Friday, April 16, 2010

Grudem on Boundaries (Separation)

Wayne Grudem has an interesting and well-done article on the topic of boundaries and separation. I won’t interact with all of it, but there are a few interesting things to me.

He says, False teaching changes, so old boundaries do not protect against new problems.

This is an excellent point, and it is, IMO, why appealing to “historic fundamentalism” is rather unhelpful. I think I understand what people mean when they say, “I am a historic fundamentalist.” It means they eschew all the recent additions to fundamentalism, like KJV-Only, certain cultural taboos (or allowances), multiple levels of separation (that are often inconsistently applied), etc.

But “historic fundamentalists” cannot really exist today for the simple reason that that history doesn’t exist today (except as history, of course). We have long since moved past the battles of yesteryear. (It’s also ironic that some of those who appeal to “historic fundamentalism” are also among the ones who insist on modern forms of ministry. No prejudice against either; it’s just kind of ironic to me.)

Some are reemerging to be sure as the doctrine of the Bible endures shots from both sides of the issue. Some attack the Bible outright, denying its nature and its truth. Others in their desire to protect the Bible have constructed a bibliology that does not flow from the Bible’s teaching and actually contradicts the Bible’s use of itself.

Science is another raging battleground today, just as it was then. Revered OT scholar Bruce Waltke just resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary over his comments on the relationship between science and faith.

But the landscape has changed. Today brings a whole new set of challenge that makes Grudem right on this issue. Old boundaries do not protect against new problems.

Grudem also reminds us that there are some wrong questions to ask:

"Are the advocates my friends?"
"Are they nice people?"
"Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?"

He says, “Such questions are grounded in a wrongful fear of man, not in a fear of God and trust in God.”

There is a “good ole’ boys club,” both in evangelicalism and fundamentalism. And some are hesitant to call out those who are of “our own.” And some are rather inconsistent about it. They will call out “one of our own” when that one says something that might reflect on another “one of our own.”

So when we speak with the voice of a prophet, we all need a large dose of humility and grace. We need to recognize that our “voice of a prophet” does not include special revelation as with the prophets of old. We might be wrong. We might simply be being a jerk. We might be missing our call of ministry by being a watchdog over those for whom we are not responsible.

Let us think seriously about boundaries and let us think graciously about others.

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