Friday Challenge: Be Constructive

A frequent accusation of the posts and comments on this site is that they tend to be very negative without providing a “better way” to do things. So today the challenge is to give some constructive advice about ways there could be positive change in fundyland. (Hint: “Nuke it from space” or “Burn it to the ground” are not the positive changes we’re looking for here).

My contribution:

1. A return to liberty in matters not explicitly covered by Scripture.
2. True legal, moral, and ethical accountability at every level.
3. An acknowledgment that other orthodox believers are brothers and sisters in Christ with whom real fellowship is possible even if disagreements exist.
4. A realization that differences in culture, method, and style should be judged on their own merits and not dismissed merely because they are not my way of doing things.

What are yours?

117 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Be Constructive”

  1. Do not allow the pastor to be a fundy pope. Do not let him get away with “touch not God’s anointed”–fundy pastors are not kings, prophets or priests in ancient Israel. Ensure pastors are no more than one of the ruling elders in the church. Do not allow pastors to make extra biblical rules.

    Stop shouting “amen” just to let everyone know that you are not one of the sinners the pastor is currently ranting about.

  2. On Music….

    >Ditto on the comments above about false standards saying some music is more spiritual than others.

    >Accept that us professional musicians are good at what we do because we work hard and practice. Our musical abilities are not “free gifts” from God that automatically volunteer us for whatever choir singing, special music, or general piano playing that you want us to do. You (fundies) wouldn’t demand the services of electricians/plumbers for FREE just because they knew how to do it.

  3. 1. Stop treating your faculty/staff and students like they are in third grade.

    2. Get regionally accredited (in all your colleges/universities) so you stop robbing people of tens of thousands of dollars and to make your financial dealings open. Sign up under an Evangelical Financial accountability board

    3. Stop harboring pedophiles—go to the police FIRST. Stop thinking of ways to defend the accused, and practice PURE RELIGION and defend the minor child when accusations are on the table.

  4. @Darrell
    I think the “what fundies should do” deserves it’s own series of blog posts. I think a lot of these comments are very legitimate and prescriptive. I think many times there is more potency in saying “this is what needs to be changed” than saying “this is what is wrong” only. I love the blog… it might give it additional variety to do a series on the major maladies of fundamentalism and how to fix it.

    Thoughts?

  5. Acknowledge you could actually be wrong. When you are wrong, apologize, attempt to make it right, and don’t cover it up. Above all. do it with humility, and without excuse. Except in the case of pedophiles. Report it to the police, then exercise the “church discipline” you’re so eager to mete out on the victims.

    Stop demanding ALL of your member’s non-wage-earning hours for church service and activities.

    Colleges–Be honest. If someone just isn’t college material, encourage them towards vocational school. You say any job is honoring to God so long as you give your best. Even the Jesus and the Apostles all had trades. What makes you think your failing “preacher boy” is any better than them? Not everyone needs a 4 yr degree. Especially when it takes them 6 to get one. Also, if the degree will be useless without Grad School, say so when the student is in their Freshman year, so they can change it. Don’t wait until their Junior year to mention this, thinking you’ve locked another one into your useless grad school.

    Jesus came to set us free and fulfill the law. Why do you keep making more rules up?

  6. – Study the word aseity; the self-existence of God. After studying it, realize that God is and that He doesn’t need us. None of us are important for God to do what He does.

    -Realize that we are to witness to the world through our good deeds, not our erudite words.

    -Yes! Yes! Yes! to everyone who stated this above, but it is worth saying again. Preach grace, live grace, and love with grace. Extend the same measure of love and grace that Jesus Christ extended to you.

    -Personally, I would remove the following words from my dictionary, Baptist and fundamental. However, if you can’t do that, actually study the original fundamentals and practice those. In doing that remove all other additions over the last 100 years that have been added to the so called “fundamentals”.

    -I agree with others who have stated this. Really study church history. Study and embrace the studying of things that you don’t agree with. Remember that Peter and Paul disagreed and both of them continued in the same unity of the same faith without calling either a heretic.

    -In trying to not be like other denominations, you have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Liturgy is beautiful. The public reading of long passages of scripture is a wonderful thing (p.s. there is nothing that you can add to Scripture that can the job better to convict and edify others than the Scripture does itself.) Communion is beautiful, try having it more than twice a year. Embrace new songs. After all, “He has put a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40:3” New means newer than 1946.

