Note: What follows is pretty much the original “about this blog”-kind of post for my blog. Some things have changed since this post, and various clarifying posts followed this one. In the interest of preserving the actual historical character of my blog I will reproduce pretty much the original “about this blog” post. You can now view a totally revamped edition of this kind of post, in my “New and Improved ‘About This Blog’ post”. You can learn even more by going to this blog’s “About” page.
Finally after months of planning….
I am finally ready to begin blogging in earnest! Well at least to attempt to begin in earnest. I have decided that even if all of the formatting details of my blog are not what I would like, I can’t complain because Blogger is free!
So, about the blog. I want to here expound on the purpose and plan of my blog. (And then I want to begin!)
The purpose of my blog is to document, sort through, and explain (to myself as well as others) my recent departure from independent fundamental Baptist extremism. I feel that all I have learned in my studies should not be kept to myself concerning this.
My journey was made extra difficult due to the controlling nature of my branch of fundamentalism. There is no liberty to contemplate changing one’s position on a point or two. Any capitulation from any small point is seen as a departure from fundamentalism en toto, and in reality a departure from the faith! Thus, any break from my branch of fundamentalism (at least a break made by someone who was whole-heartedly embracing all of the points to begin with) is necessarily very dramatic and often final. It also results in much pain in the one leaving. When you emerge from extreme fundamentalism, you do so with a lot of disorientation and a feeling that you will never fit in anywhere ever again! More than doctrinal positions and standards are left behind, your very identity is left behind. In a lot of ways, it is very similar to leaving a cult.
So having experienced all the difficulty and agony involved in contemplating leaving and actually leaving, including problems with family and friends, I wanted to hear of other’s experiences on the web, or to connect with some people to help me through this situation. I did not find much out there that dealt with this at all! So I intend to make this a place to deal with such issues, personally, and to hopefully help others. I want to facilitate those who suspect that there are problems with fundamentalism but do not know where to look in Scripture for answers with a forum discussing the shortfalls of fundamentalism. I also want to provide support for those who choose to leave it.
[Clarification: I was involved in an extreme version of independent Baptist fundamentalism (in my opinion). It was more controlling than some other forms of fundamentalism, and it held to more beliefs that were not mandated by the Bible (such as KJV-onlyism, and no pants on women). I have reworked this post and some others to try to reflect the fact that I am not against fundamentalism per se. I find much good in the movement. In fact it was not easy to decide to leave fundamentalism totally. But upon consideration of the movement as a whole, I felt it best to leave. To clarify my views on the subject, let me add here excerpts from a comment I made in response to someone asking me to be more gracious to fundamentalists:
“Let me clarify, somewhat. I do tend to overstate things, and I fear my criticisms of fundamentalism might be more harsh than I intended. In making my point I tend to overstate it, I fear.
There are many positive things about fundamentalists. I will always be thankful for the seriousness which was imparted to me at Fairhaven [Baptist College]. There is an honest effort to please God among many fundamentalists. And there is a sincere faith in the Bible. These are certainly praiseworthy attributes. My criticisms are more directed toward certain misemphases or missing elements in fundamentalism which have great potential to obscure (in my opinion) certain great and important truths of Christianity.
I feel that certain structures established by fundamentalism lend themselves to creating environments which foster a performance based value system. The way we relate to God is on how well we have performed. The way we relate to others in our camp is by how well we have performed. The way we view our self-worth is by how well we have performed. While it is important to obey and conform to God’s standards of holiness, such obedience and conformity does not constitute our acceptance with Him. Jesus’ blood and righteousness do.
This then leads to an emphasis on conforming and being faithful to a set of do’s and don’t’s–which become taboos and rules of community, which by the way are unquestionable. Success is measured by faithfulness to this man-made list of rules and not to how much one has loved others and loved Christ and been changed by His Word.
The large emphasis fundamentalism puts on authority does much to enforce the list and to squelch any independent questioning/research into the validity of the list. This is a big factor in why so much of fundamentalism is defined by personalities, rather than doctrines. No creeds or confessions join fundamentalists, rather personalities and allegiances do. I have found many exceptions to the rule, but by and large the movement is what it has been.
It is these types of things which I feel obscure the vision of Christ that I want to focus my life on. I grant that there are many problems in other Evangelical circles, but one group’s problems does not negate the other’s. I have found that there are many conservative evangelicals who decry the problems of evangelicalism almost as much as fundamentalists do. And they have as deep a respect for God’s Word and desire for holiness. They also have a great passion for a close relationship with Christ (as many fundamentalists do). They may draw their lines of ecclesiastical separation differently than fundamentalists do, but that does not mean they spurn ecclesiastical separation.”] This clarification was made into an actual post, see here.
