Four Predictions For the Future of Fundamentalism

predictions

After reading this article from last November about the future of fundamentalism I’m going to make my own four predictions about where I see fundamentalism headed.

1. It will get competitive

Church attendance across the spectrum is in decline and the cold-calling methodology of the trying to get new members is highly inefficient. Fundamentalists will continue to poach members from each other’s churches or target the very young and very old with offers of transportation but the core tithe-paying memberships will continue to shrink.

2. It will get cozier.

As fundamentalism shrinks and multiple churches begin competing for the same few souls you will begin to see more and more alliances formed between people who previously were once sworn enemies. There was a time when BJU and Hyles people would never have shared a platform but we’re beginning to see a trend towards more cooperation in an effort to stay solvent. Joining forces makes more resources available and opens up new “markets.” Case in point is the Baptist Friends organization which spans the entire spectrum of fundamentalism.

3. It will get crazier

The hallmark of fundamentalism these days is its inability to discipline its own leaders on anything from heresy to harassment. Apologists for fundamentalism always seem to be waiting for one more piece of evidence. They would be happy to do something but they just need a little more proof. They’d definitely not tolerate abuse but nobody has managed to give them absolute certainty that there is any abuse in fundamentalism. I mean what does “rape” really mean anyway? When any organization loses the moral fortitude to be self-policing, the people who inevitably take control will continue the destructive cycle of silencing relatively moderate voices in favor of the hand-picked minions who will let their bad behavior go unchecked.

4. It will get creative

Massive rebranding efforts are underway now on college campuses and in churches. There will always be a few who simply double down on the ways of the past but much of fundamentalism has begun to realize that they at least need to put a fresh new face on the same old Pharaseeism. What they won’t do, however, is apologize. They’ll never even admit that they’ve changed at all. Fundamentalism will continue to exist as long as there are people who are happy to trade the birthright of their minds and morals for the pottage of feeling safe and superior. That’s not going to change anytime soon.

159 thoughts on “Four Predictions For the Future of Fundamentalism”

    1. I will say that Darrell’s post is very good. McMorris’ article is very bad.

      For instance he posts:
      “Technology is Being Used Wisely. Baptists are jumping on board with creating films, having sharp websites, and using technology to impact their community. We were scared of it at first.”

      Creating films? Who calls them films any more? Technology to impact community? How? I’ve yet to ever see this. A tract on a piece of paper is not technology. (Unless we’re talking about Guttenberg’s printing press)

      “We were scared of it first”–They still are scared of it. They shun all modern technology. Fundamental Baptists are now just starting to incorporate screens with projectors in their services. That technology is at least 15 years old. They keep to the mantra, “if it is old, it is safe.”

      1. That is true Admiral. I have said something to that effect. If you look at technology, everything went along pretty much the same for almost 6000 years. Then, in the last 100-120 years there has been a MAJOR spike if you were drawing a graph. All of a sudden you have the combustible engine, electricity (and all the inventions it brought), computers, the list is too long to mention even a few of the things, let alone all of them.

        I think what happened was the “conservative holiness crowd” simply said just that, “all this stuff is brand new, certainly it is a sign of the end times, we don’t know what it is but it can’t be good”.

        I think that mind set goes with “people” too. For example. I emailed an “IFB Bigwig” about his opinion of Max Lucado. He said since he is a Church of Christ minister we would all do well to avoid his teachings. I know his problem with the Church of Christ is that they believe water baptism is what actually cleanses you from sin. But Max Lucado does NOT believe this. But he is still to be avoided according to this man.

        But I asked him how he felt about Charles Finney and he said, “Charles Finney was greatly used of the Lord. You will find some of his teaching does not meet scriptural muster with which we cannot agree.” So Charles Finney didn’t believe in Christ’s rigteousness being imputed to us (which is the foundation of Christianity in my opinion) but he was greatly used of God. But based on a false assumption that Max Lucado believes water baptism cleanses from sin, we are to avoid his books and teachings.

        Same mindset. Charles Finney = old and good. Max Lucado = new and bad.

        1. That is a really interesting observation on the Lucado/ Finney dynamic that this man had. The depths of the old=good new=bad mentality is incredible.

      2. Sorry! Movies? Is that better? lol! Funny reason to discredit an argument, though… 🙂

        And just starting to use screens? The churches I have been in have had them for years… Sounds a little like stereotyping is going on.

        Also, I wrote a lengthy follow up at the bottom. Hopefully it will help you understand where I was coming from.

        1. I pulled it down. It doesn’t matter, honestly. My goal is not division. Not that Darrell was being intentional divisive… It just kind of came across that way when compared to his article.

          I have no desire to stir any pots. He makes good points and that is fine for what he is doing here.

      3. Matt came out of WCBC/LBC, where screens have been used since their current auditorium was built. Trieber rejected screens for years (even writing a booklet against them), but finally succumbed.

  1. My IFB family is always wondering how fundamentalism got into this condition. They do not like my answer that nothing has changed. It’s always been this way.

  2. A comment about the baptist friends site. They essentially listed churches and schools without permission. So I know of at least one church and seminary that requested to be removed from their listing because of disagreements with their theology. So, just because churches are listed does not in any way mean they even know they are listed, or that they are on board with the agenda.

      1. You could even start a website and list their names and addresses, and make it look… ya’ know, official. Maybe photoshop some pics of you guys together bowling.

