The Perpetual Question

As part of the never ending quest for a broader definition of fundamentalism (including but not by any means exclusive of Independent Baptist fundamentalism) I’d like to contribute a few thoughts on what fundamentalism IS by taking a quick look at what it IS NOT.

Fundamentalism is not just believing that the Bible is true; it’s believing that only one tiny group of people knows the “real truth” of the Bible.

Fundamentalism isn’t having rules and standards; it’s having rulers who make themselves ultimate standard.

Fundamentalism isn’t refusing to serve alcohol; it refusing to serve anybody who isn’t “deserving.”

Fundamentalism isn’t believing that your convictions are right; it’s believing that they could never be wrong.

Fundamentalism isn’t applying our religious fervor to our political choices; it’s trusting political choices to bring about religious fervor.

Fundamentalism isn’t a belief that people are sinners; it’s a belief that some few chosen spiritual elite are not.

Fundamentalism isn’t striving for personal holiness; it’s wallowing in prideful ignorance.

Fundamentalism isn’t loving hymns of the faith; it’s refusing to accept as part of the faith those who don’t love hymns.

Fundamentalism isn’t teaching your children self-sacrifice; it’s happily sacrificing them on the altar of other people’s selfishness.

Fundamentalism is not simply believing that God created the world; it’s living in a world run by a god of our own creation.

144 thoughts on “The Perpetual Question”

  1. “Fundamentalism is not simply believing that God created the world; it’s living in a world run by a god of our own creation.”

    That is as profound a statement as I have ever read on this site. Thank you. I also like the one about sacrificing our children to make other people happy–also very insightful.

  2. The most powerful statement is the last one, and being delivered from fundy brainwashing is what made me see how true that one is.
    The saddest one is the penumtilmate one. I saw that happen to both Wendell and Marlene Evans’ kids, though the more scandalous one was his daughter, since it also involved Jack Hyles’ son. But, it also was done to all four Hyles children, and while I will never excuse the gross sins perpetuated on so many by David Hyles, I think of his megalomaniac father BRAGGING about sitting Dave down, when DH was about twelve, and telling him that his dad would never be there for him, because he had to be out saving America. If you were at that precarious age, and your truly demented father said that to you, but you knew what a lie his life really was, what would it do to your psyche? Yes, he is responsible, and I will never say he should not pay for his many crimes, especially the deaths of those two children. But he was also sacrificed to his father’s twisted ego. 👿

    1. I often think of a friend that was with FBC, Hyles and a good friend of David’s. He was a pastor married with 3 children and one of the kindest men I’ve known. Eventually divorced his wife and stepped down as a Pastor. He openly announced he was gay. He continued to financially support his wife and children VERY well as he became extremely wealthy. His love for HAC and FBC was very strong although I’m not sure why. He sent a donation of $500,000 and Jack Hyles sent it back. He ruled it “dirty money” although it was made in the stock market.

      Hyles, who at one time was very close to him, did not try to help with the torture he lived with as being a sexually abused child by another man. My friend said that he was not trying to “buy back” Hyles but I’ve often wondered in his messed up mind. Sad situation. He did not die of Aids.

      1. But… He did die? This is so sad! Do you know for sure if it is true? IT seems so unlike JH to turn down money, though it seems so LIKE him to do that to a gay man…. Very very sad. 😥

        1. I think it sounds just like him to turn down the money. I mean, he was already loaded, and he would do just about anything to make someone else feel bad if he were emotionally punishing them. I remember in at least one sermon he told people to not bring their dirty lottery winnings here, that God doesn’t need that dirty money. I remember thinking, Really? I could use some of any kind. We were so mind-screwed.

        2. Yes. He did die at an early age of cancer. And yes, I do know it is very true! I was very close to him as a friend. He was part of a quartet there and had a phenomenal voice. Also part of Jeff Owens SS class, as many of us were.

        3. Well, Sims, it sounds like him to SAY he turned down the money, but he was greedy. I believe the whole story, because Duke got it from the horse’s mouth. But anything that came from Jack Hyles’ mouth is extremely suspect. 😡

      2. While it is commendable he still supported his family, he should have stayed with them. I am sure the kids would rather have their dad home than his money. He made a vow at his wedding, stick to it.

        1. Commendable…. was not what he was looking for. He was doing what was right toward his wife and children. He supported all of them. As far as the vows he made, unless you were there you do not know what they were. Not all wedding vows include, Til death do us part.

  3. I think a proper definition of fundamentalism is definitely in order, both for the sake of those who define themselves as “fundamental” and those who don’t.

    It seems to me that some “image conscious” IFB churches have tried to wrap their positions up in contemporary language in order to make them a little more palatable. For example, some try to define “fundamentalist” as one who simply “adheres to the fundamentals of the faith” (see the book “What is a Biblical Fundamentalist” by Dr. Paul Chappell). They then try say that being a fundamentalist is no more extreme than saying that you are a proponent of the “fundamentals of basketball.”

    The problem with this definition is that it is simply not true. If all it took to be a fundamentalist is to believe in the fundamentals of the faith, than Charles Swindoll, Rick Warren, and John Piper are just as fundy as Jack Hyles, Shelton Smith, and David Cloud.

    A more accurate definition of a modern fundamentalist is a “militantly anti-modernistic evangelical” (Enns, Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Kindle Location 13854). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition). The difference then between a modern fundamentalist and their evangelical counterparts is a bad attitude. But even that definition leaves much to be said.

