Weekend Challenge: Storytime

In the words of that immortal bard, Joss Whedon “The battle’s done and we kind of won so we sound our victory cheer…where do we go from here?”

If you’re a former fundy, the challenge for you this weekend is to write a line or two about why you finally left fundamentalism and what group or belief system you now embrace instead.

If you’re still a fundy, give a brief description about why you still consider yourself a fundamentalist and if/when you’ve thought of leaving.

It’s all well and good to not be something anymore but then what? Share your story!

101 thoughts on “Weekend Challenge: Storytime”

  1. I left, most essentially, because the IFB model of reality was not compatible with reality as I experienced it.

    Currently, I’m in a transitional period: I know what I left, but I don’t know where I’ll end up.

  2. In the late 1990’s I was struck by how many things Fundamentalism left unanswered or failed to explain (like, why does God allow the innocent to suffer, etc.). I went through a crisis of faith but came through it. When 9/11 hit, I saw the total lack of humility and compassion in Fundamentalism and in myself. I repented, took up the task of documenting the abuse of children in Fundamentalist churches, so that their plight would not be totally hidden, and began a life of living in the labor and hope of Christ. I don’t know what I embrace, except that I knew I had to have Christ, and now that I work on behalf of the least of His brethren, I sense His presence and have had my prayers heard as they never were before. I don’t think it’s a trade off or that I have earned anything. I think I just learned where to look to find Him, and I found Him, among those accounted the least of His brethren, the victims of clergy abuse in Fundamentalism.

  3. Leaving fundamentalism for me was a process that took about nine years.

    It began in a realization that the fundamentalist college I was attending was a structure set up to serve the power interests of the leadership instead of demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. The Word of God was subverted to be a tool of manipulation and so-called preachers were often just snake-oil salesmen.

    It continued when I became a leader in a small fundamentalist church and got to see how the system worked in microcosm. It wasn’t pretty.

    Along the way, the Internet provided me with a way to connect to other ex-fundies as well as people from many other Christians with a wide array of beliefs.

    The problem is that the issues I saw in fundamentalism, I also see in varying degrees in many other parts of Christendom. While others have their own unique and equally bad issues. So I’m still looking for a denominational home so to speak. It’s equal parts interesting and frustrating.

    I’m thinking of starting my own denomination and selling franchise licenses. Who’s with me??

  4. I came to fundamentalism later in life during my years as an undergraduate. I learned how to be an apologist for fundamentalism during that time (I did not go to a Christian university, and therefore had many opportunities to practice) and that got me interested in a more general study of theology. I did my graduate degree at a seminary for the United Church of Canada (against the advice of one of my fundamentalist friends) so that I would have more witnessing opportunities. During that time I discovered that fundamentalist doctrine was either completely unbiblical or even antibiblical. It was often idolatrous because it often allowed Jesus to be more fully human than the Bible was allowed to be a fully human document. I found unconditional love and acceptance among my liberal friends without them feeling the need to try and convert me. At the same time, I was still attending the meetings of Campus for Christ (in Canada they dropped the “Crusade” part due to negative associations) and found much of their theology to be extremely misogynistic and exclusive of many groups (particularly the GLBT community and anyone who supports them) (note: I am both male and heterosexual, so this is not me trying to justify a “sinful homosexual lifestyle” nor is it me trying to be a preacher as a woman. However, I do support the GLBT community).
    I now consider myself a Liberal Evangelical who happens to be a member of the United Church of Canada. I may have been a “false fundy” all along (although before I left fundamentalism I was as anti-gay as any fundamentalist) attending a UCC, but now I am more fully connected with my UCC roots. I’m an “apostate liberal” and proud of it!

  5. Met some people who exemplified Christ’s love but who were “wrong” on standards (drinking, dress, music, movies, etc.) With the help of the internet and the um, Bible, I realized fundamentalists were wrong and verrryy slowllly the walls began coming down. Took a few years to finish. Wound up at a non-denom. church (orthodox and non-cessationist) and am finding God’s love, peace, power, and Spirit.

  6. It was hard for us because our fundy church was like home and to this day we are friends with many of the people. However we just couldn’t take the outward focus anymore, they were consumed with how you look and what you do instead of pointing you to Jesus. We wanted to attend a church and body that was consumed with telling us about Jesus and what he did for us instead of constant ranting about music, clothes, what we weren’t doing and booze. In the end we ended up in the PCA and absolutely love our new home, although we just haven’t been able to swallow the whole infant baptism thing.

  7. I went to a IFB church in high school and then to a fundy college. After graduate I became a pastor. I had never fully swallowed all the quirks of fundamentalism and was very reluctant to put my church through all the drama I had been through.