        Here’s a discussion of this: http://www.onlinebaptist.com/home/topic/11214-a-pastors-stance-on-the-independent-baptist-friends-international/

        Dave Doran of DBTS also had a blog post about how they had been listed without permission back in the day and he was trying to get taken off, but then his blog address changed so I can’t locate that now in the current archives. According to the link I posted, the “Friends” site changed the wording to say it was just a directory.

        Shady if you ask me.

  3. I’m definitely seeing 3 and 4. It’s as if some pastors are getting more vocal about their beliefs, be it political and their interpretations of Biblical.

    And the rebranding, definitely. Look at Trinity. They got caught with poop on their nose, and now they’re not recognizable to what they were back in the ’90’s.

    1. Eventually there will be a rift in conservative evangelicalism and the more radical edge of that group will splinter. It is less certain because generally there is less propensity to separate in CE circles. Depending on how fall the IFB falls there could be some merging of those two worlds. Always emotion the future is, difficult to see.

    2. I kind of think it is the other direction – I know a lot of former fundies who are now neo-puritans. A lot of this has to do with being able to listen to a certain kind of music, or wear a certain kind of clothes. But the core of the neo-puritan movement has some serious credibility issues. A lot of what Darrell wrote above applies equally to them.

      1. Much of it is a generational issue. When the old folks who are aghast at “rock music” and “playing cards” die off, the younger generation of IFB will be free to complete the merger with the Mohlerite conservative evangelical faction.

  4. I posted about some recent leavers in the forums I had talked to, and they are indicative of the current trends which are scary if you are hardcore IFB.

    The spin is that its the millenials and the young people who are leaving – convenient because that’s the same demographic as are leaving all denominations. The dirty little secret is that many in fundamentalism have begun to have their eyes opened and ask hard questions, and they are not the young whippersnappers, they are the 50+ solid core members of many of these churches. When they ask hard questions about passages in the Bible that aren’t being followed because of IFB tradition, or about starting or participating in ministries to the poor or urban minority populations, or when they talk to their kids who left and realize there is a problem, they are marginalized, ignored, and shrugged off just like the leaders did when the young people asked those questions.

    The difference is that the young people leaving would result in a gradual generational decline, what instead is happening is a rapid contraction of funds, number of members, and the erosion of the stable and moderate core families that allowed fundys to pretend they were not fringe nut jobs. Its becoming increasingly harder to ignore the man behind the curtain, no matter how good the bluster is.

    1. Interesting. As well, I think that many baby boomers are leaving evangelical churches (and church entirely) due in part to the evangelical church’s becoming so youth-oriented that it no longer speaks to people approaching retirement. The loud music is painful, and young people are the “elders”.

      As these people leave, the church loses people at their peak income, and their money follows them.

        1. I agree. The whole church planting movement is rife with immaturity. I’ve long been under the impression that much of it isn’t “zeal” to see the Gospel spread so much as basic youthful know-it-all tendencies and impatience. And I’m under 40.

        2. You mean it isn’t a biblical requirement for your elders to wear buddy holly glasses, plaid shirts, and lots of hair gel? I love how these guys aren’t just unable to form a sermon without copying and pasting from their current neo-Calvinist hero, but they also want to dress like them, too.

          As was mentioned before, I believe there will be a blend of IFB with the fringe of the neo-Calvinist movement.

          I don’t know which is worse, a group who thinks spreading the gospel is simply running a bus route and manipulating people through a prayer, or the people who from a “coalition” centered around the “gospel” (gospel defined as gospel everything from gospel children, to a gospel marriage to gospel pancakes….anything to sell a book), and spend all of their time in conferences talking about said gospel, instead of getting off their duff and doing something.

        3. I have a very narrow experience, having come from the IFB only with little exposure to other denominations, but I feel that a lot of this is the fault of the older generation. They saw any deviation from their traditions and personal preferences as SIN, as doctrinal impurity from which they would have to separate. They love to have young men in their churches and on their boards as long as those young men don’t change anything! When the younger men started realizing that what was being preached in the services and what was being emphasized in the churches was NOT the Gospel, they were seen as rebellious, worldly troublemakers instead of men who sincerely wanted to pursue the freedom in Christ that Scriptures guarantee us through grace.

          Additionally, most of these churches are solidly opposed to what the call the social gospel (any form of meeting the PHYSICAL needs of the poor) and they tend to isolate themselves from their community instead of reach out to them. If you as a young pastor are convinced that God requires you (a la Mt. 25) to clothe the naked and feed the hungry and the old, established leaders of the church feel that that is compromising with liberals to do so, what are you to do? Ignore God’s leading and stay in the church led by older men? Or determine to follow God’s commands even though people might scorn your youth?

          (In partial illustration of this, I visited an IFB church. In addition to the hymns from the hymnal, ONE chorus was displayed on an overhead. “We just learned this new song last week,” he said. It was a song I’d known since childhood. I looked it up when I got home — it had been published in 1966. THAT is what some IFB pastors think is being “progressive.”)

        4. @Larry, where does that put me? I’ve been wearing plaid shirts for a very long time (I am over 50), have a pair of Ray Ban prescription glasses, but no hair gel or goatee though.

          I do agree with your point about the over-Gospelization (sp?) of things for the purpose of selling the latest and greatest gimmick. Too many people do fail to understand the Gospel and how to live it, that it is more than a magic incantation to acquire a “Get Out Of Hell Free” card.

