Testimony

To a fundamentalist a person’s “testimony” is a combination of their street cred, brownie points, and fashion sense with their Sunday School attendance record thrown in for good measure. For a fundy, it is the ultimate measure of how well a Christian is keeping up his outward appearance towards the world.

This is no mere desire for a good reputation, for ‘losing your testimony’ is tantamount to condemning people to eternal torment. Consider this story…

Hephzibah is a lovely fundamentalist girl who is as sweet and kind as the day is long. But while hanging out with some unsavory (read: non-fundamentalist) friends, she is encouraged to try taking a sip of an alcoholic beverage. Her bad friendships and unguarded heart lead her down the slippery slope of unrighteousness and she succumbs to this horrible sin. She drinks the tiniest mouthful of the potent brew and all hell breaks lose.

For in that very instant she loses her testimony in front of the lost. Now when she attempts to witness to them all they will see is the word “HYPOCRITE” hanging above her head in burning letters and they will point and laugh derisively and refuse to repent. Ten minutes later she and all of her friend die in a horrible bus crash and she’s left to spend eternity knowing that her friends are all in hell because she took that single drink.

Testimony can be lost for so many different things. A radio preset, a wayward glance, a lock of hair that dangles down upon an ear. Beware, the beady eyes of the world are always upon you and they are keeping score. Be ye therefore perfect.

(All that is unless, of course, you are a fundamentalist preacher who is lucky enough to be granted unquestioning forgiveness no matter what his indiscretion all while condemning those of others.)

75 thoughts on “Testimony”

  1. Clearly Hephzibah had some problems already, as we all know a “sweet” and “kind” fundy girl wouldn’t even *have*, never mind be caught in the same city block (or, unfortunately, sometimes the same city) as, “non-fundamentalist” friends. So truly it is all her fault. She could have gotten them saved! But that’s what you get for disobeying “Love not the world” and “Come out from among them and be ye separate.”

    Don’t even get me started on the average fundy’s view of the city.

  2. A man named Jesus said this about those types of preachers:

    “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see”

  3. On another note, I had a roommate at Bojo turn himself in because he had a dessert at a restaurant that potentially contained alcohol. He got 25 demerits and a harsh reprimand just in case the devil’s brew was present.

      1. A true fundy institution will thank you for your honesty, give you ALL of the demerits for the behaviour, and expect you to appreciate them for not lecturing you while they wrote up the demerit slip

  4. Hephzibah’s problem was that she actually had unsaved friends. I mean how are we supposed to witness to people if you actually know them? Far better if she had never met those “friends” because then she would have kept her testimony and they may have gotten saved because of her seperation from them.

  5. What!! Have you been to my church?? Lunched with some Godly friends that left our church…oops, there is that horrible stain again! There goes the “testimony”–ah, those fundies, gotta love ’em…..
    @Emily, @Camille: love your comments, needed the laugh!

  6. On this one, I’m siding with the Puritans (wrote to Britain to keep the rum coming to America), Martin Luther (loved his ale), and Charles Spurgeon (ale drinker and cigar smoker) – Drinks all around! Cheers!

  7. While a student at BJU I recieved demerits for having the book “The Tao of Pooh” on my shelf. I was told that it would ruin my testimony. No one actually thought to ask me about the book and why I had it. At the time I considered myself a Buddhist (I was a stupid college kid and didn’t really understand Buddhism). They were so worried about my (translation – their) image that they missed an opportunity to share the Gospel with a non-believer. Thankfully God’s soveriegnty overrides BJU and He called me to Him in His time.

  8. “While a student at BJU I recieved demerits for having the book “The Tao of Pooh” on my shelf.”

    That’s unfortunate. I read The Catcher in the Rye yearly while I was at BJ, as well as 1984 (chock-full of weird sex and especially ironic since I bought it at the campus store), The Naked and the Dead, Cat’s Cradle, and No Country for Old Men. But I guess that’s the odd thing about the hierarchy, there–their godliness is inversely proportional to their literacy, and so stuff like that sneaks by while a book with the word “Tao” in the title gets caught.

  9. Okay this is off topic, but….

    Why does the poll limit one vote per IP address? That means only one person can vote from the entire BJU campus.

    This was especially annoying when the previous poll was perpetually stuck on “I am currently a fundamentalist.”

    Oh, and my vote for this poll is YES!

  10. And here’s something for on-topic:

    “There should be no talking once the house lights dim. It reflects negatively on our Christian testimony when there is ‘shushing’ and talking as the house lights fade.”

    –BJU student guide on cultural etiquette

  11. The last paragraph reminds me of Brother Swaggart, who though he was not an IFB preacher, basically embraced two standards – one for himself, and one for everyone else. My brother actually was thrown out of an A/G college because he was seen attending a picture show (translation – movie theater).

    Now there’s a whole different topic that could be written about the word, “testimony.” for the uninitiated, those are those parts of a church service where the faithful are called upon to relate what a terrible sinner they were before they “found God’, and because of His wonderful presence, they no longer smoke, drink, of beat their spouse.

