Fundamentalists are Winning

If you had any doubt about the way Trump has turned the advocates of tolerance into fundamentalists, consider David Brooks’ (courtesy of Rod Dreher) assessment of the left and the right:

I’d say the siege mentality explains most of the dysfunctional group behavior these days, on left and right.

You see the siege mentality not just among evangelical Christians but also among the campus social justice warriors and the gun lobbyists, in North Korea and Iran, and in the populist movements across Europe.

The siege mentality starts with a sense of collective victimhood. It’s not just that our group has opponents. The whole “culture” or the whole world is irredeemably hostile.

From this flows a deep sense of pessimism. Things are bad now. Our enemies are growing stronger. And things are about to get worse. The world our children inherit will be horrific. The siege mentality floats on apocalyptic fear.

The odd thing is that the siege mentality feels kind of good to the people who grab on to it. It gives its proponents a straightforward way to interpret the world — the noble us versus the powerful them. It gives them a clear sense of group membership and a clear social identity. It offers a ready explanation for the bad things that happen in life.

Most of all, it gives people a narrative to express their own superiority: We may be losing, but at least we are the holy remnant. We have the innocence of victimhood. We are martyrs in a spiteful world.

This is precisely how I as a fundamentalist youth thought about the world. I can’t imagine graduating from Harvard and thinking like Jack Van Impe (I wonder if he grew up in the CRC). But apparently, the state of America is so bad that the nation’s elites have taken a page out of my ancestor’s playbook.

Word of advice: the only improvement that fundamentalists would make to Ridley Scott’s decision to erase Kevin Spacey from All the Money in the World would have been to use Kirk Cameron instead of Christopher Plummer.

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41 thoughts on “Fundamentalists are Winning

  1. When the second kingdom to which you are also loyal, there can be no patience or tolerance for the intolerant and the less democratic.

    “if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something,” Billy Graham replied to Nixon.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/01/when-billy-graham-urged-nixon-to-kill-a-million-people/

    Roger Williams—“The want of discerning the true parallel, between Israel in the type then, and Israel the anti-type now, is that rock whereon (through the Lords righteous jealousy, punishing the world, and chastising his people) many make woeful shipwreck. ..
    O that it would please the Father of lights to discover this to all that fear his name! then would not run into the lamentable breach of civil peace and order in the world, nor be guilty of forcing thousands to hypocrisy, in a state worship, nor of profaning the holy name of God and Christ, by putting their names and ordinances upon unclean and unholy persons: nor of shedding the blood of such heretics, and whom Christ would have enjoy longer patience until the harvest: (The Bloody Tenant)

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  2. When exactly did Brooks ever actually understand anybody from the right?

    And who were your “ancestors”? Did your parents favor Arminian decision calls led by John R. Rice as opposed to Arminian decision calls led by Billy Graham? Did you go from a fundy worldview right straight to being “confessional”? Or did you have a transition period in there for the apocalyptic movies of “evangelical” organizations (the Billy Graham crusade)?

    “In 1950, Dr. Robert Ketcham of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches came across a newspaper article indicating that Graham expected Catholics and Jews to cooperate in a revival in Oregon and another which reported that Graham had turned over decision cards to Roman Catholic churches. Ketcham promptly sent a letter of inquiry to Billy himself. His letter brought him a strong rebuke from Graham’s executive secretary—you asked if Billy Graham had invited Roman Catholics and Jews to cooperate in the evangelistic meetings. SUCH A THOUGHT, EVEN IF THE REPORTER DID SUGGEST IT AS HAVING COME FROM MR. GRAHAM, SEEMS RIDICULOUS TO ME. SURELY YOU MUST KNOW THAT IT IS NOT TRUE. … FURTHER, THAT YOU SHOULD GIVE ANY CREDENCE TO THE IDEA THAT MR. GRAHAM WOULD EVER TURN OVER ANY DECISION CARDS TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SEEMS INCONCEIVABLE”

    http://effectualgrace.com/2013/12/05/the-long-history-of-billy-grahams-ecumenism/

    No segregation between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and no segregation between Reformed and Lutherans. As long as we can all together get our views out there, no need for anybody to say they “used to be wrong”.