    By the way, select chapters of “Moody Handbook of Theology” were required reading at my Fundy U. Curiously, the portion on Contemporary Theology was never studied.

      1. On a scale of 1 to 10, this guy’s public speaking skills top the scale. He can motivate and manipulate a crowd, and often does, IMHO.

        He has gotten himself really cozy with our local city leadership and continues to draw power to himself. He continues to promote his “brand” with fundamentalism, and considers himself a national leader (in reality he is just a big fish is an itty-bitty fundy pond).

        This is the first time I have heard the term Mafia Don applied to him, but I think it does fit. Cross Chappell and your career in Fundystan ministry is over…inside and outside of Lancaster.

    1. “Bad attitude” – so true of many I know!

      Although I’ve left the IFB, my beliefs haven’t changed much. I’m a conservative evangelical. But I sincerely hope that my life is marked by humility and love, not arrogance and self-righteousness.

    2. “Militantly anti-modernistic Evengelical” strikes me as a good, and uncommonly clear, definition of “Fundamentalist.” I consider myself Evangelical in the original sense of the word, which means grounded in the Gospels, but I’m not “anti-modernistic,” so I’m not a Fundamentalist. “Militantly anti-modernistic” also goes a long way toward explaining why Fundamentalism these days seems to be so enmeshed with extreme-right-wing political activism.

      1. @Jack Missionary, Thanks for the “militant” statement. Now I need a copy of the Handbook to read.
        @Big Gary, Thanks for the comment. Now I don’t have to come up with a well thought out statement, just—-

        “I’ll say what Big Gary said.”

    3. IMHO, Paul Chappell believes the same crazy crap as all the other fundies. He just puts on a softer front. He believes his church is the ONLY fundamentalist church in the entire area (an area that has a lot of other Christian churches, including Baptist and baptistic ones). When we left LBC for another church, he personally told us we would no longer be fundamentalists.

      Since I no longer wished to be his brand of crazy fundamentalist anyway, that was okay with me! :mrgreen:

    4. Very good observations, and it’s more complicated than that.

      What fundamentals are included? The Nicene Creed is often given as a starting point. But the Coptic Church does not accept the Nicene Creed, so they would be out. Catholics would be in though and fundamentalists would have none of that.

      Furthermore, I think that the process for establishing what those fundamentals would be is at an impasse.

      First, millenia of church councils and theological debates have not ended this debate.

      Second, it seems impossible to know how we would go about addressing the epistemological complications here.

      What methods do we use for settling these questions? What degree of certainty do we have that the methods are sound?

    5. “The difference then between a modern fundamentalist and their evangelical counterparts is a bad attitude.”

      Historically, at least, the difference has been one of separation, not of bad attitude. Fundamentalists believe (or believed) in being separate from the world; the evangelical counterparts believed one should be like the world in order to influence them for Christ.

      1. This is not strictly accurate. I would recommend Niehbur’s seminal work “Christ and Culture” for a better-orbed response. The works of Carl Henry indicate that his conception of evangelicalism was not that it imitated culture, but that it engaged actual people and ideas in the public square. Or at least, that’s how I read him.

      2. I believe the problem with your statement is that it assumes 1) evangelicals do not practice personal or ecclesiastical separation and 2) evangelicals compromise clear biblical principles or doctrine in order to reach other people for Christ. Although not all evangelicals (or fundamentalist for that matter) both of these assumptions are wrong.

        Both evangelicals and fundamentalist defend biblical truth. And evangelicals practice personal and ecclesiastical separation in accordance to what they believe the Bible teaches on that matter. The difference is in the “militancy” or as I phrased it, “the attitude.”

    6. I’ll add to that and say that modern fundamentalism is no longer about the faith. Rather, it’s about what we do and don’t do and who we do and don’t associate with.

    1. Is that the one with the all-expenses paid week- long trip to a sunny beach somewhere, with cute cabana boys? Darrell said *I* could have that, he doesn’t like the beach.

      Lying on a grand scale: the last bit of fundy-ism to be eradicated….

  4. “Fundamentalism isn’t applying our religious fervor to our political choices; it’s trusting political choices to bring about religious fervor.”

    So true. I remember back in 1994 when Republicans took back control of Congress. In some circles you would have thought it was the start to the Third Great Awakening.

  5. Fundamentalism was originally quite accepting of other denominations. One might even suggest that nascent fundamentalism was downright ecumenical in its approach. The early leaders concluded that there were central, uncompromisable truths of the Christian faith (5,7, or 12, depending on who you ask). All other matters were less important, save that they distinguished one denomination from another.

    In reality, the ideals and practices of historic fundamentalism are best reflected in the modern conservative evangelical camp (T4G, Gospel Coalition). Within the walls of sacred fundyism, the roots of fundamentalism are mentioned in passing as proof that legalistic fundamentalism is the preservation of that truth — this teaching must be grounded upon direct revelation from the Lord because it is not grounded in reality.

    1. In reality, the ideals and practices of historic fundamentalism are best reflected in the modern conservative evangelical camp (T4G, Gospel Coalition).

      Unfortunately some of the foibles of fundyland have also been passed down into some of those groups.

