The Five Fundamentals


Definition Perfect Example
Inerrancy Mislabeled
Authority Figures Emergent Church
Bible Contradictions Who Wrote the Gospels?
Are the Gospels Metaphorical? One Way
One Author, One Voice
Miracles Bad Religion


Definition

Religious liberalism denies or affirms only in a weak, metaphorical sense central Christian doctrines like the incarnation and resurrection. A reaction arose, at first broadly based but progressively narrowing its definition. Five 'fundamentals' were proclaimed:



  • “The twentieth century began with a tumultuous conservative uproar over the infiltration of numerous denominations by liberalism. The severity of the situation demanded immediate action. Heretical teachings were captivating and corrupting entire churches, schools and related organizations within multiplied denominations. Therefore, a coalition of interdenominational brethren, following a number of conferences, united around the five 'fundamentals' of the faith. They were:
    1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
    2. The deity of Jesus Christ
    3. The virgin birth of Christ
    4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
    5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.
  • “The adherents to these five 'fundamental' truths were naturally labeled 'fundamentalists.' Those opposing them were called 'liberals.'
  • “The men joining together around these five points (commonly called 'the doctrine of Christ') were from varied and diversified religious backgrounds. Thus, this amalgamation of 'first generation fundamentalists' included Presbyterians, Baptists, Reformers, Reformed Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Wesleyan Holiness brothers. The astounding thing about the members of this interdenominational movement was their love for one another.”
  • (Dr. Jack Van Impe, Heart Disease in Christ's Body, pp. 127-128).



From its foundation to the present 'fundamentalism,' like a snowball rolling downhill, has picked up doctrinal distinctives as well as political leanings, but the movement originally was not limited to dispensationalists: "Many of our founding fathers were a-millenialists!" (Dr. Jack Van Impe, Heart Disease in Christ's Body, p. 120).



Eugene Delacroix, Christ Asleep During the Tempest


What is perhaps most astonishing about this historical episode is that adherents of a religion felt the need to stand up and assert that they actually believe what the religion teaches. Wouldn't those who do not simply leave the fold? Oddly enough, not all do.

People who do not know just how debased 'liberal' religion can become need to learn:

"Theism is a a false notion, a human idol that must die, and when it does, God — seen as the sacred dimension in all of life — must replace it." (Bishop John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture. p. 66).

Bishop Spong is willing to talk about 'god,' though evidently not 'theos,' (what a Greek speaker is supposed to say if he wants to talk about 'god' is left unstated); however what he is prepared to say about him/her/it is no more than any atheist would happily avow: "Another minority voice in the Bible defines God simply as the power of love. . .Love is the power that somehow expands our sense of freedom and thus enables us to enter life deeply by giving ourselves away." (Bishop John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture, p. 64). Isn't that nice. According to this Episcopal leader, the greater part of the Bible: the "terrible texts,"— need to be pared away and thrown on the fire. What is allowed to remain will not over-tax the printing presses; probably it could fit on a one-page hand-out:




Perfect Example

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:" (1 Peter 2:21-22).

If we follow Jesus Christ as our example, what will we believe and say about scripture? That it "cannot be broken:"

"...and the scripture cannot be broken..." (John 10:35).

This teaching on scripture, that it cannot be broken or dissolved, is part of the Lord's doctrine. Those who are relying on Him for salvation can certainly lean on it with confidence.

Christ's detractors are very well aware whom they are targeting when they deny that Moses authored the Pentateuch or that David penned the psalms attributed to him. It is not Moses and David they care about, but Him who quoted David's psalms and Moses' law:

"David did not write the Psalms. Scholars locate the writings of most of the Psalms during the period of Jewish history called the Babylonian Exile. . .Yet, once again in the gospels, the Davidic authorship of the Psalms is asserted by Jesus (see Mark 12:36-37 ; Matt. 22:43-45 and Luke 20:42-44). Such a claim made today on a final exam, even at the seminary where I was trained, would result in a failing grade. Jesus, or those who thought they were quoting Jesus, was simply wrong about that." (John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture, p. 20).

Jesus thought that Moses wrote the Pentateuch and Jonah was swallowed in the belly of the whale. Is He Lord, or is He ignorant? The infidel accusation is that Moses did not write the books ascribed to his authorship:



  • “In the first place, there is no affirmative evidence that Moses is the author of those books; and that he is the author, is altogether an unfounded opinion, got abroad nobody knows how.”
  • (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part II, Chapter I).




