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The Historic Clash
The Plush Halls of Propaganda, or the Peace of Truth
It is well-known that the term 'fundamentalism' related to an historic clash, in which the move to assert that certain definable minima would be required, was made. Those so insisting were deemed fundamentalists, and in the days when liberalism was baring its radical gold-tipped teeth (it had access to very considerable funds, as it took over numbers of wealthy denominations in a seditious coup) , this was taken as a form of verbal abuse, much delighted in by the revisionists.
They, with such "weaponry" were really diverting historic Christianity into a new mould, and changing the very structures erected often with suffering and sacrifice, to another end. It was rather like Hitler's take-over of Europe. HE did not build Europe; but he found it very pleasant to have it in possession, diverting its powers to what he preferred.
The difference in the case of some of the subverted mainline denominations was this: that they did not CALL themselves, like Hitler in comparative honesty, by another name. They tried to maintain themselves as the very thing, so that masses followed them, failing to apply ear ointment to their itching ears, and a fantastically clever subversion was accomplished; the very power built up to do good, was now in chains to do evil, like occupied Europe in World War II.
Let us however revert to the term "fundamentalism". Such was the aura, the euphoria of being a Christian without tears in this setting, that the term became, then, one of abuse. Hence in the Presbyterian field, there has been considerable reluctance to employ it, though it is true that Dr Francis Schaeffer did so employ it. That is fine when you DEFINE the term, and have the leisure/space/time to do so, in a given communication medium. However, when this is not so, as can so readily occur in a fitful, flashy Presbytery or other meeting, the term has an ambiguity which it is often better to avoid - that is, without definition.
In the case of the famed Auburn Affirmation
in the early 20th century history of the US Presbyterian Church,
there was indeed a series of minimal terms for faith to adopt, and the
failure to accept this became a major cleavage, when the word was this:
WE DO ACCEPT THEM, but there are those of the brethren who do not and we
shall NOT, repeat NOT, allow them to be brow-beaten in this way!
An Example from New Zealand
In fact, a similar situation springs to mind in the Presbyterian Church of N.Z., when the author was a Minister in it. In our Presbytery confrontation, at the time of the Geering episode, when the bodily resurrection itself, in an excess of audacity was actually in ... question in the CHURCH, through this seminary principal's disbelief, publicly expressed, an interesting, indeed arresting development occurred. A clerk of Presbytery affirmed that although he personally was persuaded that the teaching of the Bible was of a bodily resurrection, and he may even have said that he was of the view it was the case ('view' is often as far from 'faith' as paralysis from athleticism): yet he did not like the vigour and address of the attack on its denial, and so would vote AGAINST the bodily resurrection statement. In fact, the only thing in the proposal to condemn the disbelief, was the entire structure of the language in which it was made, indicated that this was a DENIAL OF THE BIBLICAL FAITH, which of course it is (cf. Luke 24:25,39, John 24:29).
It is in fact made a criterion of the principle of faith by Jesus the Christ, and held out in terms of a categorising reality in the area of faith. It was this: DID HE HAVE HIS BODY, transformed individually and physically, or did He not! Thomas doubted, and Christ made this display of proof one in which Thomas, though satisfied, was contrasted with the blessedness of the person who would receive the testimony, though the body would by that time be in heaven (John 6:62-63).
Thus, as J.G. Machen points out, the THING which in I Cor. 15:4 is interred, is the thing raised. And the significance of this matter is such that Paul decries its denial as equivalent to the absence of faith, reality and religion (I Cor. 15:12-19).
THIS is the power of God (Romans 1:1-4), and this is the issue (cf. II Timothy 4:1-4, 3:1-5); and its arising like this at the End of the Age (cf. SMR Ch.8) is of course simply scheduled in the Book which is never able to be successfully contradicted. This is so since history is slave to it, in the infinite wisdom of the disposing power of God, who yet knows how to weave into its weft, the freedoms for the irresponsibilities of men, of which this N.Z. Presbyterian departure is an example, indeed, one carried out in HIS NAME! (see Ephesians 1:11; Predestination and Freewill).