  12. @Jordan. If only there were a rating system for books just like movies so fundamentalists would know which ones are bad.

    At my alma mater, they had the Lord of the Rings in their library but you couldn’t put up a LOTR movie poster since the movie wasn’t rated G.

  13. about the hierarchy, there–their godliness is inversely proportional to their literacy,

    NAILED IT!! Maybe it’s that I just enjoy mathematical equations, but really sums it up.

  14. @Mounty

    “Don’t even get me started on the average fundy’s view of the city.”

    Don’t get me started either. Lies, it is all lies. The city is not as degenerated as people might think. Christians live there too!

  15. But doesn’t one earn a lot of fundie cred by being a sinner and then coming home to Jesus? Isn’t that why there’s a whole cottage industry of professional “exes,” people who can now expound on the evils of whatever behavior because they know first hand.

    The most obvious are the “reformed” homosexuals but there are also ex-fornicators, ex-catholics, ex-drug addicts and ex-basically everything that fundies preach against, that make the rounds of mega churches, revivals and bible camps and bringing in a tidy living as they go.

  16. What you’re describing there is a one-shot deal of being a horrible sinner and then converting.

    Once you’re in fundamentalism and ‘fall away’ that’s a whole different story.

    And on the reformed-homosexual front, that’s not usually one that makes it into many IFB fundy testimonies. “I used to be such a drunk” = Win. “I used to be so gay” = Not so much.

  17. Anyway I mentioned this elsewhere, but my first job after BJU I was detoxing from BJU, and my boss was a preacher’s kid from a baptist pastor. He knew BJU well and had a certain idea in his head what I would be like. After about 6 months I was eating lunch with him and he said, “You surprise me, you aren’t like a BJU grad at all.” I could tell he was complementing me, but I went ahead and said it, “Thank you.” And he said, “I meant that as a compliment.” Amazing that some of these things that they thought would hurt your testimony actually made mine. I was able to show this person that I was a devout Christian who wasn’t nuts and didn’t expect him to conform to my standard.

  18. @Darrell. I’m not sure if it’s something that’s being proposed or what. I know of a couple of online archives that use it.

    It would severely limit some of the books BJU could use, though, if they equated K with G, as the online archives do.

  19. With a name like Hephzibah, what is she even doing around unsaved people? Shouldn’t she be sequestered to the compound? Her hands didn’t burn as she touched the glass of alcohol? Clearly she must have been Satan’s vessel all along, or else this couldn’t possibly have happened, LOL!

    Honestly though, I heard countless testimonies like this growing up, and the ironic thing is that is was usually from the people who were committing sins behind closed doors while putting on a public face. I swear at my church and school, I lost count of how many deacons, pastors, and teachers were sleeping around and committing adultery. Sure, I shouldn’t judge based on multiple people, but when they are the ones trying to tell you how you should live, it gets a little lost in translation…

  20. @ Ben – Shame on you for not recognizing the value that your former leaders provided. You don’t have time to make all possible mistakes yourself; these good people sacrificed much to feel the consequences of sin in their lives – for your benefit. Who better to warn about the dangers of playing with fire than the man who has just set his shirt ablaze?

  21. “Beware, the beady eyes of the world are always upon you and they are keeping score. Be ye therefore perfect.”

    Reputation is being judged by someone else’s standards. It’s a moving target. Typically, the more you try to preserve it, the more of it you loose or will loose. For the last 7 years or so, I changed my definition of holiness to dedication and consistency. No facades, no gimmicks, no distortion of who I am. I am 100% JimE, a sinner saved by the grace of God. I can be nothing more or nothing less. In being 100% JimE, I am being holy before God and man even though I am not perfect. Jesus takes care of 100% of my reputation before God, and I am 100% dependant on God to maintain my reputation before man. I have failed far too many times to approach reputation in any other manner.

    BTW, I run most of my responses through a spell checker. I would not want anyone to accuse me of witchcraft. 😉

  22. LOL, yeah, we got a box of chocolates from family in Denmark, and they were the alcohol filled ones. Needless to say, we were not allowed to eat them…darn!

  23. Oh brother. I remember my old IFB pastor saying this all the time. Especially his own “holy” story! How he REFUSED to walk through the alcohol aisle at the local supermarket, even if it was the fastest way through the store. He didn’t want to ruin his testimony by walking through that evil aisle.

  24. I think the key to maintaining personal holiness is to realize that it’s impossible. Only God is truly holy, and though we should strive and desire to be conformed into His image of holiness, we’re still just sinners saved by grace (as JimE has already stated). Extra-biblical standards, to me, are no different than the Pharisaical amendments and commentary that were stapled on to the divinely inspired Law of Moses. All they really accomplished was moving the priesthood (and by extension, the people) further away from God. Judaism became so concerned with following all of the rules that they didn’t realize that they weren’t actually following after God or His holiness.

