Saturday, March 20, 2010

What is Really in a Name?

Kevin Bauder's blog In the Nick of Time lit up much of the FB and blog kingdom recently. The content and spirit of the post were like the warm spring breezes that envelope you after a cold winter. The spirit of love and respect for other brothers in Christ was refreshing. Here are a few excerpts from his blog if you have not seen it yet.

Conservative evangelicals are not our enemies. They are not our opponents. Conservative evangelicals have proven themselves to be allies and even leaders in the defense of the faith.

If we attack conservative evangelicals, then we attack the defense of the faith. We attack indirectly the thing that we hold most dear, namely, the gospel itself, for that is what they are defending. We should not wish these brothers to falter or to grow feeble, but rather to flourish. We must do nothing to weaken their hand in the face of the enemies of the gospel.

If we believe that we must respond to conservative evangelicalism, then let us begin by addressing the areas in which they have exposed our weakness. Let us refocus our attention upon the exaltation of God. Let us exalt, apply, and defend the gospel in all its fullness. If we were more like what we ought to be, perhaps we would feel less threatened by those whose exploits attract the attention of our followers.

Dave Doran responded to Kevin Bauder's article stating that he agreed with much of what Bauder had to say. Doran correctly pointed out that labels are not always quite as accurate as we might wish. There is a wide variety of men and beliefs within conservative evangelicalism (as there is in fundamentalism). In a more recent article Doran suggests that we "throw away the labels and ask these two questions: Of what are you in favor of? To what are you opposed? Agreement on those two items will more likely produce workable partnerships and real fellowship."

I don't know that Doran is actually suggesting we throw away the label "Fundamentalist" since it has been hijacked by those vehemently claim the inspiration of the KJV. I certainly don't wish to put words in his mouth. However, it does make you wonder. Labels are supposed to be helpful... I think. An applesauce jar should contain applesauce, and a baker would be quite disappointed if the flour bag actually contained baking powder. So what about the label "fundamentalist?" Historically, I couldn't agree with it more!! I have the utmost appreciation and respect for many of the men who have proudly worn the label before me and who have given me my spiritual heritage. But how helpful is the label now? Unsaved people likely think of compound polygamists, underwear bombers, or sadly enough, Bible burners. It is understandable why some believers hold the label "fundamentalist" with some hesitancy (see Bible burning). Granted, the label has been hijacked. But if it cannot be reclaimed, what is most expedient for the sake of the gospel?

What really matters is the gospel! I am a wicked sinner, saved by the precious blood of Jesus! The labels I should claim the most fiercely are "child of the King" and "a sinner, saved by grace!" How quickly my renegade heart turns its focus from my Savior to earthly associations. God, keep my focus on you!

1 comment:

  1. It's much easier to get along with people inside a "club" where you already know that you agree with everyone. :~)

    As humans, we always want to create labels so that you will know who is friend and who is foe. Many times this is an excuse for insecurity about our own beliefs. To the extent that we don't have a good answer to everyone that asks of us a reason for the hope that lieth within us, we avoid those people who might ask us "difficult questions" and instead indulge in self aggrandizing (even at the group level). This typically involves proclaiming why "we're right" and "they're wrong" whether or not we're 100% sure about that, and without regard for passages such as I Corinthians 8 & 13. I *love* verses 1 & 2 of I Corinthians 8. I think it describes our current situation perfectly!

    Labels can be useful, but they also can focus us on the wrong things.

    Labels: use with CAUTION. :~)