    I could go on, but that’s enough. So many good suggestions above.

  7. What Simon says! : )

    also. . .

    Stop idolizing your ideology.

    Stop honoring abusers like Ron Williams and Lester Roloff. Do a listening tour via the internet, and take action!! Get them off your radio station and out of the business. Send them to jail and rescue and care for their victims!!

    Regionally accredit all your learning institutions.

    Rename any Residence Hall that honors anyone who has ever been a member of the KKK. Start with Bibb Graves. . . : D

    Make changes, not excuses, and quit living and “ruling” like you’re so fearful!

  8. Oh that we would see all this come to pass, but so long as there is power to be had in order to rule over people men of lesser character will seek these positions in order to hold sway, persue an agenda, make money, and enslave others. (and again this is not just a fundy issue)

    I would love to see a real church body doing it the way it ought to be done, but at this point I don’t ( or more to the point won’t) trust a group enough to find out.

    so what would be constructive…
    Remove the pulpits and the (so called) altars from the building, tear down all the theatre designed buildings (or sell them off) and build them back in the round (if you build them back at all). Then read all of Ephesians 4 and see what the gifts are for… they are not (NOT) ministry offices to be filled but gifts given to prepare the body for ministry. Get rid of all the idolatry, the hero worship, the man centered gospel, and the empire building… and get back to every believer being prepared for ministry and loving one another…

  9. Try treating the women of your church as fellow believers, not mere extensions of their men. Recall the words of St. Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-29(KJV)

  10. I wrote this last year, and it seems appropriate to put here:

    As a reformed “fundy”, I believe . . .

    1) A man can have a pony tail AND an earring and still have a close walk with the Lord.
    2) My culottes don’t make me spiritual.
    3) Some Christians are democrats.
    4) It is possible for Christians to disagree on certain issues and (gasp!) still be Christians!
    5) The Beatles had some good music. Really.
    6) It is self-evident, that trying to avoid any and all appearance of evil, in every situation, at all times, is a path straight to self-delusion.
    7) “Traditional” is not the same as “Biblical”.
    8) Women and pants: see #7.
    9) Homeschooling is not in the Bible. It’s great if you want to do it, but it has nothing to do with the Bible.
    10) ACE is not a real school!
    11) I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, life isn’t perfect. Deal with it.

  11. Be humble when something you say or believe is questioned from the scriptures. Don’t feel threatened, call people rebellious, and condemn them for seeking the truth.

  12. – Find out what a true revival really is. For starters I would recommend an excellent book by Iain Murray called “Revival and Revivalism.”

    – Realize that having an evangelist in for a “week of meetings” is not the key for revival.

    – While you’re at it, study the true gift of the evangelist (I’m pretty sure the Greek word for evangelist does not mean “story teller”).

    – Realize that America never was, nor ever will be a Christian nation, and that the founding fathers were not independent baptists. And understand that making America a better place does not necessarily mean voting Republican.

    – Perhaps at a Sword Conference, FBFI meeting, or Pastor’s School, have an honorary doctorate burning ceremony. Any of you who go by the title “Doctor” without have earned it from a reputable and accredited university need to go to the old fashioned altar and leave your phony sheepskin there. Once that’s done, burn them all out back of the church and never use that title again without earning it.

  13. Read from cover-to-cover (several times), “Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination” by Loraine Boettner. Next to the Bible, it was the book that changed my life. It helped me immensely from being a fundy to being biblical. You can find the entire book for free in pdf online.

  14. Realize that it is okay for Christians to be conservative Republicans but when Christianity has an identity-meld with the Republican party that is a bad thing.

    We should be Christians first-everything else comes after that.

  15. Fundamentalists have to be willing to let fundamentalism die for the glory of God. Fundamentalism was undoubtedly profitably used by God for a time, but if that time has not already passed, we will reach the end of it very soon. God does not need our human institutions and constituencies to carry out His work. Unfortunately too many fundamentalists I know seem to be more committed to fundamentalism than to the Gospel.

  16. Pray for opened eyes to things God legitimately has against you. It’s too easy to spout our opinion of faults we believe exist in other beliefs (denominations, philosophies, theologies, whatever), but the Holy Spirit confirms truth.