    I am still Baptist and our church hold to conservative theology, but without all the external focuses of fundamentalism. Our focus is loving God and others and following Jesus throughout our week. Not sure what that makes us beyond simply being Christians. Boring story ^_^

  8. While I never went to a fundamentalist church, I did attend a private, nondenominational Christian school until 7th grade. Many of the beliefs they taught were extremely damaging, and they mostly taught me to feel guilty and be afraid. The idea they pushed the hardest was that women are responsible for all men’s sexual thoughts and actions. If a thirteen-year-old boy looks at a twelve-year-old girl and thinks about sex – or forces himself on her – it must be the girl’s fault. She was dressing too provocatively; she was acting too sexy. It took a lot of time for me to recover from that.

    I left that school when my parents moved to another state, and started attending a large public school. Surprise! The kids there weren’t having orgies in the hallways between classes or gathering to shoot up under the flagpole. I began to see the hypocrisy of the things I had been taught, though it took me a while to carve out for myself a faith that was truly mine and wasn’t rooted in constant fear and shame. (Thank you God, thank you therapy, thank you Lexapro.) Now as an adult, I’m actively involved in a church that is affiliated with both the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ. We have members who disagree on minor theological issues, which is natural in a church of blended denominational heritage – but the love the people in my church have for each other and for the world is astounding. The homeless are sheltered, recovering addicts are supported, children are taught, hungry are fed, and widows and singles are nurtured by families in my church. Praise God!

  9. I grew up in Lutheran Fundamentalism. I did not appreciate being told that I was nothing to God but a pile of sh*t covered with snow. Learning about Jesus and following his example was not on the agenda. Pastor showed us the “law and gospel” – yet not how the gospel could change our lives. The idea of Christian growth and discipleship was never brought up, because you see, there is nothing you can do to please God. So why try? People were living their lives as a Christian only one day a week, and doing whatever they pleased the other six days. Because, you see, it doesn’t matter what you do, only that you believed Jesus died for your sins. This struck me as a kind of cheap grace – relegating Jesus’s death and resurrection as merely a “get out of hell free” card with no obligation to follow Him.

    In Protestant theology there is the idea that Jesus’s righteousness is imputed on us and there is nothing we can do to please God. In Catholic theology, there is the idea of infused grace – through the Holy Spirit, we can become true disciples of Christ and grow in holiness. He gives us the power of true conversion. We are new creatures. When we live our lives and do our works out of love of God, and by His power, he is pleased. I liked the idea of growing close to Jesus and living out my life in accordance to His will. The Church gives me the grace through the sacraments to live a God-pleasing life.

    Sola Scriptura didn’t seem to be the answer in the Protestant world, either. There are thousands of different denominations, each interpreting the Bible according to their own understanding or tradition. Each claims that they are led by the Holy Spirit, yet they interpret the Bible in different ways. Is the Spirit a spirit of unity or confusion? They can’t all be right. They may be sincere, but they can’t all be right when they believe different things. In the Catholic Church I found a true teaching authority stretching back through the Early Church Fathers to the Apostles, to Jesus Himself. The same things that were taught by Jesus and His Apostles are taught today in the Catholic Church. The same liturgy is celebrated. The same Eucharist is presented – yesterday, today and forever. I love my Catholic faith.

  10. It took me about a week at PCC to realize that the way the college ran was incredibly discongruous w/ the spirit filled life described in Scriptures. Took about a semester to realize that leadership designed it to be that way. Kind of thought/believed it was an isolated bizarre place/problem within fundamentalism. Took multiple years afterwards to realize those attitudes were far more prevalent/widespread than I had believed. Like Mac the treatment of women, and especially the GLBT community was very troubling. I’ve ended up pretty liberal politically, and still theologically conservative and one would say ‘fundamental”, but not fundamentalist. I’m not convinced there is a perfect church. I’d def be interested in one of those licenses for the Church of SFL! 🙂

    Rock on!

  11. PS, I don’t think I’d be calling anyone out to say there was an economics professor @ my school who would talk about civil rights regularly, and that society had not perfected itself in 1964 w/ the Civil Rights Act that went a long way to helping me become a political liberal. I actually don’t remember his name, wouldn’t post it on here anyway, just in case he still works there, and I don’t know that he’s a liberal, but was just aware & willing to say (I think bravely) that society still needs to be changed.

  12. That’s the problem, there isn’t a perfect church cause churches are comprised of people.
    I received Christ as a teenager in a Fundy church, then went to a fundy Bible college.
    I do see problems associated with the IFB, but as Darryl stated, I also see problems with other denominations as well.
    We still go to a fundy church and will stay here until I am convinced Scripturally there is a better option.
    To be fair though, most of the churches I have experienced haven’t had most of the foolishess described on this blog. I can certainly see though how the commenters here would be finished with fundamentalism.