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  3. David Brooks gets quoted a lot by the Cultural Engagement types and I think that’s because he is almost Christian. One can imagine him being an associate pastor at a Manhattan Redeemer-Lite church – he’s almost there and he’s got the right esprit de corps. Somewhat passive on sexual sins and but very judgmental on transgressions against Social Justice.

    Hasn’t Brooks read the story of Noah and The Flood? Only a “holy remnant” was saved. Only a “holy remnant” was saved when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. Wait till he finds out that Tim Keller believes in the ultimate ‘holy remnant” teaching: Predestination and Limited Atonement.

    “The whole “culture” or the whole world is irredeemably hostile.” Yikes! That sound like Total Depravity to me. Maybe Brooks is ready to take the reigns at a Redeemer-Lite congregation after all.

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  4. mcmark–Kirk Cameron would not give the Reformed side enough plausibility to have lasting influence in the world.

    DGH– would the church even have a Trinitarian theology … without the emperor calling an ecumenical council? Don’t forget either that the conversion of kings gave a plausibility to Christianity that made the evangelization of medieval Europe more plausible than it would have been with Christianity as a minority and persecuted faith. The number of Christians spiked in the first half of the fourth century — from 10% of the population in 300 to 50% in 350 — undoubtedly because Christian politicians made the faith respectable and even remunerative…. The evangelicals who read and take heart from the Gospel Allies would have a dry and parched religious landscape if they had had to depend on Anabaptists who went before…..is anyone going to tell me that the OPC has been incredibly strong — compared to Tim Keller, the Gospel Allies, the hipper portions of the PCA, and the behemoth Southern Baptist Convention — because Orthodox Presbyterians have ministered on the margins?

    mcmark–Perhaps the OPC should have thought twice about excluding Gordon Clark for sake of the liberty to drink. If only they had included their weaker Arminian brothers and sisters, they could have made “evangelicals” a lot better at winning in the right way. I suppose the idea is that the OPC wins in the end (at the justification in its second aspect), and meanwhile gets to boast in being apolitical but not anabaptist (the opc values spiritual things unlike those on their right or left, therefore they may be few but are in the center position)

    Anglican Lee Gatiss—In a Constantinian context, appealing to the conscience to “accept the Christ who died for you” may have had a very powerful effect on those haunted by the weighty obligation of their baptism and church membership …Many intuitively felt the significance of their citizenship in a Christian society. . For Us and Our Salvation, p 118

    https://oldlife.org/2017/02/06/the-2k-middle-way/

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  5. Is that one on of the reasons why Gordon Clark was excluded from the OPC- so those who opposed him had the liberty to drink? I thought it was all about doctrinal issues. Maybe he just rubbed a lot those who opposed him the wrong way. That often is the way reality works among the decision makers in any type of institution.

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  6. Much of what was quoted in D.G.’s article is part of tribalism, not fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is now often used pejoratively to describe a personality type rather than an actual set of beliefs of a particular group.

    Tribalism, on the other hand, is driven by strong group loyalty. It produces a group authoritarianism. From that authoritarianism comes a hostility toward those who do not belong to the group. And perceived persecution only increases that loyalty.

    Fundamentalism on the other hand should be used to describe the basic beliefs of a given group. Christian Fundamentalism, for example, is about 5 basic tenets that revolve around the deity of Christ and the inerrancy of God’s Word. What was unfortunate is that certain personality flaws in some of the early fundamentalists became the defining characteristics of Christian fundamentalism and thus distracting people from the beliefs originally came to define Christian Fundamentalism. We should note that there is nothing in the tenets of Christian Fundamentalism that implies that one must have a particular personality type or set of political views.