      1. I think, however, these old people are having to lie in the bed they made.

        Thom Rainer’s work in the late 90’s / early 00’s revealed that the push for contemporary music came from older, long-term church members. New converts really did not care about the music. It was the Boomers who wanted music that sounded more rock-ish.

        But that fed a lot of people who did a shallow analysis of what builds churches. _The Purpose Driven Church_ recommended the use of light pop. The younger generation modified that idea, replacing light Beach Boys style pop with heavier sounds, and more recently rap.

        The Boomers opened the door to the mess that’s the modern “worship” service.

        I don’t like contemporary worship. I don’t mind contemporary songs that are recast in a more traditional style. But I can’t get that here. So my options for conservative worship with a male minister here are: a PCUSA church and a Greek Orthodox church. That’s it. Even the Catholics rock it out a little.

        1. Ok, I have to agree. I am a boomer. And I remember that my generation welcomed in the music. Now that I’m in my 50s I can’t take loud music of any sort, and I’m damn sick of seeing “elders” (in evangelicalism) who are in their late 30s, but who come from prominent families and/or have a high powered job.

        2. I have no judgment for contemporary worship, but I don’t like it. I personally enjoy church being the only place in culture where reverence can be fostered. I was blessed to find a small Lutheran mission church with classic liturgy.

        3. Elijah Craig,

          How dare you have the audacity to make comments about so-called racism in the IFB world while you yourself are the worst! Not being in favor of rap in church means you are a racist redneck!

  5. The one that scares me the most is the last point–the rebranding. They took something that was recognizably horrifying and retooled it into a deceptive moderate front. They got rid of a few rules here and there, but kept the “standards.”

    I just want fundamentalism to die. It takes so much from people, and gives back little to nothing at all. It promises “happiness in christ,” but leaves those who give in to it miserable as they can never do enough service or go crazy as it is the same seven people who do everything yet still get yelled at if it is not perfect. Why don’t people just realize that they live in a legalistic, malignant society??

    1. Legalism is found in many forms in human society. Many people like the certainty of black and white thinking, they just tend to latch on to different dual systems. The facts don’t matter, its about adoption and apologetics for whatever theory or worldview that person has elected to erect on their presuppositions. Environmentalism, Liberalism, Neo-Conservatism, et al. Every little splinter and variation you can identify results in this type of social structure.

      This is not a creation of fundamentalism, its just one of the ways that identifies how much of their philosophy comes out of human nature and gnosticism than from any reasonable application of scripture.

        1. Big Gary,

          I’m sure you are correct. You should stay away from your local community-organizing events and meet new people. The people in those events are often well meaning, but they are as gullible and ignorant as the day is long to actually believe the stuff they are being fed.

    2. Sorry, my brother just went off this past weekend to pcc, so I’m feeling a little disturbed and angry (at myself for not being able to talk him out if it). Also angry that no matter how many times I said it was national accreditation, and that it wasn’t good enough, I just got pushed to the side. Oh and my mother tried to convince me that pcc and a beka were completely separate entities. Bull.

      Anyone have any ideas on things I can do? I don’t want to get him kicked out, cause that would be a horrible thing to do to anyone, but I want him to realize what his future could be in fundamentalism.

      1. Well, we often say, “Well, all I can do is pray about it.” That’s an extremely small view of a God Who said, “Let there be light and there was light.” If you think it’s against God’s will for your brother to go to PCC, pray about it. Ask God to put whatever roadblocks or hedges or whatever He needs to around your brother to keep him in God’s will.

      2. All I can think of is that you can model for your brother how good life can be outside of Fundamentalism; that it isn’t the bottomless pit of depravity and misery that he’s been told it is.

      3. I would concur with Norm and add;

        Just stay in contact with him and take an interest in what he is doing. If half of the things said about that place are true, you will have many opportunities to speak truth in love to him.

      4. Umm. My Dad works for A Beka. They don’t try at all to hide the fact that they’re both run by the same organization. He’s staff, just like anyone else at PCC, and my sister was given the same tuition discount when she attended there.

      5. Another PCC alumnus here. Not to downplay the accreditation issue, but it depends somewhat on which course of study one is engaged in. In my case (music), it has been extremely limiting. For other people’s situations that I am personally aware of (business, computer science), it wasn’t much of an issue.

        1. It’s always an issue. Good schools are accredited. Period.

          And it’s just criminal fraud when unaccredited schools like PCC lie about accreditation, saying things like that if they were accredited they couldn’t teach religion, or couldn’t hold chapel services. False. Accredited private schools do all of that, and more.
          I’ve even seen some people here on SFL report that they were told that Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. are unaccredited. Complete lies.

        2. There are many factors at play, including grades, test scores, chosen field, future education plans, etc. I got into a (top 30) business grad program, and the accreditation thing was never mentioned. Now to be fair, I scored in the 99th percentile in my test scores, and had a recommendation from the VP of my company, so that is something. Business schools are much more about making money than other schools; if one was going into education, legal, or medical practice, I would think it might be different.

        3. On that note, how is the nursing then? (Just trying to be knowledgeable about the subject here)

        4. Big Gary,

          I heard that same lie about Harvard in Lancaster!

          Ignorance or wickedly manipulating potential students?

        5. @SASM I’m a PCC nursing grad. I got into graduate school, but they started me on probation because of the accreditation issue. Getting a hospital job for a new grad is becoming much harder without accreditation, but that still varies heavily by location.