  13. What drove me away from Fundy-mentalism was the abuse of pastoral authority. I noticed many good families had left and that leadership had not been treating people who disagreed with them well. As they exercised this great (and false) authority, people were getting hurt and they did not appear to care.

    As I was heading for the door, I came to the realization that I was also taught some bad doctrine such as unbiblical giving prinicples (this place was very moneycentric), distain for other Christian churches, and KJVO. After leaving, I discovered I was taught incorrectly about the humanity of Christ.

    Shallow, abusive, man-centered religion left many scars. I praise God for bringing me out of that and leading me toward truth.

  14. I and my family left about four and a half years ago. We are still shedding the fundy skin. I was raised Baptist, my wife Lutheran. I attended a fundy college. My wife became a fundy Baptist and year later we met and married. About ten years ago we started to listen to the NIV when going to bed at night. It did not take long to realize that our fundy pastor was misquoting scripture. We left because the fundy church expended all of its credibility. We attend a Bible church now which seems to be much less abusive and seems to have much more integrity and love. The doctrinal statement is about the same but what a difference there is in attitude and behavior! I identify myself as a non-denominational Christian now.
    The bottom line is that we are all searching for God and the truth about God will not be answered until we die. As a someone who trusts God, I have to believe that God has revealed or will reveal to me what I need to know about Him. I also have to believe that God has revealed or will reveal to others what they need to know about Him. I need to trust God. I need to love others.

  15. I left fundamentalism (SBC) because of the hypocrisy. To me it just seemed like no one was actually following the example of Jesus (ie love your neighbor, do unto others). I also didn’t like being expected to check my brain at the door. Legitimate questions meant that you were questioning your faith and God and disagreements meant that you were in the wrong and not a “real” Christian. After spending some sleepless nights as a young teenager and experiencing a lot of anxiety about my eternal soul, I left and began the healing process.

    I am now an Episcopalian and my questions, uncertainties, and thoughts are welcomed. Nowhere is perfect, but I have found a home there among people who try to help others the best they can and disagree with each other and it’s okay!

    That’s my story in a very small nutshell…

  16. I left fundamentalism when I turned 18 and went off to college, but I had been planning on doing that since I was about 14 or 15, but with the whole still living with my parents thing, I didn’t have much of a choice. The reason I left is because I’m pretty much gay as a goose, and when I was a teenager, it was right at the peak of all the gay marriage discussion. Call me crazy, but it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way to hear about how much of a depraved pervert I was on a tri-weekly basis.

    Now four years later, I don’t believe in any sorts of gods or higher powers. I try to avoid the term atheist just because it seems like so many of them today are just as annoying, dogmatic, and misinformed as the fundies I had escaped. And really, the existence of a god or gods doesn’t even interest me anymore. Even if a religion could prove conclusively that their god(s) was real, I would probably still decline becoming a member.

  17. I can’t escape my roots entirely, though. I’ve have newfound affection for the Bible since I started my minor in religion and have gotten a chance to study it academically and see it in it’s “natural habitat” so to speak. And bluegrass gospel is still my driving music of choice.

  18. @Morgan. Thank you for stateing so clearly how wonderful it is when you find His church. The church tht Jesus founded. As a guy that was brought up on the Bible I find that the catholic church is truly a Bible church. The Bible is much clearer to me now that I see how it all ties together the plan of salvation.

  19. I started leaving when I was asked to sing professionally at an Episcopalian church. The first Sunday I was there was the first Sunday in Advent and they sang, “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry,” and I thought, “They’re signing about Baptists. Baptists don’t sing about Episcopalians.” Of course, they were singing about John the Baptist, but still… . I also sang professionally at a Presbyterian and Baptist church in college, so I was exposed to different worship styles and theologies. At first I thought Fundyland just didn’t work for me, but, after having been out for 30 years or so, I realize that Fundyland is more like Heresyland. I now consider myself Episcopalian who tends to be United Methodist because I don’t play the organ well enough to work in most Episcopal churches. I like the emphasis on the Wesleyan quadrilateral – that Scripture, reason, tradition and experience all work together with the Holy Spirit to guide the Church to the true interpretation of Scripture. I also like not leaving my mind at the door. I’m also politically liberal, but that took a lot longer. I won’t go into that story – it might hijack this discussion.

  20. @ Dave and Morgan – how nice to know that salvation started in the Garden and finished with the resurrection. That’s something you’ll never hear in Fundyland.

