An Era of Fundamentalism has passed as Stephen Jones resigns from Bob Jones University

More here…
bjunews.com/2013/12/13/breaking-stephen-jones-to-resign/

For those unfamiliar with BJU and the dynasty began with evangelist Bob Jones Sr, they were involved in the early 70s in a Supreme Court case involving their tax exempt status based on racist policies at the university.
At one time BJU was the beacon of fundamentalism in America, and in particular the deep south.

I sat under two preachers from BJ back in my Baptist days.
I will refrain from revealing what I know about the inner workings of the family and issues surrounding the two heir apparents of the fundamentalist dynasty, Bob Jones IV and Stephen. A simple google search can do that.
I can’t say I’m surprised. BJU has had financial woes and dropping enrollments in last couple decades. Since fundamentalism is an ever-changing philosophy, they have to keep up with the times or become extinct.
The “giants” of fundamentalism: the Jones family, Jerry Falwell, and Jack Hyles are all gone now. Who wil replace them?

Hopefully, a group of Evangelical leaders who are able to collaborate respectfully with Catholics. (One can always dream!) :smiley:

These folks would not consider themselves evangelical. Of the three only Jerry Falwell crossed from fundamentalist to evangelical waters (crossing the Ohio as opposed to the Tiber?:D). BJ is the old guard and they have many differences with evangelicals, whom they consider liberal.

In fairness they did away with the archaic inter-racial dating rule a few years back, not that it was ever enforced anyway.
If they want change thier image they can start by renaming the building on thier campus, named in honor of a former governor and Klan grand dragon.

I’m not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that there are currently no such leaders?

In fact, as JustAServant pointed out, this has already happened. In the 1940s and 50s, many leaders of what had been called “fundamentalism” began replacing the term with “evangelical” (itself an older term that had never dropped out of use, of course–the point is that people began identifying themselves self-consciously as “evangelicals” as opposed to both “fundamentalists” and more liberal forms of Protestantism). Billy Graham was probably the most prominent of these, and cooperation with Catholics (and “mainline” Protestants) was one of the hallmarks of his evangelistic ministry, which brought him under fire from fundamentalists.

I wouldn’t say that the line is quite as sharp as JustAServant indicates. It’s quite fuzzy, and I wouldn’t say that Falwell “crossed from one to the other” so much as that he softened his fundamentalist stance a bit and began looking more like a very conservative “evangelical” (some would call him a “neofundamentalist”–I suppose, if the term doesn’t cause the English language to explode, you could call him a “liberal fundamentalist”:p).

And evangelicalism is itself very unstable and always on the brink of flying apart. These days many younger evangelicals are very unhappy with the more “fundamentalist” aspects of evangelicalism (Biblical inerrancy, penal substitution, conservative social positions, the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus). Are these folks still evangelicals, or are they a new kind of liberal? Depends on your definition, of course:shrug:

But I think it is clear that old-fashioned fundamentalism of the BJU stamp is fading.

Edwin

Edwin

Not at all. In fact, there are several such leaders. What I hope is that people like the Jones clan, who called the Church the Whore of Babylon and gave a free pass to men like Ian Paisley, do indeed prove to be a dying breed. I agree with the rest of your post.

Please be careful not to demonize fundamentalists, or to lump them all into one awful group.

My cousin graduated from Bob Jones 40 years ago. She is a dear person, a strong Christian (Protestant), and has accomplished a great deal of good in her life.

I know other young people who are attending BJU, and they are reasonable, intelligent people who practice kindness and goodness. Their families are reasonable, not fanatical.

I think that some young people prefer a more sheltered and structured life after high school. Some young people actually prefer to attend a very strict school that bans things that other Christians would consider “neutral” or even “good.”

I’ve seen the same attitude here on CAF from young people who are searching for a very conservative Catholic college because they don’t want to attend one of the “liberal” Catholic colleges. They want a highly-structured “Catholic” life. I don’t have a problem with that.

Everyone has a different level of what they can tolerate without being sucked into anger and bitterness, or temptation and sin themselves. If attending a highly-structured college helps certain young people to remain pure and close to God, then what’s wrong with that?

Not everyone is ready at age 18 to challenge their faith with a more typical college campus, college students, and most of all, college professors (the liberal ones–shudder).

The racism at BJU is deplorable, yes. But other “liberal” colleges have just as many bigoted practices, only they choose to attack other groups that they consider “unacceptable.” At the moment, certain colleges allow and even advocate deliberate discrimination against Christians, against Republicans, against fiscal conservatives, against homophobes, against rednecks or “country hicks,” against virgins, against those who don’t “believe in” global warming or monophyletic evolution, even against teetotalers. There are very few prejudice-free colleges.

And I would suggest that we will find racism against African Americans at ANY college in the United States. It’s just more subtle and in a way, more difficult to challenge.

