I am beginning a brief series here. Maybe five or six articles in all. But it will explain a lot. A lot about where I am heading next in life. So I hope you'll keep up with this and in the end you'll know what the future holds for your's truly.
Today's installment is called "How did we get here?"
Last week I wrote an article about “Airbag Christianity.” In it, I outlined several points of contention I have with modern evangelicals and what passes as sermons in mega churches in this country.
Today I want to dig a little deeper. Turn over some dirt and find some answers.
Like, where did we go wrong?
I am 50 years old. I was raised in an Independent Baptist Church. It was a community church to begin with. It was a great place to belong, attend, and grow up in. Until about 1979 when Fundie-ism took over.
Fundie-ism is Fundamentalism’s bastard cousin. It’s twisted, evil, alter-ego.
Okay...so what is Fundamentalism? There are a lot of definitions of this, but we’ll use mine.
*Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is inerrant. We believe that it’s inspired. That man wrote it, but only wrote what was dictated to them by the Holy Spirit. This was spiced a little by their personalities, but the content, context, and principles are straight from God. We believe this entirely. I believe this. The Bible is our basis for truth and the True North of our spiritual compass.
*Fundamentalists believe that men are all lost. All of them. Now some Fundamentalists are Reformed or Calvinists, and so they believe that “Total Depravity” is something more than I believe it is. They believe that man is entirely corrupt and nothing good exists within him at all. They believe this renders him entirely unable to ever choose salvation in Christ on his own. This is a big deal and a hot-button topic, but for here and now it doesn't matter. Both sides, reformed and not reformed can be Fundamentalists.
Personally...I don’t side with them on this. I believe that since each of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and a creation of God Himself, a tiny spark of Him remains in us. I see Total Depravity as something different in this way: I am totally depraved as compared to God Himself. I can be as good as I want to be but it will never be good enough. So my depravity...whether massive or minimal...is total when compared to the Holiness of God. And since He is the only standard of measure, that’s what counts. But I maintain that each of us has something of Him in us and that is why there are more “good” people on earth than bad. (Although that number seems to be tipping in the wrong direction) If we didn't have a smidgen of God in us, we would throw off all restraint. There would be chaos, we would break speed limits, pillage, rape, curse at old ladies, and cheat at cards. But we don’t for the most part, because we still are God’s creation. Something good lives in us. That’s why I believe that when faced with a choice to join in life with Christ and find that thing for which we long...we usually say yes.
Enough about that.
*Fundamentalists believe that Jesus is God. Jesus is the only begotten son of God, but He is also God himself. “Begotten” here doesn't mean “begotten” like you and I use it. Jesus wasn't the product of a sex act. Jesus existed for eternity. He existed before he became a man in the flesh. He always was. He always will be. Begotten is used to show He wasn't created. Jesus was not created. He is not the result of anything. He is not the result of any creative action of God.
*We believe in the Holy Spirit. He also always was. He always will be. Differences exist about what His role is on earth among believers. But we all agree He is our Comforter. He is our Guide into truth. He is here to convict people about their sin and the need for a savior. That much all Fundamentalists agree upon.
*We believe salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing more. No good works, no donations to the church poor box, no prayers to Saints. Just Jesus and nothing else.
*We believe that Jesus physically died, was buried and physically rose form the dead. Just like that.
*We believe that his death was the substitution for ours. That he died to pay for the sin of man. That his death was the one I deserved but He took it for me and if I believe in him, and accept what he did on my behalf, I am saved.
*We believe that He is physically coming to take his church away one day soon. Some call this “the Rapture”
*We believe that Jesus will one day destroy the earth and set up a new Kingdom on a new earth and this Kingdom will be eternal.
*We believe in a literal, physical, eternal Hell. We believe this fate awaits EVERY man and only those who accept Jesus death as substitutionary will avoid going there.
There is a lot more to Fundamentalism, but these are the...uuhh...fundamentals.
This matters because it sets the stage for the next article I will write, where I explain where we went off the rails and how that effected the pendulum swing of neo-evangelicals.
So study this tonight and get familiar with it. Tomorrow there’ll be more.