Sunday, June 3

Comparing the Reformed faith with Fundamentalism

I found this on Exiled Preacher's blog and thought it was helpful in articulating why, exactly, I'm not a fundamentalist.

1. Fundamentalism began as a reaction against theological Liberalism. The Reformed faith started as an attempt to bring the Catholic Church back to the doctrine and practice of Scripture.
2. Fundamentalists tend not to respect tradition. The Reformed hold to the supreme authority of Scripture, but value what the church has taught about God's truth in the past.
3. Fundamentalism has a minimalist approach to creeds and confessions of faith. The movement can be suspicious of theological scholarship. The Reformed faith is expressed in elaborate, all-embracing documents such as The Westminster Confession, The Savoy Declaration and The 1689 Baptist Confession. Typically, Calvinists have a high regard for theological study.
4. Fundamentalism makes little distinction between secondary issues and foundational gospel truth. This can make the movement unnecessarily divisive and sectarian. The Reformed insist on the essential gospel truth of God's saving grace in Christ. But they allow for liberty of conscience on adiaphora (things indifferent).
5. Fundamentalism is often stridently dispensationalist and premillenialist in its eschatology. The Reformed faith teaches covenant theology and is usually amillenialist. But some prominent Reformed theologians are postmillenialists and even premillenialists. It should be noted that Calvin said of Chilialism (premillenialism) "This fiction is too puerile to need or deserve refutation." Institutes III:XXV:5. (Sorry, John "All self-respecting Calvinists are premill" MacAthur and followers, but there it is).
6. Fundamentalsim reads the Bible in a literalistic way. Reformed expositors hold that Scripture should be interpreted in the light of the analogy of faith, taking into account grammatical, literary and contextual concerns.
7. Fundamentalism tends to be legalistic, teaching that the Christian life is largely about keeping the rules. Reformed theology has sought to develop a Biblical doctrine of sanctification that is rooted in the believer's union with Christ and the work of the Spirit. The law is a guide to right conduct, but the dynamic of the Christian life is the Spirit of Christ in the life of the believer.
8. Fundamentalism often has a very negative view of culture and the arts. Reformed teaching recognises that all human life is affected by sin, but God, in his "common grace", blesses society with many good things. These good aspects of culture and the arts are to be valued and enjoyed to the glory of God.
9. Fundamentalism is usually allied to right-wing politics. Reformed believers may be found supporting many different political parties. Reformed Christians have campaigned against slavery and racial intolerance. They have worked for a better society, including improved conditions for workers and free education and healthcare for all. The Reformed theologian, Francis Schaeffer was an early advocate of ecological concerns.
10. Fundamentalists share many important truths in common with Reformed believers such as a commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture and salvation through Christ alone. Theological liberalism is a much greater danger to the church than fundamentalism. We may disagree with Fundamentalists, but we should respect and love them as fellow-Christians.

1 comment:

Recovering said...

Nice Post! Points 6 and 9, in my humble opinion, are poorly worded and I'm not sure I agree with them wholly but the rest of the points are dead-on!