Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Exiting Fundamentalism?

Although I would not consider myself one who has left fundamentalism, especially since I pastor an independent fundamental Baptist church. But, I have left behind many of the bad ideas that seem to define fundamentalism nowadays. Probably a year and a half ago when I first started this blog, I may have been a little too sarcastic, or bold in my posts concerning the problems of fundamentalism due to some of these symptoms that I have observed from those who have taken the exit. Even though I didn't leave the house of fundamentalism, I may have left the family room to go sit in the basement where I can get away from all the racket and think! So, if you are someone in an IFB church and you have been wanting to leave, or you have already left, here's some potential dangers and symptoms that you may have experienced:

1. Distrust of Pastoral Leadership
If you have experienced a manipulative or dictatorial personality who filled the pulpit in your last IFB church, then wherever you go, you're going to hold that suspicion of the next pastor no matter how humble and loving he may be.

2. Uncertainty of belief on major “doctrines” such as the IFBX ideas of easy believism type soul winning, the KJV only position, isolation type separation, and extra-biblical, legalistic standards can leave you wide open to all kinds of errors since you were never taught spiritual discernment in the first place. Once you have learned that one of these issues was a farce, you will tend to doubt all of them, and may even throw up your arms and say: "I don't know what to believe anymore!!"

3. Bitterness and buried anger which always turns into a gossip session about how bad their last church was and how God has delivered you out of it every time you get together with other believers. The next ten years' conversations with your old friends will always seem to go back to these issues instead of talking about the new graces that you have been experiencing.

4. Unwillingness to make committments to service in their next church. You may only show up for fellowship type things, but not service. I think that because of the emphasis on church involvement 24/hours a day, 7 days a week has burned out so many people, they go to the next church and won't lift a finger when people are called on to work in some ministry. They become critical spectators. Of course, when food is served, they'll be there for sure!

5. Uneasy with the idea of liberty towards those who don’t see everything eye to eye with them.
You walk into a new church and see the pastors wife wearing pants......gasp!....This becomes the topic of discussion between you and your wife over lunch. You just keep a safe distance from anyone that's not like you so you don't get soiled by their lack of high standards.

6. Shock and disappointment with other church’s low emphasis on externals: dress, hair, elaborate church facilities, etc. This is what I felt after leaving the Leadership Conference in Lancaster, CA to arrive at The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley. This is IT? They havn't re-modeled in 20 years!! What? The assistant pastor isn't wearing a tie!??

7. Struggle with equating numbers with success and blessing in their minds for authentication of validity. Of course, this one is the one that actually keeps people in their IFB churches that continue to abuse them because: "I don't know about that church, they are only running 100."

8. Wide open to Bible doctrine that they were starved from learning, but vulnerable to swallowing a new system of theology without really getting it. Ok, so you've made the exit and a month later, you are now a five point Calvinist! You took the pendalum swing from one extreme to another! Take your time, learn, search the Bible, don't just swallow whatever the next thing is....you've been conditioned to swallow without asking questions. After being duped two or three times, you'll find yourself sitting in front of the TV on Sunday mornings watching football in ten years if you don't get to know God first!

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