So it’s been big stuff over on the other side of the planet. The big names have gotten involved: Doran, Bauder, Vaughn… John MacArthur’s second hand man, Phil Johnson, is watching. Even John Piper has put in his two cents.
What’s it all about?
I understand most of you don’t have time to follow all this in detail. So I’ll summarise.
A pastor named Dan Sweatt preached a message at a major Fundamentalist conference. In this message, he made inaccurate assertions and distorted representations. Now this is not the story. This has been happening for years. On both sides of the Pacific.
The story is, a young fundamentalist called him on it. Publicly. Pointedly. Told him the young men are sick of “Preaching without exposition, poor reasoning, bad logic, and faulty conclusions combined with in-your-face dogmatism.”
This single post wasn’t anything unusual. The blogosphere is full of know-it-all’s in pyjamas. So why did this one post matter?
Fundamentalism was ready for this post
There are two reasons I think:
1) These things usually only matter when the person saying it knows he will pay a price for saying it. It’s those “here I stand, I can do no other” moments that make a difference.
2) The young fundamentalists (and by YF, I do not mean a certain age group) were ready to hear it. It’s as if there was a collective sigh of relief when someone dared to actually stand up and say it.
The ninth commandment
Then Kevin Bauder took it a step further and actually suggested that Sweatt broke the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
The real significance of this whole thing is that the code of silence was broken. When a man bears false witness, he needs to be held accountable. To this point, Dan Sweatt has not, to my knowledge, offered clarification or repentance. Perhaps he feels he is being persecuted for his particular doctrinal position. He is not.
This is about truth. Are we willing to tolerate a false representation because it makes our opponent look bad? Are we willing to accept whatever the “good guys” say even if it is logically or theologically suspect? Do we have integrity?
The young men are pleading
Ok. Now that I’ve given my somewhat subjective perspective on what’s happened, let me share my heart with you for a moment.
If there is one thing you older Fundamentalists taught us young men, it was to love the truth, to preach the truth, to stand for the truth, to fight for the truth, and if necessary to die for the truth. You taught us not to care what rich or poor, religious or apostate, demon or angel thought. You taught us to hold fast to the truth no matter what the cost.
We will be forever grateful to you for ingraining these things into our hearts.
But we’ve noticed something in Fundamentalism. There are certain questions which must not be asked. There are certain people who should not be crossed. There are certain conclusions which ought not be considered. There are certain truths which may not be discussed.
We, the young men, are hurt. We’re bleeding. Our spirit’s have been grieved. Our souls have been torn. We feel that the very things you have taught us have made us outcasts from you.
We, the young men, are pleading… pleading… for a renewal of commitment to the truth at all cost.
You need not point out our weaknesses. We admit them. We tend to be rash. We tend to be simple. We have at times harboured anger. We are proud. We have reacted instead of responding in some circumstances.
We value your lives and ministries. You were our pastors and teachers. You cared for us. You loved us. We can never repay you for this.
But know this, if you ask us to choose between you and a fundamentalism where truth is most important, we will honour you best by choosing commitment to truth.