Last Minute Fundy Family Holiday Meal Survival Guide


Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want.
painting photo by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

For those of you who are currently driving to a gathering where fundy family members will be present, please stop reading this and keep your eyes on the road.

Once you’re no longer driving, however, here’s a quick guide to navigating the inevitable awkward conversations.

“Where are you going to church these days?”
Rule: Comparing churches with people who believe theirs is the only true church will never end well.

If you’re going to church: “It’s a place not that far from us and the kids love it there.”

If you’re not going to church: “We’ve been thinking about checking out this place not that far from us because the kids would love it there.”

“Can you believe that Obama…”

Rule: Political discussions should never be undertaken with family member who also frown on drinking.

If you didn’t vote for Obama: “Wow…yeah…hey, do you want some coffee?”
If you voted for Obama: “Wow…yeah…hey, do you want some coffee?”

“That reminds me of what Pastor said last Sunday…”

Rule: Direct confrontation won’t work. Instead, confuse them with verbal judo.

If their pastor is a jackass: “That’s really interesting. Can you give me the references he used to back that up so I can look them up later?”

If their pastor is not a jackass: “You know that reminds me of a quote by (Billy Graham, the Dali Lama, Buddha and/or Bill Clinton).”

“Well we sure would love it if you would come to our Christmas program.”
Rule: Don’t do it. Do. Not. Do. It.

If you already have plans: “We already have plans for that night.”

If you don’t already have plans: “We already have plans for every night that month.”

141 thoughts on “Last Minute Fundy Family Holiday Meal Survival Guide”

      1. Haha, that’s actually supposed to be Norman Rockwell’s self-portrait.

        (Or, as I like to call him, given his overly shiny images of traditional American life: Mormon Rockwell.)

    1. Here’s a quick antidote for all the Rockwell Preacher Spots: imagine two of the women there as a lesbian couple, all pretty and prim with their hats and white gloves and with impeccable manners, but they just happen to be in love with each other. If you look closely, the brunette girl on the upper right is gazing with love at the redhead on the lower left. Hmmm… 😈 😛 :mrgreen:

        1. He’s the annoying brother of one of them, and he’s thinking, “I know what you’re going to announce after din-nerrrr . . . ” He will follow her into the kitchen to help serve the pies and buttonhole her about her intentions, and she will bribe him to secrecy with extra whipped cream. She and Sue are getting married in June, but they didn’t want to derail the usual Thanksgiving catch-up conversation until everybody is settled with their dessert. Dad, sitting between Bro and Sis, doesn’t suspect a thing, but Grammy and Grampy already figured it out.

  1. Good advice, Darrell. Avoidance is often the best way. I just schedule myself to work overtime.

    Seriously though, I’m thankful that my family (including in-laws) aren’t over-contentious people. I know that at least some of them don’t approve of my choices, but I’m too old to care and they don’t make a fuss about it.

    Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

  2. Imagine my upset when I went to see the family for Christmas one year while my husband was in Iraq, and all the liquor stores were closed on Christmas. Who does that?! Sometimes you need something to take the edge off that visit and get some sleep.

  3. Great advice. Our family gathering today will be current IFB, former IFB (now part of non-IFB church), and former IFB (no interest in church at all). The latter 2 are far more enjoyable to spend time with.

    I’m thankful that I now help to co-pastor a baptist church that believes it’s important to train men and women for pastoral ministry.

    We are thankful that we are part of a baptist church which is constantly looking for ways to engage our communities spiritual, social, physical, and emotional needs.

    We are thankful that we are part of a baptist church that considers confession an important part of the community life of the church.

    We are thankful to be a part of a baptist church that regulary admits the many errors and sins of Christians that masquerade as “righteous standards”.

    I am thankful to be a part of a baptist church that believes the bible to be the word of God and agrees with Paul (to the Corinthians) that love is greater than faith and hope, and that (to Timothy) the objective of all that we do and say as a church is love, not our convictions (i.e. opinions).

    In short, we offer thanksgiving to Christ for saving us from everything we were. We are thankful that the gospel is big enough and sufficient enough to include an egotistical, pompous, self-righteous IFB like ourselves.

    1. *snicker* My BIL took one for the team this year & is hosting my Very Fundy FIL.

      OTOH, my Fundy parents have been here since last Sunday (they came out to help w/housekeeping since I’m having health issues). I forgot to hide our empties that we’d been keeping in the cellar until time for recycling. 😳 That was unnecessarily awkward… 😈

  4. I’m thankful that most of my family and all of my in-laws live out of state. We won’t be with them for Thanksgiving. The only family members in the area are my brother and his family; they don’t go to church either. What I have to watch for is the politics thing, mostly.

  5. Prayers and good thoughts, please, for my fundy brother who told me solemnly that God personally and carefully plans every single thing that happens to us, good and bad, because “God is in control.” His wife has cancer now. I don’t even know what to say to him, because any comfort I could provide he does not want to hear.

    1. Prayers, good thoughts, and sympathy from here, for you and your sister-in-law. Earnest wishes that your brother gets over his misconceptions before the cognitive dissonance drives him nuts.

      1. It just blindsided me when he started talking about his religion. I hadn’t seen him in years, just exchanged Christmas cards and the occasional email, and then my son had to be medevaced. All ended well except for the part where it took me three frickin’ days to get us home. My brother came to get us from the hospital, put us up, etc., and then on the way to the airport he talked about how he helped a support group for recovering addicts at his church by telling them that God is in control. Global warming? No way we could’ve done it, God is in control. Evil? Basically, there’s no way for people ever to choose to do bad things, because God is in control. God programmed everything, and we just follow the program. There is no freedom, ever. Just accept the bad things that happen to you, because God is in control.