  21. I attended a fundy church from the time I was in my mother’s belly. I attended a fundy college. Went to a foriegn country for a year under a fundy mission board and lived with a very fundy family – even more so than mine and I didn’t think that was possible. Upon returning to the States, I got a job at Christian school. I knew going in that I would be the conservative among liberals. I wasn’t out to change anyone but I felt quite smug because I knew I was better than them. I was pretty quiet about that though and I spent a lot of time watching them – sometimes while looking down my nose at them. But I began to see that they weren’t as bad as I had been told they would be. They didn’t keep all the rules I kept but they still loved God. I couldn’t figure out how that could be. I kept watching till eventually I talked to a woman who went to a “heathen” church. I knew she was different than me and had something I didn’t have. As I confessed my “sins” to her she just said, “So?” No condemnation. That was the beginning. I decided to visit her church. I still remember the sermon that first Sunday. It was on John 2. The pastor was preaching about a Jesus I had never been exposed to. I was amazed. After visiting a few more times I knew I wanted to go there. When I told my parents, it didn’t go over well. One of the deacons from the IFB church asked me to speak with the deacon board. I declined. The youth pastor gave me information on why I shouldn’t go to the new church. But I didn’t care. I was tired of rules and guilt and all that goes with the IFB. I love going to me Evangelical Free church. I even sing on the Worship Team (with drums and guitars – gasp!) while wearing pants. The love I received there in my 8 years far outweighs the love I was shown from those in the IFB where I spent 24 years. And as a side note, when I left the Christian school where I was teaching, I was the liberal among conservatives!

  22. @ Dan – Isn’t scripture, tradition, reason and experience wonderful? It has opened up a whole new world for me.

  23. I get lost every time I try to examine my own spiritual evolution. There have been a lot of factors in play during my life that pushed me in a lot of different directions, making it hard for me to point out exactly what was changing for me at any given point. So I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible and, I hope, help me see myself more clearly.

    I guess the seed of my departure from Fundamentalism was simple dissatisfaction. Something was missing and I wasn’t sure what. I tried to imitate the seemingly fulfilling lives around me, but I was afraid to go forward in church, afraid even to pray in public, and what’s more, I was never sure if what I was feeling was the much sought-after “conviction” or just manipulated fear. I didn’t feel any of the things I was supposed to feel (fundies do, despite their protests to the contrary, rely a lot of feelings) and that worried me. Eventually I decided that truth was better served than appearance, and I abandoned my attempts to blend in. Not that I was a bad kid or anything–this all took place on an entirely inner plane. I was and still am socially, politically, and religiously conservative–I just reached a point that I decided to be myself rather than fake being like everyone around me.

    Art and intellect also played huge roles. I still remember stopping a few pages into a Christian teens’ novel and putting it away, intending never to finish it, because like a bolt of lightning I recognized cliches and stereotypes I’d already plowed through in ever other book I’d read up to that point. (I was probably 11 or 12 at the time.) It gradually occurred to me that fundy books never ever measured up–not just novels, but nonfiction, dating advice, and especially philosophy and theology. They were all poorly-written and intellectually shallow. During high school and my first years of college, I also began to plumb more deeply the completely illogical reasoning that permeates Fundamentalism. All of this only deepened my dissatisfaction.

    You could say it was Catholic writers who saved me. I first picked up Dante in high school, and The Divine Comedy blew my mind. How could Catholicism be so wrong when this book made so much more sense than anything I’d heard from an ostensibly “Bible-believing” pulpit? In college I discovered Peter Kreeft, whose book Socrates Meets Jesus changed my life. In the introduction to that book, I read this:

    After all, human reason—though fallen—is designed by God. There is nothing wrong with that sword, only with how we wield it. For that sword was forged in heaven . . . . To put the point less poetically: God sent not only a few special prophets like Moses to one special people but also the universal inner prophet of reason and conscience to all people. The medievals loved to say that God wrote two books: nature and scripture. And since he is the author of both books, and since this teacher never contradicts himself, these two books never contradict each other. And since this God who never contradicts himself also gave us the two truth detectors, faith and reason, it follows that faith and reason, properly used, never contradict each other. Therefore, all heresies are contrary to reason. Not all the truths of faith can be proved by reason, but all arguments against the truths of faith can be disproved by reason.

    Where was this in Fundamentalism? All my life I had gotten the impression–if I hadn’t been told outright–that my problem was that I thought too much, I applied too much intellect to matters of faith and therefore caused my doubts. I needed to “let go and let God.” But I couldn’t–God gave me my mind and I knew it was wrong not to use it. When I read that passage from Kreeft in the Bob Jones University snack shop, I knew everything I’d been feeling was okay–and that everything I’d been told was wrong.

    That’s the long and short of it. I had also gotten into C.S. Lewis prior to Kreeft and would eventually discover G.K. Chesterton as well. All of them taught me things that I had somehow felt–or at least hoped for–but never learned in Fundamentalism: God makes sense, and we can make some sense of God. Christians can create good art, and should if they aspire to imitate their Creator. Your mind is important. Logic counts. And faith is more than adherence to rules.

