In my last major post, I outlined a major reason why I am a fundamentalist: what I see is the biblical imperative for ecclesiastical separation. I also went into the history of fundamentalism and how it was born out of defense of the innerrency of scriptures. Early fundamentalist leaders revered the scriptures too much to stand idly by while other religious leaders attacked them. In a sense, fundamentalism was born out of a love for the scripture, it was a Bible based movement.
Fast forward to today.
Many of the leaders of fundamentalism routinely preach messages anchored in nothing more than their own opinions. It is common practice for a preacher to read a text, pull it completely out of its context, and in violation of the laws of grammar, the laws of logic and the laws of hermeneutics use it as the basis for their sermon. In other words, preachers run right past the questions they should be asking: “What does did the author mean in the orginal writing?” “What does this mean in light of other scripture?” “How does the original meaning apply to us today?” They bypass these questions to get to their own misfounded question: “Will it preach?”
This is dangerous (think atomic bomb dangerous) for so many reasons:
In my opinion, every single problem that fundamentalism is grappling with today flows from our movement’s weak spot for charasmatic speakers who refuse to limit themselves to “rightly dividing the word of truth”.
And it perpetuates itself. If a fundamentalist leader who runs a Bible college refuses to just “preach the word” then how can his college possibly teach young preachers to with any kind of authority. Some fundamentalist colleges don’t even require their pastoral students to take Hermeneutics. At least these colleges are consistent. Listening to some popular college presidents preach, I wonder how they reconcile their catalogue and their president/pastor.
This is by no means everyone in fundamentalism. No matter what your opinon of Crown College, they teach (or at least they did me) a solid curriculum of expository preaching flowing from a careful interpretation of scripture. Dr. Sexton, though not an “expository” preacher (he preaches textually) is still consistently careful to lift up scripture and to be fair in his interpretation of it. Other fundamentalist colleges also seem to have similar programs and leaders. West Coast Baptist College, Pensecola Christian College, and Bob Jones are all major fundamentalist schools that seem to be properly emphasizing hermeneutics and biblical preaching.
While I am personaly grateful for this, I wish they would take it further. I wish that being fair to scripture would be a requirement for speaking from their platform. I’m afraid too many young preachers are beguiled enough by a winsome chapel speaker to be confused about what they are learning in homiletics and hermeneutics.
We live in a day of unprecedented access to information. At some point, every young fundamentalist preacher is going to realize that expository preaching and traditional hermeneutics are being championed by a lot of people who would not label themselves as fundamentalists. Even people criticized by evangelicals (like Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller) seem to have a more solid grasp of hermeneutics than many a fundamentalist pastor.
Who cares more about the Bible, the guy who is studying it hard and teaching it verse by verse but doesn’t label himself a fundamentalist, or the guy who is militantly whacking his Bible on stage while spewing his own opinions and taking verses out of context to support them?
Young people aren’t stupid, and as long as this kind of stuff is tolerated and encouraged while biblical preachers outside of fundamentalism are unfairly criticized, we can expect young guys to be running for their lives.
Feel free to comment, but if it’s ugly it won’t stay up for long: