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Legalism is the Slippery Slope

The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids. ~ R.B. Kuiper

I want to push back. A Fundamental Baptist pastor has alerted his people to the dangers of Bob Bixby, saying that I am a New Evangelical and have opened the door to compromise and worldliness. I think a push-back is necessary because truth that is more important than my reputation is at stake. Quite honestly, the concern that this pastor and other Fundamental Baptist pastors may have about me is more flattering than realistic. The fact is that the people leaving their churches will, in the main, find my church to be utterly uninteresting to them. We take church and the gospel too seriously for most disgruntled fundamentalists.

But the psychological phenomenon of sectarian groups of attacking most vociferously the people closest to them remains a reality in the Fundamentalist world and though I could dismiss the criticisms as another illustration of how out-to-lunch some of these leaders are about the real situation they are facing, I feel compelled to write something because I know that there are many people from those churches who peek at my blog while in the secrecy of their own homes. And gospel truth matters. So, let me put it plainly:

I am more fundamentalist that many of the fundamentalists who criticize me because I actually believe that fundamentals are fundamental and non-fundamentals are not fundamental. If everything is a fundamental, nothing is a fundamental. The Gospel and the biblical outworking of that Gospel in life and practice, both individually and corporately, is a fundamental and to hold on to that Gospel without caving to the pressures of sectarianism or legalism is the tenacious commitment of anyone who really cares about the fundamentals.

You often hear the camel’s-nose-in-the-tent or slippery slope argument applied to the new electric bass in the church or the use of drums or the abandonment of a strict dress code for youth activities. We are told that these are evidences of a slide toward New Evangelicalism (ignore the fact that the term is anachronistic and irrelevant except in the Fundamental Baptist sect). The reality is that legalism is a long slippery slide into antinomianism and most leaders in Fundamental Baptist circles don’t have to look much farther than their very own children to see the proof of this. Thus, it is laughable that they should even perceive our kind of church as a threat because the reality is that most people who abandon fundamentalism are leap-frogging right over Gospel-centered churches and landing right in the thick of the most man-centered ooze of evangelicalism that they can find. They rush from Hyles to Hybles. The hard truth is that most leaders in hyper-separatistic fundamentalism should be filled with joy if their child would come to a church like ours. And some of them would privately rejoice even though they would faithfully denounce our supposed “new evangelicalism” in their ministries.

Having been relentlessly enculturated by a flippant treatment of the Scriptures and an unbiblical understanding of the nature of man many fundamentalists either stay in their churches where they can preen in holier-than-thou clubs without actually being a disciple or, not agreeing with the cultural taboos of the club, escape to another place with fewer if any cultural taboos to bask in another man-centered environment that will feed their self-righteous flesh while studiously avoiding any real Gospel demands. They mistake true discipleship as legalism.

This is because most fundamentalists have been nurtured to think that the legalism that they adapted to was discipleship. Consequently, when they see discipleship in a Gospel-practicing church — real discipleship —  they mistake it for legalism. That is why most fundamentalists who leave the far right will go to the far left overnight. They may pass our congregations on their way, but it is only to fuel up for their real destination, a haven where their self-righteousness can still be fostered minus the pesky and silly rules of right-wing cultural fundamentalism.  Minus discipleship.

What is Legalism?

The working definition of legalism is “anyone who is more strict than me.” No one thinks he is a legalist. We all look down our noses at people who get their underwear in a wad about something we find completely acceptable. Thus, the term is really difficult to use because people to my right will dismiss what I have to say because they are assuming that I’m looking down my nose at them for being more conservative than I am on various issues. However, I would like to assert that I struggle with legalism everyday and appeal for the sake of this article that we understand legalism with the following basic points in mind:

1. Legalism is righteousness or morality outside of Christ. It is anything I do that is good and upright that is not Christ doing it in me.