And even if the college doesn’t endorse racist practices and organizations, we will still find individuals and small groups who practice racism and harbor racist attitudes. Again, often it’s subtle and shocking, but it’s there. There is no “racist-free” college in the U.S…

We in the west seem to love invented words. When I was a fundie they would describe evangelicals as “new evangelical”, a term nobody outside of fundamentalism knew. Which I tried to point out as a fundie years ago, but to no avail. Looking back, I would agree that Falwell softened his stance, as opposed to “defecting to the other side”. I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there were people who were convinced Falwell had basically apostosized. I would also point out the believe Episcopals are pretty much Hell-bound as well. Just so you won’t feel lonley. :smiley:
Fundamentalism of the BJU variety has been shinking and fading of a while. That’s because, IMO, their philosophy is based on a cultural fantasy of “returning to the old paths”. In their eyes, that looks pretty much like the America that existed before all those pesky Catholic immigrants came over.
In their favor, I would say that BJU was more intellectual than other fundie colleges. They would encourage acaedemics and the arts. No other fundie college would do that.

While there are always exceptions and people can always be found who can’t quite be placed in the fundamentalist or neo-evangelical/post-fundamentalist camps, it’s not as “fuzzy” as is commonly portrayed by people and the media who are ignorant of the difference between Bob Jones and Billy Graham. The main marker between a fundamentalist and an evangelical is that fundamentalist practice separation from everyone who don’t agree with them on even minor points of doctrine.

The difference is certainly not “fuzzy” to authentic fundamentalists.

Of course, moderate evangelicals such as Roger E. Olson have written about a troubling trend of fundamentalists appropriating the label of “conservative evangelical” and then infiltrating evangelical parachurch organizations and educational institutions. He sees these crypto-fundamentalists as attempting to capitalize on the greater cultural credibility of the evangelical label while subtly reshaping evangelical institutions into a fundamentalist image.

Well, evangelicalism has always been a big tent phenomenon. There is a valid question to be asked concerning groups like Sojourners and the Emergent Church, which claim the label of evangelical or post-evangelical yet sounds more like liberal mainline Protestant Social Gospel except in an updated package designed to appeal to the sensibilities of the millenial generation.

Actually, there is (or was) a post-war evangelical consensus pushed by groups and figures like the National Association of Evangelicals, Billy Graham, and Christianity Today that called themselves the “New Evangelicals” or neo-Evangelicalism. What was new about them was the rejection of the “separation” impulse and a desire to win back some cultural credibility for conservative Protestantism. This neo-evangelical consensus has been basically stretched to the breaking point as the endless variety of evangelicalism continues to emerge.

I would consider Jack Chick to be “bigger” than all of them.

Chick was always on the fringe. Only the Hyles, KJV-only types associate with him. BJUers would shy away from him. And Falwell was considered a liberal to them.

Absolutely.
I remember going to a pastor’s conferance held by BJU on dealing with different ‘trends’ in the Christian world. The problem was, they had a hard time keeping up with the times. Back then, this would have been…oh, maybe 2001, they were saying the big issue of the new century was going to be Promisekeepers, which they opposed.
Nowadays many people don’t even what Promisekeepers even was.
So yeah, they had a hard time keeping up with trends in the evangelical world.

Yeah, one of the benefits and deficits of broad Evangelicalism is that it is so dynamic. The good thing about it is that it never falls into the trap of fundamentalism, but it also opens Evangelicalism to a religious market mentality of trying to keep up with the new thing or what’s hot currently.

Now everyone seems to be jumping on the Young, Restless, and Reformed bandwagon. Ugh . . . :shrug:

But that’s better than the Emergent Church in any case. When I read that the radical leftist leaders of the Episcopal Church were trying to model outreach to young people based on an Emerging model I knew that nothing good could come out of that . . . :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s not totally a bad thing.
Reformed Christians are more historically minded and encourage scholarship. Depending on how they approach Calvinism, they would attract younger people who want more out of a sermon than three acrostic points and a song. When I dipped my foot into the Reformed waters I noticed Calvinism wasn’t attracting too many young people, so many Reformed minded preachers opted for a kind of “soft” Calvinism instead.
BJU would tolerate Calvinism, but it strongly discouraged.
Oddly, dipping into to the Reformed waters led me back to the Catholic Church through the “back door” of the Reformation.:wink:

Well, the people they look up to are guys like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and Matt Chandler. They are intellectual guys. Both Piper and Chandler are Baptists. Mark Driscoll is non-denominational.

There is also right now a resurgence of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. The majority Arminians are now resenting their assertiveness and attitude of spiritual superiority.

They aren’t gravitating towards the historic Reformed and Presbyterian denominations.

One thing that makes it popular is that evangelical Calvinists are presenting doctrinally based sermons that provide a framework for understanding the Christian faith. This is better than what most evangelical preachers have been dong in recent decades, which is preaching “seeker sensitive sermons” that don’t really feed already converted Christians.

