentalism, perhaps none is so highly prized as the gift of being able to find fault with just about anything. The truly gifted fundamentalist can walk into any church, home, public gathering, or pie-eating contest and have a list of things with which they disagree and corresponding proof texts in three minutes flat. I know whereof I speak — I have a double portion of this gift.

Opportunities for feeling superior abound. The music may be too fast or slow or loud or soft or old or new or happy or sad. The decor may be too ancient (Catholic!) or modern (Liberal!) or expensive or cheap or colorful or drab. The people may be too stoic or expressive and dressed too nicely or too poorly. There may be not enough children present or too many children in the service. The pastor may be too long, too short, not Spirit-led enough, a little too high spirited, and (worst of all) not in 100% agreement with the president of my Fundy U. And don’t even get me started on their hymnbook choice…

And that’s just the stuff observed while walking in and finding a seat…

Of course, these criticisms are usually reserved for other people’s churches. If they want to see perfection they should come visit us next Sunday.

152 thoughts on “Critiques”

        1. Stop it right now or I’m pulling this car over!!! I will!!! You don’t think I mean it? I mean it. I’m pulling over!

        2. (sniffs) She started it! And he took my dolly! (oi…you don’t know how many times I wish I still had an excuse to act like this. lol)

        3. WELL, Ken started it and Gary was picking on me and they made Andoryesmaybe cry and they’re not my best friends anymore.

        4. “Alright, who did it? Oh, man someone roll down a window!! Oh-whew! no more “El Pollo Loco” for you guys anymore!! That didn’t go around it to get out it passed straight through it.” πŸ™„ “Ok, we’re going to pull over at this rest area up ahead and I hope whoever it was gets that out of their system before we start back up on the next post. Whew! That’s enough to peal the Mural off the Baptistry! Upps, too late.” 😯

        5. I didn’t start the fight! YOU started it? When you hit me back! So there! {Sticks out tongue}

    1. To be honest, IFB Bible college taught us to think this way.( I’ve heard church ed stories that would curl your toes) You may take the girl out of the IFB but you can’t take the IFB out of the girl. I really need to guard myself from doing all of this when I visit churches…its getting better but its still there..lurking in my psyche, like a bad case of gout..

        1. Well, you can ask God to cleanse and renew your mind.

          I don’t care much about decor, but when visiting churches, I am on full alert as to what they believe. I can be pretty critical of doctrine that is in error.

    2. “[waits for the chorus of “but criticize is all you do here, you hypocrite” to begin]”

      WouldnÒ€ℒt want to disappoint, however, I think it would be rather hypocritical of me to call you a hypocrite for calling other hypocrites hypocrites since I do the same thing.

      WaitÒ€¦yah, thatÒ€ℒs right.

      Hypocrite! πŸ˜›

  1. When you’re a teacher – especially an English or speech teacher – giving a critique comes with the territory. I find it very easy to evaluate things – decor, fashion, or churches! I think the greatest error comes in what you said here — “Opportunities for feeling superior abound.” When our goal for evaluating is to put someone else down and exalt ourselves, there is the sin. It’s easy to drift into that sin, too, so I pray for God to keep me wise as a serpent (I do like having the ability to be discerning) but gentle as a dove, regarding other Christians meekly, humbly, and above all with love — even when they do choose bright red carpet for their church building!

    1. Not to mention proofreading the bulletin, slides (if they’re liberal enough for that), or handouts (can we NOT pluralize the names of missionaries with apostrophes? please?) . . . it’s something I wish I could turn off sometimes. Makes the whole experience very distracting.

    2. Amen, PW, amen. English teachers have the worst time with this. My personal favorite “oops” is from a message that the MOG at my last IFB church used to preach on a regular basis. One of his points had to do with the fact that going to church doesn’t guarantee you are a Christian. This is how he worded it, from the pulpit, on the powerpoint, and on the handout:

      Everyone in the church is not saved.

      Made me want to get up and leave right away. Misplaced modifiers are dangerous things.

      1. “Everyone in the church is not saved.”

        That sounds like a premise worded for logic class. Where we treat everyone as a group, not separate individuals. I don’t think that’s what the MOG meant though…. All MOG have not taken a logic course.

    3. I don’t think its just english. I tend to look at people’s hair first. It’s just instinct. If something isn’t blended right, I want to fix it.

      I majored in education at my fundy u and focused in business, and I worked some in accounting after college. When we close the shop, I’m anal about the accounting stuff.

      I think when you are practiced in an area, when you see errors, they jump out at you.