To effectively communicate the Gospel cross-culturally a preacher must identify the righteousness of the people, not their sins. It is our righteousness, not our sins, that is as filthy rags before God. Our righteousness is our sin. Before a person is saved he is completely in the flesh and every good thing he does is an abomination to God. “Even the plowing of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” When the person repents of his righteousness and submits to the righteousness of Christ he is a new creature but he still has his old nature that likes to do good. So sometimes he goes to church in the Spirit; it is Christ who is doing it through him. Other times he goes to church in the flesh. At that point he is doing good and living by a law that is other than the law of Christ and he is being legalistic.

2. Everybody is a legalist outside of grace.

We all live by rules. We either live by the rule of grace and walk in the Spirit or we live by our own rules. We make up laws all the time. The rules may be an attempt to please God or another god, but it is still rule-making. “Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.” The key is “that which is right.” Even the atheist does “that which is right” (righteousness), but it is a rightness that conforms to the laws of his own making. In this sense, everybody is a legalist in that it is our nature to “do that which is right,” but we do it according to our own way. Only grace rescues a person from that which is right in his own eyes.

3. Thus, there is a false dichotomy between the “legalism” and “licentiousness.”

It is common, particularly in Fundamentalist circles, to defend themselves against the charge of legalism by using a two-pronged defense that eviscerates the Gospel in the process.

The Two-pronged Defense Against the Charge of Legalism

A. “We are not legalists because we believe that man is saved by grace alone.”

This answer is obviously a simplistic reduction of the problem of legalism and essentially creates a straw man that is easily rebuffed. The fact of the matter is that few people are charging them with the heresy that they have to work for their salvation. Ironically, they are often charged with easy-believism. However, the simplistic reduction of the term legalism to mean only works-based salvation may score points in the immediate with unthinking congregants, but in the long run it fails to understand what the Gospel is. The Gospel is not only about saving people from hell, but saving them from their sins. It is not only that grace provides a way to heaven, but that grace is the way. The Good News is not merely that God has given us a ticket to the Pearly Gates through the work of Jesus Christ, but that the life of Jesus Christ in us is the only acceptable life we can offer to God even after our conversion.

B. “The opposite of legalism is licentiousness and we must live in the balance of liberty.”

My Christian college tried to explain legalism as polar opposite from licentiousness and that Christians were to exercise their liberty with great care as  if the ditch on either side was something to be avoided. It was understood, however, that legalism was the lesser of the two evils. But this is a false dichotomy.

The opposite of legalism is liberty. Period.

Some legalists are culturally restrictive. Other legalists are licentious and unrestrained. They both flesh out their own righteousness. Thus, this second argument misses out on the main point of the Gospel. Legalism is just as anti-Christ as licentiousness. Legalism and moralism are more dangerous in that they are so deceptive. As one old-fashioned preacher opined during the Prohibition Era, “If the Devil gets a hold of this city he’ll see to it that every bar is closed and all crime has ceased.” The wicked enemy is all about passing himself off as an “angel of light.” If the Devil had his way everybody would be going to church insofar as they did not come to Christ. Because churchgoers are far less inclined to see a need for another righteousness than the hooker in the gutter. Both the churchgoer and the hooker have lived life by “what is right,” but both of them need to be freed from their legalism and learn to walk in the liberty of Christ’s righteousness.

Now back to my points on legalism:

4. Legalism is operating by a different set of rules, a different law.

I’ll argue this more thoroughly, Lord willing, in another post on judgementalism, but suffice it to say right now that this is the point that James 4:11 teaches. If we presume to be able to speak evil about a brother outside of the parameters of the Scripture (we must judge at times), then we are making ourselves higher than the law and the Giver of the Law. By speaking evil about a brother, by passing judgment where the Bible is silent, I am speaking evil of God and His Law and thereby saying it is insufficient. I’m operating by a set of different rules. I’m making up new laws. I’m a legalist.

It should be evident by now that fundamentalists do not have a monopoly on legalism. Some of the most legalistic people that I confront, hyper-judgmental individuals, are often people from evangelicalism. Fundamentalists merely have a monopoly (we must admit) on a host of often-silly cultural taboos which is only one of many forms of legalism.