In the N.Z. case, the failure was part
of the surrender of the faith which proceeded in the 1966 Assembly, of
which the author was a member, who confronted that Assembly with its perilous
folly in allowing such denials. In so doing, he left a 17000 word document
with them, protesting their failure to maintain the faith in this body,
which though once a church of the Bible, then ceased to be so; and he registered
his dissent from their departure, affirming the bodily resurrection in
this formal way, as far as is known, ALONE on that day!
FAITH AND OPINION: FURTHER ON THE U.S.
In other words, and to our point, the maintenance of things as OPINIONS has a certain flavour, savour and manner; and adherence to them IN FAITH has another! The "boldness" seen in Acts concerning the faith has two differences from the mere strength of opinion:
1) it is FAITH, which as James makes so clear, has LEGS: it is this which is involved. What one believes is quite different from what one merely thinks may be true. The latter may or may not be acted on, and it will be treated in the light of its priorities and performances in the rest of one's situation. The former is assured, and hence is acted on, in a rational being.
2) FAITH in the word of the LORD, is a vast step beyond even this. When this is the case, it is not merely an internal matter, the nature of one's conviction, but an EXTERNAL one as well, the reality of God. It is indeed not merely the reality of God, but the reality of GOD ALMIGHTY which is then involved. To believe THIS and yet act to the contrary is like light being darkness! The contradiction would be total.
Thus was it also in the Auburn Affirmation matter: the alleged tenderness for the consciences of OTHER Ministers or elders, who might NOT believe some of the basic elements of the Christian Faith, was NOT COMPATIBLE with faith on the part of those who said that they themselves believed.
Such FAITH is not negotiable any more than are the orders of the Field-Marshall by a Corporal. It has nothing to do with him; he was not a party to their formulation. He might of course decide that they were unprincipled words from the Field-Marshall, a matter of great significance in the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis; but when God is concerned, faith INCLUDES the faith in Him as truth. That is the Biblical, the Christian position. Hence it is absolute in every sense and in every setting, as the words of Jesus Christ make so categorically clear as shown in Luke 9:26:
Thus too the US Presbyterian Church concerned, in its vast majority as a Presbyterian body in the U.S. at that time, first waggled its tongue, waving uncertain flags, and then fell totally, removing the faithful Professors from a governing place, and making explicitly, more than the Bible, the written repository of the faith. So the full cycle was turned, and the Roman Catholic error was paralleled, but not equalled, in this hitherto fine field of Protestant faith. As there, so in N.Z., much later.
These things are here examples. They show the significance of doctrine and faith. As to FUNDAMENTALISM however, it is mere background.
The issues have been drawn earlier. In such settings as these, 'fundamentalism' has become a word used during the endeavour to essentialise certain matters of the Christian faith, when slick, sophisticated and subtle work was being done in terms of ... elasticity, shall we say. It could shock the betrayers into realisation and warn the flock, so to essentialise, so to test. Thus the test was made. The many failed it.
In view of the content variation and emotive attributes which the term 'fundamentalist' entails, it is now often not used by many who yet believe without question, in the entire infallibility of the Bible as originally given, and in all the doctrines taught ANYWHERE within it. It has become like asking an Italian, for example, 'Are you an Itie ?" It is well-known that such an abbreviation carries an air of derogation, or derision, and that while the point is clear, the manner in which it is made, adds to it what is wholly extraneous, confusing issues and bringing in disrepute with the point, like a smuggled rattle-snake in a sack, coming with an ambassador and his entourage. The ambassador is one entity; the rattle-snake is another. The first is clear; the point of the second would, then, need some clarification at the point of entry, of the country - if the border people were ... alert!
After all, do you HAVE to have a rattle-snake
in order to welcome an ambassador ? Would it not be wiser to have game-control
people deal with imports in their own established ways ?