      1. That is true. After I learned a little about how to lay tile (which is not my profession at all) and tiled my first bathroom, I started noticing mistakes in how the tile was set everywhere I looked– restaurants, doctor’s offices, parks, you name it.

        1. Graphic designers ( or at least this graphic designer) have this really bad, everywhere. If it has text on it and there’s an issue, I’ll see it, and probably make a noise like a cat coughing up a hair-ball. I make this noise a lot at church bulletins.

        2. I think there’s something to that idea. For example, if you just get into desktop publishing even just a little bit, you’ll start to see keming (bad kerning) everywhere! 😳

  2. I don’t know, that carpet has a tint of pink in it. That’s a bit feminine, don’t you think?

    The piano needs to be turned around.

    The stats board looks crooked.

    I don’t like the lights over the choir loft.

    WHERE is the baptistry?

    The flags are not exactly positioned.

    The flowers aren’t centered, nor is the communion table.

    The upholstery on the MOG thrones aren’t the same hue as the carpet.

    And, it looks like there’s a spot on the carpet.

    What?

    πŸ˜‰

        1. Go to the ordination article and on there is a pic of Jack Schaap praying with this kid. There is a white piano in the background and some people who I won’t mention (but his initials are Scorpio) swears that there is no white piano in the background.

          There IS a white piano.

        2. There is no white piano. (Nor any other colour, to anticipate the liberal theologians.) On this I am not a skeptic. I am an Apianoist.

        1. I regret to infirm you that our Spiritual Investigators have confirmed that only those who commit fornication in their hearts can see the piano.

    1. The piano player must have her eyes on the cross! Can’t do that if she’s turned around to play the piano. That would be compromise!

      I know, the MOG preaches with his back to the cross, but that’s just so he can pull things out of his ass without us seeing it.

  3. O-M-G.

    Did you look at my church? lol I’ve never actually been with a member while visiting another church, but they certainly condemn them enough for their screens and worship bands and song choice.

    But WE are one of the greatest churches in America!!

  4. This type of person is describing my father-in-law perfectly. He is a staunch fundy who does not have a Christmas Tree, believes Billy Graham is lost, and thinks that the managawd is the best choice for a Bible education. Anyway, the first church we ever interned at, we were showing him the facilities for the very first time and the first thing he pointed out was that the American flag on the stage had the gold tassels around the edges and he said that was a disgrace to the flag because it stood for Mashall Law. I have no clue where he got that from but that was just the start of his list of “what I find wrong with this place”! We have moved on from that church and are philosophically a long way from where we were then so let’s just say that he does not come visit us very often….THANK GOD!

        1. I realize I’m a few months behind, but I have an explanation about the gold fringe. I’t won’t make any sense. It hasn’t in the 20 odd years since I first heard it, and gets murkier with each retelling, but as I remember it, it was explained in a video about black helicopters, secret messages on road signs, and government owned trailers behind barbed-wire fences (to house rebels against the gummint). The gold fringe is part of the evil communist-democrat plot to use the military to take over the US. A true patriot would never mar the flag, it is only done by those trying to bring down the USA from within.

          I warned you it was crazy, as are the ex workmates who loaned me the warning propaganda.

          They Live!

    1. Is this anything like the rumor that, in the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the line after “As He died to make men holy” should be “Let us die to make men free” when America is at war and “Let us live to make men free” when we are at peace? Someone in my church choir came up with that one; I don’t know where he got it.

  5. “I know whereof I speak Ò€” I have a double portion of this gift. ”
    I’m trying to recover from this. I think that ex-Fundies are walking wounded. The flashbacks due to association with IFBs trigger unpleasant memories that emote themselves through critizism.
    I avoid attending church unless I want to go. The thing that gets me to church is the idea that I might get a ‘glimpse’ of God by attending. I try to look for God and ignore everything else. This seems to help me.

  6. For a long while, I had to keep a separate page of notes of everything I found fault with the church and the sermon, as a way of dumping all that from my brain, to make room to listen to what God may have decided to share with me through these imperfect servants of His.

  7. I used to be this way about musical numbers. The singer was off key or sang like a a robot and the piano player was too loud or their clothes weren’t right The sound system was off.Rarely did anyone met my expectations!

    To this day I have no idea why I considered myself such an expert! I sing and play well enough but I’m nothing special. I have no idea why expected everyone else to be!