But most of all, this blog is for me. I like to discuss theology and Scripture. And I like to think that I am right in my positions, etc. I want to convince people about things I think are important. So, I invite you to look into my journal and agree or disagree with the things that make me tick. If you have any on-target comments or useful resources, please post your comments. Ultimately, I believe we all should always be reforming, as the Reformers put it. We should always be sharpening one another in our Christian walk and our journey to the promised land. I do not think that I will arrive in my pursuit of truth. So join me in this mutual journey.
Now as far as my plan goes… I want to post about a variety of topics. I like the idea of having most of my posts fall into a specific category or type of post. I have found a way to keep a running list of each category, thru utilizing an auxiliary blog, and linking to it under my “Categories” section in the right hand margin of this blog. But due to the number of my specific categories, I have limited which categories I will maintain a list of. Now, to more easily explain my idea, I will here group my ideas for specific categories into 3 groups:
These specific categories of posts are of a somewhat general nature.
Hayton Happenings: posts about general happenings in my family.
Blog-o-Babble: posts highlighting great posts I find (or that I comment on) in the blogworld.
The Bethlehem Beat: posts about news concerning my church, Bethlehem Baptist. As well as the latest news (as I hear it) concerning my pastor, John Piper. I might recommend good sermons here, or link to the latest articles or books by my pastor.
Robert’s Recommendations: posts with recommended links, articles, or resources about anything I think worth recommending.
Bob’s Bookshelf: posts where I mention great books I have just read, read in the past, or would love to read if I get a chance.
A Homily by Hayton posts where I present nuggets from the word, in a style that will most definitely not rival Spurgeon, though!
These specific categories of posts are better defined as interesting.
Pulpit Histrionics: posts highlight the more egregious examples of fanaticism and ignorance in Fundamentalist preaching. Many a sermon I heard in my college days majored more on histrionics than hermeneutics. I plan to dip into my sermon notebooks and other sources to bring to light some humorous and perhaps eye-opening examples. I got to see if I actually outlined, or kept the outline to a sermon I heard entitled, “The Seven Dwarfs”! No joke! A visiting pastor actually went through the seven dwarf’s personalities from Scripture, and that was the sermon for chapel!!
Curious or Cultic?: posts highlighting the cultish or just plain unbelievable idiosyncrasies or tendencies of fundamentalism.
The Tradition Track: posts tracking the origin of various traditions in fundamentalism. Or posts that point out that certain things fundamentalists do are merely traditional and not warranted from Scripture.
Remember When?: posts where I remember when! Basically these will be anecdotes and personal reflections from my years in fundamentalism.
RJ’s Journal: posts that more officially document my personal journey out of fundamentalism.
These specific categories of posts are geared towards debating and arguing for my views in opposition to fundamentalist extremism, and other errant (from my point of view) theological systems out there.
The View from my Arm Chair: posts where I discuss anything that I want to discuss, being the great arm chair theologian that I am!
To Debate or not to Debate: posts geared toward debate, or posts highlighting other forums where there is a debate in progress (which I may or may not join).
Always Reforming. Reforming All.: posts where I defend and try to convince others of Reformed Theology (minus infant baptism). Yes, that is Calvinism and Covenant Theology.
Fundamental Flaws: posts devoted to general anti-fundamentalism arguments.
Musical Notes: posts where I discuss music. I will try to debunk much of the myth that surrounds the fundamentalist position on music. I plan to devote many posts which highlight the depth and weight to much of CCM music. When I started listening to CCM, I was amazed at how much of it was as deep as the average hymn I sung growing up. I think fundamentalism horribly maligns many CCM musicians and artists, by relentlessly spreading the word that all CCM is super shallow and weak spiritually. That is just plain hogwash (as my Dad would say!)
Fact vs. Fiction–The Folly of KJV-onlyism: posts devoted to the King James Version Only debate.
More categories might develop as time goes on. But for now, I have a big task ahead of me!
Update: All but one or two of these categories were eventually produced, but as I now use wordpress which includes a category function, my innovative category names have passed by the wayside. While interesting, they were not as useful as could be.
The New and Improved “About This Blog” post: This post has now been revamped and updated. Check out the new and improved “About This Blog” post.
âˆ¼striving for the unity of the faith for the glory of Godâˆ¼ Eph. 4:3,13 \”¢ Rom. 15:5-7