Friday, August 15, 2008

John Piper on Fundamentalists

Back in June, John Piper wrote an interesting article at the Desiring God Blog. The article was called 20 Reasons I Don't Take Potshots at Fundamentalists. I was intrigued by the title and got to thinking that, in too many Evangelical circles, those "fundamentalists" have become the whipping boys from which most appear to want to distance themselves. In fact, in the wider culture and in the media, the term "fundamentalist" has even been taken so negatively as to be applied to the most extreme and even cruel elements of any religious group. How many of us, after all, have not heard the media refer to those wacky terrorists who want to blow people up as "Islamic Fundamentalists."

But there was a time when the term referred to those who were the most faithful to Scripture and who refused to allow their Christian faith to be watered down or to succumb to the twin threats of modernity and relativism -- and now post-modernity. Anyway, Piper's article reminded me that, although there have been some extreme types who have given the rest a bad name, there are still many good openly professing fundamentalists out there. Here are the twenty reasons that Piper has given for his unwillingness to "take postshots" at fundamentalists.

1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I've met).
2. They believe in truth.
3. They believe that truth really matters.
4. They believe that the Bible is true, all of it.
5. They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.
6. They have backbone and are not prone to compromise principle.
7. They put obedience to Jesus above the approval of man (even though they fall short, like others).
8. They believe in hell and are loving enough to warn people about it.
9. They believe in heaven and sing about how good it will be to go there.
10. Their "social action" is helping the person next door (like Jesus), which doesn't usually get written up in the newspaper.
11. They tend to raise law-abiding, chaste children, in spite of the fact that Barna says evangelical kids in general don't have any better track record than non-Christians.
12. They resist trendiness.
13. They don’t think too much is gained by sounding hip.
14. They may not be hip, but they don’t go so far as to drive buggies or insist on typewriters.
15. They still sing hymns.
16. They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.
17. They give some contemporary plausibility to New Testament claim that the church is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
18. They are good for the rest of evangelicals because of all this.
19. My dad was one.
20. Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.

One of those things that kind of makes you go, "Hmmmm...."

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