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Tag: Email from Evangelicals

Ex-IFB Fundamentalists

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I have long argued that Evangelicals are inherently Fundamentalist. Several years ago, I wrote a post titled Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?:

Many people think that Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism are two different species of conservative Christianity. However, I plan to show in this post that Evangelicals are inherently Fundamentalist, and that the only issue is to what degree they are Fundamentalist.

Some of the confusion comes from the fact that there are Evangelicals, such as the Independent Fundamentalist (IFB) church movement, who proudly wear the Fundamentalist label. Thus, an Evangelical — say, someone who is a pastor in the Evangelical Free Church of America – rightly says, I am NOT like those crazy Fundamentalist Baptists. They see the extremism of the IFB church movement, condemn it, and by doing so think that they are not Fundamentalist.

The word Fundamentalist was originally used to describe a group of sects, churches, and pastors who took a stand against perceived theological liberalism in the denominations of which they were a part. From 1910 to 1915, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA), published 90 essays that were published in a 12-volume set of books titled, The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. (You can see a complete listing of the essays on Wikipedia.) These essays provided the theological foundation for the modern Fundamentalist movement.

The words “fundamentalist” and “fundamentalism” can also be used in a generic sense. While almost always used when describing the beliefs of religious sects, fundamentalist beliefs can also be found in politics, science, economics, and even atheism. The focus of this post is Christian Fundamentalism, particularly Protestant Fundamentalism.

There are two components to the Fundamentalism found in Evangelicalism:

â—‰Theological Fundamentalism

â—‰Social Fundamentalism

Theological Fundamentalism

All Evangelicals are theological Fundamentalists. What do Evangelicals believe?

â—‰The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of the triune God.

â—‰Salvation is through the merit and work of Jesus Christ.

â—‰Jesus is the eternal, virgin-born, sinless, miracle-working Son of God who came to earth 2,000 years ago to die on the cross for the sins of humankind.

â—‰Jesus resurrected from the dead three days after being crucified. He later ascended back to Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.

◉Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and salvation is gained only by putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ.

â—‰All non-Christian religions are false and many Christian sects have heretical beliefs.

â—‰There is a literal Heaven, a Hell, and Devil.

â—‰Saved people go to Heaven when they die and non-saved people go to Hell when they die.

â—‰Someday, Jesus Christ will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. The heavens and earth will be destroyed and God will make a new heaven and a new earth.

….

Evangelicals may quibble with one another over the finer points of this or that doctrine, but EVERY Evangelical believes what I have listed above. And it is these beliefs that make them theological Fundamentalists.

While it is true that liberal and progressive theology are making inroads within Evangelicalism, this does not mean that Evangelicalism is becoming less Fundamentalist. Liberal/progressive Evangelicals are outliers, and, in time, due to the inflexibility of Evangelical theology, they will either leave Evangelicalism and join liberal/Progressive Christian sects or they will become a bastard child subset within Evangelicalism.

….

Social Fundamentalism

Social Fundamentalism focuses on the conduct, lifestyle, and social engagement of the Christian. An Evangelical looks at the rules, standards, and negativity of an IFB church that proudly claims its Fundamentalist moniker and says, SEE I am NOT a Fundamentalist. I don’t believe in legalism. I believe in grace, and I leave it to God to change how a person lives.

This sounds good, doesn’t it? However, when you start to poke around a bit, you will find that almost every Evangelical is a social Fundamentalist — the only difference between Evangelicals being the degree of Fundamentalism. This can be quickly demonstrated by asking those who think they are non-fundamentalist Evangelicals a few questions. Questions like:

â—‰Can a practicing homosexual be a Christian?

â—‰Can a homosexual man be a deacon or pastor in your church?

â—‰Can a same-sex couple work in the nursery together?

â—‰Do think it is okay for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sexual activity?

â—‰Can a cohabiting heterosexual couple be a member of your church?

â—‰Do you think it is morally right for a woman to wear a skimpy outfit to church?

â—‰Is it ever right to have an abortion?

â—‰Do you think smoking marijuana is okay?

â—‰Do you think it okay for your pastor to smoke cigars and drink alcohol at the local bar?

â—‰Is it okay for someone, in the privacy of their home, to become inebriated?

By asking these questions, and a number of similar ones, you will quickly discover that the non-Fundamentalist Evangelical is a social Fundamentalist after all. While these Evangelicals may jeer and laugh at the crazy, extreme rules and standards of the IFB church movement, they too have their own set of non-negotiable social standards. They, like their IFB brethren, are social Fundamentalists.

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I am sure some Evangelicals will argue that their social Fundamentalism, like their theological Fundamentalism, comes straight from the B-i-b-l-e. Of course they do. ALL Evangelicals think their beliefs come straight from the Bible. The IFB pastor has a proof-text for everything he preaches against, as does the I am NOT a Fundamentalist Evangelical pastor. Both believe the Bible is truth, an inspired, inerrant, supernatural text. The only difference between them is their interpretation of the Bible.

Remember, if it walks, acts, and talks like a Fundamentalist, it is a Fundamentalist. Evangelicals can protest all they want that I am unfairly tarring them with the Fundamentalist brush, but as I have shown in this post, their theological and social beliefs clearly show they are Fundamentalist. If they don’t like the label, I suggest they change their beliefs and distance themselves from Evangelicalism. They need not become atheists/agnostics if they leave Evangelicalism. Even though I was not able to do so, many former Evangelicals find great value and peace in liberal/progressive Christianity. Others find the same in non-Christian religions or universalism. If it is God you want, there are plenty of places to find him/her/it.

Today, an Ex-IFB Fundamentalist named John Fanortney left several comments on an interview I did on the Preachers Boy podcast, hosted by Eric Skwarczynski.

Video Link

Fanortney said:

Bravery has nothing to do with Bruce’s decisions. Possibly honesty, but honesty proves the conscience given by God. There are many abusers and bullies within the IBF movement as there are at CNN, MSNBC, ABC, socialistic schools, politics, leftists, BLM, Fauci, Biden, etc. Bruce has chosen to believe the impossible: accidental evolution with the survival of the fittest. Bruce and his groupies BLINDLY follow the mask mandates and Covid lies as many fundamentalists BLINDLY follow their pastor.

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Bruce paints a pretty picture of his blog. One will experience same vitriol from him as one may have experienced from an IBF fundamentalist. Bruce can spew unkindness just as IBF pastors can. I agree with Bruce about the child molester that he mentioned. The people who voted him for pastor need their head examined; in fact, the man should be punished by drowning according to the Lord Jesus. I served under David Hyles and Jack Hyles and when I discovered their wickedness, it didn’t shake my faith. It actually enhanced my faith because the Bible warns of this behavior. Many pastors of the IBF are wretched, but so are many atheists like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, etc. Both systems have good and evil people.

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@Bruce Gerencser you are right; it’s IFB [I pointed out his incorrect use of the acronym]. You don’t need to make an apology. I was just letting people know. I left fundamentalism, but I didn’t leave the Bible. As one can read that I was not unkind to you in my comment. I was simply stating an observation. Jordan Peterson is an amazing example of dealing with hostile opposition.

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Bruce definitely can be a Christian and I think he is, but he is an offended Christian. His offenses allows [sic] him to justify his position.

It’s clear from Fanortney’s comments that he is still a Fundamentalist, despite him suggesting otherwise. Scores of IFB pastors and church members have fled this sect’s narrow confines, only to land in places that are still Fundamentalist — just less so. They have just traded one flavor of Fundamentalism for another.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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Bruce Gerencser