FAITH AND THE BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT ITSELF
As Harold Lindsell made clear in his Battle for the Bible, and Bible in the Balance, concerning church doctrine in this Age, and indeed as the Bible itself makes so clear (cf. SMR Appendix D) for its own teaching, when God speaks, He does so without error. In Deuteronomy 13 one finds that not only does HE do so without error, but when a prophet of God, one gifted for inscripturation, permanent form in an authorised way, should speak, he too would not err. What he would decree in the name of the Lord would SO SURELY COME TO PASS, that if the word did not happen, then that was PROOF POSITIVE that he was a false prophet, and that, for that theocracy, death was the appropriate penalty (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock -SMR, pp. 1175-1186C.) In Titus 3:10, the propriety of 'other' teaching is given a different, but equally categorical short shrift.
In fact, in I Cor. 2:9-13, we find that when God inspires an authorised writer, in the presentation of His word to mankind in the New Testament (to take this case), not only is there
1) an unveiling of the SUBSTANCE of what is to be divulged, the material, the matter in hand, but
2) a presentation of the WORDS, matters, issues, the formulations, the expressive power needed to CONVEY the same substance, the message. Now for convenience, let us add what is about to be shown. There is also, in the Bible's testimony concerning itself, this concerning this, its revelation: it includes
3) a controlling oversight of the verbal units which present the WORDS, so that the word of God is not subject to carnal control, insightful intrusions or psychic fantasies, or cultural pollutions. It IS the word of GOD, not of man. He owns it as His, decrees for it illimitably as His direction, requires it entirely, for performance. It continues (Isaiah 59:21, 40:6-8), unabashed by anything, for it comes from the One who knows everything.
Thus, in John 12:48-50, Romans 10:17, I Peter 1:25, II Peter 3:2,16, Jude 17, Matthew 4:4, cf. John 14:26, we find that the very verbal units, the utterances of the mouth, are so supervised that they represent correctly what is the divine deliverance. Even to that point, there is to be found His supervisory control, His quality attestation, His gift to ensure that exactly what He wants conveyed, is so conveyed; so that the product is indeed the word of God, down to the wire, to the point that any objection on any grounds, as to the communication's content in any respect, is outlawed, rebellion. God says, and the message is not mangled; God speaks, and the words are to be attributed to Him.
Any failure of any word purporting to come from the Lord, constitutes a direct repudiation of the source. It means it CANNOT have come from the Lord and is an assured attestation of one simple fact. In that case, the one who presumed to utter such words in the Lord's name was neither more nor less than a FALSE PROPHET (Deuteronomy 13). That is the quality; that is the consequence.
Now watch the prophet! Watch the word! WHO CAN EQUAL THIS, He challenges. Match that! He arrestingly calls in Isaiah 41,43,48. He says it in different ways, constantly applying the issue. Watch it work, see it happen! He asserts in Isaiah 44:26-28. Not only will this happen, but the contrary words of any who allege differently or in supplement, will fail! The Lord actually CONFOUNDS the wise who contest! He takes an ACTIVE interest in the specification and clarity, the precision and the attestation contained in WHAT HE SAYS.
It is in the highest degree magnificent that He both can and does use the various features and foci of different speakers to produce this seven times refined product, without in the least compromising it. The result is the infallible word of God, not subject to ANYTHING but to His guidance and gift, so that if it be culture, it is not a component in the produced message, if it be politics, psychology, it does not determine or direct. God can USE any mode and modus operandi; that is the splendour of it all: but THEY do not USE HIM! He is not a tool, a by-product of man's mind; and when He speaks, His words accordingly may be channeled in the appointed person through an available assortment of knowledge and custom, as seems good. On the contrary, when it comes to the PRODUCT through the channel, God takes entire responsibility for their accuracy, adequacy, to the point of noting that the grammatical units, the words, are under His control for His purpose, being authorised and controlled.