      6. Easy. He comes home for Christmas and you take him out for a couple cold beers. Then he goes back. You narc him off to PCC.

        See how easy it’d be?

    3. Oh, the rebranding is an old, old tactic, old as the Garden of Eden. Take something poisonous, nasty, and dangerous, and wrap it up all pretty with a bow, hoping nobody notices how thin the facade really is. And then once someone gets snared by the innocent-looking exterior, they’ll discover it’s a whole lot harder to get out than it was to get in.

  6. The re-branding effort was taking place while I was still in it. In promotional materials we would use images of people in “casual”clothing at various church events such as the “carnival” or work day. However we never posted pictures of a service with anyone in casual clothing. That was the rule.

    I knew exactly what the MoG was going for, I thought it was dishonest and that helped to light the fire under my rear to get me out.

  7. It seems like in the 80s there was an attempt to be cozier between the Sword of The Lord group and BJU/FBF folks. Then the Hyles story by Sumner broke and pretty much broke up that situation.

  8. Hey, guys! Never thought anything I wrote would end up on this site! Oh, well… Guess I wrote one too many articles.

    I wanted to mention a couple of observations.

    1. When I wrote the article, I was clear to state the future of Independent Baptists – not fundamentalism. The longer I looked into fundamentalism and what it is today, I was very disturbed by it. I am part of an independent baptist church, but I am not a fundamentalist – at least not in the sense that the term is used today.

    2. I never mentioned that independent baptists had it together. By the very nature of the article I was implying that we stink at a lot of stuff. I was writing to mention the fact that we were seemingly improving – at least in my lifetime it seems that way. I am 32. Maybe I haven’t been around long enough to think that even a little change is too little too late.

    3. I was attempting to focus on the positive. There are so many people that tear anything and everything down. It is very easy to write about what is wrong with something. That kind of stuff is everywhere. My heart was to use my words to edify and build up. Perhaps they were not filled with a ton of wisdom, but then again, it’s a blog – not a pulpit. It’s my thoughts – not Scripture.

    4. If you notice, quite some time ago my blog became a portfolio website for photography. I got tired of people criticizing and I have stopped reading blogs that have anything to do with the topic at all. I love my church, and I care about what God is doing in it. I am exciting about the guy I am discipling tonight. I am pumped about our growth group meeting tonight. I am glad a guy is getting baptized on Sunday (and we are going to show a testimony video on our screen:) )

    I just got tired of all the negativity and decided that I would use a different talent to reach out into my community and see if I could share the gospel with them.

    So, sorry, but I honestly thought that post was no longer available.

    5. I have changed a lot in the last several months. God has challenged my thinking on all sorts of issues of preference and standards. My desire is to be all kinds of gracious to all kinds of people.

    Your post has a lot of truth in it. I’m not arguing that. There are a ton of problems in the group known as fundamentalists. That’s why I call myself an INDEPENDENT baptist. I’m not connected to them. I’m not part of a denomination. When a guy falls or fails, he should be called out. He should be discipled back into a right relationship with Jesus.

    Had you asked me before writing this, I could have shared it with you.

    I’m not offended. In fact, I kind of think it is funny. I’m just a nobody, young guy serving as an associate pastor at a small church in a corn field. It’s kind of interesting that you even found the article.

    Anyway… have a great day!

    1. Matt. You seem to be right on target. I have shared the sentiment with my friends and family that I’m so tired of everyone just complaining about what’s wrong. About saying Jesus is coming soon and just “holing” up and doing nothing except trying to make sure me, myself and I are going to heaven. I can’t express all my feelings. Obviously, I don’t know you on a personal level, but based on what you said here, I think you have the right ‘vision’. We can be excited about Christ and we don’t have to walk around looking for a demon behind every bush wondering if we’re on the right path or not.

      The “early Christians” and Christians around the world today are willing to die for what they believe. We’ve got to make sure what we believe is worth dying for. I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just end. 🙂

      1. Thanks, Norm! I just don’t want to spend my life stirring the wrong pot. There are more important things going on in the world than creating more commentary on a very divisive and often mean spirited topic.

        If people knew my story, they would know that I too have been burned by the fundy crowd. I just don’t want to be bitter and hold a grudge. I want to serve Christ and point others to Him.

    2. We went to college and i have no problem with anything about you 🙂 You’ve always been a stand-up guy….even though you didn’t join Basilean 🙂

        1. Is that a dolphin?!?! Wait.,…no…it’s just Ian Pruden taking another dramatic dive trying to draw a penalty 🙂

        2. if you were there with Ian, that makes you a youngun! His dad was my A&P instructor in the mid to late 80s.

    3. Matt, I didn’t get to read your article, but your replies here are very kind and gracious. Even though we wouldn’t agree theologically, if you were in Alaska I’d buy you a beer. Regards!

  9. Your last prediction makes an interesting point. “What they won’t do, however, is apologize. They’ll never even admit that they’ve changed at all.”

    I distinctly remember being shocked when my pastor, who had previously preached on the evils of using a projector instead of hymnals, proudly announced we’d be moving in that much more technological direction. I asked someone about the discrepancy, and was told that Pastor had never *actually* said projectors were bad, but that the attitude of churches who adopted them early tended to be bad. (???)