Therefore, it is completely legalistic of Fundamentalists to be worked up about T4G and the Gospel Coalition and literally scare their people from joining places where “pseudo-Fundamentalists” are enjoying the fellowship of these conservative evangelicals. These “bad boy mavericks” like myself are unabashedly enjoying fellowship around — gasp! — the fundamentals. And you people that are in the FBF type churches need to understand that we actually have more in common with historic fundamentalists than your churches; doctrinally, ethically, and socially. The Gospel and the practical outworking of the Gospel in the local church is the focus of a real fundamentalist church and therefore I would say that the tragedy of the times is that the name “Fundamentalists” has been hijacked by a movement represented by the likes of Jack Schaap and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship.

The reality is that I am the fundamentalist and a growing group of churches and pastors who have begun to understand soteriology and ecclesiology and the importance of Christian discipleship and are no longer bullied by the intimidation of the mother-ships. I relinquish the title to Jack Schaap and Brad Smith. They may have it. They share the common fallacy of adding to the fundamentals so many things that their own followers cannot discern up from down. Soon they begin to think that the real fundamental, the one that really matters, is loyalty. Loyalty to the pastor’s description of the movement. Loyalty to “the man of God.” Loyalty to the one or two favored institutions. Loyalty to a mishmash of incoherent and contradictory teaching and practice that make no logical and biblical sense once a person begins the process of thinking. The title of fundamentalism is theirs.

I will not, however, relinquish the claim that it is I, not these other men, who is the real fundamentalist. And I will argue that it is a matter of faith and doctrine that their legalism and unscriptural practices must be denounced. Go to an FBF meeting and look at their leaders beginning with the president and do a study of their adult children. (The last one I attended in 2009 it was obvious that most of the attendees were old enough to have adult children.) You will find that the second-generation of Fundamentalism results very frequently, if they are graced by God, in abandonment of their fathers’ ideology while retaining true fundamentals (thankfully) or, sadly, a whole-hearted plunge into antinomianism. Do a survey of all the graduates of any Christian school in Fundamentalism and discover what many of us know and others refuse to acknowledge. You can tell a tree by its fruit. And the fruit of legalistic fundamentalism and its unbiblical application of separation from the world and the Body of Christ is rotten.

My brother pastors in fundamentalism: if you think that your disgruntled are going to come to our churches, you’re mistaken. Most of your disgruntled will find that we take the Gospel and the Church too seriously. So, for the sake of the Gospel and the health of your churches, I plead with you to stop embarrassing yourselves by making us the enemy. Our enemy is lurking in our hearts. It’s our anti-gospel flesh.

That is what I’m fighting. That is what I wish you’d fight.

John Murray was right:

Many … Christians today seek to impose standards of conduct and criteria of holiness that have no warrant from Scripture and that even in some cases cut athwart Scripture principles, precepts and example.  The adoption of extra-scriptural rules and regulations have sometimes been made to appear very necessary and even commendable.  But we must not judge according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement.  Such impositions are an attack upon the sufficiency of Scripture and the holiness of God, for they subtly imply that the standard of holiness God had given us in His Word is not adequate and needs to be supplemented by our additions and importations.  When properly analyzed this attitude of mind is gravely wicked.  It is an invasion upon our God-given liberty just because it is an invasion upon the sufficiency of the law of God, the perfect law of liberty. It is therefore, appearances to the contrary, a thoroughly antinomian frame of mind. It evinces a lamentable lack of jealousy for the perfection of Scripture and invariably, if not corrected and renounced, lead to an ethical looseness in the matter of express divine commands. In the words of Professor R. B. Kuiper, “The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids.”

Legalism is the slippery slope. And some fundamentalists are finally beginning to get off the slope and find a firm footing in the grace of God and true biblical discipleship.

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23 Responses

  1. Wow. You know, same goes for my church. I don’t get people transfering from IFB churches who want it easier than where they came from. I usually get either new converts or someone who comes from the “new evangelical” mess that want the real deal.

