January 16, 2018

Partakers of Christ’s Sufferings

John Vaughn

Around 80 years ago[1] the term “Fundamentalism” was coined to distinguish true, Bible-believing Christianity from the perversion that was replacing it in the major denominations. Darwinian evolutionary theory and German rationalist theology were eroding belief in absolute truth and replacing it with relativism. By the 1920s the damage was so extensive that those who refused to discard doctrine for “enlightened” thinking had to distinguish themselves from it.

Moral relativism is now the foundation of the major denominations and most so-called “evangelical” churches. A common cultural conclusion is that Christ preached only unity and brotherhood and that preaching separation is, therefore, not truly Christian. The September 1997 issue of Ecumenical Trends stated, “The theological core of Fundamentalism is incompatible with Christianity.” The attack continued, “Fundamentalist literalism appears to be an alternative stance, or, in traditional terms, a heretical option. … It appears that Fundamentalism is now branching off from Christianity to constitute still another separate religion.”

Such drivel could just be ignored, but as we ignore it we had better make sure our message and methods are indeed compatible with Christianity. Perhaps a few questions are in order.

Do you believe the Bible says what it means and means what it says? Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Does that make you a Fundamentalist? Perhaps the question should be asked, “Are you a moral relativist, or are you a Fundamentalist?” Even if the answer is an unhesitating, “I am a Fundamentalist,” do you struggle with a fascination with the apparent success of the New Evangelicals? Are you a Fundamentalist who resents or rejoices in his Fundamentalism? Are you, like many who have grown up in a Fundamentalism they have not fully embraced, envious of the evangelical down the street who seems to have so much “liberty” while you labor under the “rules?” Perhaps a little history is in order.

Evangelicalism, which used to be called “New Evangelicalism,” is often praised for its practical approach to this wicked society — a society which exists largely because of the compromise of its rescuers. Do they deserve accolades for trying to salvage a society they authorized? The problem began in the 1940s when these lonely outcasts from the pulpits and university platforms of modernism invented an unscriptural method to reclaim the spotlight. True to the positive approach of the psychology they so readily embraced, they chose to present a non-offensive gospel — the “good news” without the bad news that makes it good. And their friends call us the innovators!

By the ‘50s, there were few bold voices among them willing to speak out against the new musical genre preparing the way for the Sexual Revolution. “Rock and roll,” its early promoters tell us, “was a euphemism for the sex act.” Our soldiers went to war in Vietnam to this discord that broke down the barriers of restraint at home, that gave us the drug culture of the ‘70s, the hedonism of the ‘80s, and the New Age of the ‘90s.

The children of humanism are now in charge. Having dismissed God as passé, they created a spiritual vacuum now filled by the theology of Hollywood. How did this happen? It happened when the power of the gospel was replaced with pragmatism. “Trust Jesus” the earnest soul spray paints on the bridge abutment. Does he? Considered a Fundamentalist, no doubt, his “vandalism evangelism” is the essence of compromise. Long before “evangelicalism” took credit for confronting this society, it cradled it. The results are what we see.

The Christian who honestly represents Christ walks the path to the cross. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. … Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18, 20).

This issue of Frontline presents teaching and testimony on suffering. Those who suffer for standing true to Christ are in good company indeed. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Pet. 4:12-14).

The ecumenists challenge our Christian credentials. The evangelicals are ashamed of us. But Christ is coming. Things will get worse before they get better— but they will get better!

John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.

(Originally published in FrontLine • July/August 1999. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

  1. Our article was first published in 1999. []

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.