Thus, man is used (Deuteronomy 12:29-32, Jeremiah 1:9-10, 15:19, 36:17-19, Daniel 12:4), but does not direct at all, in the reception of the word of God; it is GOD'S word therefore; and not the word of man (Galatians 1:6-9, I Thessalonians 2:13, Romans 16:17, I Cor. 14:37, Matthew 4:4). Thus does Peter, as cited, in designating the word of God as such, declare it is the REMATA, the verbal units, in which God expresses Himself immortally, and it is to this extent that the word is HIS! Indeed, the prophets were "carried along" in the writing (II Peter 1:21).
Now all this in detail has been considered
in SMR Appendix D, under the heading of what the Bible teaches about its
own revelation; but we condense a little here, to deal specifically with
our present topic of fundamentalism, and more especially, the current use
of that term.
THE WORD, AS A MISSILE
IN THE WAR AGAINST GOD
1) In General
Biblically, we are warned against the pettifogging folly of arguments about words, in the sense of disputatious wars that settle not on the substance but on the form. It is NOT that words do not matter, since the word of God is the ISSUE. It is that the argument should turn on the matter in hand, and not on that slatternly or swashbuckling substitute for reality, that merely fumes around the areas of WHAT I SAID and WHAT YOU SAID, as a criterion. The issues are not the vehicles of communication, but what they are used to deliver. It is quite easy to argue about so many preliminaries that the issues are never breached, in a sort of exotic, propositional formalism which might delight the coffers of lawyers, but not the hearts of men who mean what they say, and are proceeding to a known end. (See II Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9, II Timothy 1:13, I Timothy 6:4, Ephesians 5:6.)
When it comes, then, to the word of God, it is just the little point that God and man are rather disparate, to the point of infinity in power and time, for God instituted our serial, passing time (Romans 8:38) and the means for it (Genesis 1); and that sin in the heart of man merely magnifies the infinitude. Certainly, God can and does draw near to man as He wills; and though He made him in His own image, that is as a creation, not an extension (Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 45:12). The potency of the One, and the knowledge, is separated by infinity. To employ the midgetry of man, not to say the inherent sinfulness, which for all the redemption, loses it sovereignty in man, but not its very existence (I John 1:8): to employ this to revise, institute, direct, qualify or to the least degree, produce the content of the word of God is as infamous as pride as it is abysmal as irrationality. The whole idea of man speaking in some sort of partnership as producer of the word of God with the everlasting King is, merely as a slight reminder, like a Primary School kid proceeding on a joint Ph.D. with Albert Einstein.
Not all the humble liberals, who are liberal with the word of God and treat it as a child to be brought up (though to what ? one might ask, to what!) see this; but doubtless they will, when they see, as Jeremiah put it, whose word will stand, God's or theirs (Jeremiah 44:27-29). Now the issue was false prophets, and these, their word, their additive word, their modifying or controlling word in the name of the Lord, is as CHAFF compared with WHEAT (Jeremiah 23:28ff.). It is nothing, an interference, a pollution, a profusion, a flit without wit! (cf. Isaiah 44:25-26). The issue is gladly taken up by the Lord, in the most confrontationist way, as is meet.
Hence the flavour of the subversion movement -
so immensely profitable for anti-biblical forces in the history of the church in this our century, much of what was the church being now in enemy occupation, if we use, as is just, the Biblical orientation and perspective -
is much present in the very word, 'fundamentalism'.
This term, with the battalions of confused distaste which go with it, has often signified a complex of synthetic thought, a rod of ridicule, a force of the commando taking an enemy island, of the communist taking over power partly with rhetoric, as in Russia in 1917. It is like 'capitalist' in the mouths of 'laborists' (perhaps we could also have 'landists'), though they for some reason did not choose to use that term in parallel. It is like 'democracy' in the mouth of the radical Communist, when he surveys the popular failure to vote in their preference, in some marvel of verbal logistics, where black MEANS white! It is verbal persuasion by a hostility so profound, a confusion so deep and a desire so militant and so well rewarded, that it is a text-book case!