  2. Bob, your shot at fundamentalists and their children is really unkind. Do you think that fundamentalists are the only ones who have problems with their adult children? Do you think adult children is what Jesus meant when he said you can judge a tree by its fruit?

    Your ranting once again vents spleen and speaks more about you than about those you attack.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jeremiah 33.3

  3. Bob, thank you for this post. This is how I’ve felt for quite some time, but have never been able to articulate so well.

    @Don, you may feel that Bob was unkind, but I don’t think it makes his statement any less true. I grew up in a “fundamentalist” church — in fact, a church that supported (and continues to support) Bob’s parents. Our family had the Bixby family over for dinner every time they were at our church, and we had some great times playing music and singing, listening to their mission field stories, etc.

    And while I believe that church is still a sound church (my parents still attend there), and it is probably not quite as legalistic as Bob outlines here in his article, the simple truth is that I can look at the large number of kids with whom I grew up in that church, and a very small percentage even attend church anymore. Not that church attendance is the mark for which we strive, but I believe it’s an indication of what’s going on in their lives — they saw parents who merely attended church and complied with the outward standards, and never truly became disciples of Christ or had a real change of heart.

    • I commend you on your second paragraph. I look at the kids that I went to church with, and many don’t go to church today or are off on some crazxy bent. I grew up with many rules, grace was preached, but rules is all you saw. If you followed the ‘rules’ you were good, do something wrong and you were assumed to not be a Christian. I made many professions of salvation growing up, cause my life didn’t always “show it”. I finally just gave up, cause ‘getting saved’ again and again wasn’t working. Today, I still struggle with those ‘rules’ I grew up with as compared to what the Bible actually says about them. I have come to understand God’s grace in my life and no longer struggle with my salvation.
      I talk to some who are still in the church that I grew up in, and I don’t know how they can live under that scrutiny after all these years. It’s crazy for adults to sneak around going to movies or listening to something on the radio or even pulling on a pair of pants. Forbid you even mention a drum or guitar —ever!
      Kudos to you and thanks for making me feel like there are others of us out there.

  4. Well I am not a Bible Specialist but according to me the Pharisees (who were quoted in the New Testament) were legalists. They practiced what they thought should be done by their own theological education. Some of the pharisees practiced religion to be known by men but in the inside everything was not as clean.
    In the last 2-3 years of my Christian Life, God showed me that Christians should live in Unity.

    The Bible tells us that we must function like a body, the ear must hear, the eyes must see, the feet should move etc. Each member should function as it is meant to do.

    We are not here to make war with each other, our common enemy is the devil. Each Christian in the Local church should be able to function as per what God’s will.
    In Unity, people are drawn to Christ as per Our Lord’s words. When God speaks to any laymen to work in the Local church for a specific ministry, the Local church should be able to prepare a possibility for the laymen to join the specific ministry. If the specific ministry does not exist in the Local church then maybe the Local Church should start the ministry but after having discerned that it is the will of God.

    Just try it and find God working in our local churches.

    In fact a Local Church with with The Pastor doing everything and the laymen doing very little will be a very inefficient in sharing the Gospel.

    But remember our common enemy is the Devil.
    May God Bless you all

  5. Spot on! I can testify to these experiences first hand.

    I left the FBF culture 5 years ago and by the grace of God have found a personal revival of true, Spirit-led, fellowship with God through Christ that I would never have experienced in the loyalty-to-the-man-at-all-cost cult I belonged to before.

    Thank you for putting your thoughts and observations into words.

    And, Mr. Johnson, it is not unkind to speak the truth to the deceived. It would be unkind to leave them to wander in their darkness. As a child of an ordained “fundamentalist preacher”, I can only say that I wish I had been exposed to this reasonable truth long long ago. I’ve spent too many years under Hyles and Vineyard and seen too many “loyal” children become broken and unusable adults because they are living for the “church” and living to be in good standing with the “man of God” instead of living for the Saviour.

