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What’s Wrong with Fundamentalism?

Published Sep 17, 2005
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A dedicated young pastor, who basically takes the position of this writer, has suggested that while my message is valid, my approach may be alienating people. He provided an example that he agreed with but thinks I could convince more people if I were less abrasive.

I have reflected long upon his comments since I have great respect for him and since I am not the font of all wisdom. (Surprise!) I surely don’t want to lose adherents to our cause simply because of the way I express myself. It is also generally believed that “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

But who wants to catch flies? I’m at war with some diabolical “isms” of our day.  We are in a cultural war with the non-thinkers of the left. So I must reject his suggestion that I’m too militant. In fact, I may be too kind, too patient, too concerned with lifetime friends, too concerned with my professional standing especially when one considers the determination of the “enemy.”

But I am concerned with why young Bible-believing pastors are not as militant as some of my generation. (Of course, some young pastors are more militant than older preachers.)

My young friend suggested that the reason may be because “My generation didn’t go through the Fundamentalist-modernist battle; the fight over the RSV; the Billy Graham issue, etc.”

Bingo! I believe he scored. Now the question, “Is that good or bad for the cause of Christ?” I believe it is bad. It seems that younger pastors are better trained than my generation; however they don’t seem to have the same sense of urgency, the necessary sense of history, the same respect for tradition that I believe makes a preacher  better able to articulate the total message of truth. Of course, it is not a person’s fault he was born at a certain time in history.

When I was a young evangelist, I sensed that the “old timers” were passing from the scene and I made a point to hear Dr. Bob Jones two or three times just before his death. I treasure those messages.

I knew evangelist Mordecai Ham in his last years and even preached for him during his tent campaign in Huntington, West Virginia. My conversations with him were more valuable than his preaching, and I believe I “caught” some of his militancy as a very young preacher. That Huntington meeting was one of the last meetings  in a very  long,  colorful and fruitful career of an evangelist whose ministry went back to the late 1800s.

I had known Dr. Billy McCarroll during my school days in Chicago, and count those services in the Cicero Bible Church (and other services) as a bright light in a dark world. At that time I sat under the teaching of Dr. Wilbur Smith, another link with the past who challenged me to purchase and read good books.

I had come into contact with The Sword of the Lord as a very young preacher and met Dr. John R. Rice when I lived in Indianapolis. He published my first book, Liberalism: A Rope of Sand and many of my articles in the Sword. I believe he will be remembered as having made the greatest impact on Bible churches of any man in this century. He made a great impact on my life and my attitude toward the things of God. I caught some of my militancy from him.

Dr. Ford Porter, who pastored in Indianapolis, was founder of the Indiana Baptist College and authored God’s Simple Plan of Salvation, a gospel tract used around the world. Dr. Porter became my friend in 1960 when I, as a young pastor taught in his college (now merged into Heritage Baptist University). He prayed for me daily and we often talked of his battle to lead his church in southern Indiana out of the Northern Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Convention).

Dr. G. B. Vick was another link with the past who affected my life. After I had resigned my small Indianapolis church to enter evangelism, he gave me national exposure to pastors by inviting me to preach at two or three national BBF meetings and a World Baptist Congress that was held in his Detroit church. From him I learned that one could be a militant fundamentalist and still be a gentleman and show kindness to people.

I caught responsible militancy from these men. It’s often missing in preachers today.



6 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Daniel DIRK Horvath
Oct 4, 2008 11:33am [ 1 ]

I was intrigued by your letter on the Emergent/Emerging Church. I’ve had concerns since the article in C.T. pointed out the differences. (Vol.51,#2,Feb/2007,pg.34) and noted that the emerging church was the term for post-“Boomer”, post-modern “Jesus Freaks” (the term I personally have adopted to define those who have both the belief & experience of those who lived within the first era of the Church. Thus those you would refer to as “Fundamentalists”), while the term Emergent Church actually fit a group who, in rebellion to the perversion that all Christendom in North America has become have become the 21st Century version of Germany’s Reich’s Kirche under Hitler.

One attempts to be relevant and sincere, the other attempts to replace Truth with “their truth”.

I noticed soon afterward that CT was covertly trying to impress it’s “emergent” views upon it’s readers, VERY SUBTLY, and let my subscription expire earlier this year. I am sad to do so, for polemic reasons, but have no time to address the issues as they come up.

Your disappointment with Kay Arthur is almost felt the same by me, though it isn’t over that “compromise”, but rather her casting away the Scriptural role of the Godly Ruler in declaring that her organization took a firm stand that “Christians should not be active in politics, but in ‘religious’ things” (quotations are mine-The statement is paraphrased). This statement comes in the form of a declaration made by several group leaders. I believe they had been threatened by the Obama’s NAZI “Brown Shirts”. I note their veiled threats toward me and have not compromised my statements.

I don’t agree with much you probably defend as “fundamental”, except those things that ARE fundamental, so I’m sure you would call me theologically “liberal”. I’m OK with that. I’ve been slandered that way before (also slandered as a Neo-Orthodox). No problem, as a Fundamentalist, I can defend you, as well as those from my Alma Maters: Covenant College & Tennessee Temple University, or even Godly UMC ministers, COG ministers, LC-MS ministers, or even (as where I attend) SBC ministers.

Give me a call. I won’t be offensive. You’re my brother, because of the Blood!

Love, -Dirk

Michael Garbowicz
Oct 30, 2009 6:14pm [ 2 ]

I actually know of a great militant Pastor. His name is Pastor David Fink from Grace Baptist Church Lockport, IL. He has about 20 years of serving in the Marines as a Drill Instructor. If you are ever in the Chicagoland area and need to find a church while traveling stop by GBC!!

Michael Garbowicz
Oct 31, 2009 2:38pm [ 3 ]

What is your perspective on the whole Inspiration vs. Preseveration of the KJB? I have read many books, listened to many sermons on it and to be honest I think that fighting from within Fundamentalism about this issue is ridiculous!!!!

Dec 6, 2009 8:04pm [ 4 ]

As I read through your articles, you are very abrasive and intimidating. I am sure you mean well. Because of your abrasiveness you will turn people away from Christ. God will hold you accountable for all the people you turn away. Try to be less legalistic and more loving. Maybe you are different in person that you are on the internet. Jesus is loving and forgiving. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Ask God to help you learn how to correct people in love.


Oct 25, 2017 10:08am [ 5 ]

I am an older evangelist also (76), and I agree with your assessment of the issue of militancy. There is one other thing I would add. When our schools become large, and entities of themselves, they need students to pay the bills. This leads to compromise and results in the failure of many of our once sound schools. Our young people are being taught more about how to be acceptable among the brethren, than about Baptist doctrine, Baptist history, and how to stand for the truth at any cost, like our forefathers.

Deborah Babbit
Jun 22, 2018 10:35pm [ 6 ]

I’ve been trying to find the biography of Billy Mc Carroll’s life for the past few weeks. There were several things he said and did which reminded me of my pastor and husband. Do you know that old book. He was a fundamentalist who had a tender heart and great sense of humor. Thank you!


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