  25. P.S. I am not, of course, advocating the abandonment of personal holiness. I’m advocating a re-thinking (for some people) of all that biblical holiness actually entails.

  26. I was lectured one time about my “testimony” issues by one of my parents, whose friend drove by once while I was sitting around talking with kids in my neighborhood.
    I was the only kid that went to church although I had a couple of times convinced my neighbors to ride the church bus with me. We were all sitting together on the curb talking about the most mundane things be cause we were all 11-12 years old, too old to play as much, but too young to get into really serious hi jinx.
    When I came inside I was told that I couldn’t sit around and talk to them anymore because the friend had said that they couldn’t tell any difference between the other kids and me as they were driving by! They couldn’t pick the Christian out of the group…the only girl in hot pink culottes with goofy, too big out of style clothes and hair down to their rear because she couldn’t cut the glory off , but, I digress and therefore I wasn’t being the testimony I should to the world.

  27. I think the problem was less about my testimony and more about them needing glasses because believe me none of the girls I lived around would’ve been caught DEAD in my clothes.

  28. *sigh*
    My boyfriend was so far the only person in BJU hisorty to turn himself in as a homosexual. Tony Miller almost soiled himself then and there. Of course my loving man also turned in the guy with whom he was having relations, but he denied it. So my guy gets the boot, and this other bozo gets a medal and a church somewhere. So now he is married, and molesting little boys at every opportunity. So much for testimony, it all means nothing when no one is watching you.

  29. And now this thread has descended terribly downhill….
    I was not aware that homosexuality was a sin that should be tolerated in Christ’s church (not that any sin should be, of course).

  30. Hi,

    I’m Irish. We dont have many non-catholic fundies.

    Probably a silly question but what is Fundies issue with alcohol?
    Its no secret Jesus liked his wine.
    Especially when he allegedly mass transforms litres of water to wine for his entourage.

    Why is it then a sin to drink alcohol???

  31. @Stephen – I was not perpetuating a stereotype – it is a fact. he is using his position of authority at his church to do it.

    @markT – homosexuality in itself is not a sin. Having sex outside of a committed married relationship is a sin, for anyone.

  32. Circle,

    In the US, most fundies – especially Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) – ar adamantly opposed to alcohol. The reason is that it might lead to dancing.

    This is not the case in most of the world, especially those parts which do not try to interpret every positive reference to wine in the Scriptures as “grape juice”. Hence Richard Sullivan’s comments re the Puritans, Martin Luther, and Charles Spurgeon.

    An interesting topic for another thread might be differences in fundies around the world.

  33. @Larry: Ah, I really shouldn’t even go there, but you called me out on it (in spite of my purposeful vagueness even!). Can you defend that statement?

    Check out Romans 1:18-31. You can argue that the homosexuality portrayed there isn’t outright condemned, but Paul explains it in relation to man’s condemned state before God. Why would it be the object of God’s wrath if it were something that pleased Him?
    (I chose this approach over an OT appeal since the Mosaic Law doesn’t carry much weight around here.)

  34. @Larry: If he is truly doing this (and it’s not just hearsay), then I retract my statement about the stereotype. But something in me makes me doubt that very much.

    (And I’m not going to get into the whole “is homosexuality a sin” debate.)

  35. @Larry:
    Also, keep in mind all of the NT passages that mention marriage as an institution between a husband and a wife and/or a man and a woman. Nowhere is marriage mentioned as being between two men or two women – or even two people, in general. Even if Paul does not use the word “SIN” to label homosexuality in Romans 1, I think it is pretty easily understood that it is – considering that he uses adjectives like “vile,” “unseemly (KJV),” “shameless” and “dishonorable (ESV),” and tells us that sodomy is an “error,” which has a consequence (or penalty in the ESV). I think it’s pretty clear that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle, whether sanctioned legally by “marriage” or not.

  36. @ Christopher – I think your reason is too basic and generous. I heard the reason not to drink was so that you don’t end up in hell (not just on the dance floor – which BTW, I’ve never been on 😉 )

    @ Circle – I think the fundies see a problem with alcohol, while the problem is with US. I don’t have a problem with alcohol, but I have a problem with much more “innocent” things. Their intentions are good… but their focus isn’t. We’re the problem. Not created things.

  37. This is why I’m no longer IFB. There is not a way to reconcile the infallibility of the Bible with my own life. Basically because of my own circumstances, I cannot believe that the Bible is without error.

    I’m gay and have known since I was about 5 years old. The thing about it is that I was sheltered from the world because of being IFB and only going to Christian school my entire life. I didn’t know what a homosexual was. How was I able to “choose” something that I had no idea existed? It wasn’t until I was a teenager that it was preached about and I found out what it actually was. At that point I tried to suppress it, change it, will it out of existence. I dated girls…well, whatever it was at an IFB school…Nothing worked though. I felt like if God refused to change me then why was I created? It took me finally being forced to come out and leave home to realize that it was not me at all, and there never was a choice made.

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