January 19, 2018

Cultural Fundamentalist

Frank Bumpus

I was speaking in a conference when a dear lady came to me about a letter she had received. Just a week before, she had sat in the auditorium of a church with a rich heritage — a church that in years past had gathered thousands of people Sunday after Sunday to hear the Word of God preached with great power. It was her home church, where as a young person she was saved and nurtured in the faith. It was there she had been challenged to forsake a worldly lifestyle. She remembered especially the battle that had raged in her heart over rock music and the peace that came when she yielded to Christ.

How shocked she was that morning when the choir rocked to a contemporary beat. The worldly special music that followed and the weak message left her numb at the conclusion of the service. She left heavy hearted.

During the next week, she prayed frequently about a letter she was writing to the pastor. How could she ask why so much had changed without her seeming adversarial? She must not seem harsh or accusing. She finished the letter and mailed it. When the pastor’s reply came, she felt shocked and hurt. His reply could be summed up in these words that kept racing through her mind, “Your problem is that you are a cultural fundamentalist. His intent was clear: something was wrong with her. She was the product of a bygone era; she was a “cultural fundamentalist.” He meant that what she had been taught was based on the opinion of that day and that her standards had no Scriptural basis.

After returning from that conference, I began to think how succinctly that expression “cultural fundamentalism” sums up a present-day attitude toward Biblical separation — an attitude that says we live in a new age that requires a new approach. We are told that we must understand our culture and meet it on its own terms or fail in our gospel efforts. We are told that if we are to win our world, we must relinquish outdated preferences. This reasoning explains why many churches use contemporary rock music, sponsor dances and in general have gone to the devil.

Is it true that many of our convictions are merely the product of a bygone era? It is true that in any society where Christ has been preached and the Bible believed, the culture has been affected. Much of America’s past success and blessing has resulted from its deep roots in the Judeo-Christian faith. The prevailing immorality and wickedness in this country today is the result of our departure from that faith. The fact is that Bible-centered fundamentalism was not the product of society; rather, our society was affected by fundamental Bible truth.

This is not the time to retreat from our convictions or to forsake the Word of God. We must not forget that the Bible exhorts us to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (see 1 John 2:15). This generation desperately needs to see Spirit-filled believers who are “separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). Just as the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego testified to King Nebuchadnezzar about the Lord, this present generation also needs to witness godly lives — clean, holy lives — that cause them to openly ask: “Is it true … [that you] do not … serve [our] gods, nor worship the golden image which [we] have set up?” (Dan. 3:14)

Let’s not be brow-beaten into relinquishing our Biblical position by those who have forsaken their fundamental heritage. It is time to recognize that we have a new breed of neo-evangelicals masquerading in fundamental pulpits. Men who, while they consider themselves wiser than their predecessors, have fled the battle and run, “after the error of Balaam” (see Jude 1:11).

At the time of original publication, the late Dr. Frank Bumpus was the editor of Frontline Magazine and vice president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America.

(Originally published in FrontLine • Spring 1994. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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.

Submit other comments here.