    “We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

      1. Aw, don’t feel old about it, I think ultimately most readers *do* prefer physical books but given the constraints on storage most of us have, e-readers/tablets end up being more convenient. I quite like my e-reader, but I find the physical experience of a book much more pleasing than that of an e-reader.

        1. I love my e-reader. That being said, some books do indeed need to be in physical form to be usable or enjoyed. Most of the books left on my shelves are ones that are too hard to read on an e-reader – reference books, Bibles, most non fictions, things like that.

        2. I know what you mean; I tend to think of the books that aren’t great to read in e-book form as the books where one wants to flip back and forth a lot in the text. It’d be maddening, for example, to read my NRSV Study Bible on a basic e-reader (although maybe it’d work better on a tablet).

          And, too, many books still simply aren’t available digitally.

      2. I also prefer “real” books to my tablet, and I am usually reading three or four books at a time. I found that I like having a couple of books available on the tablet, so that wherever I am I can read if I find myself waiting.
        Long before the e-book, I thought audio books were somehow wrong. Almost of the devil, even. Then a friend loaned me one of his books on CD he thought I would like. I found that my 40 minute commute seemed to go by much more quickly.My library system offers e-books and audio books for download, and I keep a few at a time. I now have a one hour commute each way for work, and have “read” quite a few books. When I finish the one I am listening to now about a Navy pilot’s escape from a Laos/North Vietnamese POW camp, I’ll be starting The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

        It isn’t uncommon for me to have all three formats (paper, audio, electronic) checked out at once. Once, even the same book.

        Oh, according to the kids I work with, I’m not getting old!!

  10. One more trend, I think, and perhaps a defining one: there will be a brain drain. This has already started, not only among the children of the committed but among the current main generation. You can go to the personal Facebook or blog pages of faculty at BJU and see they are referencing people like Ligon Duncan or Mark Dever or going to websites like 9Marks.

    The point is that when the IFB “seminaries” keep giving out degrees to the “crazies,” they are driving away anyone who wants something more than to be yelled at, including their own thinking members.

    Where those searching for something with more content could not openly attend the meetings of those who are not third and fourth-degree separatists, they can go to their websites and read their blogs and see that they have not been fully informed about these ministries.

    Losing this part of their membership, both current (slight) and future (larger) will further restrict their influence, both in terms of ability to recruit and ability to retain. The influence, even of the larger IFB churches, is vastly reduced from 50 years ago and will be entirely evaporated in another 50 years.

    What staying power the IFB movement has now is primarily a function of compromise (BJU on accreditation, etc. // Northland on music and collaboration, etc. // many more) and bullying of their own constituency (character slurs through character probation, testimony blots, Lady Gaga stories, etc.) and lying (MacArthur stories, etc.). These are widely recognized in all social structures as last-ditch efforts directed at keeping what you have, not growing. They are acknowledgements of a recognition that the end game has begun.

    1. The brain drain is nearly complete. The seminaries of the PCA, OPC, SBC, as well as Dallas seminary have been full of former IFB young men for the last fifteen years. They’ve lost nearly an entire generation of future leaders.

      Sure there is a Janz here and a Linscott there but by-and-large they lost an entire generation.

      1. Or because some of us have been raped, beaten and threatened by people from the churches we speak of here and this site is constantly monitored by our former abusers. It’s a nice touch to make a dig at everyone though, Michael…

      2. M.S.A., the majority of Amazon.com reviewers do not use their given names, even for 5-star reviews. Your lack of understanding and compassion is sad. This site is a hospital for many. I won’t even try to explain that to you.

    1. Because who I am is none of your business? I value my privacy, and I have zero interest in making it easy for anyone to find me or my family offline, regardless of their intentions.

      What does it matter to you, anyway? You don’t know who I am in real life anyway, so what does it matter what name you know me by on this site? And I’m sure the same goes for most people here.

    2. Or because we still have connections to an IFB church and we don’t want the pastor calling on us with concerns about our backsliding – and don’t want the whole congregation praying that we’ll get right with God, shaking their heads and gossiping about us. It’s a light cult and getting away is not easy

    3. So “Matt” what is your last name, DOB, address, phone number, place of employment, heigth, weight, eye and hair color? What FundyU did you attend? Do you have a criminal record? Traffic tickets? What secrect sin are you harboring? How about posting your doctrinal statement?

      Are you an MOG, Matt?

      Are you bitter that people have a place to express themselves without people like you having the control over them and their thoughts? Isn’t that the kind of control you would like to have?

      Quite honestly, I’ve found that most here have been careful about how they post and who they identify. Remember, this is about the First Amendment that fundamentalis MOGs spout about from their lofty pulpits every week. I see no difference in the manner is which some of these men preach from so many of those who comment here on SFL. The major difference is that so many of these men claim that they are speaking for God as they read into the scriptures and proclaim it as truth.

      “Bitterness” is the apparent buzz-word, yet I don’t see you or anyone else providing a remedy. It’s just, ‘don’t be bitter.”

      1. In Matt’s defense, he didn’t use the word ‘bitter’. I did, and I stand by the sentiment that although it’s not universal among SFL commenters,it does show up a lot.
        I also used the word ‘slanderous’.
        And then I signed my name. I’m sure people have their reasons for not doing so. I’m even certain that some of these reasons are good reasons.

    4. I prefer to be anonymous because if I write about my personal experiences in fundamentalism people I know and love may be needlessly hurt.