        I wonder if this is how he dealt with being the adult child of an alcoholic. I supposed it worked for him. But now his wife has cancer.

        1. Oh, he’s fine! Scared us all to death, though. When your son has been crying and drooling for hours but you can’t see anything in his mouth, and you take him to the ER for a more thorough checking, and within a couple of hours after the X-ray he’s been sedated and strapped down because there is a small but kind of, you know, important possibility that the swelling way back in his soft palate is his carotid artery getting ready to rupture and kill him within minutes of any vigorous movement . . . yeah, um, exciting.

          Luckily it was only a booboo he had managed to give himself while just barely out of my sight, and 5 days of stinky antibiotics fixed him right up. But the other possibility was so dire that they didn’t even want to rule it out with a soft-tissue scan until he was near a surgical team, not at our hospital, not at the biggest hospital in our state, but at a particular hospital in the next time zone.

          So that’s what a Calvinist is like. How in the world did he go from the American Lutheran Church to that?!

        2. I’m glad your sons is alright, Jenny. Wow, what a scary time!

          Yeah, I’ve recently learnt about Calvinism and that’s it to a tee. They believe there’s no free will, everything–good and evil–is orchestrated by God.

        3. Jenny, your brother — and you — and all your families have my prayers.

          I completely understand. Being told that God has everything under control is something of an exquisite torture. You want to believe God is Good. But then He visits you with all this bad.

          I cannot bear to think of God as my Father. My father was cruel and abusive. Oh, he loved me and my sisters, as best he could. He made things better for us than he’d had them growing up.

          But with him, it was just a waiting game until the hammer would fall. And that is how I viewed God for many years.

          With God in Complete Control, we have the Divine Parental Abuser in charge.

          I would rather have a God who isn’t in control of everything, but will try to guide and comfort us in our sorrows. I can’t make sense of a Good God who is actually In Control. I simply can’t.

          Of course, the theology still haunts me. I wish I could let it go entirely. But having grown up with it so much and having it ground in over the years, it is difficult.

          Just wish for your brother grace to see things clearly and to take hold of every opportunity. Right now, “losing his faith” would probably make everything worse, especially for his wife.

          Regards

        4. rtgmath, you articulated precisely why I’m so much more comfortable thinking of God as Divine Spirit or Mother-God. A friend recently tried to encourage me by saying I needed to climb on Abba’s lap & tell Him my troubles. I immediately began sobbing uncontrollably & shaking in fear at the thought.

          The thought of God orchestrating every last detail (like typhoons killing Philipinos or starvation & disease annihilating children) is something that troubles me, to say the least.

        5. I wouldn’t tell a person in his position that God wasn’t in control. I would let him believe what he believes UNLESS he came to me and asked my thoughts on the matter.

          And then I would tell him that I can’t see God being in control.

          I nearly lost my faith 9 years ago with the Christmas tsunami. A quarter of a million dead, one-third of them children. And fundy preachers proclaiming it to be God’s judgement for celebrating Christmas on December 25.

          In a section of the world where most people don’t celebrate Christmas, by the way.

          I can’t look at natural disasters and see God as both omnipotent and just. It just cannot be done. That fundamentalists do so indicates to me a kind of insanity.

          But I would let him think God was in control, until it got too hard for him to bear. Think of it. Always wondering where God will hit you next.

          It turns out that God has not judged me or smacked me down for questioning God’s omnipotence or omniscience. If He is not going to strike me down for such things, why should I believe that God would inflict this woman with cancer.

          Life — and death — happen. There is no fairness in the distribution of blessings or curses. The righteous are forsaken and the wicked prosper. “Answered Prayer” seems always to be in small things, not in great matters where God’s power or presence would be indisputable.

          In the end, it is more comforting to me to think God can’t fix my problems than to think that He won’t. But that is *my* take on it. My hold on that comfort is still tenuous at best.

        6. Because you can’t reconcile God being in control without being responsible for evil all fruit that stems from such a belief is tainted? I’m pretty sure your fear about such a belief has been questioned and answered within the free will/Calvinist debate, but I would be careful ever saying “I won’t believe X because X doesn’t feel right to me.” If that were what quantifies good theology I would reject the atonement because it doesn’t seem fair that God punished his Son for my sin.

        7. I can’t look at natural disasters and see God as both omnipotent and just.

          Let me ask this, “how many good people died in that disaster?” There is the problem. Who gets to declare what is good and just? Are goodness and justice merely relative or is there an absolute by which we can measure?

          I’ve heard and read people who say they don’t believe in hell and by not doing so that makes them more moral than God. Which is true so long as they themselves are allowed to define the terms. If they get to declare what is good and just then they can make moral judgments against God.

          That is human nature. We rebel and reject God’s moral absolutes as we declare that our morality is superior to God’s. It’s a “We will not have this God rule over us” attitude. We set ourselves up as the final authority because we cannot and will not submit ourselves to any rule other than our own. From our morally superior position we are then free to judge God himself.

          So, the problem comes down to how we view God. Is God the the Almighty Creator who has absolute control over all his creation or is he merely a god who acts as an overseer to make sure things don’t get too out-of-hand? The later is a capricious part-time deity that is inconsistent and hard to trust. The former is so holy, and so “other” that we cannot put him in a box that we are comfortable with.

          Secondly, is how we view man. We must answer the question, “Who is Good?” Again what is the standard that we use? Our own inconsistent moral standards or an absolute unchanging standard? This creates a theological problem as well. Who will we declare good? Who will we declare deserving and worthwhile?