      1. Case in point: try believing that God created the world over a long time a la Hugh Ross or through evolutionary methods a la Francis Collins, and see how far you get in those groups. For being the people who are about to wear out the word “Gospel” by putting it in front of everything, I doubt there will be much “Gospel” in their response (read any of their blogs for long enough, and this is self evident.) And if you really want to reveal their true nature, just mention in passing something about “mutual submission”…

        1. Even the original Fundamentals (as in the 1911 version) advocated old-earth creationism. A fair stance for the day, given that much of the scientific evidence for evolution at the time was still being refined (genetic research being almost unheard of back then). Geology suggested an old Earth long before Darwin presented his theory, and astronomy was very close to confirming the timeline by the early 20th century. Young-earth creationism is only about 50 years old as a major movement within fundamentalism–a clear case of sticking one’s head in the sand.

        2. Driscoll and others in their camp agree with and recommend Ross’ work. He was still a speaker at the last convention. Just sayin’.

        3. I wasn’t aware of Mark Driscoll’s view on creation. My point stands, however, with regard to The Gospel Coalition bloggers, Dear Leader Chairman Al Mohler, and others. In fact, I’m surprised they still hang out with Mark Driscoll, given that tremendous (in their eyes) difference of opinion. And, of course, the thing about mutual submission would still get good ol’ Mark into a fighting mood…

      2. Just wondering what you mean when you say,

        “Unfortunately some of the foibles of fundyland have also been passed down into some of those groups.”

        Could I get a witness up in here as an example to what you are saying?

        1. @Darrell,
          I meant my last response to you, bro. I did read the other responses regarding theistic evolution. However, there are good men on either side of this debate. Those responses above also insinuate that NOT to agree with them is to be antiquated and have my head in the sand. I am willing to leave room for those, but do not have to agree with them. Is this the only thing that has down from fundamentalism to these groups? What were you speaking of?

        2. I’ve never meant to insinuate that *individuals* holding such views are somehow being deliberately obtuse. I have never broken fellowship with anyone over the issue (although some have broken it with me) and the pastor of my church is very much a YEC (but also is one of the best teachers of Scripture I’ve ever encountered, as well as a very humble, understanding and compassionate man). Most people just don’t have the frame of reference to understand the issue (a failing of our society’s education system on both sides of the fence) and there are elements within Fundamentalism who exploit this for profit and political gain. As an *institution*, however, Fundamentalism generally does try to hide from the modern world, on this and many, many other topics. That’s where I was headed with that comment.

        3. There are similarities in this way:

          1) A blind faith in charismatic leaders instead of in Christ. We can clearly see that some men in the broader scope of evangelicalism have gathered followers who take every word that they utter as gospel even when that person is reaching pretty far afield. When someone starts quoting that person’s books and sermons and videos and fortune cookies more than they do the Scripture then that’s obviously a problem.

          2) A tendency to make non-major doctrines or systems of theology a test of orthodoxy or fellowship. We see the best examples of this in a) the young reformed crowd and b) any one of the big gender roles groups such as CBMW. The warning sign here is when people start to try to tie smaller positions to “The Gospel.”

          I’m sure others will occur to me but those two are the big ones.

        4. Cool. Thanks, both of you. Yeah, if what we know doesn’t humble us, we probably aren’t seeing it correctly. Waaay off subject, I do think that whole young earth/old earth thing is relative. Darwin didn’t postulate his theory until 1859. For the most part the church didn’t have to defend it’s creation position because the majority of Christians took it for what it said in Genesis. Sorry, don’t want to hijack the conversation.

        5. Not a problem. We all learn from one another. I personally see the issue as a failure of imagination on the part of certain Protestant leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Other branches of Christianity were more receptive: the Catholic Church, having apparently learned from the Galileo fiasco, never issued a formal proclamation on the matter and had rejected a literal reading of Genesis even before Darwin.

  6. Definition of Fundamentalism from Jesff Lucas:-
    1) it ain’t much Fun
    2) it drives you mental
    3) it’s full of IS’ms that should be WAS’ms

    And from Adrian Plass:-
    Fundamentalism is an Anagram of Snail-Fed Mutant

    These sum it up nicely, but I still agree with Darrell’s brilliant post.

  7. Totally awesome post Darrel! I think I’m going to link this to my FB today. These definitions summarize my experiences of my entire teenage life spent in the IFB! I wish you guys would’ve had this site about 15 years ago. 😐

  8. It seems like evangelicals and fundys were quite compatible until the 1957 Billy Graham crusade in NY. A fundamentalist is an evangelical who is always angry at someone or something and is overly concerned that someone out there, somewhere, might be having some fun. Those are not my original thoughts and may have been express here at some point, but sadly, it seems to be pretty close to the truth.

      1. I am reading that book now. I have heard some of this before from Billy Graham’s book, Just As I Am. Billy Graham even spoke at Bob Jones once or twice, before the big fundy/evangelical split. BG says that he never joined up with the liberals, they joined up with him and if anyone did any compromising it was the liberals. (not a quote from BG and I am going from memory).

        1. Your quotation is from H.L. Mencken:
          “Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.”

          Billy Graham probably would never consider himself liberal (nor would liberals consider him liberal), but he did become more liberal over the years. For example, in the 1980s he came out for nuclear disarmament, and late in life, he said that righteous people of all faiths could be saved.

        2. Also telling: Billy Graham was one of the first major evangelicals to speak out against racism, paying MLK’s bail and getting into public fights with the KKK about segregation. Granted he wasn’t entirely consistent in the beginning but he was still light-years ahead of his contemporaries when he stated that there was no Biblical basis for segregation.

