The following is an enlightening discussion among some of the leaders of today’s fundamentalism. The participants in this discussion are: Dave Doran, pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church and president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI; Mark Minnick, pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church and long-time professor at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC; Chris Anderson, pastor of Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, OH; and Kevin Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, MN. The panel included some other members too, but only these and the moderator (who I assume was host pastor Mike Harding) were participants in the following exchange.
The panel discussion is from the Preserving the Truth Conference, and available as a free MP3 download there. This question and the ensuing discussion can be found at 8:33 – 26:38 on the MP3. I did the transcription below myself, so any errors or inconsistencies in punctuation are my fault. Anything within brackets was added for explanation. I thought having this transcribed would be of interest to many, as otherwise it is buried in an audio download that not everyone would take time to listen to.
This is a bit lengthy, but regular readers of my blog should find it interesting. For those wondering what fundamentalists think of evangelicals, this would be good reading too. I’ll reserve my comments until after the exchange.
Moderator: Much has been written about the differences between fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. What do you consider to be the most significant differences and why? I’m going to address that to Dr. Doran.
Dave Doran (D): Well, let me begin by saying… that I… implied in what I said in my session is, that I think those are defective categories. Uh… So, I don’t think they are helpful for the discussion. They operate with a sense of us and them. When if I could just… My thought on it is… We’re not sure who “us” is, we’re not sure who “them” is. We’re not sure what makes us, “us”; and what makes them, “them”. So to… to have the conversation seems inevitably to run into significant ditches, and… and that’s the tension. Now if… if I could… uh… if I could go back to what was just being said. If we wanted to take a distinctive that I think must control our relationships and say what is a church’s and, for lack of a better term, minister’s belief and practice with regard to the defense of the faith. Do they believe that we cannot extend Christian recognition and fellowship to those who have denied the faith? And that in fact to do that is a disobedience of such a high order that we must withdraw fellowship or withhold it from them? If that becomes the… the… the ah, umbrella within which we can have fellowship, then I think you’re going to have a people who have a lot of different distinctives and you’re going to have people who are closer, more closely aligned with each other at various spots inside there. But it won’t be ah… we can’t have any connection to all of these, or else the rip cord side of it would be… I personally believe, that there are people who are accepted by fundamentalists with whom we should not, ah… we should not accept. And if people are part of associations or fellowships that accept them, do I have to now pull out of my fellowship with those people? And we’ve not done it to that direction. We’ve only done it to the other side. And my point would be to say, uh… that’s why I think it ceases to function well for us to have those 2 categories at this point. Because the “us” category, the “fundamentalist” category is such a mixed breed right now, personally. And, and… every time, like even, and I thought Matt did a great job in the creation thing but, when he was trying to ask the question… conservative evangelicals and young earth creation… he starts naming names. And they believe it, they don’t believe it; they believe it, they don’t believe it. So… so, is there actually a conservative evangelical position on it? Because we don’t even know who those are, like Tremper Longman. I wouldn’t necessarily even put [him] in a conservative evangelical [position], but some people might… But so that’s the tension. Who is “them”? And… so, I just think… I am personally of the view, that… um, that… that as long as we’re thinking of those categories and we’re trying to think of what distinguishes us from them… uh… we’re running into a wall, because we’re coming up with things that we wouldn’t separate from fundamentalists who think those things. That’s my thoughts.
Moderator: And it’s open up for discussion.
Mark Minnick (M): Yea… I… here’s… and I really understand what Dave is saying. Part of my way of trying to get at an answer is to ask what… what, do those people say about themselves in distinction from us. And when I’ve had opportunity of interchange with them, that’s what I try to get at. Because… because the distance here, is… is two way. It isn’t just that we have distanced ourselves, but they are self-identified as well. So when they look at us, what do they say is not true of them, that is true of us and important to us? What are those things?
D: I’ve not heard any. Because… because the people… the people they say that about, I say you’re right.
M: Oh, you mean… when… when they say, that’s not me.
D: Well, when they say… If I say to them, “What about fundamentalism…”
M: …and you say it’s not you either…
M: Yea. Right. [signifying agreement]
D: “…What do you do you reject about fundamentalism?” When I hear them describe it, I go, “I don’t believe that”.