  8. I’d love to meet the architect who came up with the design for the rural IFB church. (cookie-cutter) The dude made a fortune! And his brother-in-law must have had the Crappy-Carpets-R-Us franchise and gave those “thrifty” IFB’s a discount on the reds and oranges that they can’t unload on anyone else. πŸ™„

    1. I so agree w/ this comment. The church I grew up in was bigger, but the same overall design. And the carpet was a really bad pukish orange color. Note, the doors on the right and left for the MOg to use to go through his office before he enters the stage.

      There really should be an organ there on one of the two sides (one side for a piano, one for the organ), and I’m missing the nice painted mural above the baptistry. πŸ˜†

  9. Let me shed some light on the carpet color, as based on my old church. A Founding Member (because of course our church was split off from “that other church” and wasn’t terribly old, so we had a cadre of founding members) contributed some dollars to the building fund and happened to own Christian Brothers Flooring so got the LAST WORD on what carpet was going to be laid in His Church. Forget that the color (in our case, a bilious green) looks awful under fluorescent lighting and gives everyone kind of a sickly cast. It was his decision, by golly, and you’d do well to be grateful….even though we all know it was a great big leftover piece that would never sell in a million years.

    1. Guess they didn’t have anyone give them this proof-text:Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

      1. I think I was about 6, and I remember my Dad talking to a very pious looking man at a church we were visiting, and stuck his chest out and said something like, “Our carpets are red… *pause*… for the blood”.

        My Dad was like, “Oh… okay.”

        1. If you mean the blood of Christ, it doesn’t seem quite right to be walking on it and vacuuming it and shampooing it and so on.

        2. AAAA-HAAAA **ust had an epiphany
          I Get IT! I See it now! I SEE THE LIGHT!
          RED carpet in church!! Get it?!!
          It represents the blood that flows from the ALTAR!!!
          The ALTAR!!
          Wait for it…. here it is….
          Follow the “Trail of Blood” to the ALTAR!
          Badda-Bing! Dots connected! Woooo-Hoooo! πŸ˜›

          **runs down the aisle following the “trail of Blood” to the altar, all on the altar of sacrifice all are laid, circles pulpit and dives into the Baptistry… (wish there had been some water in there..) 😯 **

        1. But I grew up in the Christian and Missionary Alliance. We did not have an official Bible. Most people read the NASB or the NIV because the KJV was too difficult to understand. And the debates about which was better were muted. But we were godless liberals, so what did we know?

  10. When I read the title I thought that it was going to be about the “critiques” fundies have for this site. πŸ™‚

    But yeah, fundies are good at tearing everyone else down over stuff that doesn’t matter.

  11. This still infects me. On our recent church hunting expedition (we moved from San Diego to North Chicago), I struggled hard with this because I wanted to criticize EVERYTHING! Had to take a few weeks off to detox.

  12. My husband is an expert at criticizing churches. When we were visiting around, he tore into every single one. He especially hates small churches (but then, he is Texan).

    By contrast, I loved all of them (except for the one with the Prosperity Gospel offering prayer… but I went to that one alone).

    And then he says that I’m the one who is too picky about churches. *laughs*

    If I have a choice between cleaning up cat barf and church-shopping with Hubby, I’ll take the cat barf.

  13. I still have fundy friends that criticize EVERYTHING. I have to try hard to hold my tongue so I don’t go off on them sometimes.

    One time my fundy church went on a missions trip and we went to another church that was friends with our church to talk about our trip. As my sister was talking on stage, the people sitting right behind me started mocking and criticising her. I was not too happy at the moment.

  14. I came home with this newfound criticizing gift after just one semester at BJU.

    My home church used soundtracks for the special numbers. Sometimes soundtracks with a beat. The way some girls dressed was atrocious. I’d never noticed this before. On consecutive visits back home, our pastor spoke of Billy Graham positively.

    I thought people should notice how neatly I am dressed. They should notice that I am better.

  15. I totally get this. I grew up this way, but in my early 20’s I went to a church that emphasized grace and relationship with God. I moved into a house with 6 other girls from this church. That was God’s way of breaking me from my critical and judgemental ways! There were several times I started criticizing something very loudly and they all looked at me like I was crazy. And here I expected them all to nod their heads in staunch agreement with me, like my fundy friends did. I learned from them that not all Christians are critical and judgemental, some actually live by grace.

    I have one fundy friend who I talk to sometimes, and when she starts going on a proof-texting rampage about, say, why women should be silent in church, I just want to puke.

  16. I am a “fundie” by the standards of this site. I view alot of “stuff” in the IFB world as a bit crazy. However our church has the perfect balance LOL…everyone else is too liberal or too far right. πŸ™‚ However I have come to the point where Bible College makes me sick. I can spot a student or a grad miles away. They are so prideful and arrogant. Ofcourse I have spent some time in the SBC and I can say the same about the Seminary student or grad. Human nature is the same independent, SBC, other …we are the same in many ways. Thank God for Christ Jesus!

