Tag Archives: critics

Being Different (In Ways That Look the Same)

This just in: we are all irrelevant.

Have enough conversations with those fundamentalists who read SFL today and you’ll hear that we here are all firmly rooted in the past. All these things written and discussed may have been true three decades ago but today’s Independent Baptists are much more sophisticated — except for when they aren’t. This blog, we’re told, is nothing but an echo chamber for malcontents.

We’re bitter. We’re angry. We don’t realize that their camp of fundamentalism has nothing like the things written here. Except, of course, the things that are. But most of the time they’re nothing like the fringe lunatics featured here. You know, those crazies from the likes of BJU, PCC, Hyles, Fairhaven, Crown, WCBC, Sword of the Lord, that institute run by Ruckman are all just on the fringes. Sure, they have groups in from all those colleges, and they read their newsletters, and they buy those textbooks for their schools but they’re nothing like them. Nothing at all. Mainstream fundamentalism apparently consists of “my church.”

Even these detractors will admit that maybe once in a while something said here in a post or comment does hit home for their church or school. This only serves to prove that SFL is out of material to discuss if they’ve left poking fun at the crazy fundamentalists and are now attacking perfectly reasonable, well-balanced, and not at all insane churches full of people who may look like those other people, and hold to the same standards, and speak at the same conferences, and glorify the same heroes but are NOT AT ALL like those fringe fundies you read about here every week.

Denial is a beautiful thing.

Success As A Sign Of Godliness

It’s time now to explore another favorite fallacy from fundyland: holding up the ‘success’ of a ministry as evidence of godliness and declaring that anybody who has accomplished less is not fit to criticize.

Argue with a fundamentalist for long enough about the doctrinal and ethical problems in his favorite institution and he’ll inform you that he doesn’t want to hear anything you have to say until you’ve built your own ministry of equal size. Since most of us have never built a fundamentalist church or school (nor ever wanted to), this attempt to disqualify critics has the happy effect of leaving only about nine fundamentalists in the world qualified enough to actually point fingers at each other — which suits them just fine. It is a world where one assumes only a master chef is qualified to determine whether the meat being served in the cafeteria is rotten.

This claim that only those who have have ‘succeeded’ are allowed to speak out is a strange stance to take given that a fundamentalist preacher has no compunction about standing in front of his church of thirty-five members and blasting Rick Warren or Bill Hybels and their megachurch ministries. Surely they should wait until they’ve built their own congregation of thousands before daring to speak against them? Never mind the fact that if the role of critic can only be filled by those who have the greatest numbers, no Baptist should ever dare criticize the behemoth that is the Roman Church.

You plus God makes the majority…unless you’re speaking ill of me and mine.

Criticizing their Critics

In fundamentalist circles there is no greater crime than publicly declaring that there is a problem in fundamentalist circles. Indeed it is far worse to notice that there are problems than to actually be part of the problem. Anyone who aspires to be a naysayer will labeled with the most heinous of descriptors known to fundamentalism: “having a critical spirit.”

The critical spirit (and its cousin “evil questioning”) often shows up in the text of pastoral rants against those who would ask questions such as “If we really had 300 people saved last year, why did our membership only grow because of the two people who came here from the Baptist church down the road?” It’s better to just say “amen!” when the stats are read and not think about it too hard.

Whether it’s poor exegesis, pitiful orthopraxy, or just plain wrong-headed thinking in your church, the fundamentalist solution is simply to ignore it hope it will go away on its own before anybody gets the courage to admit they noticed.  Go thou and do likewise.  And whatever you do, don’t start a vaguely humorous, often long-winded blog to talk about these issues. They’ll just call you bitter and spiteful too.