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  7. Gospel of Luke, 6:22 The words of Jesus Christ:

    “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.”

    Matthew 10:22 Jesus speaking to His disciples.

    “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

    John 15:19 Jesus speaking again.

    “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

    John speaking in his 1st epistle, 3rd Chapter, 13th verse:

    Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

    The apostle James chapter 4 verse 4b

    Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    The defining reason? The Lord Jesus speaking of Himself. John 3:19-20

    19-“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20-“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

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  8. D.G.,
    Tribalism is basic to the fallen human nature or to how we were created? After all, sin is a natural part of fallen nature. So is it inhuman to confront and battle sin?

    Again, tribalism occurs when loyalty to a group trumps commitment to principles and morals. That means that one can belong to groups and even show certain degrees of loyalty to those groups without being tribal. Now is it more scriptural to embrace tribalism or to remain committed to principles and morals?

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  9. Curt, every *tribe* I’m aware of is deeply committed to their tribal mores and principles. It’s what makes them a tribe. How bout let’s switch the paradigm to cult and culture. Fits the scriptural model much better.

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  10. Let Me…
    Tribalism refers to other groups besides what we think of as tribes. The current usage of the term is, if memory serves, a reaction to the Cold War bipolar view of the Cold War. Too much loyalty to a group can exist regardless of what belonging to the group revolves around. Groups can revolve around ideology as well as ancestry. And in revolving around ideology, that can include theology and denominations. It can also refer to local, regional, and national identities. Tribalism can revolve around ethnicity and race as well as language. Thus, tribalism can exist in any kind of group. And tribalism is strongly reinforced in our society through sports.

    Terminology is not important here, concepts are. And the concept that loyalty to one’s group, regardless of the kind of group, causes one to embrace a moral relativity that says right and wrong depends on who does what to whom must be rejected as being unscriptural especially in New Testament times when we are charged to preach the Gospel throughout the world..

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  11. sdb,
    If what you said is true, then Israel and Judah would have never been punished by God. And the OT prophets would have never spoke about the days when Gentiles could join God’s people.

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  12. Something may be going seriously wrong in the universe.

    This is now the 2nd time I find myself agreeing with Curt.
    This in particular…
    “Terminology is not important here, concepts are. And the concept that loyalty to one’s group, regardless of the kind of group, causes one to embrace a moral relativity that says right and wrong depends on who does what to whom must be rejected as being unscriptural especially in New Testament times when we are charged to preach the Gospel throughout the world..”
    …is a very useful statement.

    The trouble is, I doubt it will help him recognize the way in which he himself violates this very principle by wrenching the scriptures into the categories of his own neo-marxist tribe.

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  13. sdb says: “Covenant faithfulness to the tribe is more important than moralism.”

    This is like saying that loving God is more important than murdering my next door neighbor.

    The former is righteousness and the latter is sin in each instance.

    Covenant faithfulness to God and the pursuit of personal holiness are two sides of the same coin. Covenant faithfulness to God’s tribe and covenant faithfulness to God are also two sides of that coin.

    So actually the biblical model is that covenant faithfulness to God, covenant faithfulness to His tribe (church) and the pursuit of personal holiness are all three sides of the same coin. None of them can exist without the other two.

    “Moralism,” and the Spirit born pursuit of personal holiness are the diametrical opposites of one another.

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  14. Curt, you frame that choice so well.

    Do this or die.

    Who made you god?

    Since we are still fallen, it is possible to have even flaming fundies like you with more loyalty to the Left than to common sense. But you’d never see that with all that righteous glare.

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  15. If your next door neighbor was a Canaanite family who God ordered you to exterminate, then perhaps there is a dichotomy afterall? How do you love the baby you have been ordered to kill? Was it clear to Joshua that they were executing divine justice? My guess is yes, but the text isn’t entirely clear. I’m pretty sure the rank and file didn’t.