    I don’t know for sure if Jesus was speaking of adult children when speaking of trees and fruit, but I’m pretty sure He was clear when He rebuked the Pharisees (who themselves thought themselves to always be the most religous / best church-goer in the room) for “lording over God’s heritage” and “teaching as doctrine the commandments of men”.

    Thanks for the article. I will pass it along to my many friends and family members who are broken and discouraged by their ‘lost years’ in ‘fundamentalism’.

    God bless

  6. “The working definition of legalism is “anyone who is more strict than me.” No one thinks he is a legalist.”

    This is absolutely true in general and I know it is true in my life. Whenever I read of Christ’s interactions with the pharisees, I always insert someone else into the role of pharisee. More often than not I should be inserting myself into that role.

  7. Don, in the interest of Christian civility I deleted my longer response and will stick to this:

    You are the one that is inconsiderately derailing the conversation by your ad hominem argument. You know as well as I do that biblically these teachers are open to scrutiny and, yes, it is right to look at a man’s adult children to consider the long-term effect of his teaching. It is not an wild attack to raise the question when some scholars even believe (though I do not think I can fully agree) that a man is potentially disqualified from ministry if his adult children are not believers. My point is that my invitation to check these men out is not outside of the God-given parameters.

    Please do not post on my blog again. Your modus operandi with me is never discussion but an immediate attempt to discolor the whole thing so that people miss the point because you actually have no substantive argument in response. This is typical of fundamentalism.

  8. “If everything is a fundamental, nothing is a fundamental.”

    What a great statement…packed with meaning. I appreciate your thoughts, Bob. I believe you articulate what many have been mulling over for quite some time.

  9. Bob:

    You wrote, “You often hear the camel’s-nose-in-the-tent or slippery slope argument applied to the new electric bass in the church or the use of drums or the abandonment of a strict dress code for youth activities.”

    In my thinking the camel’s nose in the tent should include worldly methods of ministry. Dr. Peter Masters wrote powerfully on this matter in his article, The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness from 2009 in the Sword & Trowel.

    For example, “The author [Collin Hansen] begins by describing the Passion, conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book – large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with Calvinistic doctrine. We are told of thunderous music, thousands of raised hands, ‘Christian’ hip-hop and rap lyrics (the examples seeming inept and awkward in construction) uniting the doctrines of grace with the immoral drug-induced musical forms of worldly culture…. Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr John MacArthur’s pastoral staff, gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship… Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.

    That was Peter Masters. The greater danger, the greater camel’s nose in the tent and genuine threat to authentic biblical Christianity IMO is the increasing tolerance for, running interference on behalf of and excusing the doctrinal aberrations such as charismatic theology and the New Evangelical ecumenical compromises that are increasingly commonplace among the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. I speak of the practices of the very men in leadership you are aligning yourself with at T4G and TGC.

    Those things necessitate a discussion of whether or not we are going to act in fidelity to the God-given mandates to reject aberrant/dangerous theology, hobnobbing with the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18) and withdraw from brethren (2 Thess. 3:6, 17-18; Rom. 16:17) who participate in and/or advocate those things. Wouldn’t you agree?

    LM

  10. Correction to above reference- should be 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15

  11. Bob,

    Thank you for these helpful thoughts on legalism. I attended T4G for the first time this year. I was pleased by how directly the speakers spoke to several gospel-adjusting tendencies of evangelicalism (Thabiti especially–I’m not sure how Shai Linne’s later hip-hop was consistent with that message, but that is somewhat of an aside). I asked myself what a fundamentalist should preach if he were speaking to fellow fundamentalists about the un-adjusted gospel. Legalism was my first and best answer.

    My biggest frustration reflecting about fundamentalism at T4G, was that this message about the un-adjusted, anti-legalism gospel that must be proclaimed within fundamentalism, is not heard often enough. Perhaps part of the reason is that those who become so convinced, leave their churches and ministry circles. Why are so many Southern Baptists willing to remain in an ecclesiastical relationship with some liberals in order to fight to gain back their seminaries, but disenchanted fundamentalists feel that they must leave their own.