    I’ll stop there. I think I’ve covered most of the important points. Sorry for my rambling. 🙂

  24. Everybody ought to read all three men you mentioned. It should be some kind of law.

  25. I know that from my own personal experience, I didn’t get damaged as severely as some of the others here on the forum. Mostly for me it was self esteem, social skills (or the lack thereof), and education were the areas for me in which I struggle. I left fundyville because they didn’t help me address these issues. The other reason is that I was going through a tough period and needed a more substantial spiritual message than the same old, same old. The current pastor at the time had gotten lazy in the area of good bible teaching. He was one of those who either didn’t plan at all, or planned to the point where it gave him an excuse to go down rabbit trails or on a familiar tired old rant.

    Now my husband, on the other hand, had it worse than I did. It was to the point of emotional abuse (for lack of a better phrase). His family had a very serious tragedy hit them while he was a child, and the fundy church that they went to basically dropped the ball on them. Both he and his brother reacted quite severely to the incident and there was no sympathy on their part. It was only “straighten up”, “you’re in rebellion”, or something along that line. There was no recognition on their part that the incident and the turmoil it brought may have had to do with it. Anyways, it got to the part where now he thinks all branches of Christianity doesn’t do anyone any good whatsoever. It’s to the point where I don’t go to church period because it’s such a sensitive subject.

  26. Looking forward to reading the comments. My story is too long & boring to include here. Suffice it to say:

    I left fundyism because it’s false.

    I joined holy Orthodoxy because it’s true.

    Also, Byzantine chant kicks ass, while “blessed assurance” makes me want to vomit.

  27. I don’t know in which camp I belong right now. I still hold to the BJU creed, but as I read the Bible, I was convinced that all the external standards I’d been taught were just that: external standards not essential doctrine. Some things just didn’t make sense (movies were bad; videos were okay – what?). I’d been told that people outside the IFB world were probably not even saved, but reading C.S. Lewis showed me someone who held different views than I did, but who loved God devotedly. (Of course, my mom told me I shouldn’t read C.S. Lewis.) I also got tired of the meanness I saw in a lot of the fundy world, people using “holding to the faith” to excuse their fits of bad temper and hatred against others. One of the last straws was a nearby IFB church that said, “We have no obligation to the community” beyond TELLING them the Gospel. Because we desire to SHOW people God loves them by meeting their needs, we’ve been accused of “preaching another gospel.” I didn’t plan on leaving fundamentalism, but I think they left us!

    What am I now? I don’t know. All my life I was told that evangelicals were evil so it’s hard for me to say that that’s what I am. I feel a little lost not knowing exactly where I belong.

  28. @ reader mo, Amen

    I am now part of an Orthodox Church (Antiochian, to be specific), and I know that it is not perfect, but it is hard to imagine a sweeter home.

  29. We left fundyland because the folks we attended church with were/are the meanest folks we have ever known. The pastor was a bully as well. Each sermon was about how awful the world was. “Sermons” were more about what worldly behavior ticked off the pastor that week then the Word of God. Their own behavior showed us something was greatly wrong. How a person dressed was what made them “above reproach” not how they behaved. Love was absent!
    Also, things just didn’t all up. Why is it bad to see a movie in a theatre but renting it a few months later was fine? Why was what a women wore such a big deal? Also, why is tithing taught as being the #1 priority in a persons life? Why was it wrong to simply ask the pastor to show us in the Word of God where tithing is taught in the NT? That simply question ruffled his feathers! These and other questions bothered me to no end. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I hated going to church. I knew the instant I got our of my car I would be judged by not only the pastor but some of the folks their as well.
    It also bothered me that folks who were not IFB were far better behaved then those who were IFB. Sure the IFB folks dress nicer, but their character was appauling even according to the worlds standards.
    Finally, we left. We wanted to know what the Bible truly taught, not what man told us it said. When we compared what was taught to Scripture, more often then not the fundies had it wrong.
    As time went by the strongholds came down. We bought a NASB (which, at that point, was very hard for us to do) attended a non-denominational church and GREW, GREW, GREW in the Lord.
    I’d say now, we are not interested in denominational titles, we just simply love the Lord with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our souls. We do attend church, but test the spirit as the Word of God tells us. In short, the Lord directs our path now, not man.

  30. I don’t know in which camp I belong right now.

    I’m right there with you, sister. You’re not alone by a long shot.

  31. I’ve been involved with fundamentalism for over 20 years and it wasn’t until recently when I started to actually study for myself whether my beliefs and practices were biblical. Before that I believed just about everything I heard without question. Why? Because I was a fundamentalist – and fundamentalists are never wrong! You don’t question authority! Nevertheless, I had to swallow my pride and consider that many of my beliefs could be wrong.

