Friday Challenge: Your Predictions

Today’s challenge is to look into your crystal ball and give us your best predictions about the state of fundamentalism in general, or specific churches, colleges, and personalities. Where will they be in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years?

Will fundamentalism go out with a bang or a whimper? Will they ever embrace new music and dress styles? Give us your best guess now and we’ll all meet back here in a couple decades to see how we did.

111 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Your Predictions”

    1. My best guess is they’ll eventually have CCM creep in, more relaxed standards, new technology will bring in some compromise. They’ll go the way of many of the other main-line denoms, they’ll be forced to balance out or mellow a bit through public scrutiny.

      Just watched WCBC sing “How Great is Our God” on Youtube yesterday so I know that’s already happening there.

      I think the hardliners will get more and more irrelevant and be labeled extremists by their own folks eventually. I think its gonna crumble to the ground if it doesn’t change with time.

      1. The spirit of modern fundamentalism is not new, it is as old as the Pharisees: legalistic, proud, and judgmental. Although the movement will change with time, be renamed or re-branded, die with a whimper or a bang, it will inevitably resurface again.

        As far as a specific prophecy, I am from the west coast and am familiar with the ministry of Lancaster Baptist. From my vantage point, LBC sets the pace for any change within fundamentalism. If LBC does it, it is okay, even if it used to be wrong. Just consider the use of screens and “watered down CCM” music.

        My prophecy is that fundamentalism will change in the next 10 years to the degree that Lancaster Baptist changes, not an ounce more. As far as a possible successor to Dr. Chappell…

  1. I predict that within the next 10 years, competitiveness is going to force the major Fundy U’s to drop more and more of their “standards” in order to attract students.

    Within 20 the ones that survive will be indistinguishable from the colleges they preach against now.

    1. I don’t know, Darrell. My mom first went to BJU in 1949 when she was 17 yrs. old. I went in 1973 & she was pleased that they hadn’t changed at all. And, in that time since I went, they have changed very little. We can all hope, though, that they will be irrelevant one day. Can’t we??? πŸ˜€

      1. “Change” at BJU comes in strange forms. I first went to BJU in 1998, but after sitting out a few different times, I eventually finished in Dec. 2008. Yes, there were some changes in 10 years, but the place just really hadn’t changed at all. I don’t really know how else to explain it.

    2. I will carry that prediction a little further: as the old guard goes “liberal” there will be a new crop of fundies of some sort who will preach against them because they left the Old Paths.

  2. It’s funny, when I was involved with fundamentalism. I thought it was so relevant. It seemed like the whole world revolved around what the fundamentalist leaders thoughts and what positions they took in politics, religion, and world events. They controlled every aspect of my life, but now that I have been out twenty years, they already seem irrelevant. I think they are only important to themselves and the rest of the world doesn’t give them a thought.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I remember the reactions of so many folks I tried to introduce into the IFB as a teenager who just wrote the whole thing off as crazy religious nuts.

      I didn’t realize that’s exactly what we were! When I was overseas with the Army, I found it really difficult to defend some of the things our MOGs said in online church services. Soldiers used to watch them with me and ask some really hard questions. That’s what turned my brain on for the first time. πŸ’‘

    2. Same here. How blinded I was back in the day, thinking my little fundie church and fundie college were the center of the universe! Crazy and worse, SCARY! Some people will always be afraid of science and knowledge. The fundie numbers may shrink, but they will still quote, “I would that you be ignorant” to justify their “convictions.”

  3. Society will always have a paranoid fringe – therefore there will always be a market for fundy churches. The market will shrink though as more and more people come across books and preachers that actually preach the Bible and not their opinions. The Internet is not a friend to fundamentalism.

    1. “The Internet is not a friend to fundamentalism.”

      That’s what I was talking about with more technology coming into their “system”. Soon there will be greater public scrutiny for them and they’ll have to cave or eventually face public humiliation.

      Just think, if one of those inmates in the Roloff Homes ever got a iPhone video of their beating methods and posted it online? You could only imagine the repercussions of that!

