Thursday, January 26, 2012
What Makes a Reconstructionist? A Hatred of "Fundamentalism"
This is a continuation of my posts Is Social Justice compatible with the great commission? and The Churches Main Purpose. This post gives another characteristic of Reconstructionists (those who think we can turn our current world into a heaven on earth).
A Hatred of Fundamentalism.
In my article What is Fundamentalism? and Why Does Everybody Hate It? I define Fundamentalism as the Christian position (not Muslim, they don't call themselves that) that the Bible is fully inspired and infallible, that Jesus Christ is fully God and Man, that He was virgin born and that He died and rose again and is coming back, it also sees the Church as the only organization that is currently inside the redemptive work of Christ and believes "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). Fundamentalism started as a coalition of Christians in the United States whose mission was to stem the tide of unbelief that was flowing from the Theological Liberal movement.
The Theological Liberals of the late 19th century and early 20th century disposed of the truth of the gospel in exchange for a social gospel. A gospel that focused on making the world a better place. One of the most well known and well loved theological liberal was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What he had to say about the Fundamentalists is typical of what most of them thought (and still think): "The fundamentalist is quite aware of the fact that scholars regard the garden of Eden and the serpent Satan and the hell of fire as myths analogous to those found in other oriental religions. He knows also that his beliefs are the center of ridicule by many. But this does not shake his faith--rather it convinces him more of the existence of the devil. The critics, says the fundamentalist, would never indulge in such skeptical thinking if the devil hadn't influenced them. The fundamentalist is convinced that this skepticism of scholars and cheap humor of the laity can by no means prevent the revelation of God."
Modern day liberal Rob Bell joins the chorus of fundamentalist bashing by saying: “the people who talk most about heaven when you die talk least about bringing heaven to earth right now.” Sadly, even Tim Keller talks about the "old Pharisaical Fundamentalists." To give Tim the benefit of the doubt, there have been some, like Jerry Falwell, who claimed to be Fundamentalists but were really right-wing evangelicals. But to say the "Old" Fundamentalists, would imply that he is not talking about Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. I wonder who he is talking about? J. Gresham Machen? R. A. Torrey? C. I. Schofield? B. B. Warfield? These were the original leaders of the Fundamentalist movement, they were a lot of things, but Pharisaical was not one of them. On the contrary, they exposed the Pharisaical practices of the Liberal Church, who claimed Christianity as a title, yet denied Christianities core teachings in exchange for the doctrines of man. Tim Keller's book Generous Justice is helpful on this point. He argues that Justification is the only doctrine that could lead someone to sacrificial care for the poor. He encourages Christians to be poor in spirit, recognizing their sinfulness and the free grace of Jesus Christ when they go to do acts of service to the poor. I think this is an important note to sound, and I think this is really the thrust of Keller's message, although he does have some illusions about redeeming the culture.
Fundamentalists Don't Want To Help Anyone
The Fundamentalists have been caricatured by the Theological Liberals as being uncaring toward the poor. This lie has been spread so much that many Christians have believed it. I sight a whole list of organizations in my post What is Fundamentalism? that have done, and are doing a lot to help the poor. The Fundamentalists saw the error of getting political and separated themselves from politics, however many of them did focus on social concerns like homelessness in America and medical aid and education around the world, but this was done with evangelism as the main purpose. I'm not saying the Fundamentalists did everything right, but they did a lot more right than people give them credit for. Fundamentalism's separation from the media, political sphere and the higher realms of academia left them without a voice in those realms, and therefore an easy target for ridicule and lies, sounds like a similar position to the world that Jesus had in mind for the church when He said "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).
So why does the world hate Fundamentalism? Because Fundamentalism undermines the world's philosophy of making the world a better place. The Reconstructionists call the Fundamentalists names like Fundies, Bible Thumpers, Extremists. The media lies about the history of Fundamentalism, grouping them with Terrorists and the Pharisees. But the real reason they hate the Fundamentalists is because they are the biggest threat to the Reconstructionits takeover of the Church.
So should we call ourselves Fundamentalists?
I'm not, the name just has too much baggage in too many peoples minds. I'd rather stick with biblical titles, like "heir of God" or "Christian." The reason I make such a stink about the Fundamentalists is that it is an important chapter in Christian history that has been re-written to make Bible-believing Christianity apologetic about its godly heritage, instead of thankful to the Lord for the work that that generation did. The same thing happened to the Anabaptists. For years it was thought that they were heretical, but when more of their writing was uncovered in the early 20th century it was shown that they were much more biblical in their practices than many of the Reformers that persecuted them. E. H. Broadbent gives a great overview of this in his book The Pilgrim Church. Whenever a Christian group gets bashed a lot by the world (the popular media, academia and political parties), and then certain Christian leaders start doing the same thing, be very suspicious.