I have actually been reading over at the Internet Roach Motel recently because for some reason Bauder has been posting in the discussion threads and that’s always interesting. I don’t know if you’ve been following, but they’ve even set aside a thread for him and a few others.
He’s been talking to our own Don Johnson–apparently now a bigwig in one of the fundamentalist groups of persons.
Let me pause to extend my congratulations to Don, a communicant here of long standing.
And it has been an interesting exchange. One of the things they’re still talking about (8 years later) is how to keep the young people in the movement (in that time, I also quit waiting for a fundamentalism worth saving and now I’m wondering about an OPC worth saving). One point of disagreement is that Bauder thinks fundamentalists should openly acknowledge their shortcomings and failures and take personal responsibility for dealing with them with no statute of limitations. He thinks that will win over hearts and minds.
Well, even if it doesn’t win over hearts and minds, it ought to be done, right? One would think so. When it comes to the honor of one’s own house, a greater zeal ought to be driven by a deeper shame. I understand there are things one in charity covers, but there are things one does not, and things which one ought to distance oneself from, however painfully close to one these may be. I think Bauder means these latter.
But there is a countervailing proposal. It begins with this concession:
“Let’s posit, for sake of argument that fundamentalist error is as black and serious as can be. Fine.”
All right, skip over the troubling word ‘posit’ and read on. That looks like dialogue, at last perhaps they’re talking. “As serious as can be.” Like ABWE child-molesting cover-up allegations serious, say, which even if they aren’t true ought at least to be cleared up with serious zeal, right? But let us posit for the sake of argument that they’re true. Now, take a multiple choice stab at what follows:
1 – it continues by suggesting that it ought to be condemned in terms that correspond to the blackness and seriousness of any proven errors and in ways that correspond to how public and destructive the errors were.
2 – it continues by suggesting that whatever the cost of dealing with past errors, dealing with them is the thing to do no matter what since, after all, presumably, the honor of God is at stake.
3 – it blames it all on demonic possession and suggests that a resolution of exorcism be passed.
If you were to guess any of the above, you would be wrong. This is how it continues right after the word ‘Fine’: “But now let’s deal with my suggestions about moderating your public statements about evangelicals so that young people aren’t influenced in that direction, at least without due consideration of their serious errors.”
Because generous as they are, fundamentalists are sadly guilty of never mentioning the serious errors of those who are not them . . . They ought to be glad that they’re swelling the ranks of the neos because if the neos should cease to exist, where would that leave fundamentalists as far as a self-identity goes?
Returning to the quotation, one sentence is about assuming there are serious errors and the next is about whatever errors there may be at home, let us never forget the error abroad. That’s the kind of thinking of the countervailing proposal.
It is a curious position the one Bauder is trying to occupy, also known as damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But then, it is him that is saying fundamentalism is not ok but it is still the place to be. (I got the part about it not being ok–which I suppose proves that Don’s got a point, whatever we may say about the integrity of his proposals.)
Once a few years back there was an OBF resolution that surfaced on their website and somehow (cough, cough) ended up in the hands of dissidens at Remonstrans. It was something similar, to the effect that no neo ought to be mentioned in a positive way without a good strong warning.
Because people in the pew can’t sort that sort of thing out–apparently not being all that great at basic discernment. Because the neos are so wiley and seductive that a mere mention of them could empty your church. Because you’re so bad at leading that you can’t even mention the good in someone without people running clean out of your church to find another where at least something good can be said of them. I remember at the time the whole thing lit up at Remonstrans because someone in the peanut gallery suggested that all it amounted to was an admission of poor leadership.
I still think it is the kind of leadership persons who can think might find difficult to follow. Call me an elitist snob and burn me at an intricately carved and polished stake to the sounds of a string quartet, the fire kindled with pages ripped from The Republic of the divine Plato.
And no, I don’t really think for a moment Bauder is really talking to Don Johnson. Maybe he is; I’d be very surprised. But he is getting his point across awfully well that there needs to exist an alternative still within fundamentalism. Desperately needed if there is going to be any fundamentalism decent people would go for. What if there was no alternative? What if what Bauder is doing is too much and that kind of self-criticism were toned down and muzzled and put out to graze.
Would you stay? Would you join up?