    2. I agree. The IFB’s will be around for a good while, but the “Big B” baptists are already being marginalized. Most churches of any size will need to let go of their legalism to survive.

  4. Religious movements tend to have a pendulum effect, so I’ll predict in 40 or 50 years a total resurgence of fundamentalism with an entire new breed of MOGs, and a revival of the old standards. The media will not know what to make of this and will make repeated references to “the Amish”. The mainstream will whisper about “cults”. And ten years after that the scandals start to hit the news.

    1. I agree. Looking back over the histories I’ve read, there has been a cyclical nature to fundamentalism, usually in reaction to some perceived threat.

      β€œThere is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.” Douglas Adams

    2. Instead of the 1950’s culture,
      They will be promoting the 2010’s culture.

      Back when real men drove cars that used gasoline and there were no women presidents. LOL.

  5. I think there will be some people, especially older people who will stick to the old standards which you’d have to pry out of their cold dead hands. Others will go with the flow and relax their standards some. I remember I used to be proud every time some visiting preacher or missionary came to my old church in Michigan and said it was sticking to the stuff and hadn’t compromised. It was the same as it had ever been. Now I don’t think that’s such a good thing at all! πŸ˜₯

    I think that as the old hardliners pass away the new younger leaders will relax the standards some. In 10-20 years, Fundy-ism won’t be so dogmatic on standards. Otherwise it will end up dying out. 😎

  6. In regard to Pensacola Christian. With the new Administration in place along with their future accreditation (in part led by Troy Shoemaker). I think PCC will eventually moderate and become more in line with Liberty University. I think many of the Fundamentalist elements have left over the last 10 years even since I have been out of the college.

    (For instance, dress standards and behavior standards have changed. Senior cuts and cut days are now in place. Demerits for being tardy are no longer handed out–Academic policies are in place instead.)

    While there are still some fundamentalists there, much of the Bible preached in the Seminary seems to have moderated from the hard-line fundamentalist position. Things seem a bit more practical and even-keeled even now.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see PCC increase their enrollment, but their standards of enrollment and behavior will be greatly changed in 15-20 years.

      1. If you can find it, read Al Franken’s account of his visit to Liberty University. I think it’s in his book “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” which came out in about 2003-2004 or thereabouts.
        It’s not necessarily fair or anything like that, but it gives you a clear idea of how non-Fundies (i.e., most people) see Liberty U., and for that matter, how they see Fundamentalism.

  7. I predict that fundamentalism as a whole will remain unchanged. Certain institutions may lessen their rules and make steps towards embracing grace, like what Northland appears to be doing though ever so slowly, but as those institutions step out of fundamentalism new institutions will simply take their place. The same thing with churches. We will see some step out and others step in to fundamentalism.

    I think in some ways it is lessening. I look at how many of my classmates from fundy HS and college have left fundamentalism far behind, yet school enrollment seems to be about the same as when I was there 20 years ago. So it’s hard to say what the trajectory of fundamentalism will be in another 25 years.

    Ultimately I believe it will still exist largely as it is today because of simple sinful human nature. Most people can’t handle grace. Grace is frightening and it’s hard when you get right down to the root of it. Our sinful nature bends us towards a work-based system of gaining approval with God and it’s much easier to simply listen to what we are told to do by the MOG and fall in line. Embracing grace calls for deep study and that too makes it easier to just follow the legalism. It’s far easier to follow the rules than to spend time reading the Bible and examining an issue on your own and coming to your own conclusions and standards. And the truth is, there is a legalist in all of us.

    1. I largely agree. Fear is a powerful motivator and fundamentalist leaders know how to exploit it well.

      Fundamentalism may fade in the US, but if it does it will because of a similar trajectory as the Catholic Church had in France.

      The RCC and the French monarchy were so intertwined that when the later was discredited so was the former.

      If the Republican Party ever has its storming of the Bastille*, then fundamentalism might go into eclipse too.

