Christian College and Sanctified Sadism


Christian College

Summer is ending and fall nears. Teachers assemble and arrange lesson plans and accompanying materials. Students pack their bags and resign to another year at Fundy U. For some, it’s more looking forward to seeing friends again. For others, it is a sentence to an institutional existence, one designed to stunt maturation by removing any basis for responsibility.

Where You’ll Go

Be their destiny Pensacola Christian, West Coast Baptist, Maranatha Baptist University, Snob Clones or some other equally contentious College contender for the faith, these youths can expect that all their decisions will be made for them. Presented as a policy to cultivate maturity, this is in fact a recipe for the opposite.

What You’ll Hear

In mandatory classrooms, chapel homilies and church services, youths will hear, implicitly or explicitly, that America’s wars are holy wars and God requires their support. They will hear that the best calling for women is to marry a good man and serve him well as a faithful wife and mother. They will hear that Christians are under attack on all sides, that science is not to be trusted, and that authority is not to be questioned.

Whether by direct instruction, by practice, or by both, it will be clear that dissent is not tolerated. They will know that they should be the vanguard of the most right-wing, regressive causes in the land. Some will witness young people being recruited for Cesar’s legions. They will receive status and they will be elevated for emulation by all.

What You Won’t Hear

But students will not hear of the intersection of power and corruption. And if that intersection is named at all, it will be in connection with causes the board and administrative arm of such schools deemed to be anti-Christian, un-American, left-wing, radical, and more. They will not hear that corruption and power meet in the law enforcement community.

What You’ll Do

powerBut some will question. Some will read Os Guinness’ quote. Some will land in disciplinary hearings for infractions of rules which are not Biblical, but which reflect someone’s idea of what being Biblical might look like or mean.

Others won’t question; but they will see through the superficial rationales, the pathetic, self-serving explanations, the self-gratifying power-trips of room spies and administration lackeys and the sheer superficiality of practices which pay endless lip-service to grace and faith while inwardly dying for any lack of connection with the Spirit.

What Happens Then

Some will quit on faith. They will go through the motions, say what must be said to remain in the community, and on graduation turn their back not only on all they heard, but on faith itself. Some will go deeper, and will emerge from that process with a faith deeper, wiser and certainly more gracious than the finest faculty professions. Others will walk away but come back many years later, demonstrating that the best efforts of ‘Christian institutions’ to eradicate student faith may come to naught.

Have a good year!

FWOTW — Dick and the Lord’s Hand

FWOTW -- Determined Ministries

The Lord’s Hand

The ‘Determined Ministries’ website says that…

‘While training for the Lord’s service at Ambassador Baptist College it was evident that the Lord’s hand was on Brother Richard. He was named the recipient of the prestigious Hand Revival Ministries Scholarship given to the student showing the greatest promise in Evangelism … [emphasis added]’

Since it was the Lord’s hand that was on Brother Richard, and since he received the ‘Hand Revival Ministries Scholarship,’ I assume that Richard [may I call you Dick?] is the Lord’s hand.

‘Revival’ is a prominent, Fundamentalist theme. You pray for revival, hope for revival, repent for revival, work for revival, meet for revival and preach for revival, and more. Presumably, you yourself are relivable.

‘Revive’ is a Bible word; but it isn’t a common one. And it’s mainly an OT word. The KJV uses it 14 times in the OT, and not necessarily in ways that fundamentalists mean. The New American Standard is more forgiving with 29 uses. More than half of these are in Ps 119. In the NT, we get Lu 15:24 in ‘this son of mine was dead and has come to life again,’ in Ro 7:9, ‘sin revived and I died,’ and Phil 4:10, ‘you revived your concern for me.’

Fundamentalism’s heavy emphasis on revival isn’t found in Scripture. Yet the website states that Dick has conducted over 650 revivals. It seems that having or being the Lord’s Hand has its privileges.

Schedule Revival

Speaking of scheduling revival [since that’s apparently how it happens], you can download Dick’s pre-meeting [revival?] information here. Among those documents is a personal checklist for revival. It asks about your prayer life, devotional life, unconfessed sin, stubbornness [disagreeing with the visiting evangelist, perhaps?], and more.

Dick’s doctrinal statement is uniquely organized. As a rule, doctrinal statements begin with God — Father, Son and Spirit, and describe their works. Then comes revelation, creation, the fall, redemption, last things and the like. Not so with the Lord’s hand.

Dick’s statement starts with the Bible, goes to Textus Recptus, the KJV [i.e., Textus Recptus again], the Trinity, creation, need of salvation, the works of Christ, our conscious existence after death, moral responsibility, eternal security, the great commission, the works of Christ again, eschatology, charismatic gifts and … well … you get the idea.

For the brave of heart, several videos are available. After several minutes, it occurred to me that Dick organizes sermons on the same principle he uses for writing his doctrine statement.

When Equally Valid Narratives Conflict

Conflicting Narratives

Conflicting Narratives

Child Rearing Narratives

Parents who don’t provide rules and guidelines to keep their children under control doom them to a life of lawlessness and sorrow.

Parents who try to control their child with more rules just create a little Pharisee. And little Pharisees eventually become big Pharisees.