          Take the problem at hand. How many of the quarter million who died in the tsunami that year were good? Let’s ask an even more basic question, of the one’s who survived, how many deserved to? Did they survive because they were morally, physically, or spiritually better than those who perished? Of the people alive today, who is Good? Who is worthy? Who deserves to live? Did any one die in that disaster who didn’t deserve it?

          According to God’s holy standard of Goodness only one person who died in the history of mankind didn’t deserve it, and that was Jesus Christ. The rest of us deserve death precisely because we are not “Good.” That is a harsh reality for man to accept, especially when we hold such high opinions of ourselves

          In order to judge God we must be able to become God. We must be able to step in and take over for him if we are to judge him unfit for duty.

          Personally, I’ll cling to Grace. Trusting in God’s attributes as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, Holy and Just. Knowing that I deserve nothing but death, yet God in his mercy has extended Grace to me because of the sacrifice of the one person in all of history who didn’t deserve to die. Because of the sacrifice of that one “good” person he is able to offer life to those who don’t deserve it.

          again that’s just my 2¢ worth… I just felt compelled to comment on that statement.

        8. Don, let me remind you that both Abraham and Moses presumed to remind God of His duties and His place. Moses did so when God in His fury specifically declared He was going to break his promises.

          Abraham told God it was not right to judge the righteous with the wicked.

          Let me tell you, I am suspicious of a theology that allows me to know God and go to heaven by an accident of birthplace. Imagine being born in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, having no hope of ever hearing the Gospel ala USA culturized! Why should snot-nosed brats here in the USA get to go to heaven because they had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and believe it, while children in foreign countries are condemned to go to hell because they have no chance to hear the gospel?

          If I were to accept as “right” the deaths of those 230,000 people, a third of them children, because “God did it” then that wouldn’t show spirituality. After all, I wouldn’t be so sanguine if such things had happened to me or my loved ones! It shows arrogance, a sense of entitlement.

          When Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” he was actually declaring that even God Himself is measured by an external standard. (Oh boy! I know my IFB pastor would be likely to roll over in his grave at this, and he isn’t even there yet!). When Moses told the Lord that He couldn’t break His promises without being judged by other nations as being weak and unable to fulfill His promises, he told God there was an external standard He even was being held to.

          I know the Theology. I can hold my own in parroting all the points of it. I just cannot accept it any longer. We seem to think we know all about God. We have taken Scripture, boiled it, sanitized it of any references to things we don’t like, packaged it with systematic theologies that completely ignore context in its doctrine-building. We explain away what we can’t understand.

          I don’t buy it any more. I am not saying I am an unbeliever now. I am certainly not an atheist. But Baptists construct doctrine out of whole cloth tied together with a verse here (out of context), a passage there, a phrase from a Psalm that doesn’t mean what is asserted about it, and tied with an AMEN! Calvinism does much the same thing.

          So, I have to start over. It isn’t easy. It is necessary.

          Take a look at “Christendom” in America today. It is basically defined by Fundamentalism and Conservatism, and wholly lacks the fruits of righteousness that ought to define the work of God. If their works aren’t right, what reason do I have to trust any of their doctrines?

        9. Don, just to be sure you know. I was not railing at you, per se, but to the theology that has proven so impotent in righteousness over the decades.

          This line of reasoning was used to help justify slavery. “God Himself endorses slavery. Being against slavery means you are trying to be more moral than God.”

          Fundamentalist theology in many forms has been used through the decades and the centuries to justify the status quo, secure the positions of authority for wicked men, and treat good people like trash and property.

          But it is so hard to get away from it. It confronts us as if it were an absolute and has to be believed. It doesn’t.

          Mind you, if I’m wrong, I’m either saved according to IFB doctrine and God will work to bring me back, or else people will decide I was never saved to begin with and feel free to condemn me to hell.

          But I don’t feel at all concerned with having the “standard” view of God. If you were to take every person in the Scripture that God worked with — every patriarch, judge, prophet, ruler, apostle, etc you would find none of them viewed God the same way. None of them.

          Our “standard” view is a mashup of all these points of view pureed in a theological blender, and have quite depersonalized God. Most theologians actually think God couldn’t act in a way that would surprise them because they have it all laid out in Scripture. But that rather takes away the quality of being God from God.

        10. Rtgmath, that was a well made argument. I am arriving at similar views. I think we maybe at similar places regarding religious views. I am researching the hypothesis that everyone makes up their own religion. Reality overwhelmingly supports this which is detrimental to the indoctrination i was given in fundamentalism. One method i am employing in order to circumvent my indoctrination is to critically examine all faith based religious truth claims as an outsider would. Religioun and theology no longer are privileged fom critical scrutiny. May you continue to grow in knowledge!

        11. When Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” he was actually declaring that even God Himself is measured by an external standard.

          Then he is not God. If God is subject to anything other than his own nature then by very definition he cannot be God. (i.e. The Euthyphro dilemma)

          When Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” he was making an appeal to God’s mercy, not judging God. In the entire discourse we see Abraham humbling himself and begging for God’s mercy even down to 10 righteous people. But there were not even 10 and God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. So was God immoral or unmoral in doing so?

          In spite of much of the misguided absolutism found in the IFB movement, there are absolutes found in God. Absolutes that he has declared are immutable. We are not at liberty to make his immutability and his absolutes more palatable. We, ourselves are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ by Grace through faith as in,”The just shall live by faith.”

          And yes, I do understand the damage the IFB errors have left us with and our need to deconstruct our IFB world view and replace it with a Christ centric, Gospel based worldview. Let’s just be careful that we are not replacing it with another man centric view.

        12. Don, there are several dilemmas to be had concerning the concept of God. As for “man-made” concepts, we have our own — we just pretend that we received them by inspiration and deny the presence of any contrary teachings in Scripture.