Chris Anderson (?): Well, you add… you add to that… The conservative evangelicals are more likely to speak in ways to disassociate themselves from broad evangelicalism. You know… they’re they’re actually looking at evangelicalism saying, “We’re not that; we’re opposed to that; let’s you know…” Our church when we go through an orientation class… we kind of teach “Here’s where we stand historically”. We’ll go through “Fundamentalism and modernism have had their controversy, and we’re on the fundamentalism side of that”. “Fundamentalism and new evangelicalism had their controversy and so the pie gets cut again and we’re on the fundamentalism side of that”. And when we started that with a church plant, I would just stop there, “so… we’re on the… you know, that’s… that’s us”. And now I actually… you know go further… and say, “Now within this group of fundamentalists that separated, at least you know historically, they’re following those who separated from new evangelicalism… now there are so many other issues within this piece of the pie that we don’t agree with…” “And there’s actually some of the evangelical piece of the pie that is more like us than they are like the evangelicals, and that I agree with them more than I agree with…” It’s just become very complicated… And… uh, I agree… I agree that the “us” and “them” and… and those kind of categories… It’s probably simpler to say let’s take just one issue like music, and how do we relate to… you know… how do we differ on that issue. Well, within evangelicalism you’re going to have Sovereign Grace [Music] and you’re going to have Paula S. Jones. It… everything is just complicated and it needs attention on one issue, one person at a time, I think.
D: If if I could just… add one thing. My point would be to say, I don’t think we obliterate the categories so that we can cooperate with each other. Mine is to say, those categories are not functioning well. So let’s go to what was the category that preceded these categories, and that is about the defense of the gospel, the purity of the church. Where… where does a person come down on those issues? And this is where I would affirm, what I’ve always said, Do they agree with and demonstrate through application that agreement… So if somebody tells me “Yea, I’m a separatist”, and if they’ve never actually done it, then I’m not sure that… you know… So if they agree and apply with what seems… what seems to be a good… good conscience effort to apply it, then… then I know there’s at least something something there, to use a Bauderism, that we have in common, about which we can fellowship. But if we don’t, at that point… There’s share, share, there’s something we share…
Kevin Bauder (B): Um, Dave, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, Dave.
D: Sure you do.
B: No, I’m…
B: No, I get it.
D: Come on, just cut right to the chase.
B: I don’t disagree with the point. But, here we are, we’re us and none of them are here.
Moderator (?): There’s a few of them out there.
D: Yea I was saying… I think based on what I said… Some of them are thinking they are.
B: And when it comes to T4G and the Gospel Coalition there they are. And I don’t know, Mark, have you… have you been invited to preach at T4G, Gospel Coalition?
B: Dave, have you?
D: But… but I don’t think that’s because of my fundamentalism. They, ah…
Moderator (?): It’s your goatee.
B: We’d like the list!
D: No, I’m just… I mean… who’s?.. They’re not going to ask me to speak it, they’re going to look at the list, and go “Dave Doran, who is that?” You know…
M: No but… but listen… that’s part of my viewpoint on this. I really share this with Kevin. Almost… almost all of the overtures in the last 10 years have been made from our side. In other words, we… we have been the ones…
D: I think you… you were invited to preach at Capitol Hill Baptist Church [Mark Dever’s church], weren’t you?
D: So was I. So there’s at least one overture that…
M: Yea, but that was after we made the overture to him. In other words..
D: Not, not in my case.
M: And I would only use that…
D: He sought me out. We were in the same place, and he sought me out because he was trying to figure out fundamentalists.
B: Now, I’d be interested to know in both your cases, did you do it, and why or why not.
M: Yea… well, yea… but… but, the background on this…
D: You know that light… that buzzer that goes out when you’re backing into something? You just heard it. “Me-me-me-me-me.”
M: No… I mean, the broader background to this is… I know that for 10 or 15 years here… that men within our movement have made an effort to try to get some of these men together occasionally in private settings, and say “Let’s talk, we don’t really understand”, or “We don’t think you understand us, and we know we don’t… maybe understand your heart”. Um… And I think… I think we have been the initiators in general for that kind of thing. And in those talks there are differences that come out on the principial level. Um… and so… when those things are there, even though we in some cases have found we’re pretty close, when it comes to the consistency of application, it breaks down. And puts me, I know, in a position, where I would end up giving a very uncertain sound to the people that God has entrusted some responsibility of example to. Um… if I then join together with their glaring inconsistency of practice of the principle they agreed with, in private, with me. Because publicly, they’re not enunciating that principle, and they’re not known for articulating it publicly and they’re not known for consistently practicing it. Where, I am. I’m not saying this approving of myself. I’m just saying as part of the movement I am… I’m in. I’m known for being willing publicly to go to the mat on that principle, articulate it, and try to consistently practice it. So that’s… just what I run into.
D: And I would say in large measure I agree with you. The places where I would potentially disagree would be: I’m not certain that we have actually gone to the mat on our principles to the degree that we claim we have. Because we have tolerated aberrant doctrine and immoral behavior in the larger movement, in a way that, in times parallels what they have tolerated for greater good causes.
