April 28, 2017

Why We’re Still Here

FrontLine March/April 2017 | VOLUME 27 | NUMBER 2

John Vaughn and Mark Ward

The Mail Bag section of the November/ December issue of FrontLine included an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Mark Ward, who writes On Language & Scripture for FrontLine. My editorial response mentioned the possibility of this special issue of FrontLine. One of the reasons we produced the “Convergence” issue was to provide a voice for growing frustrations in my generation, stymied in its efforts to reach across that “yawning generational gap” that Mark spoke of in his letter. It was a rebuke of an unethical pastoral theology observed in some, but it was not intended as an indictment of an entire generation.

Nevertheless, the “Convergence” issue was understandably troubling to Mark’s generation of fundamentalists. Similarly, this issue could be troubling to my generation. Already, I have received an appeal to cancel any plans to allow Mark to edit an issue of FrontLine and even to shut down his regular column. But Mark’s response to “Convergence” was exemplary. It was biblical. Rather than join those in his generation who took to the Internet in umbrage to declare (in essence), “They have no right to say these things about us!,” he called me and asked for clarity. For several years he and I have enjoyed genuine cross-generational edification. Yet there might be some of my peers who will now think, “They have no right to say these things about us!”

But wait. This issue of FrontLine is not a rebuttal. It is a loving expression of appreciation from younger fundamentalists for their forebears. So, I ask, please don’t take selected statements that you may find provocative and reject the heartfelt message these young authors are sending. Listen to their hearts. Within the next few years my generation will have passed off the scene. These young people and their peers will be the leaders of fundamentalism. My generation of leaders must be wise in this transition, just as theirs must be. It is not the differences in our personalities that matter; it is our common doctrinal position! Wise leaders recognize and mentor leaders, while unwise leaders merely attract followers. We must not forget the goal of leadership clearly stated in 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” There is the biblical principle, clearly illustrated by these authors, that will close the yawning gap. —John C. Vaughn

♦ ♦ ♦

This special issue of FrontLine was produced by young people—thirty-ish to forty-ish— in order to explain why we’re still “in” the portion of fundamentalism that shaped us all, the BJU-Northland-Maranatha-Detroit-Central-IBC-Wilds-Faith-FBFI portion, to name most of its leading parachurch institutions. (I say “portion” because the rest of self-described fundamentalism has, I believe, separated from us over the KJV.)

I hope older generations of fundamentalists will be glad to see in this issue that you have successfully passed your values on to at least thirteen of the young people God put under your influence. You won’t be able to read what we write without feeling the authenticity of our gratitude to you.

And you’re going to have to believe in the authenticity of that gratitude if any fundamentalist institutions are going to be left for me to pass on to my own children, at least in anything like the form in which they stood when I entered Bob Jones two decades ago. A complicated generational transition is upon us, and unless fundamentalism’s Baby Boomers believe that its Gen-Xers and Millennials are acting in good faith to serve our shared values, we won’t be able to work together to restabilize and promote those values. Pillsbury, Calvary, Northland, and Clearwater are gone—and their deaths didn’t send floods of students to other fundamentalist institutions. Who’s next to die?

The FBFI? Though this magazine reaches a much larger number, we have just 444 US members and 33 international members. I counted. And precisely 26 of these members are what I’d call “young.” That’s 5%. No one my age has ever once said to me, “Hey, wanna go to the FBFI annual fellowship this year?”

Laying all my motivations out on the table for you, I read the “Convergence” issue and saw in it a deep distrust of my generation. So I worked with the eager help of Dr. John Vaughn to gather young men and women to write. I want our love to elicit your trust. The generations are not living in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16), and our mutual distrust is a recipe for institutional destruction.

And to young people who share the values I lay out in my article, I say, “Don’t give up our institutions lightly.” Institutions are the means by which values solidify and spread. I believe fundamentalism has gifts to give to the body of Christ, but it cannot do so if we all scatter to the four winds.

I hope older and younger fundamentalists will read this issue of FrontLine. See if you recognize your values in the personal testimonies. I think you will. Then, by God’s grace, we can move forward together. —Mark L. Ward Jr.

Features

Why I’m Still Here
Mark L. Ward Jr.

My Experiences in Fundamentalism
Andrea Crocker

Scope and Turn
Tim Richmond

Holding Fast to Sound Words
Eric Newton

Talking and Listening Better
Thomas Overmiller

Why Am I a Fundamentalist?
Brian Collins

Honoring My Heritage
Andrew Minnick

Loyalty to Fundamentalism
Mike Riley

Commitment to the Gospel
Sarah Hartwig

Godly Loyalty
Kristopher Schaal

Labels
Katie Pringle

Simplicity of Christian Living
Wesley Barley

Departments

Mail Bag & News from All Over

On the Home Front

Wit & Wisdom
David Atkinson

Newsworthy
Robert Condict

On Language & Scripture
Mark L. Ward Jr.

At a Glance The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, Part 1
Layton Talbert

Regional Fellowship

Challenge Coins
John C. Vaughn

God Has a Journey for You
Jerry Sivnksty

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Mark Ward for coordinating this issue of FrontLine magazine.

(Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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