Thus here, one 'holding to the divine and hence infallible, biblically defined quality of the Bible' becomes 'fundamentalist' - with the flavour of 'offal'. This is the case rather what justly would be determined if facts were in view: that is, that the verbal assailant, the 'name-caller', is making a DENIAL of this historic and Biblical quality, and being 'revisionist' of God Almighty in His word, has the flavour of traitor. . . to Him as categorically revealed in that unchanging word.
This whole affair has been a marvellous
twiddle with words, worthy of those for whom the objective has no rational
defence, as shown in
The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, as in That Magnificent Rock.
Succinctly, then, 'fundamentalist' refers historically to a certain confrontation, not least, in which a vast and radical change of doctrine from that of the Bible was met by a selection of doctrines as a test, and the rancour of the take-over by those failing it has produced this term now : a sort of emblem of the surrender of so much to so many, in a sort of widespread prostitution of much that was called 'the church' , to pagan culture. Hence is aroused one of undesirable overtones as part of its current verbal furniture.
Personally, I therefore prefer 'verbal inspirationist', since this says what I mean without the reek of confusion and war. Besides, it is what is meant, for the selection of certain test doctrines is NOT the point at current issue. It is simpler. Since this is a Christian matter which we investigate, it concerns the Bible, and it is this:
Why use a part of history when the issue is broader ? Nevertheless, it is not that the list-of-test-doctrines method is wrong, merely that it is inadequate at the church level. For the individual Christian member, it may be of use; for the body as a whole it falls far short (cf. Acts 20:27). THIS is the church's standard. The other is the individual believer's stage of growth.
Now the pastoral question is separate. A new Christian, not yet instructed in the word, does not need to be identical in this with the member who has long studied it, and either accepts its teaching or does not. Here therefore the criteria are basic, personal and exquisitely crafted from the word of God. It is however even here not merely this: DO YOU BELIEVE THIS AND THAT - though of course it would be meaningless without it (cf. I John 4); but this: Have you come to the Lamb of God and has your sin been removed by the offering of His sacrifice, accepted by you by faith ? and similar practical considerations, such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9) and clear confession where scope comes.
These terms of vital practical significance, would of course themselves be Biblically defined, and the reliability of the testimony of the Bible would need to be unequivocally clear. Why are they practical ? It is because they focus on the One without whom there is no religion, no salvation, no defined disposition of destiny, no verified revelation on earth: on Jesus the Christ.
Thus that the whole BIBLE is the STANDARD of doctrine in the church is one thing; what the new convert knows in detail of it, is another. It should of course be in the CONTEXT of what the church believes that he/she should enter the church; but being expected to know all it has taught is another thing. Thus even here, though there is NOT a question of knowing a great many doctrines at the first, there is inferentially and in the end, a practical necessity
2) In Modern Manufactured Missile System
This however is not the more recent development. It is true that we have had since liberalism, for example,
a) neo-orthodoxy (the use of Biblical terms with re-defined meanings, as a subversion without separation) and
b) neo-evangelicism (the use of Biblical topics without obedience in what one is to do about them - for the alternative spelling, see Member Contribution 14, Endnote 1).).
These have assuredly been worthy of the master craftsman of deceit. Those who follow here do not normally feel comfortable with the Bible when its practical reality is stressed, as it has been throughout history, with the Jew and Gentile church, each in its turn. The former, neo-orthodoxy, is striving about words as a profession; and the latter, neo-evangelicism, is striving about deeds in the light of words, as a profession, pursuing a separation of conduct from principle.
These have been artful and constituted serious defilements of much, producing division and disaster like tornadoes, on structures not supported deeply from the word of God. Yet in comparison, they are almost tame subversion of Biblical teaching - compared with the new issue on the topic. What then is this new issue ? One does not here refer to New Age kaleidoscopic clutter from whatever god or gods may be going. This is so obviously contrived (cf. SMR pp. 866ff.). Rather we are gaining a new travesty from the militant Middle East.