M: But have we? When you say we have…
D: Jack Hyles preached…
M: but he
D: …in the pulpit in Greenville [SC, near BJU]…
D: …well after he had preached the eternal humanity of Jesus Christ. Well after people had suspicions about his moral behavior. So I would say yes. We have. Now I don’t think we’re all culpable for that.
D: But my point is to say… but we hold them all culpable for the glitches on the other side.
M: But are our glitches aberrations to what we try to consistently practice. Or, are they frankly what we are known for? At… at… actually…
D: But known to who? To ourselves?
M: No. I would say known to the world.
D: But see, and this would go back to the question of the invitations…
M: You guys on the right need to jump in here!
D: But I mean, but… and… and I’m not… I’m just simply…
B: You can forget about it, Bubba! This is really interesting.
D: You see, I’m… And honestly, I’m just saying if… If you… If we had, for instance… Let’s… let’s, look at this way. There has been for 12 to 14 years a consistent orbit of people who have criticized me on the translation issue.
M: I haven’t.
D: No, I know that.
M: I’m with you.
D: And I was glad you came along because then they jumped on you! So… but, but… so here’s the deal. Um… Let’s say one of those guys decides that they want to come over and say. “Hey, I really want to understand what you believe here”. And then he goes back to his friends and said, “Do you realize we’re the only ones that go talk to Doran and Minnick? Doran and Minnick never invite us over to talk to them.”
M: Who, who’s the…
D: These King James people.
M: Oh, okay.
D: We don’t invite them over. “Hey come on over and learn what we’re thinking here”.
M: I’ve never had one of them do that.
D: Right, but what I’m saying though… The reason would be… is, because we assume they are so hostile to us that they’re not going to… that we’re not going to seek them out. And… and, here are these guys that for twenty or thirty years we’ve been ripping the shreds out of them… And we wonder why they don’t invite us to ask what we think about them! I mean that’s the problem. So… so… so, the reality of it is…
M: I don’t know. I’ve had the shreds ripped out of me!
M: …from people that don’t even know me. So…
D: Right, ok.
M: …on the other side I’m talking about.
D: Yes, I agree. I agree but… what I’m saying though… is that I think logistically, that there’s conversations happening and us going and saying “I think you’re not representing what we believe properly”… is not that they have no interest in it. I don’t think that can be used against them, because we have had… uh… I mean I’ve had… you’ve had conversations, I’ve had conversations with these guys. And… and, all they know about… and I”ll say us… is the the stuff where they’re having their salvation questioned. They’re being accused of… of, apostasy, of aiding apostasy… of all that stuff. And we’re not talking about Billy Graham, and I mean… I’ve never had a conversation with Billy Graham. I’m assuming you haven’t. Maybe you have, I don’t know.
M: [laughs] No.
D: We’re not talking about those guys. We’re talking about the guys that generationally are our age… our age…
D: …and… and all they’ve done is… they’ve grown up… They’ve grown up hearing certain things, and have misconceptions. It doesn’t mean… My answer, to go back to Kevin’s . My answer was to Mark [Dever], “No”. “No I won’t come and preach, and the reason I won’t come and preach is because I don’t agree with stances that you’ve taken. And your church might be an anomaly in the fellowship that it’s in. But it’s not the the rest and… and I… I’m not comfortable with that.” Now obviously…
M: You took a harder line than I did.
D: Yes, I think I did actually. I mean, and… and that’s I… ah, and I’ll say it the bad way: everyone knows you’re a better Christian than I am.
M: So you are to the right of me!
D: I am. Honestly, I think that’s sort of the weirdness of this thing… it’s that, uh… I actually have, very conservative positions. But those are not, ah… I… What I believe, and what everyone must believe are not exactly the same. And… and, therefore… therefore, I feel like I have to give some latitude for others that disagree with me on some points… ah… that I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable with, ah… for a variety of reasons that… that we would wrestle through principially and leadership-wise and everything connected to that.
This marks the end of the answer to that particular question, and the discussion goes on to other questions. I highly recommend you download the audio from the panel discussion.
I thought this section of the discussion was eye-opening and refreshing at the same time. It is a sneak peek at what’s going on as the leaders of today’s fundamentalism think through how to interact and relate with those who don’t claim the label fundamentalism. I think Doran’s explanations were helpful, but I can also see where Minnick is coming from. The best line of it all, I thought, was about how the fundamentalists hold non-fundamentalists culpable for all the bad decisions in their movement, but don’t want to be taken to task for the black sheep among them.
Take a listen to the entire discussion for a fuller sense of what went on, and drop a line to let me know what you think! You can also see a clarification from Doran on what he was getting at in this discussion.