June 23, 2010

Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

For your consideration I am reproducing selected excerpts from Faith Pulpit, February ‘00, Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation, by Dr. Alan D. Cole, Th.D.

I. The Peril of Persecution

One characteristic of postmodernism is not just disdain for absolutes or a debate with absolutes, but also an attack on absolutes and on those who hold them. When Fundamentalism declares positions such as the complete authority of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the sin of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27), and the leadership of the parent in the home (Ephesians 6:1), it places itself in a head-on collision with postmodernism and multiculturalism.

II. The Peril of Pride

The new generation of Fundamentalists faces the peril of thinking that they are superior to the founders of the movement. There is the temptation to look at foibles of past men and respond with disdain toward them and the positions they advocated. There is the danger of thinking that one is enlightened, and therefore that past battles were trivial. When this mindset grips a young man, he is in danger of allowing, or perhaps even promoting, a drift from the movement's founding commitments.

In a previous Faith Pulpit article (May/June 1996), Dr. Robert G. Delnay discusses “Third-Generation Christians.” He states that “in the third generation the importance of deliverance and of the founding issues gets less and less.” He further warns of the possibility that “the third generation will have brought about the end of the founder’s dream.” These trends can also be a possibility within Fundamentalism. Personal and ecclesiastical separation, and an exposition and defense of the faith can all become less significant to one who is unaware of their importance or Biblical basis. One may even reject the whole stand with the excuse that “he knows better.” He may struggle with the pride of youth and view himself as superior to those who have sacrificed for his spiritual growth.

III. The Peril of Pluralism

The next generation faces the temptation to avoid controversy under the guise of toleration.

Being a Fundamentalist is not just wearing a label. It is a firm exposition of and commitment to a theological position, and, in particular, to personal and ecclesiastical separation. It is the application of all doctrine to everyday life. It seems that some, in their attempt to promote a softer and less distinct Fundamentalism, have forsaken their commitment to its declaration and practice. At the heart of this issue is an attempt to be more relevant to mankind while forgetting faithfulness to the Lord and to His Word. When one attends ecumenical conventions for male leadership, when one uses “Christian Rock” or Contemporary Christian Music to build his youth group, when one is unwilling to defend and declare personal and ecclesiastical separation, he is guilty of religious pluralism. He is combining the world with the Word and clouding the lines of distinction between them.

What should be done in light of these blurred distinctives? We must expound the Scriptural truths of separation and apply those truths to daily living. We must recommit ourselves to holiness in the home and in the church.

For the full article follow this link to, Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation, Faith Pulpit, February '00 -Alan D. Cole, Th.D.

Site Publisher’s Commentary:
Much of what the author speaks of from 10 years hence is unfolding before us in this present day. Some men who claim a Fundamentalist and/or separatist heritage have undertaken an on line effort (through their own blogs and the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site) to redefine and/or, “…promote a softer and less distinct Fundamentalism.” This redefined Fundamentalism calls for toleration of non-cessationism, cultural relativism, ecumenicalism and compromises of the Gospel among so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

By making articles such as this visible to the IFB community reasonable voices are being raised afresh for this generation that they might resist calls for a compromised “softer and less distinct Fundamentalism.” Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation may help vulnerable young fundamentalists choose holiness, righteousness and fidelity to the Scriptural mandates for personal and ecclesiastical separatism in the face of a competing message.


  1. Brian Ernsberger6/23/2010 1:50 PM

    Yes, Lou, how prophetic of Dr. Cole. Actually it is the reality of Scripture and the nature of men. Indeed, a softer, gentler, less distinct form of Fundamentalism has always been around but without much voice...until now. Some seem to think they are possibly at the helm in order to make a course correction for Fundamentalism. I believe we are in the birthpangs of yet another casting off those who truly are not Fundamentalists, such as what happened when the New Evangelicals left in the 40's/50's.

  2. Brian:

    Thanks for the input.

    You wrote, “I believe we are in the birthpangs of yet another casting off those who truly are not Fundamentalists, such as what happened when the New Evangelicals left in the 40’s/50’s.”

    Well, IMO those birthpangs have been underway for about two years, but now it is being openly agitated for by certain seminary leaders who are trying to influence others. Although I believe those who are moving today were and may still think of themselves as fundamentalists. Some have shed the label, others to some degree or another wants to be thought of as a fundamentalist as long as it is defined in a way that appeals to evangelicalism.

    BTW, Sharper Iron once accurately defined itself as follows, “The site has...members…who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.” SI dropped the “conservative evangelicalism” language, which was/is accurate and should have remained. That said…

    For two years I have been asking angry YF’s and the more mature in years who are lavish in their praise of so-called “conservative” evangelicalism while castigating fundamentalism: What are you waiting for?

    Those who have made their decision to abandon Fundamentalism to:

    *embrace evangelicalism;
    *follow the star personalities of evangelicalism;
    *host evangelicals in their church and/or seminary;
    *tolerate, allow for and ignore evangelicalism’s doctrinal aberrations, non-cessationism, open disdain for biblical separatism, causing great harm to the Gospel by hobnobbing with unbelievers

    simply need to get it over with.


  3. Brian Ernsberger6/23/2010 5:48 PM

    Yes, those who are fence-straddling need to just finish their move from one side to the other. This has been their intention possibly all along, so, to take a phrase from Nike, JUST DO IT! Move on to your supposed greener pastures. I think part of their problem is the aberrant doctrine that they would have to accept is still a bit unpalatable to them. Given time they will accept it.

  4. Brian:

    I think part of their problem is the aberrant doctrine that they would have to accept is still a bit unpalatable to them. Given time they will accept it.”

    I agree, but I known of a few who are/were Fundamentalists, one in particular who has already accepted and embraced Piper’s non-cessationism.

    This will take a full article to explain, but let me share a tid-bit.

    We have men blogging to push for unity around the gospel with the evangelical camp, but have largely refrained from delving into the obvious doctrinal aberrations, cultural relativism and ecumenism of the evangelicals. IMO, it is clear that they have opted to keep the “other doctrinal issues in the background as long as [the ce men] believes in a Calvinistic understanding of the gospel.”

    Calvinists in IFB circles are willing to soften their militancy in separatism to have their fellowship around Calvinism with the likewise Calvinistic evangelicals. Calvinism is the magnetic attraction.