“We’ve gotten beyond the Galatian brand of legalism today. We haven’t resurrected circumcision as a requirement for salvation, and we’re clear that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ apart from the keeping of the law. Instead, we have developed another brand of legalism, a brand that is concerned, not with salvation, but with how we live the Christian life. I call this “evangelical legalism”… Jerry Bridges
John Piper recently wrote an article entitled: 20 Reasons I Don’t Take Potshots at Fundamentalists. Link. I disagree (surprise, surprise!) with many of his suppositions which I find rather strange for a recognized Biblical scholar. Why? Many people in our society have no understanding what constitutes true Christian faith. It is far too easy for unbelievers to think they must dress like a dork and accept Jesus in order to be considered a Christian. Betcha think that I am exaggerating.
Three years ago, I spent two weeks touring Alaska by ship and bus with about 40 people. I became friendly with two couples from Holland. One day, while observing whales bubble net feeding (my explanation and an awesome You Tube video can be found at the end of this post), I said something to them to the effect that God sure knew what He was doing when creating this incredible and beautiful diversity.
They started talking to each other in their native tongue and one of the women turned to me and asked if I was a Christian. When I said I was, she said that she was confused because I wasn’t wearing a long skirt and heavy stockings! I said that faith in Christ did not mean adhering to a dress code. She told me that, in Holland, the Christians all dress that way and that is how they are identified. She said she thought I wore nice clothes (Mark Driscoll-eat your heart out) and so, in her understanding, I could not be a Christian. Well, I spent the rest of the trip unraveling the Gospel from legalism while dressed, as always, in impeccable style.
And that defines the problem. One of our regular commenters, Arce, made a very important point in the following comment:
“Legalism always tries to add something to what is required to be a Christian. Sometimes we call it “Jesus +”, as in:
- Jesus + YEC Jesus + tithing
- Jesus + certain language (e.g., “inerrancy”. BTW, that is inerrancy in the “original autographs” whatever that means)
- Jesus + voting Republican (changed in the South from pre 1960, when it was Democrat!!!) J
- Jesus + “don’t drink, smoke or chew, or befriend those who do”
- Jesus + “no mixed bathing” meaning swimming with a person or persons of the other gender
- Jesus + pro life
- Jesus + KJV only
- Jesus alone is enough: ” . . . whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!”
The following 8 points are those from Piper’s list. I have added my comments with each point.
“1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I've met).”
Online Dictionary Reference Link
“Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Humility definition: "a prominent Christian grace (Rom. 12:3; 15:17, 18; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:11-13). It is a state of mind well pleasing to God (1 Pet. 3:4); it preserves the soul in tranquillity (Ps. 69:32, 33), and makes us patient under trials (Job 1:22). Christ has set us an example of humility (Phil. 2:6-8). We should be led thereto by a remembrance of our sins (Lam. 3:39), and by the thought that it is the way to honour (Prov. 16:18), and that the greatest promises are made to the humble (Ps. 147:6; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; 1 Pet. 5:5). It is a "great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory."
Humility does not mean calling those who disagree with you names. Respect means treating President Obama with dignity and not calling him “the devil” even if you disagree with him. Courteous does not mean accusing other Christians, like Billy Graham, of compromise with Satan worshipers. (See yesterday's videos). I do not see humility, respect and courteous as words that define this group.
2. “They believe in truth.”
What is truth? Once again, according to the Online Dictionary
- “the true or actual state of a matter
- conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
- a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like”
For many in this movement, Jesus drank grape juice and wore pants and women must always wear dresses because this is what the Bible says. Folks, truth is far too important to trivialized it in this way and John Piper should know it.
3.”They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.”
If a man, in one of these churches, went to feasts and sent time eating and imbibing with prostitutes, nonreligious people, and partiers, he would be thrown out. Except this would mean that they would throw out Jesus. So, what’s the deal with separation? Jesus didn’t practice it and neither did the disciples. Jesus didn't separate Himself from the Samaritan woman and Piper knows this as well.
4.”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.”
Baloney! Piper should know better. He quotes no studies about “fundamentalist” kids. My guess is that this group of people loses as many kids to secularism as do the evangelicals.
5. “They resist trendiness.”
Well, this is a new one. If you like wedge shoes this season, you are trendy and this is bad? What's a woman to do? She keeps herself up, Driscoll style, and then gets accused of being trendy which is now a sin. You guys can't make up your minds. So, if women wear pants, teens wear Rainbow sandals, and we all like Whole Foods (awesome cranberry tuna salad), we are guilty of the sin of trendiness?” Is this is in the Bible of the Calvinistas? So, why does this crowd like Mark Driscoll? Talk about trendy! Gotta love the Mickey Mouse shirt.
6. “They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.”
Mr Piper, I am not sure what planet you live on but, the last time I checked, no one I know was breathlessly awaiting an acceptance in the scholarly guild. Most people were breathlessly waiting to find out how much it would cost to fill up their tank. Just who is Piper hanging around with and what guild is he referring to?!!! Can I join? Let me know. I breathlessly await. Great Scott!
7. “My dad was one.”
Since when has truth been defined as something that is “all in the family?” My grandmother used to think that all that stuff we left on the moon was causing the bad weather.
8. “Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.”
Now this final reason is the reason why Piper is wrong in his approach. The world is confused about what constitutes the faith. I have been called liberal, loose, conservative and a fundamentalist. I am none of these labels and I will fight to help people understand what true faith is in Jesus Christ sans labels. So should Piper.
