A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Weaknesses of Modern Christian Fundamentalism
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

It is the life long observation of this author that something was lost through these schisms. Old fundamentalism and evangelicalism seemed to balance love for our fellow man with a desire to live a holy life. It seems that now, neo-evangelicals tend to emphasize love more than holiness, while fundamentalists emphasize holiness more than love. James taught that true religion includs both love and holiness. He said that "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27). Visiting the fatherless and widows shows love, while keeping ones self unspotted from the world is holiness.

However, modern Christian Fundamentalism in its current form can be defined in its essence as a form of Christian which holds strongly to the basic doctrines of the Bible and stresses a life of holiness separated from the godless culture of the world system. They believe in the Paul's instructions to the Romans. "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2). They believe that our mind is renewed by belief in the fundamental doctrines of that Bible and that this allows us to live in a transformed state of nonconformity to the world.

Even though fundamentalism has great strengths, no human endeavour is without its weaknesses. To a certain extent the leaders of Neoevangelicalism were correct in pointing out weaknesses in Fundamentalism, even though their solution erred more than their diagnosis. Fundamentalism seems to have been frozen in time and has not come to grip with its weaknesses. In my travels throughout the world of fundamentalism I have come to conclude that three problems are holding back this great movement from having a greater impact upon the world. We will apply the principles presented in the beginning of this chapter to see how to strengthen Christian fundamentalism. These were the principles based on the conditions met by the church of Philadelphia.

The first problem is the man centered emphasis in fundamentalist preaching. Many excellent preachers (and a number of mediocre ones) minister in fundamentalist churches. However, except when the most basic fundamentals of salvation are being presented, most of this preaching is about the Christian life rather than about the Christ of life. Jesus Christ needs to regain a central position in Fundamentalist preaching. This shift of focus is probably the result of Armenian doctrine, which places the responsibility for salvation and sanctification on man. In contrast, Calvinism places this responsibility on God.

The second problem is that even though fundamentalists place strong emphasis on the Old Testament, their adherence to Dispensational theology constantly threatens to create a schism between the Old and the New Testament. When this potential problem bears fruit in a church it causes that church to abandon the Old Testament emphasis on Holiness and abandon fundamentalism for the more liberal New Evangelicalism. The Old Testament is the foundation of the New, and when that foundation is made doctrinally irrelevant another foundation must be substituted. Often this is psychology or new age thinking. This makes fundamentalist churches unstable. Given some time, most fundamentalist churches become New Evangelical. The movement remains strong only because its aggressive church planting efforts are able to counteract this constant hemorrhage of churches out of the movement. I believe that this instability is caused by a weakness in the foundation of fundamentalism caused by Dispensational theology.

Finally, a third problem in fundamentalism is the lack of unity, coordination, and accountability created by independent Congregationalism. The night before His cruel death on the cross the Lord begged His Father. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:20-23). The primary request which Jesus Christ made for those persons who would become believers in the future was unity.

If this subject was so prominent in the Lord's mind it behooves us to seek a solution for lack of unity. This is not unity with unbelievers or with compromising Christians, but, rather, unity of purpose with those who believe as ourselves. One can be in unity with like minded believers and still be a separatist. Independent Congregationalism leads to division based on personality and minor points of doctrine and methodology. The best solution is the mutual accountability and interdependence found in the presbyterian form of church government.

The three conditions given to the church of Philadelphia discussed at the beginning of this chapter form a cause and effect sequence. The first condition is the result of the second condition which in turn is a result of the last. When we are zealous about God as revealed in an incarnate form in Jesus Christ, then we will obey His words and this will produce the strength of unity. Consequently and conversely, the three weaknesses of fundamentalism just discussed, because they are also related to the three conditions met by the church of Philadelphia, are synergistic as well, feeding off of each other. Because each condition depends on the succeeding one this essay will examine them in reverse order. The lack of theologic (that is systematic) Christ centered preaching is a sort of denial of the name of Christ, Dispensationalism diminishes our obligation to obey certain portions of the Bible which is a way of not keeping the word of Christ, and the lack of unity weakens our already small strength.

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