    1. I’m so thankful for Christ too! We’ humans are so flawed and broken. Arrogance and self-righteousness and pride keep us looking down our noses at others instead of being humble and loving. Our prayer way too often is “Thank you, Lord, that I’m not like that other person over there; no, in contrast, I’m holy and good.” The whole mote and beam thing! God’s Word is constantly reminding us to beware of this tendency and we fall into it all the time! Not just fundies; absolutely not! People do it all the time toward others – but God forbid that this attitude be found among those who claim to follow Christ. Holiness ought to come hand in hand with humility.

  17. My wife’s IFB parents came to visit. We got it on Bible versions, preaching style, told that it was a yuppie church, etc. My wife’s mom is still trying to find us another church… LOL

  18. No need to even talk about “grace” here, grace isn’t needed in matters of TASTE, and that’s ALL this stuff is about. Only fundies make differences in taste into a soul defining choice. No one in reality land thinks your choice of crown moldings reflects on your sinfulness or lack of sinfulness. In matters of taste, I have strong opinions, but instead of grace, I exercise politeness, because that’s all that is required.

  19. The problem with most fundie churches is that they basically use the same architectural template. They are designed for function not for aesthetics. One could easily write Ò€œFundie Church Design for DummiesÒ€. The fundie sanctuary picture above looks the dozen of fundie churches I visited or attended during my fundie days. Two rows of pews, a wide central isle, the communion table, the pulpit, the American and Ò€œChristianÒ€ flag, a door on each side of the pulpit, plain clear glass windows, the giant bathtub behind the pulpit, the piano.
    There seem two reasons for this. IFB churches just donÒ€ℒt have the money to do something different. There are companies that specialize in furniture and building supplies for fundie churches. Fundie churches just come off some assembly line.
    But they main reason is fundies hate creativity.
    Where I live, whenever a main line Protestant denomination or the Catholics build a new church, they hire a talented architect and try to do something different. They know that aesthetics is an important part of the worship experience.
    I am an atheist, but I still enjoy the spiritual architecture of a well designed church. Many fundie churches are about as aesthetic as a Wal-Mart.

    1. What’s sad Mark, is that most fundies would only latch on to the “I’m an atheist” portion of your comments above and go to war with you rather than have an open dialogue on the actual topic. My fundy training (programming) actually kicked in when I read that and I remembered a saying my mog used to spout every 3rd service or so. “There are no such thing as atheists, only agnostics.” He would drone on for a half hour trying to prove he was right rather than talking about ways to show the love of Christ to an atheist – or anyone else for that matter.

    2. I’m not sure if fundies are scared of creativity in general (the whole “stick to the old paths” thing) or if they are reacting against what mainline Protestant and Catholic churches are doing. “If those denominations are building unique and aestetically pleasing buildings, we need to do the opposite and build something plain. After all, we worship in spirit and in truth and don’t need to look at anything beautiful.”

        1. My home church would have pretty much had one of those standard-brand sanctuaries if it hadn’t been for a wealthy parishioner who had an absolutely gorgeous stained class window of Christ in Gethsemane made in memory of a deceased loved one and had it placed behind and above the pulpit. It was made by a famous studio.
          The pastor’s wife HATED it. “Too Catholic.”

  20. I never was a fundy, but I still lean towards judging everything inside a church. One of the big things for me is I HATE pews. Churches with pews always feel judgmental to me. Not a big fan of choir lofts, flags in church or baptisteries. I’ve only been a member of 3 churches, first met in a theater, second was in a brand new contemporary style building and ours now meets in a SDA church owned by the hospital, although we are looking at buying an old racket ball club.

    So while I’m sure it’s a huge fundy thing to walk into a church and critique/judge everything, it’s not just limited to them.

    1. There’s a church that comes on the local cable access channel (and those of you who live in the Charlotte area know it), and its this IFB church with lots of shouting and such and they have a big banner with an American flag on it (and something else, I never can make it out) covering the whole baptistry area. And, the pastor always makes me worry that he’s going to have a heart attack when he “preaches”.

      1. The church I grew up in (Methodist – if I was talking to fundies their hackles would be up already) alternates between a “normal” evening Church service in the church building, and a “Praise Service” in the Church halls. A good friend of my father’s, Jim, (now passed away) didn’t like the Praise Srvice much, and tended not to go. To him, it “didn’t feel like a real Church Service”

  21. My wife and I have to watch out for overuse of this “gift”. We call ourselves the “Statler and Waldorf” of churches after those two old guys on the Muppet Show.