      Some people use anonymity as a excuse to write cruel, even evil, things, but others appreciate it because it allows people to work through their beliefs or to recount their stories without repercussions in their personal life.

      1. PW,
        Exactly. While I am now separated from independent Baptist fundamentalism, my name and the names of the institutions I was part of would create enough discomfort for people who I still love and have relationship with who are still in the movement. I had no desire to cause problems when I left and I have no desire to do so now. I have moved on. Its not about bitterness or anger, its a small way of showing grace to those who still refuse to do the same for me.

    5. I read somewhere that there are 1,006,278 people in the U.S. with the first name Matthew. Statistically the 40th most popular first name.

      So, which one are you?

      Alexander (not my real name)

    6. Sorry… I thought it showed up. I’m Matt McMorris. I am an associate pastor at a church in Illinois.

      I attended BJU and WCBC. Grew up in Hyles churches and attended Northland for camp as a kid as well as the WILDS. I’m kind of a mix on my up bringing.

      As for the issue brought up about bitterness, you mentioned that I did not provide a solution. Was I supposed to? I didn’t tell you not to be. If you do need help with it, there are Scriptures that can help – actual Bible and not just some guy screaming at you.

      It seems like so many are ready to pick fights. I get that you may not want to hurt people. That’s why I asked. I am not against first amendment rights, either.

      We should all be careful not to jump to conclusions.

      1. The “solution to bitterness” comment was tongue-in-cheek. Apparently you didn’t get that.

        Regarding “you or anyone else,” I have yet to see what you or anybody else have to say regarding your perception of another’s “bitterness.” In other words, their perceived bitterness is entirely THEIR fault and no culpability can be assigned to anyone else, particularly those in their self-appointed positions of authority that manipulate and abuse those who have placed themselves or been placed under said authority of the MOG.

        It’s kind of like when a raptist accuses his victim of being bitter and unforgiving without ever repenting of his sin. Repentence is the SOLUTION, in part (the other part is putting him in prison for a very long time and, when he is released, making him register as a sex offender for the rest of his miserable life).

        1. Interesting point. I agree that if the leader does something unbiblical, they should be called out and dealt with.

          Let me clarify, though. Are you saying that the answer to one man’s bitterness is another mans repentance? That is what it sounds like, but certainly I am not catching on here.

          Though I certainly cannot determine whether or not someone is bitter, I do believe that lashing out and using speech that is not edifying certainly appears to be a sign of bitterness.

          A man slow to anger and who responds in kind would certainly not be accused of bitterness. It is all, however, a heart issue that is very difficult for outsiders to put a finger on.

      2. Matt, this site has a very diverse readership. While most of us experienced life in the IFB (a majority grew up in it cradle through college and beyond), not all of us ended up in the same place. We range from conservative evangelicals to liberal Christians to agnostics and atheists so the range of responses will be very wide!

      3. Matt… give it up while you have the chance.

        If you stop talking and start listening you will find that, although some speak from anger, some from bitterness, some with harsh words that do not “edify,” many have legitimate reasons for leaving Baptist Fundamentalism and sound arguments to support their decision.

        It isn’t as simple as assuming that they got hurt at a “fringe church” but that your church is alright, or that getting burned made them “bitter” and they left the church, or that they were uncomfortable hearing preaching against their sins so they found a church that soft-pedals the Bible.

        Many have made their choices after honest prayer and careful examination of the Scriptures.

        If you stop to listen, you may find that the people and arguments that you so quickly discredit have a lot more merit than you thought.

        1. And quite a few people have been hurt at the very same church Matt used to work for…

          I think it is part of this new rebranding for many still in IFBx churches to claim “We are IFB, but not like THOSE IFB”.

        2. Sorry if I came across incorrectly. I really am! I simply mean that it seems like people in this thread “attack” anyone with a different viewpoint. I have been attacked and lumped in with child molesting, ego maniac, pulpit pounding, screaming, shouting, narcissistic, uneducated, numbers oriented people. But I don’t have to attack.

          Point out problems according to Scripture?? Please do! I’m listening!

          I have been in environments that were less than healthy. I have seen some of the same things many of you point out. I have moved away from a lot of it. Have I gone far enough? Well… maybe not. We are all on our own journey.

          I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to be like those men. In fact, I don’t respect those that lead like that… AT ALL!

          I haven’t dismissed anyone or any argument. I have tried to be open and reasonable. If I did not give that impression, then I am truly sorry. I will continue to work to grow in that area. I don’t want to be “that guy.”

    7. Because I’m a woman on the internet, so I get harassed enough as it is (haven’t been here but have definitely dealt with people dedicated enough to follow me across forums and blogs to harass me in spaces other than where they first started – very wearying), why bother give an opening for someone to track me down and harass me in real life?

  11. “… the core tithe-paying memberships will continue to shrink.”

    Yes, and the Mog (aka, Diotraphes) will continue to brow beat “the core tithe-paying membership” into submission by guilt-tripping them into dipping into their savings and retirement, which of course, they shouldn’t have anyway since that is demonstrating a lack of trust.

    “…There was a time when BJU and Hyles people would never have shared a platform but we’re beginning to see a trend towards more cooperation in an effort to stay solvent.”