    I am positive that there are pastors, evangelists, and other ‘higher-ups’ within fundamentalism that lurk on this site seeing what these back-sliders are saying now. So lurkers, here are a few things that a regular ole Joe in the pew has issues with…

    – the use and abuse of unbiblical practices such as tithing, faith promise giving, and altar calls
    – the cult-like devotion to certain colleges, especially the ones in their camp
    – self-anointed leaders (fundamentalist popes) within the movement
    – history of subtle and not-so-subtle racism
    – a lack of understanding of true grace
    – works-based sanctification
    – emphasis on outward appearance
    – fear of man (i.e. “what would Dr. Bob say if we did that!”)
    – easy-believism
    – almost total, blind support to politicians with an “R” after their name
    – phony PhDs and honorary doctorates
    – abuse of the sheep

  32. @Stan–

    not posting my story now, but a couple of things really stick out to me about what you posted.

    “cult like devotion to certain colleges, especially the ones in their camp”. . SO TRUE (though dying in some less-fundy-all-the-time circles.)Why even promote colleges as a church? Why not let this issue for the student and their parents to decide (pray about, etc). . .

    “fear of man”. . this one has bothered me for a long time. I don’t think it’s fair for someone to say “you shouldn’t fear man when it comes to sharing Christ or when it comes to doing something God wants you to do”. But, at the same time, these churches/leaders, even if they know something is unBiblical will maybe not preach it (in the less militant circles), but keep it as a practice or policy (and say it’s just “best that way” or “it’s being sensitive to others”). I know the real reason they keep the policies is that “what would so-and-so say?” or “who will leave the church?” or “what kind of FINANCIAL support will we lose?”

    Example. . . .we won’t change a certain policy/practice (even though we know it’s not a true Biblical issue), because it might “offend people’s sensitivities”. Truth is–It is because of what people will say in fundy camps (and it’s hard to take the criticism), and also because of FINANCIAL support from church members who would or might go to a different church.

    On the previous point, I really do understand to an extent. But don’t give a “load of crap” reason, just come out and say. . “I can’t take the constant criticism, lack of financial support, or whatever.”

  33. @Pastor’s Wife and Darrell: Ditto. That seems to be the only thing I left out of my comment–I don’t consider myself part of any particular branch of Christianity right now, but looking.

  34. I was raised fairly fundy and went to BJU. I bought pretty wholly into the appearance-based religion and taught at a fundy school until I wasn’t good enough for them anymore; then I stopped going to church altogether for a long time. About 2 years ago returned to church and only a few months ago really began to understand that God LOVES me and not only do I not have to do anything to earn it but I can’t do anything to lose it.

  35. I attended IFB schools from grade 4 until graduation and now attend a private college associated with the United Methodist Church but accepts everyone, of course, no matter what religion you are or aren’t. I go to an IFB church there as well as at home, but the two churches are different. The one near my college is more lenient– women can wear pants to church activities instead of having to wear those stupid-looking culottes or a skirt to everything. Though the pastor doesn’t care for a lot of contemporary Christian music, his son plays guitar and the college students go to CCM concerts and youth meetings (Passion 2010). Some of the songs the choir sings has drums and a beat. The church is growing, the people are genuine and friendly, and I love it there.

    I haven’t and don’t really plan to leave my Fundy church. The one here at home is kind of “stuck in their ways” in some situations (simple things like changing the way the brochures look or singing newer songs). Could be that it’s in a small out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town in rural NC and over half the church has lived there most of their lives. I just respect the rules, because there are some people who sincerely live that way and seem happy. I’ve found some things odd and inconsistent with the Bible no matter how much they tried to convince me. I don’t like how they pretty much isolate themselves from other people and other Christians. I love visiting other churches from other denominations (never understood why people “frown” on that), I love opportunities to volunteer in different charities (something my church at home really doesn’t do, but I try to when I can at college), and I don’t focus on the outside appearance.

  36. @ Darrell – “I’m thinking of starting my own denomination and selling franchise licenses. Who’s with me??”

    Maybe we should sign up. 🙂

  37. I tried starting my own denomination once. Turns out the name “mo synod” was already taken.

  38. @stephie do you mind saying where in “small out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town in rural NC”?

  39. @stephie meaning areas of NC, because I am currently in small middle of nowhere nc and have been involved in many fundy churches around here, but I’m PCA now. I’ll write my story later.

