Kevin T. Bauder
More than the previous many years I have study a quantity of books and articles about “growing up fundamentalist.” Virtually without the need of exception these performs have been written by men and women who are attempting to justify their life selections by pointing to the oppressiveness of their fundamentalist upbringing. In some instances they claim to have been abused. In other instances they dwell on the restrictiveness of the fundamentalist atmosphere. These narratives leave the impression that developing up fundamentalist ought to be a horrible encounter. From these stories 1 could infer that every single fundamentalist ought to be corrupt and every single fundamentalist authority structure—homes, churches, schools, and missions—must be abusive.
I have no doubt that some men and women have endured abuse by fundamentalist parents or churchmen. Certainly, I would not anticipate it to be otherwise. What ever else fundamentalists are, they are initially of all humans. To be human is to be a sinner, and we should really program for the effects of sin to be evident inside all human populations. That is why some entertainers are abusers. Some politicians are abusers. Some journalists are abusers. Some Catholics are abusers. Some ecumenical liberals are abusers. Some evangelicals are abusers. And some fundamentalists are going to be abusers, also.
Some fundamentalists have also been guilty of covering up abuses. I have no want to underrate the suffering of these who have been subjected to the abuse. Such factors should really under no circumstances have occurred, and they should really not be tolerated when they do occur. Possessing mentioned all of that, nonetheless, I can come across small or nothing at all in my personal encounter that reflects these narratives—and I, also, grew up fundamentalist. My aim in this series has been to give you some sense of what that was like.
My parents came to Christ as adults. Their conversion was genuine. Their new Christianity did not make them excellent men and women or excellent parents, but their lives have been visibly transformed. I observed their development in grace, their maturing in the faith, and their willingness to subordinate their individual ambitions for the sake of their savior. Their faith was genuine, so at a time when my peers routinely accused their parents of hypocrisy, I knew that mine have been genuine. In addition, obtaining now borne the duty of rearing my personal youngsters, I come across that I am small disposed to criticize what ever errors they may well have produced. They did as great a job as any, and significantly far better than most.
As for ministers, every single pastor whom I knew was a model of dignity, propriety, and charity. Handful of of them have been hugely discovered guys, but they have been grave, sober, and pious. They have been also patient and gentle leaders, shepherds in the truest sense of that term, guys who took seriously the care of souls. They cared about truth, committed themselves to expounding the complete counsel of God, and invested personally in these whom they pastored.
The professors by whom I was instructed in college and seminary encouraged the life of the thoughts. At least a handful of of them have been amongst the ideal-study and most thoughtful men and women I’ve encountered. To this day I can honestly state that the smartest men and women I’ve ever identified have been fundamentalists. By the time I completed education in a fundamentalist college and seminary, my intellectual path was set. This path was tested in a range of non-fundamentalist academic and social environments, but I found that the commitments I’d absorbed from fundamentalists have been capable to withstand the rough-and-tumble of intellectual exchange.
For the duration of my youth, fundamentalism was passing by way of a period of option and definition. Like corrosive bacteria, the neoevangelical philosophy was starting to consume away at the spiritual and ecclesiastical core of American Christianity. On the other hand vaguely, lots of fundamentalists perceived that some thing was incorrect. They attempted to place a barrier in between themselves and the infection. In consequence, they have been frequently blamed for manipulative techniques and uncharitable attitudes. Even if they have been incorrect in some of their choices and expressions, nonetheless, they have been correct about the peril that they perceived. Their supposed lack of charity was frequently exaggerated by their opponents, who in truth manifested the exact same attitudes. Granted, I heard fundamentalists rail against the cooperative evangelism of Billy Graham. I also heard fundamentalists pray for Billy, occasionally even to the point of tears.
More than time I became conscious that the fundamentalism in which I was reared was not the only version. I was introduced to branches of fundamentalism that demanded unquestioning loyalty, despised cautious doctrinal formulation, recoiled from biblical teaching and exposition, and correctly turned Christianity into a kind of entertainment. I heard preachers who did not proclaim the complete counsel of God. Some did not even truly preach the gospel, but just preached an invitation for forty-5 minutes. Other folks introduced new and uncommon doctrines and practices. I found leaders who would stretch the truth till their pants practically caught fire. These leaders have been also prepared to engage in backstabbing, vituperation, and character assassination—indeed, they seemed to assume that conduct of this sort somehow produced them manlier. In retrospect, I think that these are the versions of fundamentalism in which the worst abuses occurred. At the time, nonetheless, I was shocked at how small I held in typical with these so-referred to as fundamentalists. I’ve under no circumstances been capable to get more than that surprise.
In brief, I am rather ready to concede that not every single kind of fundamentalism is worth perpetuating. That concession, nonetheless, does not imply that no kind of fundamentalism is worth perpetuating. To be confident, no kind of fundamentalism will be excellent, for the very simple explanation that all humanly-constructed movements and organizations are constructed by sinners. Nonetheless, I have lived in a version of fundamentalism that was definitely no worse than any other range of American Christianity, and that was truly far far better than most. I would extremely significantly like to preserve—for at least a further generation—a fundamentalism worth developing up in.
This essay is by Kevin T. Bauder, Study Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every single 1 of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every single opinion that it expresses.
Thou, Who a Tender Parent Art
Rowland Hill (1744–1833)
Thou, who a tender Parent art,
Regard a parent’s plea
Our offspring, with an anxious heart
We now commend to Thee.
Our youngsters are our greatest care,
A charge which Thou hast given
In all Thy graces let them share,
And all the joys of heaven.
If a centurion could succeed,
Who for his servant cried,
Wilt Thou refuse to hear us plead
For these so close to allied?
On us Thou has bestowed Thy grace,
Be to our youngsters sort
Amongst Thy saints give them a spot,
And leave not 1 behind.
Satisfied we then shall reside under,
The remnant of our days,
And when to brighter worlds we go,
Shall extended resound Thy praise.