          You should remember that God removed the “righteous” people in the city of Sodom before its overthrow. I myself would have had difficulty with condemning the little children along with the rest. Then again, Scripture both condemns the idea of corporate guilt and endorses the idea of corporate guilt.

          But the idea that “if God does it then it must be right” is as fallacious as saying “might makes right.” Sure, God can punish everyone who disagrees with him, like a big powerful bully can beat up everyone else on the playground. That power doesn’t make the bully right.

          And if you read carefully Genesis 18, you will see that Abraham had no theology making God omniscient, omnipresent, or even God being just a spirit. After all, God ate with him, talked with him, walked on the ground, said He was going to Sodom to see for himself what He had heard. God was very powerful. The High God, the God of the Mountain, El Shaddai was well known to be the highest of all gods. Abraham did not even deny that there were other gods, he just refused to have anything to do with them. He worshiped El Shaddai alone.

          If you believed about God what Abraham did, you would be considered a heretic. That didn’t bother God, Who was more interested in a relationship than in theology.

          But think. For us to say, “God did it so it must be right” means we can excuse all kinds of wickedness and injustice. God gave rules about slavery and didn’t abolish it, so slavery must be right. God allowed polygamy, and even claimed to give multiple wives to people (yes, He did!), so polygamy must be right. And if it isn’t anymore, then God changed His mind — which means there was never an immutable and absolute standard.

          And in fact, according to Scripture, God does “repent” (change His mind, change His direction), something He could not do if He were Absolute and Immutable.

          Oh, I don’t blame you for thinking the way you do. The trouble is you are blind to the pitfalls in your own theology. However you try to close the gaps, gaps will remain, and God will forever be outside your ability to put in a box.

        13. Don i appreciate your discourse, it is always erudite. Have you considered that you maybe taking another cultures narrative and making up one of your own? I.e. jewish theology doesnt line up with your explanation. Thisis thier patriarch, their book, etc.

        14. Imagine being born in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, having no hope of ever hearing the Gospel ala USA culturized! Why should snot-nosed brats here in the USA get to go to heaven because they had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and believe it, while children in foreign countries are condemned to go to hell because they have no chance to hear the gospel?

          Think about this. Not everyone who had heard the gospel is saved, but the ones who have heard it over and over and over again are exponentially more responsible for the truth they have heard than the third world person who has never heard the gospel at all or of Jesus Christ. All are sinners and there are none good. Without Grace all will die and suffer eternal separation from God. All are responsible for the truth they have been exposed to (According to Romans 1) and will be judged accordingly. So in the judgment who will be judged more harshly just because of their accident of place of birth?

        15. The levels of hell argument?

          Don, even if God sends a person who has heard but not received to a hotter place of hellfire, the person who has not heard is still condemned to eternal torment.

          The levels of hell argument does not make sending people to hell who had no chance to believe a “just” thing. It is a deflection. Nothing more.

          Eternal torment is eternal torment.

          I note that the Pilgrims (i.e., Puritans) believed that babies who died went to hell. After all, they did not have opportunity to believe on Jesus. This was their Calvinistic theology, and they held onto it. And many a mother went insane with grief at the loss of a child.

        16. Oh yes, and then again, if God is in control of everything, every circumstance and situation, God ensured that those who are ignorant of the gospel would be ignorant, even establishing a false religion to rule over them.

          Because, God predestining everything from the beginning of time decided that those children, those babies, those men who wanted to follow God with their whole heart would not learn the truth and be damned forever.

          Which, of course, makes God the Author of Sin and Complicit with it.

          Such things I cannot believe. I find nothing about Calvinism attractive. Taken to its logical conclusion, it is nothing more than a very well-studied approach to keeping people subservient to their masters. What better way to approach social control than through the church and sovereign theology?

          That does not mean, of course, that I take the “opposite” point of view. I am not Arminian, either. I view the conflicts as a problem of definition, where Calvin created the definitions and the questions and everyone has been arguing using those as the starting point.

          I see Calvinism’s definitions as intrinsically wrong or skewed.

        17. jewish theology doesnt line up with your explanation.

          How so? Throughout the OT we see that all salvation, all promise of the same is according to the Grace of God. Noah and his family were saved by God extending grace to him and giving him the ability to build an ark that would see him through the destruction of mankind. Abraham was not called because he was worthy. Yet it pleased God to make a nation from Abraham who would declare the glory of God throughout the world.

          Throughout the OT we see God dealing with man in terms he can understand, yet we see God having mercy and dealing graciously with those whom he has purposed to. That is not in conflict with the NT in any way. I don’t see any conflict with my statement. Salvation has always been by Grace through faith, the works of the law never saved anyone. So we have to view OT interactions of God with man through the lens of mercy and grace.

        18. rtgmath,
          I’m pretty sure you don’t really understand reformed doctrines of salvation. It sounds like you are arguing against some hybrid form of Hypercalvinism.

          Don Said… Throughout the OT we see God dealing with man in terms he can understand, yet we see God having mercy and dealing graciously with those whom he has purposed to. That is not in conflict with the NT in any way. I don’t see any conflict with my statement. Salvation has always been by Grace through faith, the works of the law never saved anyone. So we have to view OT interactions of God with man through the lens of mercy and grace.

          Give that man a cookie.

        19. “Salvation has always been by Grace through faith” and, of course, only to whom God has purposed to bring salvation. The rest are predestined to be damned. “God having mercy and dealing graciously with those whom he has purposed to.” And those he has not purposed to do not get the mercy and grace. Right? (Be careful here!)

          Yes, I have heard the argument that God actively brings people to Himself, but that He does not actively purpose to send people to hell.