    Here is a call for fundamentalists burdened about legalism to stay in their churches and contend for the un-adjusted gospel.

  12. Excellent post Bob with some especially insightful observations. I particularly like your addressing the common “I am not a legalist because . . .” arguments. “It is never legalistic to obey God’s law” is a common retort I have heard. Such elasticity within those words.

    I am beginning to be more encouraged by new trends I am observing among some who have sought serious reform without severing ties. What have you called it? The “emerging middle?” This E.M. needs a voice and leadership because those within Fundamentalism who are unsettled by what they are being taught (yet know nowhere else to go) have not generally been given the tools to discern or voice these points. They are blinded and struggling due to the darkness of extreme separatism and legalism. They may want more and different, but cannot find it. They have been crippled, wanting desperately to run, but lacking the knowhow or capability. If they can find these sentiments on the internet, for some it will be like getting saved all over again, and sometimes maybe even for the first time!

  13. “New Evangelicalism (ignore the fact that the term is anachronistic and irrelevant except in the Fundamental Baptist sect)”

    It’s really hard to ignore this fact Bob, but I’ll try.

    Good article.

    Keith

  14. He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere…

  15. Leadership and children

    Bob, personally, I have always been reluctant to evaluate men by their children for a several reasons. I know how sinful i am and if my children’s sole hope of eternity is in my holy living, I and they are doomed. Thankfully, their mother is closer to sainthood, but even she has her moments. Second, my children now 27, 26, and 20 must walk with God or not based on their own understanding of his Word. I have a dear friend with a balanced ministry of whom I would have said in all the years that I have known him that he and his wife tried to walk with God. They have one child who is gay and another who claims to not believe the gospel. My wife and I are puzzled. This dear brother is the kind of fundy that goes to T4G and Shepherd’s Conference, is seminary trained and not afraid of the C-word. He does not thump the KJV and is civil in his ministry, which by the way is known for excellent expository preaching. Maybe he lives a double life . . . but I for one am at a loss as to why his children are where they are.
    Third, how do you explain a family where one child walks with God and another does not? Both grew up in the same home and heard the same teaching. One accepted it an has a good testimony and another has turned from it?

    You, I think are a younger man whose children are still in the nest. The jury is still out on where they will end up. I have a son, now 26 who has graduated from CBTS and is working on his ThM. What if, God forbid, he in five years or ten years, comes to reject the truth he has thus far embraced . . . while this too be my fault?

    Me genoito!

    Blessings

  16. Recently a well-respected leader wrote a surprisingly condemning article about evangelicalism (it surprised me anyway) with the statement “Christian liberty is important. The last thing we need, however, is for Christian liberty to be defined by people who are looking for loopholes.”

    I think you answered him better than I could. We’re not “looking for loopholes.” We’re looking for truth. I’m tired of hearing my motives impugned every time I look behind rules trying to find the gospel. I didn’t join the PCA “so I could drink” (as I’ve been accused). I joined it because I heard the gospel there. It’s not easier–it’s harder, because it demands a relationship that requires all of my being, even the drinking part. Not drinking is easy. But by itself it’s worthless.

  17. Hey Pastor Bob,

    Excellent graceful post! I loved the way that God used the “Spirit of Truth and Grace” to come out in your article. I grew up in hyper-fundamentalism and I am 32 and still suffereing from institutionalism. (…PCC, IBC, Mike Sproul, Sword of Lord, Dr. Bill Rice III, Arlin Horton, the list could go on, but they are all saved-sinners just as myself.)

    You are absolutely right, when you mention that most young adults in the IFB fly completely by your church. I am a perfect example of that. I threw the baby out with the bath water and jumped directly into a prodigal lifestyle for almost 10 years. You are absolutely right when you share that us “New Evengelicals, or Reformed Baptists” (as I like to call myself) are more fundamental about the sound doctrines of the Historic Fundamentals of the Faith than the IFB. I thank God for His unconditional love and grace that He has bestowed on us who do not deserve it. Thank you for gracefully laying out the core definitions of legalism.