        3. Steve, I remember seeing racially mixed crowds at Billy Graham’s televised “Crusades,” and people of color as speakers at his “Crusades,” back when those things were quite rare and remarkable.

          I’m not a follower of Graham’s theology, but I want to give him his due.

  9. Definitions are so important. You can engage in self-deception to an unbelievable degree if you just make up your own definitions of the words people are calling you.

    Example: many professors at BJU (including Dr Hankins, the dean of the “seminary”) would counter the “legalist” accusation by referring to a different definition of legalist than their accusers meant. When people call fundies legalists, they mean that fundies reduce spirituality to the keeping of what often amount to man-made rules designed to help them keep the bible’s commandments. Hankins et al would defend themselves by using the “working your way to heaven” definition of legalist and therefore deny that the accusation was valid. So basically by changing the definition intended by those who criticize fundamentalism, they avoid having to deal with the truth of the accusation.

    1. The problem with that deflection is that keeping the works of their man made law is their true salvation. They’ve made an idol out of their laws, and they see the world through that lens. Consider the fundamentalist visitation team who would try to witness to the non-fundy Baptist pastor’s wife who was wearing shorts when they knocked on her door. Thus, even though they try to shift the definition of legalism away from the norm, they’re still guilty by their own definition.

  10. In my opinion “labels” have done a tremendous disservice to Christianity (which is a label as well, but the only one that truly matters).
    If the church of God just did what God taught through His word, we would be much more effective. Instead, belief systems like “fundamentalism” or “denomination” or “religion” have become the standard by which a person is judged to be “spiritual” or not. Anyone who steps outside the box becomes a “compromiser” or “carnal” and ruled ineffective or “forsaken us, having loved this present world.”
    I have no doubt that many men and women in IFB circles love the Lord. But if they do not get to the point in their lives of eliminating labels, camps and circles they will continue to render themselves ineffective.
    This is not to say we cannot break with those who seek to destroy Christianity, Paul was the first one to say that and it still holds true today. But to break fellowship because you cancel a Sunday night service or don’t wear a tie makes their belief system as a whole look foolish to those with common sense.
    Personally, I never knew Hyles, Graham, Chappell, Jones, or whoever you want to throw in the ring as a “bigshot.” I want to know Christ. I want to know and understand His word. I do not want to be part of a religion, I want to be an effective part of His body. I do not want to just be a “Bible-believer” but a true “Bible doer.”
    The camp and label moniker stuff needs to go. Christ is not glorified by it, and if it was incredibly important to Him I am sure He would have mentioned it somewhere in His word. He didn’t, but MAN has, and look where it has brought us.
    Sorry for the rant.

    1. I’m not sure if it’s possible to completely do away with labels. As human beings we pretty much always label stuff.

      And some labels are very useful. Like the ones that say “POISON!”

      1. Oh, definitely. And I would also hasten to add that creating labels solely for the purpose of isolating me from you and making me appear holier than you is definitely wrong.

    2. “If the church of God just did what God taught through His word, we would be much more effective.”

      Correct. Now let me dictate to you what God taught.

      You see the problem?

      Any fundy would agree completely with your statement.

  11. I really loved “Fundamentalism isn’t applying our religious fervor to our political choices; it’s trusting political choices to bring about religious fervor.” It’s amazing to me that many Christians, not just fundamentalists, don’t trust God enough to allow him to work outside of a government that doesn’t legislate Christian values.

  12. First time caller – long-time listener …

    This is so spot on! There is so much danger when you think you have it all figured out. It makes God out to be very small, vindictive, and rather petty. He becomes the Great Taskmaster rather than the Wonderful Savior.

    Nicely done – please keep up the crusade.

  13. Fundamentalsim is not loving your neighbor it’s hating everyone.

    Fundamentalism is not building others up in Christ it’s tearing them down.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about winning the world it’s about hiding from the world.

    Fundamentalsim isn’t about personal holiness it’s about being able to say I am better than you because(fill in the blank).

    Fundamentalism isn’t about christian liberty it’s about spiritual bondage.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about grace it’s about spiritual condemnation.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about fellowship it’s about isolation.

    Fundamentalsim isn’t about upholding the law it’s about writing your own laws.

    Fundamentalsim isn’t about ending abuse it’s about protecting the abuser from punishment.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about rock stars it’s about self exhalted preachers building monuments to themselves.

  14. Nicely put. This is dead on. And it is true. Sure they *say* it is about dogma ‘x’ but in reality they believe something else entirely or they bastardize the dogma so much that it becomes something else entirely.

  15. So can we agree that not everyone who went to or is currently at or has ever been employed by or is in any way connected to BJU is a Fundamentalist (by this definition)? Some of those folks don’t buy into the Fundy mindset, some are trying to change BJU and haven’t given up on it. Let’s not be Fundies ourselves and give them some grace, eh? (Not you, Darrell, ranting about other phantom people.)

    And I think it’s a great definition, btw. Good work.

    1. Of course. It’s too easy to paint with broad strokes. In this case moving the goalposts is desirable, in order to narrow our focus–something the Fundamentalist mindset is inherently incapable of.

  16. Dear Mr. Dow,

    If you continue to reveal the secret ingredients of my world-class whitewash, I shall be forced to take legal action.

