June 24, 2009

FBFI Annual Fellowship: Review From My View, Final

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Over the past few days I have truly labored and prayed over exactly how I should put a wrap on my impressions of the final event at the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) Annual Fellowship. I refer to the Q&A Symposium: Let’s Discuss Conservative Evangelicalism.

In my previous article, Review From My View, Part 1 I referenced two incidents that occurred during the symposium that were rather disconcerting to a number of the delegates. One was far more troubling than the other. I prepared a transcript of the more controversial of the two and I was prepared to publish a thorough discussion of it. However, after consulting friends I trust and taking it before the Lord I decided to forego that version of this closing report. There may be an occasion to address those other incidents, but this is not that occasion. With that said I’d like to offer my closing thoughts for your consideration.

Immediately after the symposium ended the general consensus was that we never got to hear discussed the crux of what we were all there to hear discussed. The topic was, Let’s Discuss Conservative Evangelicalism.

In the 80 minutes allowed for the symposium the first question that got to the heart of controversy within fundamentalism over “conservative” evangelicalism was not asked until nearly 60 minutes had elapsed. The first panelist responding to that question strayed way off the specific subject matter of the question. Regrettably the discussion was never recovered to address the original intent of the question.

Other portions of the symposium may have revealed what could be a growing trend among a segment of men in Fundamentalism. We may be seeing a growing trend toward the Emergent mindset for dialogue with little compulsion or determination to get to concrete answers and resolutions of important doctrinal and/or the peripheral issues. Issues such as biblical separation and the “worldliness,” which *Dr. Peter Masters clearly identified that exists in the evangelical camp.

This symposium was not the first indication that a desire for dialogue is a growing trend in Fundamentalism. A number of the young (Calvinistic) fundamentalists (from and in their blogs) have been calling for increased dialogue with the “conservative” evangelicals for what must be several years to date. They pursue and call for increased dialogue, seek closer fellowship while maintaining a willingness to look past and tolerate obvious doctoral aberrations and methods of ministry within “conservative” evangelicalism that many of these same YF men would never allow for or tolerate in their own ministries or sphere of influence.

One of the symposium panelists referenced (2 Thess. 3:15). However, he suggested Fundamentalists initially withhold admonishment of the obvious in preference for “dialogue” with the evangelicals because they want to dialogue with us. This begs the question:

After how many dialogues with the “conservative” evangelical does one begin to obey the biblical mandate to, “admonish him as a brother?”

The mindset of dialogue, if it is only for the sake of getting to know each other’s views better, has never yielded good results. At a later date I am going to come back to this specific conversation in a Redux submission. Possibly as early as next week. I have tentatively titled that article,

The Danger of Dialogue with Conservative Evangelicals
Apart From Admonishment

Final Thought on the 2009 Annual Fellowship
One of the most compelling doctrinal discussions coming from the annual fellowship has been somewhat of an undercurrent. IMO, however, this issue will be a catalyst for what if any split is on the horizon for the FBFI. The issue is purely doctrinal and was the theme of this year’s annual fellowship, “The Glorious Gospel of Christ.”

It is no secret that within the ranks of the FBFI membership there is a sharp divide over what is the necessary content of saving faith. The debate primarily revolves around the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the Gospel. LS is, in my opinion, the line of demarcation in Fundamentalism and I have addressed this in, **What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?

The symposium showed that some men are unable and/or at this time unwilling to mark out what does or does not constitute “worldliness,” and therefore grounds for separation from the “conservative” evangelicals over those issues. We have, however, in our own fellowship a stark contrast over the Gospel. Dr. Robert Lightner wrote,

Salvation is either by God’s grace or by human effort, commitment, or work. It cannot be by both, anymore than law and grace were both means of salvation in Paul’s day.” (Sin, the Savior and Salvation, p. 203.)
The Lordship Salvation debate has been simmering for years among men who identify themselves as Independent Fundamental Baptists. At this year’s annual fellowship it was returned to the forefront. The “glorious Gospel of Christ” is either faith alone in Jesus Christ alone or it is faith, plus commitment of life. These polar opposites cannot be reconciled.

Reasonable men in the FBFI agree that if there is to be parting of the ways it ought not to be over Calvinism, per se. The Lordship debate is, however, a sharp divide on clear doctrinal grounds in the fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptists.

Two weeks ago I submitted an article titled, Is it Sharp Nuff’ Yet? The article is based on a familiar passage of Scripture.

And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).
IMO, the FBFI is unlikely to have the same make-up of membership at this time next year. It may well be that the combined issues of Calvinism, Lordship Salvation and what to do with the “conservative” evangelicals has generated enough sharp contention that a parting asunder is just over the horizon. Good men on both sides of the issues and the leadership of the FBFI will sort these things out as conscience and the Lord leads.


*See, The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness

** The thread under this article has a very enlightening Q & A between me and a man named Joshua. I invite you to review that thread beginning here.

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