Putting The “Fun” Back Into “Fundamentalism”

I found an old Zip disk and was sorting through pictures and Word files, re-discovering pieces of my past. One file was a light article I wrote for the local newspaper circa 2001, or so. As I read it I realized that I still feel the same way. So, I thought I’d post it here.
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Putting The “Fun” Back Into “Fundamentalism”

Jim McClarty
Pastor, Grace Christian Assembly
A Sovereign Grace Fellowship

“So what kind of preacher are you?” a woman recently asked. “You’re not one of those fundamentalists are you?”

I knew what she was driving at. One small segment of Evangelical Christianity has usurped the term “fundamentalism” and redefined it so that only they fit the category. Now, when we think of “fundamentalists,” we imagine fire-breathing pulpiteers who spend their time listing all the things they reject and condemning everyone with whom they disagree. And, it doesn’t help things when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson use our recent national tragedy as an excuse to go on television and rant.

“Yes,” I replied, “I am a fundamentalist.” She took a couple steps back. I assured her I wouldn’t bite.

You see, I am an adamant defender of the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The virgin birth. The sinless life. The death, burial and resurrection. Those are all fundamental to Christianity. Without those basics, you have no faith.

So I asked her, “Would you go to a doctor who didn’t understand the rudiments of medicine? Or, would you trust an auto mechanic who didn’t know how engines work?”

“Of course not.” She was catching my drift. The same way that we would never trust our bodies or even our cars to the care of someone who lacked the fundamentals, we should never entrust our spiritual well-being to someone who ignores the basics. In fact, you can pick any area of learning or knowledge and uncover the building blocks, the foundation, on which the whole system is built.

In theological circles, those fundamentals are called “doctrines.” A doctrine is simply something taught as a rule or principle of the faith. And, the principles of Christianity are built on those fundamental doctrines.

So, don’t be afraid to call yourself a fundamentalist. Study the doctrines and construct your faith from those basic building blocks. That’s the method Jesus prescribed –

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” (Mat. 7:24)

Yep, I’m a fundamentalist. I love the doctrines of the Christian faith and am not ashamed to say so. Recently one of our congregants told me, “As we keep teaching the Bible, we’re going to be known as the church that put the ‘mental’ back into fundamentalism.”

I smiled. “You’re right. But, wouldn’t it be great to be known as the church that put the ‘fun’ back, too?”
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You can read more about Christian doctrine at our website: www.salvationbygrace.org

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Doctrine According to Pink

I was recently reflecting on the ministry of GCA. We regularly receive support and encouragement from our listeners and readers. But we also receive the occasional criticism … or the hateful venting of someone violently opposed to what we teach. Oddly, the most common criticism leveled at GCA is that we teach too much, too deeply, or place undue emphasis on “doctrine.” They claim that doctrine is divisive and that it puts a damper on evangelism by making the Bible too complicated. They would prefer that I just said simple, attractive, approachable things about God and then begged people to come accept Him.

But, if we know anything at all from Scripture, it’s that we are not merely instructed to speak about God. We must also make certain that we tell the truth about God. Certainly, the conversation between Eve and the Serpent ought to be sufficient to prove that point. Satan is not afraid to speak about God. He’s perfectly willing to ask, “Has God not said …?” The problem is that he is also willing to speak lies about God. And that proclivity to speak lies about God continues to permeate much of what is called Christianity.

It’s vitally necessary that we use proper discernment when listening to someone speak of God; or worse, claim to speak for God. Everything must be held up to the Bible — the original source material — and examined in that light. And the only way we can truly know the value of any person’s speech concerning God is to have a firm foundation in Biblical doctrine.

Anyway, I said all that to say that recently a friend sent me a couple of quotes he thought I’d like and I thought I’d pass along this pericope from Arthur W. Pink:

"Of course it is true that doctrine, like anything else in Scripture, may be studied from a merely cold intellectual viewpoint. And thus approached, doctrinal teaching and doctrinal study will leave the heart untouched, and will naturally be dry and profitless. But doctrine, properly received, doctrine studied with an exercised heart, will ever lead into a deeper knowledge of God and of the unsearchable riches of Christ." 

It’s true that people can go the rest of their lives avoiding opportunities to dig deeply and urgently into God’s word and think that they have some sense of who He is or how He acts. But, that’s a false security. The great themes of the Bible, properly explored and expounded, lead us to a grander, fuller realization and appreciation of the One who ever-loved us and who redeemed us “according to the good pleasure of His will.”

I will spend the rest of my days on Earth attempting to mine the inexhaustible riches of the revelation God has graciously given His people. And I’m certain I will die feeling that I barely scratched the surface. But to search, to dig, to long for a greater understanding, that should be the goal of every Christian. And doctrine — the plain, brilliant, eternally-consequential teaching found in God’s word — ought to be the hallmark of every Christian church.

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