FrontLine — September/October 2016 | VOLUME 26 | NUMBER 5
In early 2010 an article by Ben Wright appeared on the 9marks.org website titled, “An Evangelical Fundamentalist Convergence?” Pastor Wright saw hope in such a convergence, but we use it here with little optimism. After all, “convergence” is the antonym of separation. The antonym is needed now to avoid the confusion resulting from the lack of a clear term when striving to understand what is likely a new movement. For example, some just call the Convergents “Calvinists,” as if their recent identification with Calvinism were the root of all choices that separatists find objectionable. Others use the unhelpful phrase “these young guys,” as though younger Convergents consistently move away from separatism just because they are young.
Nevertheless, something is going on—something that looks very much like the self-styled “Neo- Evangelicalism” of sixty years ago; something that in its efforts to engage the culture seems to be, again, embracing the culture. Therein lies the danger of the pursuit of relevance as an end in itself. In seeking to stay in touch with the ever-changing culture, churches can think themselves separate from it while moving away from their moorings. They can soon occupy the space that belonged to the world not long ago, no longer secure on the foundations on which they were built.
This issue of FrontLine offers an appeal for wisdom, discernment, and caution in this regard. It is not addressed just to those who have rejected separatism in favor of convergence nor to those who have never been separatists so much as to separatists seeking answers—those who are resisting pressure to conform their ministries to this movement. However, if anything in this issue comes as a rebuke to those who are dividing their churches over changes they promised not to make when they were called, or to those who have brought their churches to the brink of ruin with premature change, we pray it will be taken as a loving rebuke to be considered carefully.
The following articles are offered to encourage readers in their understanding of the specific topics addressed. Some deal with the positions the Convergents themselves held to without apology until recently. The first article, by Dr. Mike Harding, reviews the fact that “The Scriptures Are the Final Authority for Belief and Behavior.” Behavior is the tip of the iceberg, but the “dignity of its movement,” as one author put it, is due to what is under the surface: belief and biblical truth. Dr. Harding explains that biblical applications for life are not inherently legalistic. The claim that we should not teach what is not specifically stated in the Bible, is not specifically stated in the Bible. In contrast, Dr. Harding reviews the principles on which we base biblical decisions for all of life.
The second article is presented as a questionand- answer interview gleaned from personal conversations and correspondence with the Editor initiated by students, singles, young couples, and senior citizens who have felt driven from their churches by Convergents. As with all authors writing for FrontLine, the Editor takes full responsibility for the content of articles appearing over his name.
Next, a provocative article by Pastor Daniel Unruh addresses the dilemma of those who are trying to explain “Why I Left my Fundamental Church.” This pointed article is included not only to provide wise counsel for vulnerable, trusting believers but also to those who have had to leave their churches because of Convergence. Then, the ever important question of music is addressed again by FrontLine as veteran music pastor Dr. Tim Fisher and FrontLine editor Dr. John Vaughn revisit their well-known principles and personal observations published elsewhere over the last twenty years. Their article, “Approving Things That Are Excellent,” adds unapologetic opinion on the controversial and divisive topic of Sovereign Grace Music, increasingly used by Fundamentalists—almost militantly so by Convergents.
An important article by Dr. Kevin Schaal on “Leading a Congregation Ethically through Change” offers transparent and humble encouragement on the right way for pastors and other leaders to achieve ministry progress without driving a church prematurely into progressive positions and practices against their will or understanding. And the closing article is taken with permission from Dr. Randy Jaeggli’s book on beverage alcohol, Christians and Alcohol—A Scriptural Case for Abstinence. Specifically, we are reprinting the Preface by Dr. Steve Hankins and the Introduction by Dr. Jaeggli. We encourage every reader to obtain and study this book.
John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.
The Believer’s Certainty That the Scriptures Are the Final Authority for Belief and Behavior
Michael W. Harding
In the current church-growth movement and mission techniques, scriptural methods and principles are being displaced by pragmatic considerations.
An Interview with Dr. Vaughn on Current Trends in Fundamentalism
What is happening to our churches, our schools—to Fundamentalism?
“Why I Left My Fundamental Baptist Church”
Long-established churches are being changed through the hidden agenda of Convergent leadership.
Approving Things That Are Excellent: Discernment in Music
Tim Fisher and John C. Vaughn
The great need is for abounding love that approves things that are excellent. Discernment is, indeed, the missing gift.
Leading a Congregation Ethically through Change
Several years ago I led our church into a crisis. Yes, I made a mess.
Christians and Alcohol: A Scriptural Case for Abstinence
Drinking alcohol is the single greatest substance-abuse epidemic in American society
First Partaker: Differentiating Holiness from Legalism — Mark Minnick
Bring … the Books: The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston — review by Gordon Dickson
Straight Cuts: Knowing God’s Will—Colossians 1:9 — Keith Gephart
Windows: Seeing God — Mark Love
- Mail Bag
- On the Home Front
- Wit & Wisdom
- At a Glance The Story of David, Part 8
- On Language & Scripture
Mark L. Ward Jr.
- Regional Report
- God Is Big on Personal Responsibility
Our sincere thanks to Dr. John Vaughn for coordinating this issue of FrontLine magazine.
Click here to subscribe to the magazine.