      *The Tea Party wing of the GOP likes to think of itself as the revolutionaries, but its hostility to its own leadership strikes me more as an attempted palace coup then something truly revolutionary.

      1. Some people teach that the “Leaven of the Sadduccees” in the Bible was their closeness to the ruling elite. When those elites fell they took the Sadduccees down with them. I am still studying this but it seems to be a plausible interpretation, especially in light of the goings-on of that time period.

    2. I agree, Eric. Grace is amazing, but it’s often easier (and more self-aggrandizing) to fall back into a system of rules, where one can feel self-righteous instead of humble.

  8. When I was expecting our first child and was still at HAC/FBC I remember discussing with my husband how great it would be if he grew up and attended there, and how disappointed I would be if he chose to do anything else with his life. (Yeah, I know, but he still loves me)
    Once we got out and began to grow and change, of course my desires for him also changed, but I noticed that nothing there (HAC) ever changed to a noticeable degree. It is set up that way. Change is bad. Change is of the devil. Change is compromise and cannot be tolerated. I don’t think things will change too much but I do think that unless the rabid fundies adopt a more Duggar-like approach that their numbers will dwindle (George made me type “swindle” there… haha but I caught him) Anyway, I don’t think the fundies will ever be completely gone, but I also don’t think they will change significantly because being unchanging is one of the pillars of who they are.

        1. George’s existence was first noted by Don. He is the resident munchkin who eats important words out of, messes with your; punctuation and alters the spelling of worms.

          He also likes to mess with the emoticons. “I am sorry to hear about your job πŸ™„ “

  9. “Will they ever embrace new music and dress styles?”

    Yes. The new music and styles of today will be embraced by the IFB. However, it will be 30 years from now and they will claim that it is Ye Olde Paths.

        1. My brother jammed with Alice Cooper last year during a benefit concert. I got pics. Alice still aint pretty…. Hey, that makes me think a good title for a fundy memoir would be “Welcome to My Nightmare” πŸ˜‰

  10. I predict that in 25 years the proliferation of basement Bible colleges will have flooded the fundy market with dubious doctorate degrees. Instead of referring to each other as ‘Brother’ even average, everyday pew-sitters will be called ‘Doctor’ instead. Some of these Doctors will, of course, be functionally illiterate. This will prompt the Sword of the Lord crowd to adopt new titles for their leaders like ‘Double Doctor’, ‘Super Doctor’ or ‘Uber Doctor’ to distinguish them from the commoners.
    This new system of dual doctorality will work fine for about 30 years before some regular Christians get ideas above their station and start clamoring for the new degrees as well.
    This will force their betters to yet again invent a new set of doctoral titles and the doctoral cycle will start all over again.

  11. I think Eric is right. There seems to be an element in human nature that thrives on black and white, us vs. them thinking. As I study religion and sociology I see again and again in every major belief there is a sub group of fundamentalist who take the belief to an extreme and denouce all who disagree or even just don’t feel as strongly about the issue or belief at hand. Politics, the environment, science, atheism, religion, pick any topic and there will be a fundamentalist group somewhere out there claiming to know TRUTH.
    I suspect the IFB as we currently know it will mutate into another similar form, grouped around a slightly different set of core “fundamentals”.

  12. If and when the real persecution of Christians makes its way to America as it is already in some other countries they will probably go first. They aren’t really too different from the “fundamentalists” of other religions. They will go out swinging.

    1. The Fundamentalists will probably Raptured Away before God would allow persecution of Christians, especially Fundies (who are the only REAL Christians) to happen in God’s Chosen Nation, America…….

      1. LOL Paul. I like your post. Especially because I assume it is sarcastic or tongue in cheek or whatever. That was a hard one for me to let go of. To realize that I may be persecuted for my faith and that the “hope” that lies within us isn’t that we may be snatched up out of it all, but that God will be with us no matter what. But it is a nice idea and sometimes I still believe it just because I want to.

  13. YES and NO
    NO – To many people like defining God themselves. If God is defined by a checklist then they fill safe. Since fundamentalism is built on what man sees then no. You will always have people who believe God wears a suite and has a baptist boy hair cut.