    Respectfully yours,
    Jack Arlin Jones

  17. Pastor Backlow was just talking about this sort of thing last Sunday. It was a sermon on humility and he said, “I am the most humble person I know! I wanted to park my beat-up old car far from the church but the deacons wouldn’t hear of it! They bought me a brand new car and labeled a parking spot right up by the door! They said that they did not want this church’s good name to be linked to the kind of people that don’t take good care of their pastor. I’m telling you, folks: God finds a way to reward the humble. He finds a way to lift up those of a contrite spirit.”

    I keep praying that I can have a humble spirit like that.

  18. “Fundamentalism isn’t believing that your convictions are right; it’s believing that they could never be wrong”

    that one really stuck out to me. its amazing how even a Bible passage that a fundy discovers will be warped in their mind to mean what the pastor said about the subject. they don’t base the standard or conviction on the Bible, but rather they hear what the pastor said and use that as a reference for what a certain passage means 😕

  19. Here are some more thoughts:

    The God of the Bible is eternal, infinitely wise, and can be very subtle. This is reflected in His creation, which was created by Him using processes that humans have only just begun to understand within the past 500 years. The universe is like a puzzle an earthly father would pose to his children for their amusement and edification. The god of the Fundamentalists is somewhat more limited, apparently being no more than 6,000 years old. He also seems distracted at times and can’t even be bothered to stay consistent with his own laws of physics (or for that matter, to tell the story the same way twice in one book). Any attempt to question the god of the Fundamentalists will be immediately punished by his followers.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about addressing the needs of the lost, the hurt, and the oppressed; it’s about nitpicking and window-dressing.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about engaging the world with the love of Christ; it’s about condemning the world with the Law.

    Fundamentalism isn’t about loving the sinner despite the sin; it’s about condemning the sinner. Unless the sinner is you, in which case you hide the sin until the police/IRS/courts/media bring it to light, in which case you claim persecution from the Enemy (who no doubt laughs his ass off every time this happens).

    Jesus knocks quietly at the door, waiting to be allowed in. Fundamentalists bash down the door with a battering ram, throw in tear gas cannisters, and beat everyone inside into submission.

    Jesus made the Law simple and accessible to all, whereas the Pharisees erected a fence of complex human requirements around the Law, to protect it. The Fundamentalists have a velvet rope, a doorman in the form of the church leadership, a strict dress code, and a cover charge of 10% of your gross income. Of course, if you’re on the list, you can bypass all this. The doorman decides who is and who is not on the list but is very receptive to bribes.

    In Jesus there is peace, strength, freedom, and true knowledge. In the Law there is conflict, restriction, and blind obedience. The Fundamentalists at one point picked up a copy of 1984 and got confused. Since the 1950s, their public actions have reflected their belief that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

    Jesus healed the lepers. Fundamentalists would not only avoid the lepers but insist they pay for their own health care.

    Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. Most Fundamentalists would immediately avoid tax collectors–as government employees, they are agents of Satan, after all. But if no one is looking, some one-on-one intensive ministry time with a prostitute might be permitted. Of course, the Fundamentalist who is doing this must be of sufficiently high status–after all, someone less gifted might fall into sin. 😉

    Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind. Fundamentalism is actually less stringent here, not usually requiring the ‘mind’ part.

    Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Fundamentalism adds: ‘as long as they look/talk/dress/act/vote like you.’

    and finally:

    Fundamentalism isn’t about an empty tomb, it’s about a whitewashed tomb.

  20. I’m afraid some of our fine posters are very confused and got to this site by accident. The love affair and obsession with the fraud that is evolution doesn’t really have anything to do with IFB. This site seems to be more addressed to the foibles and funnies of the IFB movement. This obsession with evolution is a rabbit trail that is off topic. No one who is a fundamentalist believes in evolution whether they be Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, etc.

    Yea, we get it. We should all bow down to you because you want to dedicate your life to wind energy and ending global warming. That’s all fine and dandy, but please at least try to get a handle of what the site is about and at least talk about topics that are relevant to the topic so you sound at least somewhat cogent.

    1. I’ve never been involved with IFB, except very briefly. But you are correct in that Fundamentalism can be found everywhere. Another series of posts a while back featured a thread on Fundamentalism within charismatic churches (where it can be especially virulent). Many of the megachurches also dip their toe into Fundamentalist waters.

      My point is this: Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism, regardless of where you find it. And it has many of the same features, regardless of where you find it. A rejection of modern science (as evidenced by the evolution debate–but also by the rejection of modern theories of medicine, anthropology, psychology, and many many other topics) is just one of them, and a particular sticking point with me as a working scientist. I will ask your forgiveness for perhaps an undue emphasis on this topic.

      Fundamentalism is characterized above all by the substitution of extreme formalism and a worldly political/social agenda for the love of Christ. The Great Commission should not be about boosting church membership, but about expressing Christ’s love throughout the world. Somewhere things have gotten off the rails, and now Fundamentalism has incorporated all these other topics (rejection of science, political activism, extreme conformity to a man-made standard, etc.) that distracts from Christ. Addressing these things is a legitimate topic of discussion in any forum about Fundamentalism, IMO.

      And in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve seen this site serves as a place for the wounded to vent and seek healing. If I am wrong for joining in the dialogue, I’ll ask Christ for forgiveness, but I need forgiveness from no man.