(Incidentally, that makes it 'obscene' of God so to speak, in such sovereign security and distinctive clarity, which is really the issue, the situation and the result; which in turn, quite naturally and necessarily, has results for those who so regard the word of God. Presidents and kings may be with relative liberty be disregarded, but the case is not so with God, who made us.)
It is thus frequently applied to Moslems.
Now Moslems, in the case of Iran, for example, have been notorious for
holy wars, or unholy wars, but in any case, some religiously impelled wars,
which are related to suffering and violence and horror and the misuse of
children, sent early to the Front Line, and so forth, in the work of the
division and the difference, not least at the faith level. There has been
marauding in Europe which they nearly took, failing at Tours in 732 A.D..
Subjugation and humiliation has been as conspicuous a phase of their conduct
religiously, heavy discrimination against minorities not concurring has
been a radical fact of history, as it has been with the Roman Catholic
mode, as in South America, and in the Inquisition.
a) once had a moral mission as a theocratic State, long upheld in the patience of God, but on their own increasingly lavish scale of disobedience (cf. Isaiah 30:8-9, II Chronicles 35, Isaiah 42:19)
b) were made subject to the nations, God being no respecter of persons; just as they
c) were restored according to the divine
promise, after severe discipline, and have in the political arena prevailed
for the time, despite non-repentance as a nation; and this, again,
was statedly and predictedly according to the faithfulness and divine promise
of the Lord (cf. Ezekiel 36). This has been shown in detail in SMR, Ch.9,
and Appendix D.
Certainly sects, like the Romanist have not helped with their Inquisition and so on (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.). Nevertheless, these are so far astray that the contradiction of Bible truth is profound ( SMR 1045-1088G, cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 30,). His kingdom is of a different nature, runs on other and more profound principles, and has a qualitative arena before any question of relationship at all, can be found. Indeed, entire perfection is its basis, provided freely in Christ, who alone is Lord, and whose kingdom is not of this world, as He stated and exemplified (John 18:36-37). Quite simply, He did not crucify, but was crucified.
Rather in the Moslem case (see above SMR references and cf. Item 30, Barbs, Arrows and Balms), even from the Koran we find war with a faith changing feature or focus is not excluded. It is here that there arises the concept of war where there is a faith divergence, so that with the result that this divergence should be altered in some way. Religious leaders express disaffection for some other way, and in the light of the way they for their part adopt, there is a purging or an invasion.
Now the Moslem religion, and in particular the 'fundamentalist' phase of it, as it is often called, might not CAUSE the war, but it tends to prolong it, adopt it and maintain a flow of force towards it in its own specialised terms. Requirements include a serious measure of subjugation to the decidedly determined religion which will ... rule the lives in its own definitive terms. In the case of a Moslem State, we are by now quite accustomed to finding it illegal, and a possible ground of the death penalty, to criticise the prophet Muhammad! Again, the idea of plastic keys to paradise for warrior youngsters was one reported expression of the relationship between war and religion! In all military engagements, the glory of Allah is of paramount importance, even providing for those fittingly zealous, in one Koran instance, access to paradise.
This is the way of one religion which has a book. It is not however the way of another religion, which has a book, one with the distinction of always holding, and focussing in the end such humiliation for the whole race, that irrespective of religious statements, ALL MUST find relief in the conquest of sin by Christ, or simply as sinners, found their own dynasties, personal or political, and suffer the outcome of their immoral deeds, inadequate lives and confused self-acclaim.
Despite the small and neglected area of fact, however, the 'fundamentalist' idea of tainting the term as applied in supposedly Christian circles, with Moslem military conduct and procedures, as verified in the SMR references above, is followed. It is of course slanderous assault, lawless libel; but It can reap large rewards. A crucified Christ as the emblem of suffering which GOD has provided, to bring peace to sinful man can be placarded as much as one will (Galatians 6:14, II Corinthians 5:19-21, I Peter 2:13-25, John 19:36); and this is the exact opposite of imposition of truth by mere force. Yet likewise this is still the tang to be accorded the believer in the God who speaks, and has thus spoken in Christ.