The problem is that I believe Calvinism is fundamentally flawed, so I’m concerned when it makes inroads into areas that have been traditionally Wesleyan-Arminian. Once you get evangelical Calvinism in those areas, you have what becomes a type of soft-Fundamentalism that is foreign to our tradition.

I always used to refer to Reformed Baptists (or Reform-minded Baptists) as fundamentalists who have learned how to read. :smiley:
Written with tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless points to an uncomfortable fact I learned among them. Thier spiritual superiority is a turn-off, and as a result, whatever church it seems rear it’s head, people start dropping out. It got to a point where I preferred the spiritual immaturity of fundamentalists over Reformed windbags.
Getting back to the topic, that’s one of the reasons why BJU keeps it on a short leash among their students and faculty. They are however friends with the nortorious anti-Catholic Irish politician and Presbyterian, Ian Paisley.

Well, I’m a little fuzzy on the exact origins of Fundamentalism. But I seem to recall that it started among Presbyterians and Reformed Christians who mixed Princeton theology with Dispensationalism.

I know not all Fundamentalists are Calvinists today, but I think Fundamentalism still carries an imprint of a Calvinist mindset that is one of the things that sets it apart from other groups like Holiness and Pentecostals.

It’s in some ways a less refined form of intellectualism that revolves around knowing that you know the Bible better than anyone else and if anyone disagrees with you they obviously aren’t a true Christian.

Of course there’s a clear between Jones and Graham. But the “fuzziness” of which I spoke s not a question of “exceptions”–most Christians I knew for the first 21 years of my life fell under the “exceptions.” In fact, the exceptions in my experience growing up were the people who were clearly either fundamentalist in the most hardline sense of the word (IFB types) or (a much smaller group) those who were fundamentalists by no one’s definition.

The more clueless folks in the media may have trouble making any distinctions, but the relatively better informed journalists fall into the opposite error, speaking as if fundamentalists and evangelicals were two completely separate camps. You get some journalists referring to Pentecostals as “fundamentalists” and others pointing out learnedly that Pentecostals are completely different from fundamentalists. The latter is closer to the truth, but still very misleading to non-fundamentalists, because it obscures all the ways in which conservative Pentecostals sound exactly like fundamentalists.

I find that many evangelicals have a lot invested in drawing this sharp line, a line which completely disappears when you get close to it. I recognize that most lines are like that. At least, any line on a spectrum is like that. And all I’m saying is that neo-evangelicalism and fundamentalism are on a spectrum.

The vast majority of Christians I knew growing up (including myself and my family) would have referred to themselves as evangelicals, but wouldn’t have been particularly unhappy with the label fundamentalist either. The idea that these are either/ors, so that you must be one or the other, is a complete myth manufactured by neo-evangelicals who don’t want to be associated with those nasty fundamentalists.

The main marker between a fundamentalist and an evangelical is that fundamentalist practice separation from everyone who don’t agree with them on even minor points of doctrine.

That is certainly one very influential definition. However, it’s not the only one out there. Some of my wife’s professors at Asbury Theological Seminary, for instance, told her that belief in inerrancy was “fundamentalist” while belief in Biblical infallibility in matters of faith and morals was “evangelical.” That’s another way to draw the line, which results in a much larger number of fundamentalists.

The difference is certainly not “fuzzy” to authentic fundamentalists.

Of course, moderate evangelicals such as Roger E. Olson have written about a troubling trend of fundamentalists appropriating the label of “conservative evangelical” and then infiltrating evangelical parachurch organizations and educational institutions. He sees these crypto-fundamentalists as attempting to capitalize on the greater cultural credibility of the evangelical label while subtly reshaping evangelical institutions into a fundamentalist image.

I respect Olson, but this kind of language (which I used to hear from some of my colleagues at Huntington University as well) is paranoid and historically nonsensical. This isn’t something “new,” and the folks Olson considers “fundamentalists” have plenty of reasons to consider themselves the “true” evangelicals. This isn’t some sinister “infiltration”–it’s just people describing themselves by labels that mean something to them instead of the labels Olson would prefer to slap on them. Olson’s opponents would use the same pejorative language about his version of evangelicalism, with at least as much historical justification. Also, he’s obviously using the term “fundamentalist” in the broader sense I mentioned above, and not in the way you are.

Well, evangelicalism has always been a big tent phenomenon. There is a valid question to be asked concerning groups like Sojourners and the Emergent Church, which claim the label of evangelical or post-evangelical yet sounds more like liberal mainline Protestant Social Gospel except in an updated package designed to appeal to the sensibilities of the millenial generation.

Sojourners’ stances have more to do with social/political issues than with theology, typically. The Emergent Church is arguably a “new” kind of liberalism, but it’s different in significant ways from the old kind.

Edwin

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