          There is a significant problem with that. One cannot choose to include from a group without also choosing to exclude from the group.

          From a group {a, b, c, d, e} God chooses to save a and c. That is exactly the same as God choosing NOT to save b, d, and e.

          If you exclude man’s will from the salvation aspect entirely, and make salvation God’s choice alone, then God chooses who will go to hell. God’s irresistible grace draws to Christ those God has chosen to be saved? All the rest have been chosen to remain unsaved, lost, damned, consigned to eternal torment.

          That is not hypercalvinism. It is, unfortunately, the very inescapable conclusion of reformed theology. God is completely in control. As Sovereign, nothing occurs that he has not designed, planned, and intended.

          Including tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues, floods, drought, life and death. Including the development of religions, both true and false. Including the direction of the bullet that kills the child. Including the murderous intent of the gangbanger.

          I wish you could convince me otherwise. But to let go of one single thing you would have to let go of the absolute Sovereignty of God. As Don said, “Personally I stand on the side of God’s absolute, and total Sovereign Authority over all his creation in all matters. I firmly believe that God’s will, will be done in spite of man’s will.”

          This is the problem with theology. Theology is man-made. You cannot avoid the inconsistencies, and once you set it in stone, it takes you to places you wish it didn’t.

        20. The rest are predestined to be damned.

          No the first premise is that all have sinned and fall short of God’s requirement of perfection. Every last son of Adam is born with the sin nature. The son of Man and Son of God Jesus Christ is the only person in all the history of human kind to not be born with the sin curse.

          Now before you go off on the infant rant I will unequivocally state that I believe that God does do right at all time in all situations. I also believe that scripture is very clear that God does not impute sin to those who are innocent and cannot comprehend right and wrong, good and evil. So I do not believe that those who die before they reach the point of understanding good and evil or the mentally impaired who cannot comprehend the same are going to be judged as those who have cognizant understanding of the law of God. (i.e. No idolatry, honor parents, no stealing, no sexual activity outside marriage, no murdering, no false witnessing, no coveting etc.)

          That being said, all have sinned and fall short so everyone is predestined to separation from God. Period. If God had done nothing then everyone of us would live and die in sin without any hope what-so-ever of reconciliation with our creator.

          That tells me three things: 1. God is merciful 2. man’s fall did not surprise God 3. Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection was not Plan “B”

          Now I have already addressed why God is God. I have also addressed man’s resistance to God due to his not fitting in our box. (I would argue that the Sovereign view of God is the only view that doesn’t try to define God and put him in a box. It recognizes that he is Sovereign Lord over all his creation without any strings attached or conditions.) So what I see in your responses is resistance to a God who has revealed himself along those terms. In your freeing yourself from your past you have, it seems also freed yourself from seeing God as a Holy Sovereign. You now seem to require that God (who has revealed as much of himself as he chose to in both creation and in special written revelation) meet your terms and fit in your box.

          I believe that God is up to the challenge of any question we have. Let’s just not require the answer fit our conditions. He is not a tame lion.

        21. “So I do not believe that those who die before they reach the point of understanding good and evil or the mentally impaired who cannot comprehend the same are going to be judged as those who have cognizant understanding of the law of God.”

          Fantastic avoidance phraseology! You won’t say *how* God will judge them. Just “not the same,” despite the fact you don’t have a shred of direct evidence for that in the Scripture. It is the same “levels of hell” argument used concerning the judgment of those who have never heard the gospel.

          It *was* public opinion — actually public outrage — over that particular problem of God’s judgment of infants that gave reformed theology a lot of trouble.

          You then go on to declare “That being said, all have sinned and fall short so everyone is predestined to separation from God. Period.” Except reformed theology says otherwise. It says everyone *would be* predestined to separation from God, but God willed otherwise and predestined some to come to Himself.”

          The problem again is that you cannot say that infants who die are predestined to be with Christ in Heaven. You see God as Just in sending them to hell. You use the wiggle words that God will not judge them the same way as those with full knowledge. But you do leave room for them to suffer eternal torment nonetheless.

          And no, this is not an infant rant. It is a problematic area reformed theology, Calvinism, Puritanism or however it is labeled has faced over the centuries.

          “That tells me three things: 1. God is merciful 2. man’s fall did not surprise God 3. Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection was not Plan “B””

          Fair enough. And since God is in Complete Control, He engineered the Fall and made sure it would happen. It was according to His will after all. And Everything is done according to His Will. Even the Fall. Even Sin and Death.

          With the Absolute Sovereignty of God at work, the fall and separation of man from God was God’s doing. Shall the pot say to the potter, why have you made me this way? God created vessels destined for destruction.

          Which, of course, was demonstrated in the religious wars as “heretics” were put to death. “Moreover, God Himself has explicitly instructed us to kill heretics, to smite with the sword any city that abandons the worship of the true faith revealed by Him.” (John Calvin).

          —-

          But again, more than anything I do not see in the lives of those who accept this doctrine anything that marks them uniquely as God’s Own. They do not exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit remarkably better than others. They are arrogant in their confidence that they are Right and everyone who disagrees with them is Wrong. They are subject to the same prejudices and hatreds as base mankind. They talk about Grace, but see Grace as something God has given to them and not to others.

          Don, I do not fault you for believing what you do. You might even not realize you are using wiggle words and deflection tactics, though I really think you are aware of it. You are intelligent enough, obviously, to know that the peculiar phrasing in such cases as “will not be judged the same way …” is meant to appease those who can be satisfied easily without giving anything at all of substance.

          We believe what we have been taught to believe. Even you. Even me.