Church Fortune Narratives

Conservative fundamentalist churches are growing because God is blessing them for their faithfulness.

Conservative fundamentalist churches are dwindling because they are persecuted for their faithfulness.

Authority Narratives

The Bible is our authority. And we know that the Bible is correct because it comes from God.

God is our authority. And we know that we’ve got God right because it says so in the Bible.

National Narratives

America is a Christian nation that is uniquely blessed and used by God. Our nation is a beacon on a hill!

America is a pagan nation that is rotten to the core. Our IFB churches alone bear witness to the light!

[A]Historical Narratives

1966 — In the last 40 years, liberalism swept the land. Old markers are gone. We are awash with demonic doctrines and pagan lifestyles.

2016 — In the last 40 years, liberalism swept the land. Old markers are gone. We are awash with demonic doctrines and pagan lifestyles.

Is it just me, or does something here not quite right?

Friday Challenge: Fundamental Oddity

Because We Like the Attention

Oddities, Odysseys and Absurdities

There’s no denying that Christians have done some bizarre things. Whether it is building a great statute of Jesus, or threatening to throw oneself out of a tall building unless peoples send money, or building a replica of Noah’s ark, there seems to be no limit to the strange things Christians do. At some point, one wonders ‘why.’

Today’s challenge is to name a truly prize-winning, eye-widening, jaw-dropping, fundamentalist oddity that leaves one standing in wondering befuddlement. Feel free to provide and comment on the rationale for the Oddity.

As an alternative, you can also make submissions for the Odysseys and Absurdities categories. Same rules apply. Have fun!

Preaching Practices on Easy Street

Preaching Donkey wide-header

Preaching has many ironies. Many are sure they are good preachers; but many congregants feel their is a famine of God’s word. Some preachers struggle weekly trying to find things to say. Others couldn’t be shut down with a gun pointed at their heads. Some preachers are deemed ‘brave’ because they dare to call out the ‘gay agenda’ and bathroom politics. Others are deemed cowards because they educate their congregations on issues of war and peace, prosperity and poverty, and more. Again, some preachers are a lifetime learning this work. Contradicting that are tonnes of ‘improve your preaching in three easy steps’ gimmicks.

Preaching, Entry Level

IFBdom Preaching

A local IFB we’ve met mainly in civic-related matters recently wrote a few paragraphs on preaching. Among his points, Kevin Folger says that preachers should:

  1. …Approach the text…without preconceived ideas, notions or thoughts.
  2. …Approach the text simply — let Scripture say what it says.
  3. …Approach the text as a student, mining the text for truth.

Evaluating IFB Practice

The first point is explained by saying that the Bible should form our thoughts for us, rather than our bringing preconceived notions to the Bible. Maybe he thinks this results in a purer reading of the Scripture.

He may not know it, but Mr. Folger adapts a version of Aristotle’s ‘tabula rasa’ for Bible interpretation. John Locke and others held versions of the ‘mind as a blank tablet’ idea. Some take this on a ‘we are the sum of our experiences’ path. Other philosophical derivatives may exist also. The fact is, it simply isn’t possible to do what Mr. Folger suggests. His assertion that we bring no prior ideas to the text is itself a prior idea that shapes his own approach to the text. This is called a ‘self-negating premise.’

The second point on the surface attempts a good show. But it has at least two problems. The first further illustrates the issue with the earlier point.

Mr. Folger must make gigantic assumptions that the English language words in my text mean exactly the same thing as words written millennia ago for an alien culture and in languages we don’t know or use.

Moreover, ‘simply’ in ‘approach the text simply’ too easily ‘translates’ into speaking against any heavy lifting with the text. It’s as if we’re hearing, ‘read it a couple of times and you’ve got it.’ Now go and live it.

I addressed preaching and preparation in the ‘Leaving Fundamentalism’ series. Approaching Scripture and ‘simply’ allowing the text to say what it says doesn’t exactly encourage the diligence that preaching requires whatever Mr. Folger’s third point may say.

Hearing Scripture

1Pe 1:10-11 explains that the prophets preparing questions and took them to the Scriptures in order to know what person or time Christ’s Spirit in them indicated, and what was spoken about his sufferings and glory. The Bereans also formulated questions and brought them to the Scriptures for insight into their value and correctness [Act 17:11].

Questions about faith arise from life. In stable faith traditions, believers discuss, study, pray and think about issues. Questions are formulated with care, prayer and in concert with others. Adjustments are made as needed. These questions are then brought to the Scriptures, which are searched in the spirit of 1Pe 1:10-11. God’s people listen for the dialogue in the Bible on these questions and issues.

When disagreements arise [in healthy traditions, they always do], you go back to reevaluate your questions in light of that fact, and review your process of study. This matters more than fundamentalists may suppose.

In Fundamentalism

  • Presumes that it comes to the text with no assumptions.
  • Presumes that the text means what it says on the surface.

So when disagreement arises, it’s obvious that you’re disobedient.

Beyond Fundamentalism

  • A rational process is followed at each step of the Biblical journey.
  • Study follows a self-correcting path in concert with others.

And agree or not, the result is better theology and better preaching.