Friday, July 6, 2007

Confusion about "if I leave"...

It seems that I need to clarify a few things from my last article, including why I chose to write it. As I’ve followed the saga of Joe Zichterman, I’ve concluded that he brings up a host of good points about Fundamentalism. Granted, Joe is coming across as bitter, petty, and immature, but that’s beside the point. Many of the issues he has mentioned in his latest article are, in fact, major issues inside of much of Fundamentalism. In Fundamentalism we have never done a good job of critiquing and criticizing ourselves. For some reason the “in thing” to do these days is to bash Fundamentalism for the sheer sport of it. That’s not my goal.

I’ve been in Fundamentalism for most of my life. I grew up (thankfully) largely ignorant of the pervasive Fundamentalism of the day…the “Hyles brand”. These days, Hyles and the brand of Fundamentalism he spawned are alive and well. So many of the negatives he introduced to the movement are present in nearly every portion of Fundamentalism that exists. Granted, many individual churches have managed to shed much of the baggage, but the Fundamentalism of the 70’s and 80’s is still rampant and still a major part of our movement. I would like to see that brand of Fundamentalism completely wither up and die.

I’m not a bitter individual. I was in one of the worse environments in the movement for nearly 2 years. When I came to my senses, I left. I’ve never been back, and I’ll never go back, but I’m not bitter about it. For us, the wake up call was when one of our children asked us if my wife hated God. He asked this because of something the pastor had said in the service. What he said was unbiblical, illogical, nearly heretical, and absolutely foolish. I told my son as much and ended up apologizing to my family for having them in that church. When we left, I consoled myself with the thought that perhaps that church was an exception…that the rest of Fundamentalism was filled with churches much like the one we attend now. In my opinion – granted, it’s quite subjective – I was wrong.

I think I need to clarify a term I used a couple of times in my last article. I referred to myself as a “misfit” in Fundamentalism. This isn’t a term I mean to use in a prideful way. By misfit, I merely mean that I’m not a “cookie-cutter fundy”. I think for myself and that’s a good thing. A couple of decades ago, individualism was largely discouraged within the movement; however, with the rise of the Internet, and the amount of study resources now available, people tend to be more studious and have the opportunity to see and hear more than one vantage point on a subject. Many of us think outside the “box” of fundamentalism, and that’s a great thing. One unfortunate side-effect to this is arrogance. We think we have all the answers and often choose to gloss over the positive aspects of “old-school fundamentalism”.

One more word and I’ll end this little article. My wife does a great job of helping me keep the right focus. She confronts in such a loving way and is an incredibly wise woman. Anybody who has met her knows that I married up…considerably! I’ve described our marriage as the sympathy date that wouldn’t end! She went out with me the first time against her better judgment and eventually I coerced her into marrying me. I guess the decision she made to marry me might call her wisdom into question, but let’s just say that it was a brief lapse in judgment that saddled her with this cross she’ll have to bear until one of us dies! Sonja lovingly confronted me about my last article indicating that it came across as abrasive and a tad too caustic. While I don’t completely agree with this evaluation, I do see how it can be perceived this way. I want to leave no doubt that I believe in the movement we call Fundamentalism. If I have to leave it some day, I will – as I said in my last article – do so without apology or hesitation; however, I will be grieved that the movement I grew up in and loved was rendered unsalvageable.

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