I’m writing this partially in response to a post by my friend Joey. Maybe you should read it up before you continue.
I want to clear up a few things about the relationship between what we popularly call liberal Christianity and fundamental Christianity.
Joey makes a few pertinent points that fundamentalist Christians need to think about. The most obvious is the general idea that we fundamentalist folks have a sort of ‘think like me or you’re going to hell’ mindset. It’s true that most of us seem to think that way. I suppose it creeps in when we start identifying ourselves with a particular school of thought, theology or denomination. We feel like we’re part of a good club and the membership requirement is the acceptance of a statement of faith in doctrine. They will know we are Christ’s disciples by our love, eh? Not by our statements of faith. Not that I consider doctrine to be a fringe issue or unimportant, it’s just that perfect doctrine without love is useless.
But I have a few disagreements and maybe a few clarifications in regards to Joey’s post. One is his view of Bible college. I went to the same place as Joey, though a couple years later. I imagine the teaching I got was pretty much exactly the same as his. I even got my big, healthy serving of Piper like he did. But my experience was very different from his. For me Bible college served as a beginning to many changes in my life and worldview. I know there were many people who walked into KLBC’s doors with a blank slate that they seemed aching to fill with whatever the teachers wanted to shove in there. It wasn’t really like that for me. Let’s face it, kids, if you are willing to believe anything you’ll end up being brainwashed by whoever you listen to, whether a Brethren Bible College, a secular university, a liberal seminary or a wacky pastor. If you don’t have a discerning mind you’ll end up getting screwed because pretty much everyone you come across is gonna have an agenda, even if they think that agenda is God’s honest truth. Fundamentalists get a bad rap because we’re accused of trying to force our opinion on others. But guess what, every book you read and every lecture you listen to is designed to convince you of the truth of the opinion of the writer or speaker, regardless of whether that person is evangelical, atheist, Muslim, liberal or whatever. Everyone in the world is convinced they’re right. If we thought we were wrong we’d try to figure out of was right and believe in that instead…and then we’d be convinced we were right. If you go into it with the right mindset Bible college, like almost any educational institution, can help a lot. It can prod you to challenge what you’ve been brought up with and it gives to a chance to examine things for yourself, if you’re willing to do that. If you’re not willing to do that then it’ll just turn you into your favorite professor. I recommend Bible college, but only to those willing to use their brains for themselves.
But I’ll agree with one thing wholeheartedly. Piper followers, and pretty much everyone who takes the Bible and believes it at face value, are scary people. It’s true. Listen to a Piper sermon if you don’t believe me. That guy is nuts, eh? It actually sounds like he believes that stuff he’s preaching about. I just read over a few of my posts over the last year. I guess a bunch of them are pretty scary, too. I suppose the reason we sound so scary is because our worldview makes us that way. Realize this: if we believe that the Bible is God’s true word to man and inerrant (and we should check that stuff out before jumping on board and screaming ‘Yes! And death to all who disagree’) then we will find ourselves living scary lives. If we believe that seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the way to go then we will be living lives that look totally foolish. If we believe that living is Christ and death is gain we will be very different people than most. I actually appreciate a lot of things about liberal Christians, though I disagree with much that they claim. I appreciate that they live lives relatively consistent with what they claim to believe. The people who scream that the Bible is totally inerrant and that everyone is going to hell but them and their crew, yet live like average, selfish, worldly folks are idiots or liars.
In the end we find that most of the things we hold to touch on the subjective. Liberal and conservative scholars can argue their heads off all day long and both have really convincing points, but few people ever really change their views because of a public debate. For a while I held a very liberal view of the Bible. I started leaning toward a more conservative interpretation right before Bible college. In recent years I started to test my conservative interpretation, because the fundamentalists who claim to have the almighty power of God on their side had better be willing to prove it. So I tried to prove it. I took Jesus at his word when he told me to give up all for him, to give a bunch of money away and seek first God’s righteousness. So far everything’s been taken care of and the promises of God have held true.
And what if it is all true? What if the Bible really is what it claims to be? What if the foolishness of God is indeed wiser than the wisdom of man? There is a heavy charge on all of us. Find out what is true. Find it and value it because truth, above all things, is important. Don’t let your presuppositions and desire to be ‘right’ rob you of the truth. And once you start finding out what the truth is, live according to that knowledge. There’s nothing worse than a man who claims to know a truth yet lives as if that truth is a fable.
Also check out the bottom half of Jerry’s post for more on this.
And because I love you all, I’ll throw in a few pictures today.
This is me making some yummy, homemade butter and the boys raiding it before anyone else gets to it. Also included are the ever-important Joseph pics. He’s pretending to cry in the third shot. I dunno why.