    ” “Moralism,” and the Spirit born pursuit of personal holiness are the diametrical opposites of one another.”

    I think you’re saying moralism isn’t the pursuit of personal holiness. If so I agree. The socialist who tells me I am.sinning because I oppose a minimum wage hike or government programs to provide more medical spending is being a moralist. If I oppose the actions because they raise costs for ministries I support, then I am a tribalist. So sue me. I’m a tribalist. I’m loyal to the church first. I give to make sure the hurting in my congregation are helped. Membership has its privileges. Resourced are limited, so sometimes we have to choose. The NT teaches that we should care for those in our congregation and make sure those who labor for the gospel are properly compensated first, then if these needs are met (as if), then we take care of those outside the covenant. Do you disagree?

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  16. Dr. Hart quotes me as saying:” “Moralism,” and the Spirit born pursuit of personal holiness are the diametrical opposites of one another.””

    and then responds with:
    I think you’re saying moralism isn’t the pursuit of personal holiness. If so I agree.
    Yes.
    Moralism is the mistaken idea that certain attitudes and or actions are virtuous in themselves and win brownie points with a legalistic god. The pursuit of personal holiness is the loving desire to believe and please God for His glory no matter who or what it costs somebody or makes them wrong about.
    ============================================
    The socialist who tells me I am.sinning because I oppose a minimum wage hike or government programs to provide more medical spending is being a moralist. If I oppose the actions because they raise costs for ministries I support, then I am a tribalist. So sue me. I’m a tribalist. I’m loyal to the church first. I give to make sure the hurting in my congregation are helped. Membership has its privileges. Resources are limited, so sometimes we have to choose. The NT teaches that we should care for those in our congregation and make sure those who labor for the gospel are properly compensated first, then if these needs are met (as if), then we take care of those outside the covenant. Do you disagree?

    I do not disagree. In fact I couldn’t agree more. In this sense I am a thoroughgoing tribalist.

    The New Testament consistently defines “the poor,” as those in churches that are woefully underfunded. We see the movement of monies from one church to another to meet those needs.

    If not practiced wisely and judiciously (which is quite rare), giving to those outside the covenant simply serves to make sinners more comfortable in their sin.

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  17. “… The NT teaches that we should care for those in our congregation and make sure those who labor for the gospel are properly compensated first, then if these needs are met (as if), then we take care of those outside the covenant …”

    Yes, I agree with what sbd says about this (and I agree with Greg, agreeing with him). In fact, it’s the misinterpretation of Matt. 25:31-46 (and taking it out of context) that is causing mainliners to run around trying to feed the starving world, save the planet, etc. When Jesus says “you gave ME (food, clothing, drink, etc.),” he’s talking about HIM – the church – not the entire world. Elsewhere he says to the pharisees that taking care of the poor was something they should have been doing anyway (according to Mosaic law). HE (his church) is above and beyond all of that. The “law” we have nowadays reaches deep into our pockets and extracts 40% – 50% of our incomes for what should be going to social services such as these. But the command in Matthew is to take care of those in our churches first and foremost.

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  18. D.G.,
    So Robert Godfrey is a good liberal Presbyterian. It was Godfrey from whom I got that idea. Specifically, he said that theology is a study of concepts, not words. I heard him say this in person at WTS.

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  19. D.G.,
    As in your other response, you pivot by trying to change the focus from the subject at hand to the messenger.

    The problem with tribalism for the Christian is this: If group loyalty trumps commitment to principles and morals, then isn’t such loyalty a sign of sin when principles and morals are based on God’s Word?

    And as for your ‘do this or die’ comment, wasn’t that what Paul was saying in I Cor 6:9f-11 says?