          My difficulty is that I have seen the contradictions. I cannot be satisfied so easily. And I have seen where I have been lied to. If there is one thing that has put me off from what I see as Christianity today, it is the incessant and deliberate lying that proceeds from the pulpit, in their publications, in their ministries, and in everything they do.

          And I do not want to believe liars.

          If God decides to throw me in hell, I suppose that is His business. I put my faith and trust in Christ when I was 16 years old, and followed faithfully. I never doubted that decision. “Once saved always saved,” or, as Reformed Theology puts it, “The perseverance of the saints.” Is God Just? I am no longer sure.

          People judge the effectiveness of our Gospel by the lives we lead. And more and more, people are rejecting the message because the messengers are filthy. I can no longer blame them.

          But I have enjoyed talking to you. You represent your position well.

        22. And those he has not purposed to do not get the mercy and grace. Right? (Be careful here!)

          Absolutely right unless you are going to embrace universalism. When Moses interceded for God’s mercy regarding the Children of Israel in Exodus 33 what did God tell him? “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Can we now council God on his will and his purpose?

        23. Hmmmph. I am not going to let you tell me what rejecting one part of your theology means I have to accept.

          In any case, Don. Abraham counseled God on His Will and Purpose. So did Moses.

          If it came to a choice between atheism and believing in an Arbitrary God who thinks the souls He created are so much fodder for eternal torture, then I suppose I would rather become an atheist.

          I am not there yet. But your theology might make it a bit easier to get there.

          Funny how your theology emphasizes Grace and Mercy, while being willing to see it denied to most of the vast world. Jesus is not the Savior of the World, only of the Elect.

  6. To Modestly Covered Dish, and to all who are away from family due to military service,

    God bless you, and please accept our heart-felt thanks for your service. May God protect and bless you as well as your families back here at home. Come home safely and soon.

    ~BJg

    1. Wow, when I first read your comment, I had this fleeting glimpse of an actual sword embellishing someone’s piano. For one glorious second, I forgot what “Sword of the Lord” really means and my mind ran immediately to some tacky new holiday decoration from Hobby No-Birth-Control Lobby!!

  7. My crazy fundy FIL in WV (that state breeds a particularly bad strain of fundies) likes to tell stories about all the terrible things his fellow church members do. The problem is that they are all made up and he is actually referring to things that my family does in an attempt to shame us (ie. this one family goes to the movies, he saw this one lady at Walmart in pants, so-and-so brought a non-KJV to church one time, etc.). Good times. Always good times.

    1. Steve i assure you that the wv breed as you call it is not all that isolated. I grew up going to wv fundy churches. I moved away as an adult and experienced the same nepotism, authoritarianism, kjv-only-ism, all the made up theology elsewhere in the south east usa. Almost all of the strngeness and bad characteristics i saw elsewhwere. But maybe that was just my experience and i was subconsciously attending those type of churches due to my indoctrination?

  8. We mercifully avoided having any family contact this Thanksgiving because we had a huge family reunion last weekend for my wife’s grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary so that took care of HER fundy side of the family for a while and we are avoiding MY fundy side of the family like the plague until after my sister’s virginity celebration (a/k/a fundy wedding) is complete.

    Incidentally, the anniversary party went great, until my wife’s uncle, who is an IFB deacon, decided to announce to everyone in attendance that he figured out that he was conceived before his parents were married because their anniversary is in November and his birthday is in the early spring!! Then after trotting this most excellent family skeleton out of the closet, he led us in prayer for the food. So, yeah, that was fun.

    We used the “what church are you attending” lines that Darrell suggested many times. Although, since we don’t have kids (we have “cut off God’s blessings”) we would talk about which churches were the most student-friendly in our college town community. That actually works too.

    Political discussions with extended family are actually a lot more fun now than when I was a fundy because my parents and siblings are the ONLY people on both my parents’ sides of the family who are political conservatives, so mostly now we all talk liberal/Democratic politics and enjoy watching them squirm. 👿

    1. Dear Deacon’s Son:

      I wish I could have been there. It would be a riot explaining to your conservative parents how much worse things could be. Nothing like learning what socialism is from a genuine, self-admitted socialist!

      Blessings!

      Christian Socialist

  9. normally i unapologetically tell my fundie family that i don’t go to church anywhere, but this year i decided to have some fun–so i lied and told them i’ve been going to the local episcopal church with my gay neighbors.

  10. I had Thanksgiving with some fundy relatives this year. Fundyism itself came up for discussion. I had a long talk with someone whom I always considered to be hopelessly fundy. It turns out he has seen glimmers of light. Some of the things he said sounded downright SFLish. I was encouraged to hear it.

        1. fun·da·ment

          /ˈfəndəmənt/

          noun

          noun: fundament; plural noun: fundaments
          1. the foundation or basis of something.

          2. humorous: a person’s buttocks.

          Is this what you learned on SFL, Dr. F,P?

  11. This was the first major holiday with us being “out”, and I was extremely nervous, but it went pretty well. (And I showed more than knees! lol) I’m learning that avoidance is definitely the best way to go, and any sort of polite discussion will turn into an argument pretty quickly. Gotta remember these tactics for Christmas, as I suspect an invitation to their “somebody dies” Hamilton Christmas program is right around the corner.

    1. Dear Showy Knees:

      Good for you, girl! Feel free to bare your elbows or anything else that wants out!

      When called on your behavior, you have the option of asking why your freedom is judged by another person’s conscience.

      When they object, point out that this is Paul’s question in 1Co 10:29. Explain that you’re standing with Paul. Let your detractors stand with whomever they want!

      Blessings!

      Christian Socialist

      1. Thanks, I’ll remember that! Am I correct in thinking this passage would also be an answer to the “weaker brother” argument? That one popped up over dinner, but I didn’t address it.