    I don’t see these two camps cooperating again. I believe I personally saw the death of cooperation between Hyles and Jones during the 1988 SOL conference at BJU when “Dr.” Hyles received his worshipful standing-O. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    “… When any organization loses the moral fortitude to be self-policing, the people who inevitably take control will continue the destructive cycle of silencing relatively moderate voices in favor of the hand-picked minions who will let their bad behavior go unchecked. ”

    If I had not seen this for myself in recent years, I would have not believed it. As one IFB Mog put it, Every church needs to purge the chaff and go through a cleansing every seven years or so. I’m not sure where in the New Testament this man gets this “theology,” but I can find this teaching nowhere myself. I suppose this is religious-speak for silencing the voices that don’t agree with him, or threaten his “thithing” base.

    “…What they won’t do, however, is apologize..” and, “…Fundamentalism will continue to exist as long as there are people who are happy to trade the birthright of their minds and morals for the pottage of feeling safe and superior.”

    Again, I would not have painted this movement with such a broad brush had I not witnessed this very thing myself. Ultimately, I believe the root problem here is that God’s people are content to pay a clergyman to do what every member of the body of Christ is called to do; to exercise their Spirit-given gifts as they edify the body (the church), obey the head of the church (Jesus Christ).

    We have lifted up the traditions of me above the person and work of Jesus Christ. Lip service is paid to His words, but our deeds show that we deny Him.

    1. The new pastor at Hammond is from Crown College, whose pastor (Clarence Sexton) spoke at BJU’s conferences in recent years. I’d say more cooperation, and not less, is in the cards.

      1. If you are speaking of John Wilkerson, he graduated from HAC. I know him. John worked in the Chicago bus ministry (of course). He is from Tennessee and has three brothers.

  12. “4. It will get creative.”

    I do find it interesting to see which standards are discarded and which are not. For example, BJU permits women to wear pants much more openly than when I was a student (we could wear them in the dorms or to gym) and I’ve heard they’re not as rigid on non-movie-attendance, but I don’t see them budging on music or on recognizing, appreciating, and associating with evangelicals.

  13. I’m having trouble accessing the article from Matt McMorris. I went to college with he and his brother Jeremy. Jeremy married the daughter of honary doctor Jim Berg-deen of stoodintz at BJU.

  14. I have seen in the last few days what does appear to be “bitterness” towards certain groups (obviously the IFB and maybe even the conservative holiness group in general).

    At some point, we (by “we” I mean those of us who care to attempt live worthy of the gospel) must forgive. We are to love God and love our neighbor. Among other “things” that love is and does, it keeps no record of wrongs.

    I equate coming out of a strict religion and truly finding a relationship with Christ to coming out of poverty and finding riches. One who was raised in an impoverished community but finds through hard work and dedication he can be rich has one of two choices. Work hard and dedicate himself to the job and become rich, or, sulk and be mad that he was raised in such poor conditions and that if he had been raised in better surroundings he could be rich.

    As with everything, using the “natural” to describe the “supernatural” falls woefully short and has discrepancies. But we can choose to ask God to help us learn Who He is, or we can wallow in self-pity.

      1. No, it doesn’t. But as the wording of the serenity prayer goes.

        God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

        Some things we can’t change. Some of those things may require us to forgive.

        Some things we can change. We need to be bold and stand up and change them even if we face adversity.

        Having the wisdom to know the difference between the two, well… that’s a God thing.

        1. Norm, I just want to remind you that there is a huge diversity of readership at SFL: there are conservative evangelicals all the way to atheists. There are people who had mostly good experiences in the IFB but who realized that it wasn’t properly communicating the Gospel and there are others who were abused and deeply scarred by their experiences in the IFB. In addition, people are at all different places in their journey: some are just leaving and are for the first time expressing themselves so they might be extra vitriolic as the frustrations they’ve bottled up for years gets to at last be spoken while others are years beyond the IFB and don’t feel quite so passionate about it.

          All that to say that the responses here will be all over the map.

          I’m not sure “wallowing in self-pity” is a helpful phrase to use. God’s Word tells us to weep with those who weep. Sure, at some point, I hope and pray that the weeper grows strong and finds joy and peace but I don’t think I can tell another person when that point is.

        2. @ PW. Criticism accepted, digested and agreed upon. Being sensitive to others is something I need alot of help on. I apologize to anyone who felt I was saying “just get over it”. Whoo boy, that is NOT what I meant to say!!

        3. Sometimes I am speaking directly to myself and I post it in case someone else is “where I’m at”. Maybe I shouldn’t even post those things, but certainly I should be extremely careful how I word them.

          In my case, I have found an awesome church where the pastor preaches Jesus and nothing else. Not like, he only preaches sermons ABOUT Jesus, but everything is tied directly to the gospel. So, for me personally to blame “inaction” on “how I was raised” would be “wallowing in self pity” for me.

          BUT, 18 months to two years ago, if I had heard that, it would have crushed me. So anyone who I hurt by what I said, please know that I am truly sorry. I’m not just saying that, I really am sorry.

        4. I’m so glad you found a church like that, Norm!!! It is so wonderful, after being steeped in legalism, to hear the Gospel, the good news that God loves me and that I am fully accepted in Christ, forgiven, beloved, treasured, cherished, delighted in. It’s absolutely transforming!

        5. Pastor’s Wife,

          You call a hard core leftist blog that does the bidding of George Soros with only a few smatterings of comments here and there by anyone even closely resembling conservatism as “diverse?” If this is what you’re definition of diverse is, I shudder to think of what your definition of a blog with an agenda is!

