Skip to comments.The word is evangelical, not fundamentalist
Posted on 06/15/2010 8:15:51 AM PDT by markomalley
Ive already lamented the demise of the once-delightful Column One feature on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. And I feel that Ive dissected more than my tolerable share of articles by Mitchell Landsberg, the LATs recently new scribe on the Godbeat; add to that Mollies commentary yesterday on Landsbergs Vatican coverage.
Ive really tried to show him some grace as he warms up to religion reporting. But its been several months and I couldnt avoid discussing this Column One, Community service is the religion, which wastes no time violating a cardinal rule of religion reporting. Heres the fourth paragraph:
Fulford, a social worker for San Diego County, is in daily contact with the homeless, the formerly homeless and the soon-to-be homeless. But this encounter was not part of her job not her paying job, anyway. Fulford spends 30 to 40 hours a week volunteering as the leader of a ministry for homeless people for the Rock Church, a fundamentalist megachurch in Point Loma that is making its mark as a powerhouse of community service as well as evangelism.
If you guessed that the Rock isnt a funadamentalist megachurch but an evangelical megachurch than youre right. I know, the headline kind of gave it away.
There is, of course, a difference. A BIG difference. For those who have forgotten, which likely isnt many GetReligion loyalists, some evangelicals are fundamentalists think Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell but certainly not even close to all of them. As Christianity Today explained in a Did You Know? about the new evangelical awakening:
This modern form of evangelicalism began, therefore, as a kind of reform movement within fundamentalism. In the beginning years (the period much of this issue covers) the terms fundamentalist and evangelical were interchangeable. But eventually, the lines of division hardened.
Today, the terms usually refer to two different groups, ultra-conservative Christians (fundamentalists) and those who take a more engaged approach to modern culture (evangelicals). Both, however, share the same family tree.
As the AP Stylebook says:
In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians. In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself.
Which begs the question: How does The Rock identify itself?
Unfortunately, if you go to the churchs Web site, you are not greeted with a Welcome to The Rock! You can, however, see the churchs Beliefs and Statement of Faith, which are clearly evangelical. The churchs Wikipedia entry begins The Rock Church is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian megachurch located in San Diego, California. Though The Rock likely monitors that page, lets not put too much stock in that assessment.
As you may recall from the beginning of the Carrie Prejean saga, Miss California was a member of The Rock Church. And as I mentioned at the time, the church is evangelical, maybe even socially and theologically conservative, but not fundamentalist.
Nowhere in The Rocks literature does the church identify itself as fundamentalist, nor can I believe that its pastor, Miles McPherson, would have told Landsberg is was that would hardly be a popular thing to do.
And, would you believe it, Landsberg later says that The Rocks programs have a strong evangelical undercurrent.
As The New York Times recognized four years ago, evangelicals have been long uncomfortable with the confused connections that the uninformed draw between evangelicals and fundamentalists. Even before that, when I came on the Godbeat, this was one of the first lessons I learned.
This isnt quite like calling a Sunni a Shiite, but it is an important distinct that gets to the heart of good journalism: attention to detail. And like every reporter learns the first time they misspell a name, if you cant get the little things right, readers arent willing to trust you with the big things.
Thank you ... and I agree with that.
While the number 30,000 isn't exact, the evidence from Pub 78 indicates that it may well be a conservative estimate. For the U. S., any estimate or refutation of same, would be wise to base its analysis on the applications for tax exempt status which contains data to validate an informed estimate.
First, answer me this: why do you think I didn't mention them three years ago?
You may have mentioned them three years ago, but not in the post that I linked to.
Correct - I did not mention them in the post that you linked to. So the question is, "Do you know (or can you guess) why not?"
“Do you know (or can you guess) why not?”
Well, if you would answer if you consider United Pentecostal Church in with charismatics? (with them espousing Oneness as their Christology )
No, I do not consider them "in with charismatics". So to keep score, you've inquired about introducing/categorizing/retrofitting the LDS, the Adventists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and now the United Pentecostal Church into my "taxonomy".
So I'm asking again - why do you think that any/all of them weren't included before?
That's why I asked about Oneness Pentecostals.
So I would think your reason for not including them is a defective Christology that would tend to exclude them from being called Christians. (Chalcedon compliance anybody?)
Very close, and very good. When I wrote the "taxonomy", I was being self-consciously inclusive (exclusive?) of Trinitarian bodies only - Nicene Trinitarianism being IMO the outermost boundary separating orthodoxy and heresy. To express it in Catholic terms, if a professing believer/body is not Nicene Trinitarian, said believer/body is considered latae sententiae outside of the body of Christ.