    Finally, yes, we all struggle with sin. But why so readily admit that regarding personal sins while opposing that idea regarding group loyalty? And since we all struggle with sin, do you struggle with having too much group loyalty to whatever groups you belong? See, what I have written wasn’t a personal accusation saying who has too much group loyalty to a given group. What I have written says that having too much group loyalty is a sin. And I could easily add since I have said it before that we are vulnerable to the sin of having too much group loyalty because we are all sinners who belong to groups. But again, you try to pivot by changing the focus from the subject at hand to the messenger.

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  20. Greg,
    Just because we have different political views doesn’t mean that I look at all views that are different from mine as sin. And, btw, I have talked about tribalism in terms of a concept, not tribalism as a personal accusation against anyone. So my guess is that you are misreading some of what I am writing.

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  21. I took Curt to mean that “a rose by any other name smells as sweet.” That is to say, regardless of what terminology may be used to convey an idea, it’s the idea we’re actually talking about. Or it should be anyway.

    Of course poorly chosen terminology can lead to unnecessary confusion and hence an undue muddying of the conversational waters too.

    I think Darryl was attributing post modern “nuance” to Curt where at least in this instance, none was intended.

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  22. sdb says: then if these needs are met (as if), then we take care of those outside the covenant. Do you disagree?

    the Lord says it somewhat differently

    Galatians 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

    Luke 10:29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”.
    36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

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  23. Curt: If group loyalty trumps commitment to principles and morals, then isn’t such loyalty a sign of sin when principles and morals are based on God’s Word?

    Not if the primary loyalty is to God Himself. Didn’t Jesus say this? Being obedient to God’s Word isn’t adhering to a moral code in the abstract, but rather is loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourself.

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  24. Curt, how is adjusting to the cult and culture paradigm in scripture not an elevating of concepts over terminology? In the scriptural paradigm, all cultural *tribalism* is trumped by fidelity to the cult. But defining cultic norms w/abstract notions of principles and mores is to decontextualize cultic fidelity and render it as something else. Not all cultural *tribalism* is in contest w/cultic norms. Specifically, the conflict arises when cultural mores demand or install pagan idolatry as part of assimilation, outside of that particular conflict, the level of tolerance is pretty broad. For example, I can’t engage in sex outside of marriage and I may be required to shun a brother(cultic relation) who does but I am to continue in neighborly relationship with my neighbor who is a fornicator. You can’t continue to flatten out the two spheres, cult and culture, and call your fidelity to your deformation, christian. You may be principled and austere, even monastic in your cultural participation but to label it as christian apart from specific cultic norms is to imagine a religious fidelity of your own creation. IOW, politics is largely common in it’s participation outside of resisting something like the emperor’s cult, which is a violation of sacred sphere by the common sphere but even in our resistance we don’t make a common institution, sacred. The parameters of the Cult are not defined by anyone’s notion of culture transforming/responsible ideology.

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  25. Jeff,
    I think you are reacting too quickly to what I wrote. If morals and principles are based on God’s Word, are they guides in how to love God with our whole heart mind, and strength. And when a group demands such loyalty that it trumps our love for God, isn’t that an example of tribalism?

    So what is your point?

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  26. Let Me..
    Your note doesn’t really explain anything. You are so focused on your model of cult and culture, which are really unnecessary to the discussion, and that model is bound by terminology. Don’t believe me? Then explain your last note without using the words cult and culture.

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  27. Greg the not that bad,
    I don’t think D.G.’s interpretation of my differentiation of terms and concepts involves any inclusion of post modernism, but, then again, I might be wrong. Liberal Protestants do come from both the modern and post modern movements so they don’t form a monolith.

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  28. Curt, don’t get curt with me cuz you don’t understand what I’m saying, take it out on yourself. But just for grins, substitute with church and world or sacred and common or temporal and eternal.

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  29. Letme…,
    Why don’t you try writing in a more plain way rather than technical way? Me being Curt is a fixed cost. I am simply saying that you need to do some translation from the model thought that is in your head to the blog for me to more fully respond.

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