    YES- The eye thing again, since IFB are generally kingdom builders always trying to have bigger and better churches eventually this will lead some down that road.

    The young and the restless – Most young IFB pastors myself included are disgusted with movement and the 99.9% of the leadership and are pretty much gone. I only know of a few guys I went to college or worked with in ministry that are still in the movement and happy. The rest are all positioning themselves to leave. Praise God, they see what everyone see’s here on SFL

  14. I predict that, in the aftermath of the upcoming space-alien invasion, fundamentalist preachers will be prized house pets for our new overlords.
    The aliens will be both puzzled and amused at how the fundamentalists froth at the mouth and bang on their cage doors whenever they are shown a picture of a woman in pants.

  15. It’s been said that social movements in America tend not to disappear; they just get smaller and become subcultures. Hence, you can still find a few hippies, beatniks, old-line Communists, Roscicrucians, Christian Scientists, etc., out there.

    I think the same thing is likely to happen to the IFB and similar churches. It won’t disappear, but it won’t have such a big megaphone in the public square as it has now.

    There has been some form of Fundamentalism in American life since the first colonists came here, and there will be as long as there are people with a shallow understanding of the Bible and overly literal minds (in other words, as long as there are people).

    But the main stream of Fundamentalism as we know it in our generation developed its present form after World War II as a reaction against modernity, but more particularly a reaction against the Civil Rights movement and integration. Racists and segragationalists are more and more on the margins of American culture (although there are still a good many around), so Fundies need a new “enemy” to give their cause energy. Opposing women’s equality sustained them for a decade or two, and for now, they have settled on homosexuality and gay rights as the current “threat.” But these bugaboos will get stale, too, and the pretexts for circling the Fundy wagons will get thinner and thinner.

    So is the Age of Reason approaching? Alas, probably not. Crackpot ideologies spring eternal. But different half-baked beliefs are likely to dominate this century from those that dominated the last century.

    1. Interesting analysis, BG, but don’t forget about another BG: Billy Graham. Opposition to him was the animating force that caused the northern institutional Fundys (GARBC, Conservative Baptist, etc.) to embrace the more radical elements leaving the SBC in the 50s and 60s.

      1. Why were they opposed to Billy Graham? I haven’t looked into it much, but my (admittedly not well-informed) impression is that they found him too liberal, too ecumenical, and insufficiently segregationist, not necessarily in that order.

        1. Too ecumenical is the reason usually given, unless the preacher doesn’t know the word ecumenical. Then he will say he was too close to the Catholics and Presbyterians and other non-believers.

          (Remember–don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just repeating what I’ve heard.)

        2. Big Gary,

          As someone that grew up in the GARBC movement and knows their history, the GARBC separated themselves from Billy Graham because they were livid that he invited just about every protestant Christian group to participate in his crusades, including those that were more liberal in their theology, such as believing that Jesus really wasn’t God or believing in universalism.

  16. A long as there are Duggars, there will be fundamentalism. From where I’m watching, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of there not being Duggars.

    Seriously, though…fundamentalism is far less about Christianity and more about deceptive, egomaniacal men meeting up with emotionally needy people. As long as the two can continue to find each other, the “movement” will always exist.

    Yes, the brand of fundamentalism we grew up with will change, but these cults will continue to fill the void of what is missing in most fundamentalists lives — real relationships with real people.

    1. @JP – your second paragraph is pretty much spot on. As long as there are sinful men there will be false religions claiming to be true, and people will go to them trying to find comfort and answers. Then, just like us, some of those people (not all), will see the light and leave.

  17. As I put on my red fez and robe, here is my prediction πŸ˜‰ :

    1. Some colleges will gradually drift to a more balanced and Biblical Christianity (as some previous posters have mentioned. I hope that goes for my alma mater.) People are questioning more and a lot aren’t satisfied with the answers they are getting.

    2. However fundies will still be around. There will superficial change on their part due to becoming tech-saavy. Look at the recent videos of WCBC on here.