      And, for the record, I am a lifelong advocate of nuclear power. :mrgreen:

        1. Thanks! I knew this clown was a troll; I just couldn’t resist inflicting a good amygdala hijacking last night. 😉

    2. the fraud that is evolution

      Fraud, n.: “A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.”

      That’s quite a stretch, Hemken. Evolution has been accepted by hundreds of thousands of scientists over the last 150 years. To call it fraud would require presupposing a conspiracy-theory worldview/metanarrative. This isn’t actually surprising, since many sociologists have been postulating that the dominant political worldview among Americans has evolved from democracy to conspiracy. Oops, I mean “has changed slowly over time”. 🙂

      1. But you see, O Purveyor of the Gloved Hand, many fundies, and even those struggling to leave fundamentalism behind, do see evolution as a conspiracy, with Satan at it’s roots. So, accusing them of having a conspiracy mentality on the topic is simply something with which they will instantly agree. It takes getting used to breathing the air that is liberty in Christ, to have the gumption to take a second look at Genesis, and to consider what born-again scientists and researchers have to say on the subject. I enjoy reading your very cogent posts here.

        1. Thank you, George, you ninny, for the apostrophe. You, and auto-correct, do not believe that there IS such a word as ITS…. 😡

      2. Ok, so I am no expert on evolution or science here. (Dammit, Jim, I’m a preacher, not a scientist!) I do have one question about evolution, okay, maybe more than one, we’ll just see where this goes….

        1) From what I understand, evolution, in the biological sense, boils down to all of the complex animals and organisms evolving over time from less complex organisms, tracing back to the single-celled variety. Evolution postulates that the organisms with the stronger traits survived to make those changes stick. So, in the views of an evolutionist, how did basic organs needed for survival come to being? Take for instance the eye, or the ear. Was there some stage of creatures walking around the earth with holes in their skulls waiting for their eyes to evolve? How does evolution explain the origins of things that are irreducibly complex?

        Annnndd since geology was mentioned… 2) A big factor in the evolutionary theory is the fossil record and rock strata dating. I kinda have a problem understanding how this is valid. Oft times, you’ll hear a scientist using fossils within rock strata to date those rock strata, and yet a lot of times, scientists also use rock strata to date the fossils found therein. Wouldn’t this be called circular reasoning? And besides that fact, how do evolutionists explain fossils found in the same strata layers in one place that have been said to exist millions (sometimes even tens of millions) of years apart from each other? Shouldn’t they be stuck in different layers of rock strata?

        1. I’ll try to answer, but biology is not my main field of study so I may have some of the finer details wrong.

          1) Soft tissues don’t fossilize very easily, if at all, but we do have indications in organisms alive today of how the process might work. If an intermediate-phase organ is present in a juvenile it may not be present in an adult of the species. Just as an example: vertebrate evolution. There is a phylum known as hemichordata wherein species have a backbone at one stage in life, only to lose it later. These animals are alive today–acorn worms are hemichordates. Presumably the use of a backbone in the juveniles of the species enhances their survival to full reproductive maturity. Likewise, photosensitive cells over time may evolve into true eyes (a layer of protective cells over the photosensitive spot evolves into lens, orbit, sclera, etc.) An adaptation which is useful in enhancing the survival of the organism long enough to pass it on to its descendants is one that will evolve and improve over time.

          2) There are other ways besides the fossils to date rock strata. One is to count the layers in the strata. Knowing that bodies of water turn over every year with the changing of the seasons (leaving sediment deposits each time) the layers can be counted and thus the date calculated.

          Also, there are other means of dating fossils and rock strata: radiocarbon dating is as you know limited but the potassium-argon method is accurate for timescales past 100,000 years. Potassium is the seventh-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust; potassium-40 has a half-life of roughly 1.2 billion years. Argon is a minor but detectable component of the Earth’s atmosphere with argon-40, the major decay product of potassium-40, representing 99.6% of all argon on Earth. Argon is a noble gas–it doesn’t participate in chemical reactions except under extreme circumstances, so any argon-40 present in a rock sample is the product of potassium-40 decay. As with the carbon-dating method, the potassium-argon proportion can be used to provide an age for the rock in the vicinity of a fossil (or for that matter a completely mineralized fossil).

          The potassium-argon method and the rock strata lie in close agreement–using the fossils to validate the age is secondary, but since all three methods have been shown to line up with one another consistently it’s easier and faster to date using the fossils.

          I see the true beauty and grandeur of creation being that God uses natural laws and natural processes to make all of this happen. Psalm 19:1 is one verse in the Bible you *can* take literally, IMO (my primary field is astronomy but I’ve had lots of background in statistics, chemistry and physics as well 😉 )

        2. Regarding rock strata: I’ve seen some of the examples presented in creationist literature (I used to be a YEC, long ago). Interesting that none of them were properly curated or for that matter are available for independent study.

          There are more primitive forms of life alive today that would fall into modern strata to be discovered millions of years from now. Some forms of life are highly successful and are able to endure almost without change (insects are probably the most familiar example; sharks are basically unchanged except in overall size since they first appeared as well). Find enough counter-examples and the most logical conclusion is that the organism in question survived longer than previously thought–but it doesn’t bring the whole framework of evolutionary theory down. The problem with YEC thinking is that any potential counter-example to evolutionary theory is automatically deemed proof of the hypothesis they wish to present, when in fact a good explanation may (and almost always does) exist under the framework of evolutionary theory. At the very least, it’s lazy, sloppy research. At the worst, it’s outright fraud.

