I’m Bob Hayton, a former Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB), who now embraces Reformed Theology. I blog to: 1) spread a passion for Jesus Christ, 2) help people harmed by extreme fundamentalism, 3) incite wider reform in fundamentalism & beyond, and 4) defend my theological positions. Also, since 2008, I have focused on reading and reviewing books–using my blog as a tool to encourage me to keep reading. I now have collected all my reviews under the “Book Reviews” tab on this site.
The Short Version
I am a graduate of a conservative independent fundamental Baptist college who has discovered new life in reformed theology. This blog is where I chronicle my journey out of extreme fundamentalism (IFBx) while discussing the shortfalls of fundamentalism and the strengths of Calvinism. I’m under no illusion that I might transform fundamentalism, but I hope to share my struggles and discoveries with others who might benefit from my journey. For more on the blog see below. For more on my background and the particulars of my journey out of fundamentalism, see below or read my story or the long version of “about this blog” below.
About This Blog
This blog, being about me, is the place where my thoughts and views are expressed. But you already knew that.
Okay, so let’s begin with my blog’s name. Maybe that will clue you in as to what my blog is about.
Fundamentally Reformed. It means I am a reformed fundamentalist, as in no longer in the fundamentalist movement. It also means that I am one who now embraces reformed theology. In fact, my blog’s subtitle is “reforming fundamentalism (IFB) through reformed theology”, and so yes, I believe that reformed theology could reform many in fundamentalism.
Right about now it is important to define some terms. First, when I speak of fundamentalism I speak of independent Baptist fundamentalism (IFB). Some equate the term with Muslim extremism, while others with evangelical theology or Christianity in general. Neither of those definitions work.
Secondly, I need to give some of my background so you know from what “branch” of fundamentalism I came from. The fundamentalism I came from is often termed IFBx (extreme fundamentalism). I think the definition fits, although I tend to think an asterisk is called for. My alma mater, for instance, is not into the blatant man worship and ultra traditionalism which permeates those who rightfully own the IFBx label. They find Scriptural reasons (using sound hermeneutical methods, for the most part) for the standards and positions they adhere to. In fact, I am thankful for the emphasis on Scripture and a serious devotion to Christ that I inherited from this branch of fundamentalism.
It is the positions they hold and how tenaciously they hold them, which makes that branch of fundamentalism extreme. Some of the positions they hold, such as KJV onlyism and the teaching that women should not wear pants are extreme in the sense that there is so little clear teaching in Scripture which demands these positions. The few verses claimed to support them have other obvious interpretations available. Yet only one interpretation is allowed. Other positions which may have a larger Scriptural support, are held in such a way as to say that only their own interpretation is correct. If one is not pre-trib rapture, or if they hold to less than conservative music style, or if they hold to any form of Calvinism, they are not only wrong, but worthy of censure and separation. The broader movement of fundamentalism might limit fellowship to some degree over these issues, but they do not “write off” those who hold differing views to the extreme degree that IFBx fundamentalists do.
A further consideration here comes with regard to the extreme emphasis on loyalty and allegiance to personalities. IFBx fundamentalists view any departure from their list of required positions as compromise and disloyalty. This sector of fundamentalism also places an undue emphasis on authority. Any questioning of a position, however sincere and non threatening, is viewed as an attack and a threat to the leader’s ministry. Such a situation begs a complicit adherence to the authority’s list of do’s and don’ts and facilitates an unhealthy separation of external conformity and internal heart worship. With such a stress on outward conformity, it is easy to seek to gain acceptance by men while neglecting the matters of the heart. While the particular circles of fundamentalism I came from were not as extreme in this regard as other IFBx groups, they still hold an undue emphasis on loyalty and conformity, which again puts them as IFBx* in my book.
Within this 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 this 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 one emerges from extreme fundamentalism, they do so with a lot of disorientation and a feeling that they will never fit in anywhere ever again! More than doctrinal positions and standards are left behind, one’s 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 others’ 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 started this blog to provide a place to deal with such issues, personally (by chronicling my journey and putting my rambling thoughts on all these issues down on paper), and to hopefully help others. I wanted 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.
This blog, then, aims to help others who are in their own journey within fundamentalism. The blog may help some leave fundamentalism totally. And it may give some needed help and support to those who already have left (or who choose to). It might also give others some perspective and help in leaving the more extreme corners of fundamentalism and settling into a more balanced wing of the movement. Let me be clear, I do not necessarily want to get everyone out of fundamentalism. I think the movement still has some value and there are many who are doing a great job in calling for reform. Sharper Iron, for instance, represents many different strands of reasonable fundamentalists who share a balanced perspective, a wariness of traditionalism, and a desire to save the movement.
So with all the above having been said, let me briefly mention some of the topics this blog discusses. I don’t harp on fundamentalism with each post. I discuss reformed theology, Calvinism, and covenantal theology often, and I include some devotional and general interest posts. I do discuss fundamentalism, separation/unity, standards, as well as specific issues like KJV Onlyism, and Music. And I like to highlight some of the newer music written today which has great and Christ-glorifying lyrics. While I like to practice armchair theology, review books and recommended articles and such, sometimes I merely reminisce about my own past or peculiar eccentricities of fundamentalism. I also share family and church news. In short, my blog contains a wide array of interesting topics. (Hey, I think what I write about is interesting, doesn’t everybody?)
More Info on the Blog
Finally, let me link to a few posts from the past which can help you get a sense of the mission and direction of this blog, and of my particular take on fundamentalism. But before I do, let me state one more obvious thing. The best way to learn about this blog, is to read it!
- This post gives an introduction to blogging for the uninitiated
- This post lays out my commenting policy
- This post highlights my ultimate aim in all of my blogging
- This post and this post clarify my critique of fundamentalism
- This post explains my motto (“Striving for the Unity of the Faith for the Glory of God”)
- This post (which is basically a copy of this about page) includes some discussion in the comments section which may help you understand what exactly is my differentiation between IFB and IFBx
- And finally, this post is my original “about this blog”, kept for posterity’s sake.