    I always like to say this to people in the IFB movement. “Please do not start throwing stones at us until you visit our church.” “If you have never left the doors of your IFB church and are casting stones off of “What you heard through the grapevine”, then you are playing a dangerous game of Phariseeism, and you do not have your facts right.”

    If your church is built on man-made foundations and doctrines, my heart aches for you. Look hard at what is the core foundation of your faith. Put yourself in the cross-hairs of the gospel. If you are drowning in your traditional rituals of faith, then you are not enrooted into the Doctrines of the Gospel. Build your church and faith on the “Foundation of the Rock”, which is Christ Jesus, the author of our Salvation.

    “It’s ALL about Jesus”! Thanks for your wonderful post

  18. @ Jeff:

    I want to defend the notion that we can examine the lives of the adult children of leaders in another post, but suffice it to say here that I muddled the waters when I included unregenerate children in my illustration.

    The more subtle yet poignant point is that that among the adult children who share their parents’ love for the Lord a majority of them have rejected their parents’ attachments to fundamentalist idiosyncrasies. I myself am an illustration of that trend.

    • Bob

      With all due respect, you are making an assertion here that you cannot possibly prove. This really does not help your ultimate argument. Do some adult children reject their parent’s fundamentalist idiosyncrasies. Probably. But as a historian of liberalism, there were many children of conservatives that abandoned their parents faith for scientific modernism. What does that prove? Absolutely nothing as it stands. Getting to the WHY question is extremely difficult. Unless your “majority” have left some kind of a WHY statement, you are only pontificating when you assert the WHY.

      You cannot possibly argue that “a majority” of people do anything without real evidence. Therefore, this post, while it resonates with some (or even many) is really just rhetoric and not worthy of a legitimate argument.

      You don’t know the “majority” about whom you speak so unless there is some kind of Pew Charitable Trust study which you are citing, you are only pontificating and NOT really helping advance an argument.

      This is a typical flaw that we preachers make–making assertions about anything that we cannot possibly prove. Maybe you are more of a fundamentalist than you realize 🙂

      By the way . . . it is a provable fact that 100% of the people who died last week drank water in their lives. It’s a commonly ingested substance in all who die. What should we draw from this startling finding?

      I really hate to press you here, because I actually agree with much of what you say. But here, you are . . . well, you need to stop and think through this better. You will score no real points with this kind of weak arguments.

      May I be so bold as to recommend Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, 4th ed.

  19. Thanks Bob,
    I actually need to meet you some time and shake your hand in appreciation for your ministry. When I was in Illinois recently, my parents told me of someone that warned them about “Bixby’s” church. The funny things is that they live too far away to ever attend your church. It cracks me up when people warn other people about a church they can’t even attend.

    Also, recently, someone expressed concern about a decline of standards in our church. I was puzzled by this accusation and found out the reason for there concern. It was that one of our teens wore a dress where there was not proper inches between the top of the neck and the top of her dress. The funny thing was that this was a decent young lady who was completely covered and modest.

    On top of that, I came into the office this week and there was a 5 minute sermon on the answering machine saying we needed to stop listing our church under “fundamental” in the yellow pages because we were not fundamental. The reason for this charge was that we observe the “pope’s sabbath,” not God’s.

    I believe that one of the evidences that the gospel is advancing in a ministry is that there will be a lot of difficulty and challenge from those who don’t live in the gospel, including the legalists.

    Praise God for the gospel.

  20. Good post Bob. I look forward to seeing you flesh out the children issue. At this point, I tend to agree with Straub at this point. But I want see your thoughts on this.

  21. “the name “Fundamentalists” has been hijacked by a movement represented by the likes of Jack Schaap and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship. . . I relinquish the title to Jack Schaap and Brad Smith. They may have it. . .The title of fundamentalism is theirs.”

    I think that about five years ago I asked you why you wanted to cling to the title. You never answered. Maybe you were working your way toward this relinquishment. Whatever the case, I hope your journey is going well and bringing joy.

    Keith

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