        3. Thank you so much, Steve, for your reply. 🙂 I always appreciate a good debate, done in a rational fashion asking real questions. I like to learn from folks. You bring up an interesting point in your first reply. “Psalm 19:1 is one verse we can take literally.” Well…if we can take that literally, why can’t we take Genesis 1-2 literally as well? Is there something fundamentally (LOL no pun intended on the original posting…) wrong with simply reading what the Bible says and believing it literally, even though it doesn’t make sense?

          How many things did “science” scoff at for centuries, or simply had no clue about, that the Bible was right about? for hundreds of years, it was generally accepted fact that the world was flat. But Isaiah 40:22 says otherwise. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, all of it. It makes me nervous to start picking out parts that don’t make sense to limited human knowledge. Where do we draw the line of what to take literally and what is made up?

          I am curious, if you used to be a YEC proponent, have you ever heard the argument for “appearance of age?” The argument for evolution that the universe couldn’t be so young because stars are so far away and we still see the light of them used to bug me. Then I realized that, according to the Genesis account, God created everything else to be mature, they had “age.” Adam wasn’t created as a baby, so why should the stars be created as “babies” as well?

          Ultimately, whether you believe in evolution, OEC, YEC, or any other origin theory, it boils down to faith. Nobody alive was there to see it happen, so anything science can say is conjecture at best, as the creation process cannot be replicated in a lab at present. In my opinion, the writer of Hebrews said it best in 11:3, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

        4. By ‘literally’ I meant by face value. I do not confuse creation with the Creator, but I do see where it reflects His power and majesty.

          The way I see it is this: Jesus taught and spoke in parables. In no way are we to infer that the events Jesus used to illustrate His teachings were actual events–they were stories used by Him to allow His audience to relate to the concept. Likewise, the Genesis story is a parable. It’s not meant to be taken literally, but as an analogy. Having portions of a book be literal and be metaphorical is not unheard of–it happens all the time, in fact. As God gives us understanding we refine and correct our own relationship with Scripture. That’s called growth.

          As for the ‘appearance of age’, this puts God in the position of deceiving His creation–in fact, it puts God Himself in violation of the commandment against bearing false witness. Argumentum ad absurdum raises its ugly head here. Do we call God a liar, or do we admit that perhaps we’ve been reading the book wrong? It wouldn’t be the first time man has misread/misused the Bible by any means.

          The truth of the Bible is maintained by improving our own understanding of it. It’s a very complex book and should not be taken literally at every step. To do so is to treat the Bible with less respect than it deserves. We are to *rightly* divide the Word, and if the world God put around us conflicts with our own ‘dividing’ of His Word, then perhaps we need to refine our reading a little bit.

        5. Hebrews 11:3 = God having fun with qantum mechanics. :mrgreen:
          Odd thing about the world being round…the ancient Greeks figured that one out, and not only educated people but common sailors were well aware of the Earth’s roundness by the time of Columbus. The Bible also refers to the corners and foundations of the Earth. Literal truth and metaphor again walk hand in hand.

          The whole upshot of all this is that Fundamentalism is incapable of modifying its interpretation of Scripture to incorporate new information. This has tragic results, many of which you can read about on this site.

        6. See, here’s where I have a problem with your argument that the creation account is just “a parable.” When Jesus taught with parables, he always clearly made it known that they were parables with very specific phrasing, such as “the Kingdom of Heaven is like,” etc. The creation account was given to us simply stated as a historical fact. And, really, the Bible is not as complex as some would make it seem. “For God so loved the world that He gave….” is pretty simple to understand. A lot of Scripture is direct and to-the-point.

          Even if parts of Genesis are supposed to be a parable, a fictional story for our learning, my original question still has not been answered. Where do we draw the line between allegory and history? The creation account segues right into the genealogies. Even Christ’s family tree was taken right back to Adam, who was the first man created according to Genesis. Then they bring us to the story of Noah (another Bible event often scoffed at, the Flood) and then more genealogies right down to Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. It’s all interconnected. Calling one part of it fiction weakens the whole, does it not?

          Also, the very core of the doctrines of Sin and Redemption are set forth in Genesis 3. If that is all allegory, why have a Savior? Why have the rest of the Bible? If humanity evolved as the rest of creation did, then how could we all descend from a sinful man named Adam? There would be nothing for us to be saved from.

        7. I think that taking parts of Scripture literally that are meant to be taken literally does more disrespect to the Bible as a whole than you would have me believe. To discredit the Genesis 1-3 accounts as fiction is just something I cannot do, especially when even other parts of Scripture treat them as fact and doctrinally important. The whole concept of our inherited sin nature in Romans chapter 5 would be thrown out the door. When reading that passage, Paul never once mentioned that Adam was an allegory.

          Now, he did, in Galatians 4, tell us that the story of Isaac and Ishmael is an allegory comparing faith and works. But here’s the neat thing, it’s a true story as well that can be applied as such. No where did Paul ever call that fiction.

          “We are to *rightly* divide the Word, and if the world God put around us conflicts with our own ‘dividing’ of His Word, then perhaps we need to refine our reading a little bit.”

          So…does this mean God’s Word is errant? That because society changes, we should change what the Bible says based on the opinions of an imperfect society?

          “The whole upshot of all this is that Fundamentalism is incapable of modifying its interpretation of Scripture to incorporate new information. This has tragic results, many of which you can read about on this site.”