  15. “What they won’t do, however, is apologize. They’ll never even admit that they’ve changed at all. Fundamentalism will continue to exist as long as there are people who are happy to trade the birthright of their minds and morals for the pottage of feeling safe and superior. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

    I loved all of this but the above really stood out to me. They will never change. I am 59 years old and left fundyism 23 years ago. I haven’t seen a change in all those years. My siblings are still fundies so I see first hand what is still going on there. My brother-in-law is a fundy pastor. His daughter & my sister (his wife) used to pray about me and my daughter wearing pants. My niece told my daughter, when they were kids, that they prayed God would change our hearts about wearing pants. Now, they wear pants. Go figure! As Pastor’s Wife said: “For example, BJU permits women to wear pants much more openly than when I was a student (we could wear them in the dorms or to gym)” was how it was when I attended BJU. That has changed there, apparently. Little things like that MAY change in some circles but their core, legalistic beliefs will never change. It would upset their life & belief system too much. Too scary for them. And, they wouldn’t feel superior anymore to us “weaker Christians.” We were called that by my sister once.

    Anyway, GREAT article!! Loved it!

  16. This looks to be the case. I have seen these trends taking place. People say they are “staying away from those crazies” all the while preaching and teaching the same propaganda. I’m looking forward to a massive revival or this exact prediction.

  17. Btw…….I checked out the “Baptist Friends” website. I then checked for my area (Charleston, SC) to see what churches were listed. Four (4) of them aren’t IFB. They are very much Southern Baptist churches. How do churches get listed on their site? Does anyone know???

  18. What Pastor’s Wife said. There is no one size fits all attitude over here. We’re all on different paths of the journey out of fundamentalism and some will come across as sounding bitter or angry because they are and here they have the freedom to express it without censor or being ‘preached ‘ at.

    Many of us have gotten past the anger stage and are simply here to listen and perhaps give a helping hand. Some of it is through advice, some of it is through humor. Some of us just want them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  19. Here’s why I believe they’re crumbling. They don’t value, or have, much honor or integrity. Some of the comments above touched on my point. Growing up, I specifically remember having thoughts as a child of “this is nowhere in the Bible” and “why do they spend 80% of their time screaming about extra-Biblical standards.” Then as I go older, I read more in depth about the Pharisees, and how they were obsessed with OT rules, so much so that they invented hundreds of their own, with the expressed purpose of not breaking OT rules. As I came to realize that I was sitting in the middle of the intellectual children of the Pharisees, it all became very clear.

    Back to my honor and integrity statement. I also grew up in the No-Pants-On-Women, no music with a beat, no alcohol, obesity is funny, branch of IFB-dom. I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours dutifully paying attention while somebody yammered about pants on women. So now, that they’re ok, because they’ve been ok’d by the First Family of the IFB (Jones), they’re EVERYWHERE!! My crazy step-mother wears them now, after decades of praying over her female family members that wore pants.

    So the honorable thing to do would be to say something like “Hey, on the pants thing, we had it wrong. We’re sorry for the hundreds of sermons we made you all sit through. We’re sorry we implied women were going to hell because they were so backslidden they wore pants.” But we all know that statement is never coming.

    I don’t seek gratification of any kind in an apology. I seek INTELLECTUAL HONESTY. Schaap is a good example. He simulated sex with a golf club, was a fake tough guy, implied our relationship with God involves sex with God, had sex with an underage girl, ALL WHILE BEING CHEERED AND ADORED by people that profess to have it all figured out. Who profess to have the best kind of relationship with God that a human can.

    This movement staked it’s claim on No Pants on Women, and No Facial Hair, and No Music With a Beat, and No Alcohol, and No Movies, and No Real Colleges, and Everybody But Us Worships God Wrong, and NONE OF THAT IS IN THE BIBLE.

    So they’re going down, pinioned to the White Whale of Standards and Rules because Jesus has as much disdain for that way of thinking today, as he did when the Pharisees walked the earth. By their fruits you shall know them.

    PS – My name is Ray McDaniel. I don’t post under that name because I think the moniker After Glow is funny. But I live in Columbus, OH and am happy to meet with anyone at anytime. Friend or foe.

    1. Very well said! Love the Moby Dick metaphor.

      They really SHOULD apologize for their past preaching when they turn around and adopt the very thing they once railed against instead of just pretending it was “no big deal.”

    2. Great post and name , After Glow.

      A female staff member at my former Fundy church has told ladies that some rapes occur because women wear pants…as if wearing a skirt somehow provides protection.

      That ignorant and hurtful teaching can not go without correction.

  20. “Fundamentalism will continue to exist as long as there are people who are happy to trade the birthright of their minds and morals for the pottage of feeling safe and superior. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

    “feeling safe and superior” seems spot on to me and my experience.
    I spent some time with the local Rabbi where I live. The description of Scripture being inspired I was given in our conversation blew me away. The Rabbi stated they do not see the word for word accounts as the inspired part. The inspiration is the process of discovery. When one comes to the stories of Scripture, it is the process of discovering God that they believe is the inspired Word. And that process occurs as they discuss, hotly debate, wrestle with Scripture and with other fellow believers over the meaning of the stories. The Rabbi believed that is how God loves to be discovered.
    But safety and superiority does not allow for that type of wrestling. Ironically, by desiring and seeking safety and superiority one might actually be missing God and the inspired Word in His fullest.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.