May 13, 2013

Far Better Than the WordsCultural Whatever-ism

In a previous article by Dr. Chuck Phelps1 we heard from Dr. Dana Everson a former NIU faculty member whose final semester was Spring 2011. An anonymous guest posted the following in the thread.
With all of the discussion of late, what I am left wondering is: 

Those who are using the term “cultural fundamentalism” to rename “historic fundamentalism,” what do they do with all of the verses on worldliness, being separate, etc.? Do they have any boundaries at all? What are they? If they do have boundaries of some sort, then why deride others who with their soul liberty and conscience choose tighter boundaries? 

 And then, they also seem to think we are focused on minor issues and negating the gospel, why is it hard to understand that we believe that all aspects of a Christian’s life should REFLECT the gospel and the Lord? We do have a larger purpose in mind.
Dr. Everson answered those questions as follows.

Anonymous...some very good questions! 

Eventually, they will settle into their “new normal standards” and do just what they accuse more conservative folks of doing: They will build their OWN “cultural fundamentalism” (their own levels of separation, really). They do this because they usually see culture as generally neutral. 

Many seem to think the gospel should be attractive, luxurious, or perhaps entertaining to the world. But even more so, they believe that the Christian’s lifestyle should be neutral in these “minor issues.” Yet, they will spin around and say a Christian’s life should be a “whole-life-worship” model. Well, doesn’t whole life imply- whole life? 

Some even call these areas of Godly living “minutiae.” Since when is worship of God minutiae? Since when does God overlook HOW He is approached in worship? Wasn’t it Jehovah Who laid out the minute plans for the temple and temple worship? Does the worship of God “in spirit and in truth” allow for any-old-style of worship? Does the worship of God “in spirit and in truth” mean ONLY heart attitude? 

In one particular ministry setting, our faculty and staff were urged and taught to think in and teach “critical thinking.” Yet, when I attempted to apply critical thinking to the area of worship/music style [at Northland], I was told that I needed to “raise the bar of the discussion” instead of arguing about minutiae. If worship styles are all neutral to the Lord, then we have large chunks of the Old Testament that will need to be edited.

Of COURSE it matters what attitude and turn of heart one has. Genuine fundamentalism has always stood for that. (And yes, I know there are examples of imbalanced ministries.) But our God is also a consuming fire because of His holiness. Where is the discernment and today of erring on the side of wisdom instead of constantly pushing the envelopes of separation or “cultural fundamentalism?” They seem to believe that since there is always someone or some ministry more liberal than they, that their new tolerance levels are quite safe (and they ARE safe by comparison to those other extremes, but not necessarily safe compared to God’s principles).

And, Anonymous, one more thing they tend to do: They redefine worldliness. Whether they do it intentionally or not, they tend to redefine many terms and unwary, good-willed Christians gradually get caught in this kind of word-transformation, thinking that because so-and-so has a doctorate, surely he knows the latest previously undiscovered Bible truths.

A genuine fundamentalist, what I call a “heart-fundamentalist,”
(1) STANDS STILL and STRONG with compassion for souls on both the stated truths of Scripture and the principles of Scripture,
(2) STEPS BACK by constantly returning to and reviewing basic truths, and
(3) STEPS FORWARD by carefully sifting through “new teachings and new techniques” (often involving minutiae) and earnestly compares them with Scripture lest he too quickly embrace a faulty doctrine OR practice. 

Be a Christian gentleman/or Christian lady, but may I say kindly, listen to what people say, but know that in the long run, people (including me) will DO what they truly believe. Eventually, the words will catch up with what their hearts believe as well. God sees and evaluates our thoughts, intents, attitudes, words, and works. It seems to me that “separation” or “Godliness” expresses these truths far better than the words “cultural whatever-ism.”

I trust you have appreciated Dr. Everson’s response as much as many who have said so already.


Related Reading from Dr. Everson:

1 comment:

  1. In Matt Olson's blog today he says there is a great attitude on campus, a unity amongst the faculty and staff, that the Lord has confirmed the direction of NIU, etc., etc.

    It is easy to think and say that when all dissenting voices have either resigned or have been dismissed.