          Yeah, I will agree with you there, that many Fundamentalists are guilty of NOT rightly dividing the Word, taking passages out of context, proof texting, or flat out preaching their opinions after reading a totally unrelated verse. BUT what you are advising is to completely reject a literal interpretation of an important part of Scripture based on the fact that modern science deems it impossible that all we see here just came about in 6 days of creation. Modern science and scholars also say there was no literal, world destroying flood, that the 10 plagues of Egypt didn’t really happen, and that the Resurrection as it happened in Scripture was completely made up.

          As Christians, we have to draw the line somewhere, and I choose to draw the line at Genesis 1:1.

        8. There is always room for miracles…but we have to be careful to make sure what we call a miracle is really a miracle. Otherwise it’s really easy to go down a rabbit hole like Alice did (trust me on this–my background is primarily charismatic, and I learned that overspiritualizing is just as dangerous as underspiritualizing). 😉

          I do not deny any of the specifics of the life, work and resurrection of Jesus Christ–these all took place at a time when other observers could (and did) document them. For me, the true historical narrative of the Bible begins with Abraham; everything before is allegory to something else that happened in the real world (to turn the argument around, how do we *really* know what happened before humans were around? All we can go by is the circumstantial evidence left behind–but handled properly, circumstantial evidence can build a very substantial case).

          You ask a lot of important questions, and more than I really have time to get into here. I will direct you to some good resources, however:

          The BioLogos Forum:
          American Scientific Affiliation:

          Both have lots of materials by people very well grounded in both science and theology to serve as a guide in understanding. They’ve helped me out tremendously and I think you’ll be surprised and excited to see what you find there.

          I think we can agree to disagree, since we both agree on one thing: the primacy of and our salvation in Christ. How we interpret the steps by which we get to Christ is a different matter.

        9. I know I’m several months too late, but someone find this Steve Condrey and tell him that I’m slightly in love with his brain.

      3. Steve, touche! A troll calling a real poster a troll! Now that is rich irony. I do admire your attempt at humor and attempt at being witty.

        To come on here and troll on this board about your favorite pet topic of evolution is funny at first, but now you’re just getting old and tiring. Darrell is funny with some of his posts and many readers make funny posts, but your attempt at jamming evolution down our throats is really getting old. Once again, it was funny for one post, but now the joke is old and stale.

        And your attempt at humor by trying to equate fundamentalism with cults by the comments about rejecting medicine wasn’t a big hit. You probably want to stick with your day job and quit the foray into comedy.

    3. H. Hemken, I must say you are one of the more artful trolls I’ve seen lately.
      In the guise of complaining that the conversation is being derailed, you move to derail the conversation into a debate over evolution and global warming (which are only related in that they are both theories that all respecatable scientists accept).
      Nicely played!

      1. Big G Man, must we address you now as well? You and your imaginary friend “Steve Condrey” (fun name – did you find that in the phone book?) make interesting comments. But, ummm….you might want to actually notice the topic of the board you’re on and what the overall theme is before you try to spam us with your propaganda.

        Sure, it can sometimes add to conversation by trying to add a non sequitur, but not often. All fundamentalists reject evolution and the topic has absolutely nothing to do with the gist of this blog. I’m just trying to help you out by sparing your hands from carpal tunnel syndrome. You might want to spare your typing for a blog where people actually care about being all hip and cool by buying all that falderal. To take advice from a wiser, older feminist who we should all admire: this blog needs rabbit trails like yours like a fish needs a bicycle.

        1. Glad you think I’m imaginary, Hemken…thankfully for my wife and kids I’m not. 😉 Sounds like someone isn’t quite up to the concept of meta-analysis. You really want to see me in action? Go to and look me up. I’ve presented there several times via streaming Internet video and local public access cable. Or Google me. You’ll find out that I’ve been a real live person for about 43 years now. I’d challenge you to a one-on-one battle of wits but the Bible counsels against arguments with fools.

          And with that, further deponent sayeth not.

        2. I’m not the same person as Steve Condrey, and I didn’t write any of the posts under his name. That’s all I intend to say about that.

    4. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense
      about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do
      all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only
      ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.”
      – St. Augustine, “De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim”

      1. Argh, first part of that quote got cut off.

        Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances, . . . and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience.
        It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.”
        – St. Augustine, “De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim”

        But what did HE know, anyway?

  21. The first rule of fundamentalism is the us against them mentality. The second is perceived persecution from outside sources. The third is to start a school in the church basement, force the guys to wear red white & blue ties and the women to wear frumpy dresses. You must also have unqualified teachers. To me sounds like a cult. Invite brother Jim Jones over and mix up a batch of Kill Aid. Damn auto correct- kool Aid

  22. Steve and Gary, speaking of conspiracy theories, do you guys also believe that bombs or some such thing other than airplanes brought down the Twin Towers?

    1. What conspiracy theories? I did not mention any conspiracy.
      You might want to look up “conspiracy” in the dictionary. It takes at least two people to conspire.

  23. Big G Man, I can’t claim to speak for her (him?), but my guess is that poster is wondering about the “theory of evolution” that you and Steve hold on to so dearly as if it’s a gift to be treasured. I think the poster was also rather humorous. If your gullible enough to believe in evolution, perhaps you’re also gullible enough to be one of those nutjob 9/11 truth freaks???

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