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Fundamentalism with a Passion

March 26, 2012

The church in Ephesus had turned aside from her first love. Christ warns her of the danger if she does not repent. In His warning He points out the problem and provides the solution. The solution to departure from the first love is threefold, remember the place that has been left, repent and return to the original deeds. The original deeds done in Ephesus are found in Acts 19, and three things in particular stand out. First, there was a commitment to ongoing instruction in the Word. Second was a commitment to obedience to the Word, regardless of the cost. Third was a life that brought glory to God.

In my estimation, fundamentalism has followed the same path as the Ephesians. We have maintained doctrinal integrity, we have kept proper standards and associations, but in doing so we have left our original love for Christ. The solution for fundamentalism is the same. Return to the deeds which were done at the beginning. Return to a passion for sound Biblical instruction. Return to a full fledged, unswerving commitment to obedience to the Word. In recent years within many segments of fundamentalism obedience to the Word has somehow become equated with obedience to a particular set of standards. While the standards may be excellent standards, and they may be accurate applications of the Word, they are not the Word of God. This replacing the Word with an extra Biblical standard inevitably results in a false sense of obedience and self righteousness. One can be angry and petty, but still be alright because he has kept the standards. One can have a caustic tongue, but still be alright because his dress code and hair cut meets the standards. One can properly keep the list of externals because the hidden depravity and selfish desires of the heart are never addressed. Obedience to standards by themselves results in a disobedience to the Word. Fundamentalism has erred in elevating any set of derived standards to an importance nearly equal to that of the Word. We must repent and return to a full obedience to the Word, going beyond the externals to the matters of the heart.

Fundamentalism has at times departed from obedience to the Word through an elevation of the opinions of particular men or circle of influence. Biblical fellowship and Biblical confrontation have been left behind in the hopes of maintaining a desired relationship, out of fear of being labeled an agitator or  of being seen as a compromiser. This is tragic. The fear of men has no place in a believers life and ministry. Fundamentalism must return to a radical commitment to obedience to the Bible that will place God’s Word as vastly more important than any other consideration. Not just professing obedience to the Word, or only obeying the Word when it suits ones purposes, but practicing obedience no matter what the loss or difficulty. The Ephesian church willingly burned several million dollars worth of books in obedience to the Word. The early Fundamentalists willingly left behind positions, friendships and risked the loss of properties and resources to obey the Word. Sadly, it seems that many today are not willing to risk the loss of one man’s favor or the dropping one groups endorsement to obey the Word.

We must return to lives that make the glory of God the most important consideration in all we do. We must return to a philosophy of ministry that makes the faithful exaltation of God’s majesty supreme. We must repent of ministry philosophies which elevate numerical success. We must reject pragmatism and return to ministry that considers accurately lifting up God before all creation as its single most important objective, regardless of acceptance, response or popularity.

In the end, the solution offered to a departure from the first love is to couple strong doctrine with an equally strong commitment to the Source of that doctrine, obedience to the Word and glorification of God. Fundamentalism does not need more passion or emotion, it needs increased commitment to the study of the Word and absolute obedience to God’s Word so that in our churches God will be obviously most important.

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