So what defines a fundamentalist, evangelical and Calvinist?
I want to thank Karlton, our resident atheist, who got me going on this humorous definition of what constitutes an Evangelical, Calvinist and Fundamentalist. Over 20% of the examples are his. I added some of my own. So, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, we present the following.
You might be an evangelical if…
- You believe that hell is going to be populated by Catholics (except for Mel Gibson), the Clintons, Mormons (with a special dispensation for Glen Beck), the staff of New York Times (all of them), Rosie O’Donnell, all of the people from the Mid Atlantic and Northeast coast and West coast (with a special hot spot for Hollywood), Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and all Liberals.
- You think Kirk Cameron should get the academy award for best actor in Fire Proof.
- You think homoousios is a congressional bill for same-sex marriage.
- You submitted to your wife on your vacation destination and feel guilty about it.
- You don’t really have any idea what “Evangelical” means and you really don’t like to witness anyway.
- You think the Great Commission is what you get if you join Amway.
- Your church has a band that performs Christian contemporary songs which have seven words, repeated 11 times. (7-11 music)
- You have no doubt that the best non-biblical book ever published is Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”
- Your favorite Bible is the NIV Study Bible because you can quote from the footnotes and everyone thinks you are smart.
- Your pastor preaches three point sermons and each point starts with the same letter and people get mad if the pastor runs over-time.
- You think “expositional” is someone who doesn’t take a position on anything.
- You’re not sure what TULIP stands for, but you know you’re against it because Holland is a liberal country.
- Beth Moore studies can be substituted for Bible study.
- You think Ellen DeGeneres is really funny but you would never tell your Bible study group.
- You were really excited when the supermarket started carrying beer and wine because you were too embarrassed to go to the ABC liquor store because someone from church might see you. This way you can hide the six pack under the baby diapers.
- If your pastor mentions the Puritans, you think of the Salem Witch Trials and think they were all nuts.
- You hope that a couple of the Duggar kids will run away and join Greenpeace.
- You pretend you net tithe but the tithe is unbiblical anyway.
You might be a Calvinist (neo) if…
- When your daughter was born you and your wife had the biggest argument of your marriage and for some reason she just wouldn’t go for the name “Augustina”.
- If someone were to write a book entitled, “The Axis of Evil: Pelagius, Arminius, and Finney”, you would spare no expense in order to obtain an advance copy.
- You think that Christians who do not know the meaning of homoousios are red necks.
- Your ESV Bible has the autographs of John Piper, CJ Mahaney and Al Mohler and you are trying to white out the name of Francis Chan since he gave up megachurch stardom for some stupid mission.
- You think David Platt is an ascetic and that sounds like something that Jesuits would do and they aren’t Calvinists.
- You had five children and became exhausted. So you secretly started birth control and hope you can fly under the radar.
- Anyone who does not adhere to all five points of Calvinism is most likely unsaved and will not be allowed to attend the Gospel Coalition meetings
- Beth Moore is not a Calvinist so why are we talking?
- Your favorite Bible is the ESV and you are not sure how people found the truth without it.
- If you are part of the Mark Driscoll camp, you drink single malt scotch and tweet about it. If you are part of Al Mohler’s camp, you believe it is demon hootch but you hold your tongue because Driscoll is successful in getting people with tattoos to come to church.
- Your pastor preaches 5-point sermons, in honor of TULIP, with 5 subtexts, along with frequent references to the Puritans who were really, really fun people. You don’t attend the last service of the morning because the pastor always runs 30 minutes overtime because there isn’t another service.
- Who is Ellen DeGeneres?
- Who are the Duggars?
- You can state what Calvin said about the tithe.
You might be a fundamentalist if:
- You have all the episodes of 17, 18,19 and Counting: The Duggar Family recorded on your super-secret TIVO.
- You pray Michelle will conceive triplets before menopause.
- You think Billy Graham is a Satan worshiping compromiser.
- You support a bill for Congress to force schools to teach in King James English.
- You think cargo culottes are a statement of rebellion.
- When your teen daughter cut her hair to ear length, you forced her to get hair extensions.
- You only read the King James Bible but don’t understand what it is saying half the time.
- Your 50 inch flat screen LCD is on wheels and there is a closet with enough space to fit it in case the pastor pays an unexpected call.
- You would fire, immediately, any pastor who said the word homoousios.
- You believe that the Pope will be the AntiChrist and all Catholics, including Mel Gibson, will go to hell.
- You have memorized all the verses of The Old Rugged Cross and all of the Bill Gaither music.
- The pastor stops on time because they usually have to repeat verses of The Old Rugged Cross until someone comes forward at the altar call. If no one comes forward after the 15th run through, Sister Bertha is primed to come forward to “rededicate” her life for the 10th time.
- You gross tithe because the pastor knows your salary.
- Alcohol is demon hootch. It has been totally proven that Jesus drank grape juice and the Discovery Channel knows it and is sitting on the evidence and that is why you never watch TV.
- Beth Moore is a spawn of Satan.
- Ellen DeGeneres should be executed.
- Puritans? Huh?
PS: Bubble net fishing occurs when a group of whales circle around a school of fish and herd them together while under water. The lead whale makes a trumpet sound when the time is right and all the whales open their mouths and swim upwards at high speed and jump into the air with mouths full of fish. The boat had microphones under the water and we both heard the trumpet sound under water and saw the incredible sight of 7 whales leaping into the air.
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 21:1-22:20 Luke 20:1-26 Psalm 89:1-13 Proverbs 13:15-16