A Brilliant Stratagem of the Prince of Darkness (to look official about it), it assuredly may be; but a work of truth it equally assuredly is not!
1) Accept this term,
2) be accused of equivocation on your faith.
A punch-line follows.
IF you accept it, be assured that all YOUR sort of violence and (mindless? or at any rate) heartless activity is detestable to mature, 20th century personnel, such as those who choose to address you. YOU are the sort of person who would use FORCE to prosecute a religious difference to make it more to your satisfaction. Hence a simple travesty ensues, most useful in vilification, and broadly used in this way; and it can even help the take-over of churches, that most profitable venture of generic liberalism, by cowing some in confusion, so that they imagine there is evil in believing what God has to say, by virtue of this export-import business, or parallels invented from time to time. This is undoubtedly clever; but we are not discussing cleverness, but truth.
(For the question of violence, past and present, see SMR Appendix D, esp at the end of it. Moral judgments have been used, not as a ground for forcing 'faith', a clear contradiction in terms, but as a divine ground for intervention. The book of Revelation makes it abundantly clear that in the present milieu, God is indeed executing quite explicit judgments on an immoral earth. Rebuke is not faith, and moral judgment is not the travesty of 'inventing' faith by the sword or scimitar, as if they in some way related. )
In this way, a mere license to export and then import a word becomes a potent and new missile worthy of 20th century (verbal) technology.
It has nothing however, whatever, to do with the issue except this, that it is a missile and can prove useful in confusing the issue.
is a case, this word and this concept,
3. FUSION AND DOUBLE CONFUSION
The fusion is gained by the export-import device.
The confusion is double in that :
It was rather THE AUTHORITY AND INFALLIBILITY OF THE BIBLE, in all its teachings, which was in view. As also indicated to that body at that occasion, this doctrine concerning the Bible should come as no surprise, since it is in the Westminster Confession of Faith. That Confession is the subordinate standard of that the Church here noted, except in this, that in matters not essential to the substance of the faith, there is liberty. The foundation of teaching is however not inessential to that faith; and as the Church Procurator (barrister) pointed out in an official document: In law the definition of terms in one document is found in a parallel accepted document, so that the PCA's adherence to the Westminster Confession as SUBORDINATE, yet gave the definition for the term 'word of God', which is unalterable by the Union of the Church in 1901.
That phrase is defined very carefully and rather well in the Westminster Confession, especially if one actually reads what is there, rather than what some seem to prefer to imagine might have been there, if those who wrote it had done what these sophisticated theologians think they would have been more to their mind, if only they had expressed it! However, as to what is there, it is quite clear: the word of God written being immediately inspired by God, being the Bible as delineated, perfect and harmonious in all its parts and so on .
Now to the point of the issue, let us illustrate with two other examples.
Interpretation of Shakespeare, the Bible or a letter is one subject. One seeks to ascertain from the whole and the part, the meaning. The wisdom, accuracy or authenticity of the document is quite another question. This is the current topic, as it was then, when by the grace of God, my holding out in seminary for the Biblical truth to which that church was committed, though it led as is not uncommon, to false accusation, yet in the end secured for me liberty to maintain and proclaim the faith unabashed, which is fitting.
But what is the second form of the confusion concerning this term 'fundamentalist' ? It is double because it also includes the view:
The equivalence to VIOLENCE is then super-added, as shown earlier in terms of the export-import business in theological terms, so that
'SIMPLISTIC, RASH AND VIOLENT CLOT'
BECOMES THE READ-OUT
FOR THIS DELIGHTFUL DENIGRATORY WEAPON.
It is all much ado about nothing. If there is one thing that is clear in the Bible, in this sphere, it is that CHRISTIANS SUFFER VIOLENCE for the Lord, but do not USE it for His advance. Did not Christ Himself say this,
Is it violent to be violent, or to suffer violence ? Which ? Do words have no more meaning in this Vanity Fair of misuse, misconstruction and verbal toying ?