    3. Because some colleges will become “liberal”, they will be denounced by their former support bases, who will find other fundy colleges or create them, thus becoming a niche market. I think you can see this with Northland (I know that some people weren’t happy when Northland dropped ‘Baptist’ from the name.)SO in short, while some will leave fundyism, fundyism as a whole will become more and more a niche.

  18. As someone who owns an actual crystal ball (tee hee) I truly believe that the ranks of fundamentalism will continue to dwindle until they are even smaller in numbers than they are now. This is just my gut instinct, as well as the imprssion I get from hearing of the vast recycling of the same old church members between area IFB churches. No new blood is going in (thank GOD!), and they are slowly dying out. I don’t see them every going away, but as society and christianity progresses toward a more logical and intelligent model, I believe that the IFB will continue to shrink and look crazier and crazier to those who are totally unfamiliar with their proclivities ways.

    1. Interesting that you mention “NEW blood” coming into the Fundamentalism ranks. I was talking with someone from our old IFB church who said that roughly 200 families left around the time we did. Families with parents around my age, with kids who are now late teens. They’ve been replaced by young families with young children.

      Now, she did tell me that things have lightened up standards-wise over the past couple of years. (I think that’s as much due to BJU’s off-campus standards loosening as anything else. Women faculty can now wear pants off campus and around their homes.) So that might have something to do with the influx. But the ages are telling. These are the married kids of the fundamentalists coming home. So there is new blood coming in, depending on where you are.

  19. I feel there will always be a market for people thinking themselves better than the rest. Fundamentalism isn’t going anywhere. (do I see 2 meanings in that statement? I do, and they are both true)
    That special feeling of “you may know God, but I know him better, he is more impressed with me than with you, etc.” – I don’t see people giving it up.
    However it will be spelled out in individual rules and standards, Looneytown will continue to be the home, sweet home, for people.
    HAC? will be high tech Looneytown. A macbook for every student, so the girls can have their culotte patterns stored electronically, and the guys can play.

  20. They will continue to divide over the KJV issue – some believing the English text was directly inspired, while other KJVOs believe the Textus Receptus was inspired. The will also continue to separate from other Fundies over issues such as Bible college accreditation, music and dress standards.

    In ten years there will be even more camps of Fundies, but each camp will be smaller.

    Those churches who spent $$,$$$,$$$ building their Mannogid’s kingdom will struggle to pay the kingdom’s massive bills.

  21. I think I’ve plugged this book before, but “The Fall of the Evangelical Nation,” by Christine Wicker (HarperOne) contains a lot of interesting observations on long-term trends in Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches (I know that some here would distinguish between those groups, but they have enough in common that her lumping them together for purposes of her analysis is valid).

    Here’s the Amazon page on the book:

  22. My guess is that churches will lose their tax exempt status. This will not be a fatal blow to most, but some churches will fold when this happens. It will hit the ‘independent’ churches the hardest since they tend to be small and on tight budgets.

    1. I think this is inevitable, especially as churches more and more begin to be identified with political movements. The liberals will probably succeed first in doing this to conservative political churches, but when they do the conservatives will soon take back power and take tax exemption away from the liberal churches. It could happen the other way first, but that is my prediction. 20 years, 30 tops.

      1. Nobody in American politics could get away with taxing some churches but not others, unless you meant that first there will be a crackdown on churches that are involved in partisan politics, followed by the tax exemption being yanked from all churches as a backlash. It very well may happen that way.

  23. Fundamentalism in general will always be around in some form because the mindset that drives it has always been around. Paul battled it in his letters to the Galatians and the Colossians. There will always be people who love their rules more than God and other people.

  24. As for the uber conservative, I’m voting on continued splintering, growth by inbreeding pushing along in spite of the current slow-bleed death as younger generations wander away. Every one else I predict will slowly shift like sand, back and forth and become moderate to liberal on general lifestyle habits or standards or whatever you wanna call them, and ultimately when the end of the world comes, Jesus Christ will seperate the real from the fake and we’ll all be shocked by what we learn. And we’ll all be sorry we didn’t put more of our focus on him with our earthly lives.