  17. Yeah Dan, reading and taking down names and checking files, “Do we have anything on so and so”?

    Cult. It’s a cult. Cults CAN reform…but if they don’t, they need to crumble. The IFB has had a loooong time to consider reform. It will NEVER happen. Criminals don’t typically choose to reform. They have to be *made* to from the outside. That’s the only way it would happen. Ever.

  18. One more and then I am done. You preach about how high your standards are but to teach in your “colleges” someone only has to be a barely sentient biped. How about raising your education standards?

  19. Come to terms with what Jesus said is the primary sign (or testimony if you will) of believers: That they love one another.

    It’s not about our standards or how separate we are from the world. We are supposed to be recognized first and formost by our love for other believers (all of them). Unfortunately it is often quite the opposite in fundamental circles.

  20. Wow – fantastic comments! I’ve never been a fundamentalist, but as an evangelical, quite a few of these could be applied to my own camp, especially:
    a)”Quit selling faith in Jesus as merely fire insurance – it’s so much more.” – Dan Keller
    b)”Understand that the gospel is not just for unbelievers – it’s for believers, too.” – Amanda
    c)”Treat everybody with love regardless of what sins they struggle with (I’m thinking especially of LGBT folks).” – MrR

    Here’s my own list. These come out of my own thoughts about evangelicalism, but I’m pretty sure they apply to fundamentalism as well:
    1) Realize that you live in a bubble, and work to get out of it. We’ve spent so much time trying not to be of the world that we’ve forgotten to be in it. Even worse, we’ve adopted elements of an ungodly world system (our domineering, power-hungry leadership styles come to mind), that we are now NOT in the world, but we ARE of it.
    2) Why do you keep using that phrase – “the weaker brother?” I do not think it means what you think it means. Read the passage it comes from, in context.
    3) Recognize that holiness is about morals, yes – but it’s about so much more than mere moralism.
    4) Be willing to learn from other cultures and traditions.
    5) Be humble. Before you go into a debate, keep this thought in the back of your mind – “What if I’m wrong, and they’re right?” Be open to the fact that you might not be right about every minor doctrine you believe.
    6) Remember that those you share the gospel with are people – not targets. Tell them about the reason for the hope within you, and do it with gentleness and respect. Keep this quote from Francis Schaeffer in mind: “There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.”
    7) Think about this – the sinners were drawn to Jesus and the religious were repulsed by him. With our churches, it’s the opposite. Ask yourself, “Where did we go wrong?”

  21. I think most of us are missing an important truth in this discussion. We’re all trying to use logical reason and arguments, and without trying to be smart-alecky, reason is not going to even make a difference. I’ve tried to reason with several pastors in a gentle understanding way, but they just get mad at even the thought of questioning “why it’s not a Biblical mandate to have Sunday evening services”, or that women should be allowed to wear pants. Logic and reason are not tools that will be respected or responded to by most of the folks you’re talking about. Those seriously are non-issues for most of them, and will just get you accused of being a know it all or rebellious.

    So…nice effort, but you are using the wrong ammo. It’s good to try and be constructive, but when the foundation is corrupt, you shouldn’t try to construct anything on it”

  22. Quit elevating your rules to Biblical status. When you change your rules, you have to change your theology. That just cheapens faith for everyone. Oh, and, when you change rules, don’t go on Larry King and lie about the rule.

    @ Dave – I learned in 1978 these people were unreasonable when I received a letter from Bob Wood explaining that I didn’t know anything and probably wasn’t saved because I called out their racism.

  23. These are all nice (and there is the necessity of discussing the finer points, don’t get me wrong), but let us not make the fundamental mistake of majoring on the minors. (Oh yes. I just said that.)

    The real problem with fundamentalism is bad theology and doctrine. Just a little thing called heresy.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    A movement that initially started with the goal of preserving sound doctrine, that fought against modernist unorthodoxy, has itself become a cesspool of, yes, HERESY.

    KJVO? – Heresy; adding to the Scriptures.
    Hero-worship? – Heresy; idolatry.
    Emotional altar calls and guilt trips? – Heresy; functionally denying God’s omnipotence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Minor problem called Pelagianism in there.
    Works as a measure of (or to earn) God’s favor? – Heresy; works sanctification.
    Emphasizing one doctrine to the exclusion of others (eg separation vs. unity) – Heresy.