On that basis, any anti-trinitarian body (the LDS, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the United Pentecostal Church) should not be considered "Protestant" by any stretch of the imagination, Catholic apologetics notwithstanding (for example Patrick Madrid and Opus Dei evangelist and Catholic priest Rev. John McCloskey). The Seventh-Day Adventists, on the other hand, I would consider "within" the fold on Trinitarian grounds, and IMO I'd place them within the Restorationist camp.
"I would define "the Church" as being "all of those who obey the Great Commission, and who make the same profession as Peter." To a lesser extent, I might argue that what constitutes "the profession of Peter" includes what's contained in the orthodox creeds. I know that you and I would not agree on the list of what constitutes the "orthodox creeds" - I do think that we could agree on a subset of that list, however. Moreso (for the sake of the evangelical lurkers reading this) I am emphatically not suggesting that a profession of the creeds is required for eternal salvation. I am suggesting (and note that I only said suggesting) that a profession of a creed is required for covenantal self-identification with the earthly, visible Church.
The important point to get out of this is that I'm defining the church as "those who believe the profession", not "those whose ancestors believed the profession." The absolute common element I want the reader to get here is that, from age to age, I believe in the preservation of a creedal continuity, not an apostolic continuity. I believe that there can be a discontinuity in apostolic continuity, while still preserving a church "in orthodoxy" via creedal continuity.
Think of it this way: I believe that there will always be a Church that makes the same profession that Peter does in Matthew 16:16. I believe that God will "raise sons of Abraham out of the stones" if need be to do this, and that such sons are legitimate - every bit as legitimate as those sons who can trace an unbroken temporal lineage back to the first century church, provided that each makes the same profession as Peter. And I'll go one step further than that - I do not believe that scripture demands that these "sons" need all belong to a single organizational structure. Adherence to the profession defines whether they are truly members or not, whether said professors recognize each other or not. Creedal unity does not necc. produce ecclesiastical unity. IMO it can, should, and will if the professors are consistent in all areas of their beliefs, but I would not negate their legitimacy if they are not in ecclesiastical unison. People are imperfect.
That said (whew), we still haven't fully defined what "preserved in orthodoxy" means, or what constitutes "the profession of Peter", i.e. or what bare minimum measure of orthodoxy (profession) is needed to qualify as being "preserved". I'll leave that to be addressed in another post. "
-- Alex Murphy, June 23, 2009
"....the various creeds and confessions of the historic church have been a useful means of codifying and focusing key Biblical doctrines, and by extension are very useful in matters of church membership (covenants) or forming definitions of heresy for Protestants. An interesting problem arises, as many "Protestant" churches, especially evangelical and non-denominational ones, reject the creeds as binding on themselves re matters of discipline or doctrine. How does St Simeon the Patient Reformed Church know that First Fundamental Independent Baptist Church of Christ Unified down the street is trinitarian and orthodox, if FFIBCoCU refuses to publish (or even write down on paper) their "what we believe" document, and also refuses to deny or affirm SStPRC's own "what we believe" document?
There is no simple way of determining whether some churches are "in the fold" of authentic Christianity or are apostate/heretical. We (the pro-creedal Christians) have to "take it on faith" that they (the anti-creedal Christians) are really our brothers in Christ. Now to some extent I'm exaggerating here in order to prove a point, but I think the question is a valid one.
I would never suggest that a creed is a substitute for Scripture itself, nor would I suffer accusations that creeds are fabrications of doctrine. I would say that creeds are excellent summaries of where Scripture speaks to certain subjects, and exist as historic documents as to who took what side in ecclesiastical/doctrinal disputes. IMO creeds were wisely formed to "redeem the time" (Eph. 5:16) when testing or investigating the confessions of a professing believer, and continue to be smart tools for the churches' use today.
Only those believers that individually and institutionally submit themselves to the historic creeds of the church can be said to be "in agreement" doctrinally. By their very nature, creeds define what two or more groups' shared beliefs are, and they provide a useful way for both insiders and outsiders to test themselves on whether they really are doctrinally and congregationally unified.
-- Alex Murphy, May 2, 2009
"I'm not one who believes that no one could be justified/sanctified before the Reformation, but then again there are Catholics on FR who would accuse all Protestants of believing just this. So while I do believe that there was a "corruption" of doctrine in history prior to the Reformation, I do not believe that God's grace had been lifted from the Catholic Church, or that the Catholic Church wasn't part of the "true" Church in some way, prior to the Reformation (or beyond)."
-- Alex Murphy, July 24, 2007
Exactly right...since the church is the people...and only God knows them. Better to focus on God and His Will than to rely upon any Church.
No Alex, I am not.