    So basically, I think it’s just gonna keep going the current direction. I’m not a very risky Seer.

  25. I predict that as long as people can be manipulated, guilted, lorded over and brainwashed… so long as there is anti-intellectualism, and Acts 4:13a M-O-g’s who have been Calledβ„’ to preach by their moms, dads, sunday school teachers and preachers (or some combination of the same)…. so long as there is money to be made doing three maybe four hours of work a week… so long as there are altar calls to stroke the pulpiteer’s ego… there will be IFB in America.

  26. Everyone will be a fundamentalist, for the simple reason is that all it takes is a simple 1-2-3 repeat after me to become a born again, certified, KJV toting, bus ministry running FUNdamentalist.

  27. For those who think only the elderly will remain fundies: Sims and I were stunning young women of 17 when we bought into the whole Jack Hyles debacle. Not only that, we were in “college” with hundreds like us. IMO, there will always be those who are willing to be led by the charismatic and powerful, no matter what age. There will always be fundies, because man will always have his preferred method, as opposed to the liberty that is in Christ. πŸ˜₯

  28. Unfortunately, in the minds of many the words Evangelical and Fundamentalist connotate more of a political meaning than a religious one. These groups have openly politicized themselves and have aligned themselves openly with Republican politics. I sincerely believe that they will suffer from the fallout, so much so that they will be looking to shuck the two lables. Thinking people don’t want to be coerced by individuals who apparently have four platforms: gays, abortion, illegal Hispanic immigrants, and Arabs, especially Moslems. Mention any of these four, and these poor leaders go completely unhinged!

  29. I read a facebook post from an Aussie IFB pastor last year, and it said that pastors need to stop teaching their preferences from the pulpit. I commented and applauded the sentiment, and then questioned how the congregation will react when they realise their pastor has been using the pulpit to lie to them for so long. My comment was deleted.

    I think that in Australia, IFB churches will officially become more liberal and relax their standards, but not actually challenge those who run by legalistic standards in the congregation. The pastors will be seeking to distance themselves from responsibility without actually changing anything.

  30. Late to the game but I’ll give my entry …

    The current two “Fundy Leading Skools” of BJU and PCC will go separate ways.

    BJU will continue to shrink to a “Bible only” college with a few hundred preacher boys and their prospective wives rattling around a campus in great decline.

    PCC will continue to be “the light” for the KJV Fundy crowd and, given their indoor water park, will attract the kids that would have gone to BJU or elsewhere.

    Neither will rise above TRACS accreditation which will ultimately fold based on the explosion of the current problems within that org and many of the skools who stand by it. Follow the money, folks.

    The tiny “basement Bible colleges” will continue and, as somebody noted, will crank out “doctorates” as long as their mimeograph machines can be kept working.

    Liberty really isn’t that fundy anymore … I know plenty of kids who go there. But if Jerry Jr. keeps hanging with Beck instead of tending to students, kids will go elsewhere because they can get better quality at lower rates anyway.


  31. I am really shocked at the hatred you all seem to display to fundamentalist. I also think it is unfair to group ALL fundamentalist in one boat. I do not think, display, or behave such mannerisms as you all portray fundamentalist. Neither do those I serve with. Our church is VERY loving and accepting of ALL people. OUr first and primary goal is to see people saved. Once saved, disciple them. I was saved at a young age, and I thought that was all there was to my life. No one told me I should read my Bible to learn how to live for Christ. I never even heard the term “soul-winning” until I came to my current church. (I was saved in a Pentecostal church camp that my grandma went to) I don’t blindly follow what people say to me. Our Pastor is constantly telling us to check it for ourselves and not take his word for anything. his first and foremost desire is to preach and teach from God’s Word. he is the most humble man I have ever met in my life. Not to mention most gracious. I am really shocked by what I have been reading on this site. I have never encountered such bitterness and anger toward a people. Please, do not lump us all together. Thanks!

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