by R.C. Sproul, Jr.
As I write, I find myself visiting Gwinnett County, Georgia. It’s a good thing that I am only visiting. If I actually lived here, I’d find myself on the wrong side of the law. It seems the county recently passed a law that says you may not have more than eight people living in a single house at a time. Me, my wife, and my seven children puts us over the limit. The law, I’m pretty sure, wasn’t designed to keep families like mine out of the county. That wasn’t the express intent of the county commissioners. Instead, I believe the intent, though this too wasn’t expressed, was to discourage certain immigrant groups from settling here. Rather than pass a law against those immigrant groups, which wouldn’t be politically correct, they came up with their clumsy solution that also affects large families. This particular law has run smack into another law, the law of unintended consequences. Such always happens when we try an end-around around honesty. When we try to have our way, while hiding our convictions, we lose everything we seek.
It is no new insight to note that in America the evangelical church is worldly and anemic. We are so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good. The anemia comes from the worldliness. But whence comes the worldliness? Like any other sin, we have options for placing its advent. We could argue that it began with the latest fad to hit the church. Or we could go back to the beginning, to the garden. Both have their advantages. It might be more helpful, however, to see the beginning of this descent at the height of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy.
Fundamentalism is so named for a fundamental reason. It was a movement that concerned itself with affirming, defending, and maintaining the fundamentals of the faith. As a movement, it affirmed the authority of the Bible. It affirmed the accounts therein of creation, of miracles, of the virgin birth, of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It affirmed the necessity of conversion through faith in the finished work of Christ. It affirmed, in short, the defining issues of historical evangelicalism. Why, then, isn’t the controversy called “the evangelical-modernist” controversy? To get at that answer we must ask another. What is it that distinguishes evangelicals and fundamentalists? Suddenly our problem becomes clear. An evangelical is a fundamentalist that wants the respect of modernists, and sells his soul to get it.
That is to say, the difference between a fundamentalist and an evangelical isn’t the content of their respective beliefs, but the way in which those beliefs are held. Fundamentalists, to their credit, clung to the fundamentals like a pit bull on a t-bone. There was nothing attractive or sophisticated about it, but everyone knew you’d never tear the two apart. The evangelical, on the other hand, sought to find, at least culturally, a middle ground. Yes, we believe in the authority of the Bible, but we believe it for nice, professional, academic reasons. Indeed, all that we believe we believe for nice, professional, academic reasons. What separates evangelicals from fundamentalists is that we evangelicals don’t breathe fire, and we have fancy degrees hanging in our studies, instead of pictures of Billy Sunday. We evangelicals are they who cut this deal with the modernists, “We will call you brother, if you will call us scholar.”
Please don’t misunderstand. The point isn’t that the right way to believe in the fundamentals is to be stupid. Instead, the point is that the right way to believe in the fundamentals is with a holy indifference to what others think about us. Anything less leads us right where we are. That is, any movement that begins with a fear of those we are seeking to win has already been won by those that are feared. We thought we were defending the fundamentals, but we were giving away the store. Like the Gwinnett county officials, our failure to demonstrate the courage of our convictions led to exactly what we didn’t want. Weakness disguised as compromise compromised our convictions, and exposed our weakness. Because we were too worldly to not care, we have become too worldly to matter.
We still follow that same path today. For fear of offending the lost, we will not tell them they are lost. For fear of looking narrow and close-minded, we have made peace not just with the deadly secularism of modernism, but with the doubly deadly folly of postmodernism. There the culture itself reflects our uncertainty, refusing to make affirmations, just like us. In our pride we have embraced a humility that won’t stand for anything.
Our Shepherd, however, calls us to a different path. He tells us that having those outside the faith revile us for our faith is something to be sought, not something to be avoided, that those who experience the disdain of the world for His name’s sake are blessed. The fundamentalists of the last century were laughed at and scorned. And for that they earned the praise of Jesus. May we find the courage not only to affirm the fundamentals, but may we be given a double portion of the spirit of the fundamentalists. They fought the good fight, while we collaborated. They kept the faith, while we merely kept our positions in our communities. May we learn to fear no man, and to fear God. For such is the beginning of wisdom.
There's been a lot of talk in the recent years about fundamentalism. It's always religious fundamentalism - usually Christian and Muslim. The assessment is often that's it dangerous. And much of the warning comes from secuarlists who think religion is patently wrong and often dangerous to society and rationality.
Does it ever occur to secularists that there can be a fundamentalist version of their view that is dogmatic, threatens fundamental institutions of civilization, and is irrational? Fundamentalism isn't just a religious problem.
Posted by Melinda at STR.org.
Monday, 8 November 2010
We don't realize how delicate our lives are. Our lives are like flowers, they blossom then die. This is how God sees us and this is why He gives us so much grace.
For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes.
The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
“Man who is born of woman
Is of few days and full of trouble.
He comes forth like a flower and fades away;
He flees like a shadow and does not continue.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
2 Peter 3:9-10
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk ("live their lives") as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Guilt is a marker of true religious commitment. It is essentially what lies behind repentance.
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
as it is written,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
No one comes to salvation who hasn't become ashamed of himself.
The Feeling of Guilt
- It is evidence of remorse over one's sin.
- It is essential for anyone who wants to enter into the kingdom of God; to spend eternity with God.
The Act of Repentance
Be willing to admit your sin. Lose your life here to find it in Christ. Don't get caught up in the things of men or of the world. We live in a shameless society. The world boasts [about the things they should be ashamed of]. But because of your guilt, that is evidence of your love for God and a repented heart.
The Pre-eminence of God
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
"You are the crowning glory of God."
And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!"
We live to glorify Him!
Read the bible – see how God deals with His people; see His relationship with us in scripture. You will understand where you stand as a child of God when you keep in His word. Get into His word and get to know Him. You can trust Him forever.