  40. My history began with a brief stint in a Lutheran church before I can remember, and then meandered through a few different SBC churches, before ending up at an independent fundamental church. The pastor, whose tenure overlapped our stay there by about ten years, was a Moody grad, preached from the KJV out of preference rather than conviction, and didn’t care if the ladies wore slacks – at least on Sunday nights and Wednesdays. Numerous congregants, however, desired a more old-fashioned hellfire and brimstone fundamental style of preachin’, and they got exactly that with the “preecher” they called when the former pastor retired.

    The new man-o-gawd had many of the problems documented so accurately here at SFL, and after a few years, we left for the “liberal” Baptist church across town, with whom no other local Baptist churches associate since they use the ESV and play [very soft and rather outdated] CCM.

    Our departure was precipitated by the new preechur’s incessant hammering of all of the “Baptist distinctives,” including KJO-ness, pre-trib rapturism, anti-Calvinism, high [unbiblical] standards for testimony maintenance, and the certain damnation of non-indie-fundies. Contrary to that, we disagreed on many points, using understandable translations, being rapture time agnostic, having slight Calvinist leanings, and thinking that Catholics, Orthodox, and even Southern Baptists could be saved – among other things. When our after-service dinner table discussions were on how horrible and totally Biblically inaccurate the sermons were, we knew that it was about time to move on.

    This is not to say that fundamentalism didn’t affect me at home. Having isolated me as much as possible from “the world” through homeschooling, my parents enforced strict standards for movies and music. My dad, being a classical elitist with tastes spanning the Baroque to mid-Romantic periods, was aghast the first time he found some “heavy metal” on my computer in the early days of Napster (the offending song? Boston’s More Than a Feeling). Many of you can relate, but most of my friends can’t understand how rebellious I felt for listening even to stuff like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Bartok’s piano sonata or concertos, or pretty much any Ives or Schoenberg.

    Thus, having never accepted fundamentalism’s most prominent legalities, I still manage to shock myself with the ways that it has infected my worldview. For instance, I was astonished to find at college some devout Christians who had long hair, others who wore fashionable clothes, others who smoked, and even a few who had tattoos! In this regard, SFL has been an effective treatment for the bits of fundamentalist thinking that I’m still finding in myself.

    With that said, I love my current Baptist church, but if I move somewhere else, I will probably look for another denomination that wouldn’t require me to sweep certain undesirable preferences – like my metalhead tendencies, openness to theistic evolution, and acceptance of the Biblical position on alcohol – under the rug. I don’t know, maybe the Presbyterians would be a good choice (just not the RPCNA, for the music issue…).

  41. Fair warning: it’s long.

    I didn’t grow up IFB, but evangelical Baptist. When I was in college, my folks started attending a Baptist church who had just called a very humble, gracious older BJU-grad pastor. When I finished my Bachelor’s, I attended and became involved there. As a result, I went to BJU for my Master’s, met my hubby, and we attended IFB churches (pastored by BJU grads) wherever we lived. When we moved back down to SC, we went back to the church I’d attended before our marriage. My departure from that IFB church was gradual, though I was helped along by three distinct events.

    The first was a ministry break. I was an AWANA leader for years and years, and I saw my church, little by little, isolate itself from other churches using the same program. It was as if they didn’t want us “contaminated” by Christians who didn’t hold to the same “high standards” they did. Finally, the Lord told me, “You’ve worked here long enough. Time to rest.” I meant for it to be only a year’s sabbatical, but it turned out to be permanent. (They changed over to Truth4Kids a couple of years after that.)

    The second break was later the same year. We took our kids out of the church’s Christian school simply because we could no longer afford it, and we put them into public school. After an adjustment period, they thrived and got involved. This, however, meant they were third- or fourth-class citizens when it came to the church youth group.

    The third thing that wasn’t quite a break, but helped the process along. My husband was working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week at the time, and would invariably fall asleep in the service. My thought was that if he was going to fall asleep, he should sleep in his bed. I had my own physical problems, and on many Sundays didn’t feel up to going. So we went to fewer and fewer services, then finally stopped altogether. And, in a church of 1500 or so, after years of ministry in AWANA, only one person actually noticed we were gone and wrote me.

    I’m still a fundamentalist in that I still believe in the fundamentals of the faith. I know I am redeemed. But I am so done with the culture. Done, done, done. I’m still struggling with the Fundamentalist mindset, and to teach my kids to have a more open mind when it comes to church practice. Lately, we’ve been getting pressure from family members on both sides to “find a good church”. Of course, both sets of family members have slightly different ideas of what a “good church” consists of. So, we’re trying out different places when I can get up early enough on Sunday – my husband is letting me be the lead here as he knows it’s more important to me than to him where we go. I know I won’t find a perfect place, but… I want learn more about grace and eschew the legalism we were surrounded by before.

  42. I left fundamentalism because I took the Bible more seriously than they.

    I became a Presbyterian because their soteriology, ecclesiology, and pedagogy are the most optimistic and biblical.

