Principles Demand More Than Fundamentalism
As far back as 2005 Rick Warren, the founder and leader of the purpose driven movement, has declared the five fundamentals of the Fundamentalist movement as “too narrow” or “legalistic.” We could not disagree more. However, we do not believe that the fundamentals, as they are commonly stated are enough to maintain principled Christianity.
I am not a Fundamentalist. But it’s not what you think. I am not rejecting Fundamentalism because I oppose its belief in the Bible, its defense of the Bible, or its love for the King James Version. I am not a Fundamentalist because it elevates a small set of doctrines above the first principles revealed in the word of God.
As we have often said, principles determine relevancy, and the principled church is a relevant church. We also hasten to say that Biblical principles take a church further than Fundamentalism.
But what is Fundamentalism? What is a fundamentalist?
The plain meaning of the word fundamentalist, according to Webster is “someone who stresses strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.” But in the historic sense, Fundamentalism is defined as a Christian movement of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Historically, Fundamentalists adhere to the five fundamentals outlined by the 1910 General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church. These five fundamentals are: 1. Inerrancy of the scriptures 2. Virgin Birth of Christ 3. Salvation by Grace 4. Bodily Resurrection 5. The Second Coming of Christ.
For more information on this, see our article: The Expiration of Fundamentalism.
Historically, Fundamentalism devolved into an exclusive Baptist movement. We would like to point out that the five fundamentals do not go far enough. They are insufficient. It is important for independent Baptists to re-affirm their principles rather than proclaim allegiance to a Protestant set of principles.
To do this we need to look at the first principles outlined in the scriptures.
In the past, there was a group of believers known as the Six-Principled Baptists. For the most part these people came from Wales. This group was really at the heart of the very first Baptist churches in America. Dr. John Clarke, pastor of the Baptist Church at Newport, Rhode Island was such a believer. Beginning in 1637, his church became a major planter of churches in early America.
What were the six principles of these Baptist people? They are the principles expressed in Hebrews 5: 12 through Hebrews 6:2:
5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
These principles express the practices of a local church. In fact these are the founding doctrines that have to be maintained to keep a church a church.
Primary Principles Devalued
1. Repentance and faith
3. Laying on of hands (ordination)
5. Eternal Judgment
These six principles succinctly define the local church because of their attention to Christ’s person, salvation, the ordinance of baptism and to ordination itself. Like it or not these doctrines are in the Bible and indicate clearly that God is interested in keeping the local churches decent and in order.
The local church, visible and carrying out the great commission is the pillar and ground of the truth and is the very life’s blood of Christianity. To destroy the distinctive nature of the local church means the destruction of Christianity. Be careful with this jewel. It is not yours with which to play.
Quickly we see problems our current brethren have with these principles:
1. The Doctrine (singular) of Christ encompasses all six principles. We are to defend not only His deity, but all of these principles.
2. Repentance should not have been debated and dismissed by the brethren. The fact that the independent Baptists actually had a public discussion and disagreement on the all important principle of repentance shows doctrinal ignorance. It has honestly gotten to the point that if you even use the word repentance you will be black listed as one who believes in works for salvation. It is queer, but a sign of the times.
3. Baptism is so convoluted among the independent Baptists it will never be sorted until the Lord returns. I believe that as much as is possible, we ought to have good baptism, administered by the hand of like-minded ordained Baptist preachers. Does this make me a Landmarker? If it does, than ALL of our Baptist forefathers (until the year 1850) were Landmarkers.
4. The laying on of hands obviously refers to ordination. Yes, it is in the Bible.
The principles thus stated are “the first principles of the oracles of God” and no one has the right to diminish them.