    I could go on and on, but you see my point.

    And that’s the real problem. Get your theology and doctrine straight, as Don said, and the rest will take care of itself.

    Funny, I think Jesus might have said something to that effect.

  24. Stop pretending not to know what your know. You know the world isn’t 6,000 years old. JUST. STOP. THE. POSTURING. Actually, I don’t think fundamentalism can change, even that original turn of the century checklist it anti-intellectual, anti science and sets its self up for the kind of psychological abuse it dishes out.

    How about THIS: Just become AMISH already. Those people are kind and really DO shun the modern world, not just shout about it rabidly from a pulpit then go home via your combustible engine. Scientist and Darwin are evil, but they’ll be the first ones at John’s Hopkins when little Joey gets a rare cancer. Either be consistent or shut up.

  25. Seriously and respectfully ponder the issue that what if Jesus came back to the earth today. I mean just like he did 2000 years ago. What if He started collecting a “ragtag” group of followers (maybe some of the Deadliest Catch guys, a couple of the Real Housewives from somewhere, a few Jersey Shore people, and maybe some truck drivers and prostitutes to boot).

    If He started wandering the US humbly preaching and performing miracles, I doubt that modern day fundies would treat Him any differently than the Pharisees did. He and His followers would be shouted down from IFB pulpits across the country.

    So my suggestion is: understand Jesus for who He really is and what He came to accomplish. It was to learn about relationships (love God and love people) and get rid of all of the silly rules.

  26. Hm, constructive suggestions about positive change in fundyland. That’s kind of like, “constructive suggestions about positive change in a man who beats his wife.” Suggestion 1: Stop beating your wife.

    There is nothing about fundamentalism that SHOULDN’T be completely changed, as in 180 degrees the opposite of what it is, at which point it ceases to be Fundamentalism. Ergo, the only suggestion I have is to do away with it altogether. The us-against-the-world bunker mentality, the judgmentalism, the endless, excruciating burden of legalism, the guilt trips, the ‘we-have-all-the-answers” attitude, the pervasive misogyny, the atempts at world domination through politics, screaming from the pulpit, just make it STOP!

    I think the biggest burr under my saddle with regard to Fundamentalism is how they cast “society and culture” in a frightful, evil light, accusing everyone who isn’t a Fundy of being an agent of satan, lost, a bad influence, have no fellowship with them, from such turn away, etc. And yet they also claim to care about people enough to want to see them saved from hell. On the one hand, everyone who isn’t a Fundy is an evil, evil sinner, yet they love you like a brother!

    They wonder why conversion is slow (my old chuch isn’t growing at all-for every new member they have, someone moves away and they get very few visitors despite their door-to-door efforts every month). It’s the cognitive dissonance.

  27. Study the history of the Bible. I mean REALLY study it. Find out exactly why the books we have in the Bible got accepted and why some books that many thought should have gotten in didn’t. Maybe then, you’ll lose the anti-Catholicism.

  28. Don’t assume the motives of others. Just because some writes a best-selling book, don’t assume they’re doing it for the money. Just because a church uses a guitar, don’t assume they’re doing it to attract young people. Just because someone didn’t wear a suit to church, don’t assume they’re being disrespectful. Just because the pastor some church traditions are dropped or changed, don’t assume the leadership did it to try to be “cool” or “hip.” Try believing the best about other Christians.

  29. @Tony “Stop preaching the heretical dispensationalism.”

    You know, that’s a pretty judgmental comment and offensive to many who are not IFB. One could easily say “stop preaching heretical covenant theology” or something else, because there are plenty of IFBs where I am from that are calvinist.

    The entire Open Brethren/Plymouth Brethren are dispensational and I haven’t found any of the abusive traits in the few I have attended. John MacArthur is even dispensational to a certain extent (although you wouldn’t know it by the company he keeps hehe).

  30. “But….if….God-forbid….if I have a history of divorce (before or after conversion)….I do not stand a snowball’s chance in a brick oven of being ordained?”

    While you will probably scoff at this, Ruckman wrote a good book on why a divorced man can still be ordained to preach and pastor. Of course, he was divorced. Funnily enough, those same IFBs that say you can’t pastor blah blah blah hold a Scofield reference Bible in high regard.

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