    1. Am I just weird, or do many Fundy-type Churches remind anyone else of the Muppets? you know, someone with their hand up your ass, making you move in a certain way?….

  22. This kind of reminds me of the time someone at my church asked me what I thought of David Cloud’s newsletter “O Timothy”. I told him I have trouble trusting someone who’s whole ministry is centered around finding fault in others.

    1. There is a website called “Take Head Ministries” run my a guy in Ballinahinch here in Northern Ireland, which is dedicated to picking holes in other Christians over the most minor of issues (the more minor the issue, the more this website has to say. The Pastor of my own Church was featured 3 times on the site, once for daring to quote a Roman Catholic writer, which of course mades his whole ministry suspect… I have gone on the site a few times in the past, but now I don’t go near it – I don’t like being beaten to death with a wet blanket…. : 😑

        1. I have serious issues with Catholic doctrine but that does not mean that writer you refered to was wrong. I read an article once by a Catholic priest about the day Jesus was crucified. It was the most informed article about the subject I ever read. And besides, I wonder if the man who runs that website sings “Silent Night” at Christmas since it was also written by a Catholic priest.

  23. ExIFB started a thread on the forum that quoted this: “Do you work to be accepted? Then you are a law oriented legalist. Legalists are often angry people that are never satisfied.” I think this sums up why there is a critical spirit about most IFBers I know.

  24. My parents were/are experts at being critical in church. My mom was quite good at analyzing how the pastor’s wife dressed (in pants!?!?!), or if the girls in the youth group had short skirts/big earrings/”worldly” hair. Dad’s criticism centered around fine points of doctrine or whoever was not separated from whoever they should have separated from, but he would sometimes complain about young men coming to church in something that he thought they would go home and mow the lawn in. (Have you ever seen a teenage boy mowing the lawn in a polo shirt and a pair of khaki slacks? No? I didn’t think so.) Of course the criticism might also include the sermon topic, the sound system, the music being sung or played, or if the pastor didn’t criticize a compromising kind of church enough. I have gradually learned to let go all that kind of criticism, not to let it keep up a running commentary in my head.

  25. I’ve got this really bad. As a lifetime singer, a carpenter, a chior director, a sound board opperator, and a former instramentalist, NOBODY can sing, build, ballance or do anything right… did I mention I preach too… 😈

    1. I grew up singing and taking singing lessons and sometimes when I hear people sing, I cringe. I don’t consider myself a good singer, but when someone sings from their throat or sings nasally, I want to tell them to sit down.

  26. I was not your model fundamentalist. I only started attending an IFB church in college when my ex converted to the cult. The first week I attended an IFB church and showed up in pants, one woman had the galls to give my ex at the time a pamphlet on “women and dresses”.

    I learned the IFB way quick though, and it did not take me long to dress like a proper IFB lady and be “filled with the spirit”. However, there must have still been an air of “worldliness” that the hardcore IFB’s sensed. I would always feel their eyes on me judging my every move. The worst ones, though, were the gossipy housewives. They would always criticize me indirectly and try to take me under their wings and make me into a cookie cutter version of them.

    The thought of me being one of them makes me shiver!

  27. Fundamentals were always criticizing Dale Carnegie’s book “The Power of Positive Thinking” but now I think there is something to it. Look at the power of negative thinking.

  28. Just started following this site a few weeks ago and it does my heart good. I was in an IFCA Bible church for about eight years and it’s amazing the effect even that period of time can have on you. This blog is good for the soul.

  29. The King James 1611 is the only bible that God has authorized! God will curse all of you wacko sicko liberals for teaching that you can use another bible besides the real authentic word of the Lord and that word is the King James Bible 1611. πŸ’‘

  30. Darrell,

    Since you are a dear brother in gid, I feel I must correct you — in brotherly love, of course. This behavior you erroneously call “critiquing” is not criticizing at all! Rather, it is the spiritual gift of discernment. Just as the watchman on the wall in the OT prophets, the discerning Christian cannot allow a brother or sister (or a church for that matter) to err and fall into grevious sin without loving warnings and correction.

    I must say, you do not give yourself enough credit–and doesn’t the good Lord call us all to give credit where it is due? You are using your godly spiritual gift of discernment here on this website. Perhaps those in the way of error will heed and leave legalism behind.

    Your sister in gid,
    Laurie

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