  43. @Camille If not exactly the most optimistic anthropology. (and that’s all I’ll say here)

  44. @ Stan: Wow! You hit most everything on my list, too.

    – the use and abuse of unbiblical practices such as tithing, faith promise giving, and altar calls
    – the cult-like devotion to certain colleges, especially the ones in their camp
    – self-anointed leaders (fundamentalist popes) within the movement
    – history of subtle and not-so-subtle racism
    – a lack of understanding of true grace
    – works-based sanctification
    – emphasis on outward appearance
    – fear of man (i.e. “what would Dr. Bob say if we did that!”)
    – easy-believism
    – almost total, blind support to politicians with an “R” after their name
    – phony PhDs and honorary doctorates
    – abuse of the sheep

    A bit different thing from what most have said: I found that I’m not so fundamentalist when I understood that one of the tenets of Fundamentalism is that the Bible is inspired only in the original mauscripts, and this inspiration is not passed on to any translation. Now, I have studied somewhat extensively on the KJV issue, and although I’m not a typical KJVO, I did learn some important things about Bible translation and preservation that most non-KJVO do not seem to know about. Not saying you have to be KJVO to know, just generally lumping everyone together like a true fundamentalist.

    What we believe about the Word of God tends to affect our respect and handling of it more than we think. It is ironic that KJVO tends to misuse the Bible as much as anyone else, while claiming the utmost understanding and respect for it. However, in non-KJVO I see a similar carelessness with the Bible, although manifested differently.

    So what is my point? I don’t know. I am just rambling on a personal rift with Fundamentalism. I guess I am trying to say that typical “Christian” handling of the Word of God is disrespectful and careless at best, blasphemous at worst. And fundamentalist misuse is all the more deadly because it is harder to detect.

  45. Let me clarify that I DO NOT think that any one version is the only inspired one. I think my explanation allowed for that. Sorry.

  46. I grew up in big churches that the fundies would consider extremely liberal. I can’t think of what to compare them to except maybe Hallmark or Thomas Kincaid. They were sentimental and sappy and cheesy. I never found substance there.

    After some dark years, I came to see the true God of the Bible for who he says he is and cried out for salvation in Christ. I was in serious need of discipline at that time, so I thought a strict Christian college would be a safe place to be as I tried to prune some dangers out of my life. It turned out to be a fundamentalist college. I didn’t even know what that meant.

    When I got there, I heard people talk over and over again about taking God’s word seriously, worshiping with high quality music, exercising self-discipline. These ideas sounded so refreshing after all the saccharine stuff I’d grown up with. But what I observed was completely different from what I expected.

    They said they took the Word of God seriously, but they had no problem adding all sorts of unbiblical doctrines (eschatology, personal standards, etc.) to the “canon” that we were expected to accept. Most of the preachers I heard handled the Word of the God of the Universe like a magician’s deck of cards. A few times, I actually thought “Should I get outta here before the lightning strikes?”

    They said they took the worship of God seriously, but I couldn’t see how songs like “Oh It Is Wonderful to Be a Christian” or “Make Me a Blessing” was any different from the melody-challenged cheeseball pop they were singing in the seeker-sensitive churches.

    They said they were all about glorifying God, but the hero-worship there was palpable. I got so tired of people dropping pastor/church names and then being appalled that I didn’t recognize those names, like it was a sign I wasn’t really saved.

    Their “discipline” turned out to be more like institutionally-mandated sanctification. Instead of just saying “Here are the rules, that’s how we work here, but we recognize that your sanctification is in the hands of the Holy Spirit” the spiritual leaders sort of hijacked his job, and did it badly, as though they didn’t take the Holy Spirit seriously enough to let him do his own work. This is not something to be taken lightly.

    It would take too long to list out the problems, but most of them fit into one of those three categories.

    The problem is that the issues I saw in fundamentalism, I also see in varying degrees in many other parts of Christendom. While others have their own unique and equally bad issues. So I’m still looking for a denominational home so to speak. It’s equal parts interesting and frustrating.

    Same here.

  47. Well I am still in fundyland. But plan on leaving when I move out of my parents house. I still agree with most doctrine and such like the virgin birth the trinity etc, however I am simply tired of seeing ao many ifb churches argue with each other not to mention codemning those not exactly like them. Oh and if u were once a hardcore ifb church and have changed some music standards and now have a worship team, then duck an cover!! I am not sure what I will do but I may end up being a pentacostal although I do not necessarily believe in the gift of tongues, I think pentacostals are very similar in doctrine to baptists. Just more forgiving:) but thts just my view from inside fundyland. I’ve been outside of it and am curious as to what is beyond the four straight walls of fundytown:)

Comments are closed.