        1. Never mind, I read the passage and think
          It might be my new favorite passage of scripture. Loved it, thanks for the suggestion. 😀

        2. CS and MyKnees, Fundy Standards Enforcers quote scripture in order to limit freedom. They are not quite sure what to do when someone brings up freedom in Christ. It ruins the whole experience for them.

          They usually just reply that it is not another man who is judging the conscience, it is God himself through the bible–as interpreted, of course, by the Standards Police.

          In this case, I think one could do no better but to reply with Chaucer’s Wife of Bath: I will not behave according to your text or your interpretation any more than a gnat. 🙂

  12. Best line of the day yesterday…..We are watching the early football game (Packers vs. Lions) and right before halftime, Joe Buck says something along the lines of “Halftime is coming up. Which means you will have to talk to your relatives”.

  13. What is it about relatives that they think it is their mission to straighten you out when you are “wrong”?

    We had friends over; we both know we have some major disagreements about what the Bible says, but we were polite to each other and avoided getting into arguments. There is much that we do agree on, and we had an excellent time.

    1. When I was preparing to marry my finance, who just happened to be a Japanese male, my aunt was determined to get my mother to talk me out of it, as we were different races, he was from another country, he wasn’t a Christian, etc, etc, and Mother refused to listen.
      21 years later I divorced him, having had enough of his self-pontificating. Not sure about the moral to that. 😕 🙄

      1. You married who you wanted to. It lasted 21 years, which a lot of marriages never get to — so you had some amount of patience! And you divorced when you realized you could no longer hold things together as a couple.

        Self-pontification is certainly not unique to Japanese men. It is considered a virtue among fundamentalist men (of any theology, by the way!). But when men think they are the end-all and be-all of the marriage, the marriage is gone. What remains, even if the legal ties are still there, is but a shell, a master-servant (concubine) arrangement.

        It would be nice if marriage could last forever as a mutually satisfactory arrangement. It turns out that a lot of marriages didn’t end in divorce in older days because one of them died. Was it really a heart attack, an accident, or an actual disease? At least today divorce is easier than murder.

        Ahhh! The moral is that you did not kill him! I am sure you were sorely tempted at times.

  14. Can someone please explain to me why so many people in these threads are so against Reformed views of salvation? I know FUNDY doctrine is wrong, but why are so many recovering fundamentalists so against Calvinist doctrines? When I first started reading these threads a few years ago I assumed fundamentalist people were Calvinists. Apparently, they are not….

    I don’t normally comment on stuff I read here, but need to mention I love this blog!

        1. Very true.

          I don’t know enough of Calvinism to give even a perfunctory reason why they don’t like Calvinism, but I suspect it’s got something to do with predestination.

        2. I have found that FUNDY people hate Calvinism or at least have very strong opinions of why they don’t care for it. Considering many people who comment on this blog are recovering fundamentalists I have often wondered if that is just a leave behind from one sided FUNDY theology.

        3. In a nut shell a Sovereign God who is in control over all aspects of salvation even to the point of whom he will save is in direct conflict with the idea of absolute human free will and all church growth formulas. So the idea that someone or something has the ultimate control over mankind goes against man’s view of himself. If man doesn’t have the final say then any argument claiming full Sovereignty of God, Doctrines of Grace and Reformed teaching is declared invalid.

          Personally I stand on the side of God’s absolute, and total Sovereign Authority over all his creation in all matters. I firmly believe that God’s will, will be done in spite of man’s will, because I believe any god that man can dictate terms to is not a god worth worshiping.

          That’s just my 2¢, for what it’s worth.

        4. Don, I am in total agreement. In fact, some of the largest moments of evangelism in church history come from reformed (soteriology) movements. I don’t know if that is true today, but certainly given church history it would be a weird claim to say that Calvinists don’t do evangelism.

        5. Dear Daniel:

          Several things may be happening, and you’re picking up on some of them already.

          Reformed theology is decidedly not fundamental, and few make a ‘clean’ departure from fundamentalism. After breaking with fundamentalist churches, people find that the mindset and prejudices of fundamentalism may plague them many years. Some are a lifetime throwing off the ramifications of fundamentalism.

          Realize also that several ‘brands’ of ‘Calvinistic’ thought and practice exist. Some bend toward their own kind of extremism, arrogance and exclusivity. Some forms of so-called ‘Calvinism’ have grave theological problems. I can always tell where people learned their ‘Calvinism.’ I am reformed and love reformed theology.

          I also have deep love of and respect for Lutheran theology. And this by no means exhausts my affection for theological systems other than my own.

          Blessings!

          Christian Socialist

        6. Christian Socialist, You sound like me… LOL I love NT Wright and John Piper. Both systems of thought fascinate me.

        7. Can their doctrines be right if they cannot apply them to right ends?

          Jesus said that a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. The fact is that one’s works are a procession from what one truly believes.

          So I have to conclude that not only are the works wrong, but the doctrines are also.

    1. I’ve recently learned about Calvinism (I don’t agree with it but that’s beside the point), but I’m wondering what Reformed Baptists are about. Are they rules based too? Something to investigate.

      1. Shannon, They can sometimes have their own kind of FUNDY like issues. Mark Driscoll for example… I would describe him as a fundamentalist who happens to be Calvanist. I say that with a bit of sarcasm however. His theology would be pretty sound in light of what reformed people believe. His application however?

      2. One thing to be sure of however. Conservative intellectual Christians are very drawn to reformed theology. They are very smart people unlike the fundamentalist ass clowns we mostly read about here.

        1. I’m looking at some articles on the Metropolitan Tabernacle’s website. They’re a Reformed Baptist church and oh boy…I’m finding lots of legalism. Like, on Sundays you shouldn’t eat in a restaurant, buy gas, be on a plane or train, have a birthday party and more.