Is it, then, rash, simplistic and violent to stage a grab, or a take-over of what is given to God and to His word, written and living, or to continue in the way of it , as given and followed for 3 millenia ? Is it rash to notice that the view contrary to the Bible as the word of God, containing therefore its own definition of itself, is a departure such as was long and often predicted (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9) ?
Is it simplistic to believe God, whose word comes to pass with precision and a uniformity of certainty which could for some approach monotony, and to act on this, or to ignore the witness, the warning and to go for the simple conception that God is inept, for the sake of some psychic thrill, touting against authority or some glide of soul, or indeed, for any other contra-evidential desire ?
Is it rash to follow what is accepted as the word from our Maker, and has been from the first, when in an institution devoted to this very word ? Or are we rather meeting what is in opposition, merely a nuisance, a revisionism, a flagrant take-over bid without genuineness in anything, but the explicit or implicit conviction that if God COULD have spoken with precision, He certainly DID NOT DO SO. But why is this invasion, this pollution, this lese majeste; and why is this assaualt, often both vilent and predatory, of historic institutions ? Is it because the opposite of what it seeks, may be proved in logic (SMR; That Magnificent Rock), as constantly verified on all fronts of knowledge ? Is that the reason for the rejection, as if to crown unreason and worship it ?
But even that can have no reason, for if reason be discredited, it can crown no-one; but to discredit it, you need reason. Or is this revisionism to occur, this take-over bid, even though the Bible is emphatic, and has been so from the first, that God Himself not only did direct His speech with particularity and precision to man, but that there is in this very fact a basic ground of separation from all false words and prophecies. What however is this ground of this separation ?
It is this: As to the words, HIS COME TO PASS WITHOUT EXCEPTION !
It could of course be urged that fusion and double-confusion are suitable to our Age; and in this sense, that there is a fulness of both, as atomically, so also mentally; and that this is fitting. This may be so. But ought we to approve folly because it is almost another name, now, for normalcy ? Or as in smoking, do we say, 'It IS common, but deadly, and is better reduced than expanded ?'
If statistics were morals, there would be no point in having them, for what happens, being a happening, is where it ends. If morals are directives gained from our construction, Maker and duties, then statistics may attest no more than this, that these directives are broken - as is so much else (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Appendix 1; Repent or Perish, Ch.5).
That is scarcely licence to break them
further, any more than a smashing into two lamp-posts is warrant for trying
4. THE PROFUSION OF CLARITY
As an art form, the abuse of "fundamentalist" is a skilled performance site. As something useful for an anti-Biblical crusade and move to acquire property, it can be cunningly devious for take-over expedition; but as a source of confusion, it is all but unparalleled. As something worthy it is however rather lacking.
After that, if one is IN CHRIST, and He lives within (John 6:51-54, Colossians 1:27), then the power of God is available for growth in grace and knowledge. Discarding what God has said is like being expelled from Kindergarten. It is not conducive to the rest. It is however nowadays, to pursue the analogy, prodigiously common. Yet it does not really help, except to increase the misuse of words in the absence of authority; an absence, moreover, more illusory than real, for the power of God continues unerringly to do precisely what He has said. If some stumble at His word (I Peter 2:7-8), it is only that to which they are so ordained with that magnificent felicity by which God both loves, and decides, being willing that all might be saved, but not duped by any.
Isaiah put it quite decisively from the first: Isaiah 8:20 is, after all, not an interpretation but a declaration. It may be accepted or rejected. If rejected, the read-out is explicit, and it parallels precisely, John 12:48-50.
"To the law and the testimony. If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
And Christ, what did He say:
"I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.
"How can you believe, who receive hour from one another , and do not seek the honour that comes form the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you - Moses, in whom you trust.
"For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words ?" ( Cf. SMR pp. 59-63.)
It is well to bring out the fundamentals of the case, and the word of God itself is the first and the greatest ... plenary inspirationist! God is not fond of error; let alone as attributed to His own self and word! Thus we read (from Isaiah 48: 4-5)