(T)here seems to be a disconnect here and we have speakers coming from radically different theological perspectives; and I’m not sure how to reconcile this.What I really do appreciate about fundamentalism is that no one in the fundamentalist movement would have this "I'm not sure how to reconcile this" reaction. Every fundamentalist knows from the time he's old enough to read two sentences of "What in the World" (while he's doodling a picture of the preacher's illustration of the boy who didn't go forward at the invitation and then got hit by a truck the next week) that this strain of evangelicalism is riddled with mixed messages, some of which are, to be fair, not entirely inconsistent with orthodox Christianity. A movement that was conceived and birthed in a bed of compromise doesn't often rear its children well.
Now, Challies has reviewed a myriad of books, and actually wrote
a book about spiritual discernment, which I'm told is excellent. In light of that, I really doubt that he's completely surprised. But fundamentalism is marinated in a certain realistic cynicism towards the spirits of the evangelical age that doesn't engender much astonishment at the widespread dearth of discernment that has been so audaciously displayed at a popular conference.
Much is broken in the fundamentalist movement today, none of it more immediately disheartening than what Bob Bixby thoughtfully assesses here. That doesn't change the fact that I've purposed to press on in life and ministry applying the fundamentalist idea. No matter how much the idea has been severely polluted by the movement, the idea is as right in 2009 as it was in 1957 and 1932 and 1887.
Every semester in my church's internship, it's fascinating to see the stunned reactions of the gentle souls who grew up in broader evangelicalism, when they discuss their reading of Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided and watch the YouTube video of an evangelical hero articulating heretical pluralism to Robert Schuller. And that all happens a literal stone's throw from the original offices of Christianity Today. Funny how things sometimes come full circle. So regardless of what might be the associational heritage of those who best articulate and apply the fundamentalist idea now or 25 years from now, I'll be forever grateful that I was raised in a context where I learned not to be shaken or dumbfounded by appalling inconsistency and incoherence.