        2. Shannon, there is a small group of reformed people who are sabitarians. They believe we are still under the sabbath. I suppose that would make the legalistic by your definition, but it is different from American fundamentalism. I am convinced that American fundamentalists don’t care about scripture. They care about preferences…. Reformed people as a whole have a much higher view if scripture.

  15. Don,
    I disagree with your assessment of non-Calvinists. “If man doesn’t have the final say then any argument claiming full Sovereignty of God, Doctrines of Grace and Reformed teaching is declared invalid.”
    Non-Calvinists–or those who believe in humanity’s free will do not believe men have the final word. God’s will is going to win out fully in the end. But there is a difference between the overarching will of God in soteriological terms and individual salvation according to most people who hold to free will theology. God’s Sovereignty is not diminished simply because human beings have free will. Even our free will cannot stand in the way of God’s purpose and will. And in fact, humanity’s free will only exists and is able to choose God because of the grace of God extended to humanity.

    Daniel, I am wondering where you find the thread to be against Reformed theology of salvation? I found only one outright reference to Calvinism and that was discussing the idea that God being in control bringing the bad into life as well.

    1. Leanne, I honestly am speaking more to the pattern I have seen with people here. It’s very subtle at times, but most certainly I can see a deep response of “anathema” towards people who hold to reformed doctrines.

        1. No worries,
          Like many people here I have been hurt by fundamentalism. I have often wanted to comment on things that I read on this blog. Some of the rhetoric I have read about evil Calvanist Theology on here has made me think twice about posting anything. I don’t know… Just something I noticed that bothered me.

      1. Thank you. I just have never heard your statement about people who believe in free will needing men to have the last words. That was not what I have learned about free will theology.
        I always find it odd how Calvinists and free will folk talk around each other rather than hear each other out. Free will people will say that Calvinists don’t believe God loves everyone or that bad things like tragedies are God ordained yet not many Calvinists whom I have read or known preach that. And what you have said, seems to fall into that same category. Calvinists and reformers will say free will theologians teach what you stated above–but I have never heard a free will theologian or preach say anything like that. Not interested in a debate. It just seems that all sides are misrepresenting each other or talking around each other.

  16. Oddly enough, the only Baptist at our Thanksgiving family gatherings is a huge Democrat and is always the one to start political trouble. During the last election he was calling his church leaders out as liars and hypocrites for supporting Romney. I asked him why he stayed at such a terrible place and he admitted they have a good kids program and music he likes. I guess strong convictions can escape people of all persuasions.

    1. It looks like grapes?

      I went online and looked at a larger image of this painting. In the foreground, the “brown round things” seem to surround the face of a baby?… on a platter?

      I know, I’m a sicko.

    2. They are grapes.
      In other reproductions, they don’t look frosted.
      I sort of see what you mean about the baby head, but it’s a large apple there with the grapes.
      By the way, the grandmother must have prodigious arm strength to be holding that turkey at that angle without dropping it.

      Here’s the World War II poster with Rockwell’s design:
      http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/powers_of_persuasion/four_freedoms/images_html/images/freedom_from_want.jpg

  17. My parents aren’t fundy at all. But they are extremely conservative. Only a couple references to Obamacare, the website, etc…all nicely deflected by me, a balance of calmly stating of the facts and changing topics quickly. Nothing the President does could possibly be worth anything. I did have to endure one monologue about the lazy people on welfare, the takers, who shouldn’t get stuff for free and all. But overall, it was a good day. Love my parents SO much, and love spending time with them! I wouldn’t mind an open exchange of ideas, I just get put off when they go into full glenn beck mode and get wild. It is nice to talk about other topics when that is the case…

        1. Agreed. Stopped clocks twice a day, and all that.

          Now if only we could use this to get the fundies to realize that their “war on Christmas” nonsense is just that. Seriously, fundies – Christmas has already taken over Thanksgiving, and looks to be making designs on Halloween. If there’s any war, I’d say Christmas is winning.

  18. Probably has something to do with being spotted by the world or something.

    I hate black friday but I have my own reasons.
    I find it is an over the top exercise in greed, consumerism, and profit for big corporations. I celebrate buy nothing day. I go out on saturday and frequent my local small businesses.

  19. And of course, here between Don and myself we have the traditional Holiday Theological Argument!

    Don and I didn’t actually conspire together to bring you such a wonderful example of Thanksgiving Table Indigestion, it was in our natures that it occurred. One can *try* to be good. I do *try*. (Eyes roll upward trying to avoid the accusatory glances!)

    Fortunately, I have not had to have Thanksgiving Dinner with fundamentalist relatives in a long, long time.

    But my wife took me to the Thanksgiving Sunday service and banquet. I was met by people who said, “We miss you and hope you will come back.” But one older lady was far more inquisitive. She wanted to know what had changed in the way I saw things to prompt me to leave the church.

    Ack! That was some tricky dodging. I didn’t lie. But I studiously avoided specifics. Even so, just generalizing wasn’t cutting it, and only the call for the blessing and the fact that we were at different tables saved the day.

    The problem is that most people will not understand the questions other have about theology until they come to their own place of spiritual crisis and find the pat answers always given don’t work any longer.

    In any case, I would like to thank Don for participating. I certainly don’t blame him for his viewpoints. I shared most of them up until a few years ago. And I would like to count Don — and everyone here — among my friends.

    Thanksgiving is over. Advent is upon us. Let us rejoice not simply in our similarities, but in our differences. We never meet someone else where they are, but only where we are. Still, to communicate and to do good, let us not be negligent.

    Cheers!

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