Let's see, where on earth would people have gotten the impression that Moses wrote any books? May it be, they read:

"For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote (εγραψεν) about Me." (John 5:46).

"But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book (βιβλω μωσεως) of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?" (Mark 12:26).

Jesus is the living Word of God, and it cannot be supposed that, if He was under the impression that Moses wrote something, then it is very likely that Moses wrote nothing.

Inerrancy

The only aspect of the five points as stated by this author which is not directly taught by scripture is 'inerrancy,' which is not a Bible word. The Bible says that God's words are "pure:"

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6).
"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." (Proverbs 30:5).

'Pure' means "Free from all heterogeneous or extraneous matter, especially from anything that impairs or pollutes. . ." (Webster's International). It is a reasonable inference from the Bible's stated 'purity' that it teaches no error, because the function of scripture is to teach sinners the truth:

"Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. . .Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." (Psalm 25:5-10).

Any doctrinal error, such as the polytheism liberal Bible commentators impose upon the Psalms, is 'heterogeneous matter' 'impair[ing]' scripture's ability to achieve its stated goal:

"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7).

The intended goal of scripture is to provide adequate grounds for belief:

"And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30-31).
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Pure Words Sufficient
Blind Eyes The Logos
Unbroken Doctrine of the Trinity
To What Purpose? Tradition



Mislabeled

The media today has untethered the tag 'fundamentalist' from the Five Fundamentals, describing Muslim radicals, for instance, as 'fundamentalists.' The only one of the five points Muslims accept is '3. The virgin birth of Christ.' They believe the Bible as Christians hold it in their hands to be corrupt and unreliable, and not only do they deny the deity of Jesus Christ, they consider all who confess it to be idolaters. As they do not believe Jesus really died upon a cross, neither do they understand He really rose; nor do they believe His shed blood heals and cleanses sinners. Plenty of liberals concur with one of the five points! In lending the term 'fundamentalist' to those who deny four points out of five, the media have blurred the term's meaning to something closer to 'purist' versus 'compromiser.' Many carelessly call groups likes the Jehovah's Witnesses 'fundamentalists' because they quote the Bible, though the Jehovah's Witnesses share in the liberals' denial of the deity of Jesus Christ!

It is normal for Christian doctrine to erode once a church has committed itself to liberalism and untethered itself from the constraint of scripture. Sometimes the first generation will not even notice a shift, because the force of habit is so strong, inertia is so compelling, and prior generations impelled a momentum toward a certain belief, such as the Trinity:



  • “As a Christian, I’m a follower of Jesus.


  • "Jesus was a Jew. (Please tell me no one is surprised to hear that.)


  • "As a Jew, Jesus was a strong monotheist.


  • (Mark Sandlin, 'No Trinity for Me, Please,' blog article August 20, 2014, 'This Collar is Too Tight' blog.)






But once they give up believing in the authority of scripture, it all comes apart. Notice that this author evidently perceives a conflict between monotheism and belief in the Trinity. He does not offer his own viewpoint, but he does perceive that these are "different entities:" "There are a few places where the Spirit and God are mentioned somewhat closely together but they are few and far between – and even then, the text is far from clear if it is talking about a Trinity. If anything, it seems to be talking about three distinctly different entities." (Blog article, Mark Sandlin, 'No Trinity for Me, Please.') Since presumably he is a not a tritheist,— he wishes after all to criticize the Trinity from the standpoint of monotheism,— this author most likely disbelieves in the deity of Jesus Christ. But the deity of Jesus Christ is every bit as solidly Biblical as it monotheism itself. The Unitarians, when this was brought to their attention, moved away from Christianity. Presumably these liberals, camped out in the ruins of once 'mainline' churches, will ultimately do the same.

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Authority Figures

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination which has, in recent years, adopted the liberals' way of reading the Bible, against the authority of those they once claimed to follow:

"Hence Augustine says (Epist. ad Hieron.): 'Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learnt to hold in such honour as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem anything in their works to be true merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.'" (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 8).
"I answer that, The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves....Hence it is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Writ." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 10).

It remains to be seen how far they will follow this siren song which has desolated the mainline Protestant churches, who have abandoned following its promptings even the most basic of Christian affirmations. Christians believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead:

"The tenant of the grave becomes its conqueror, and, laying by its cerements as night-clothes left in bed, he walks forth on the dewy grass at the break of day; the prisoner has bound his jailer and carried off the keys." (Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, Kindle location 1634).

Or do they? There are liberal Protestants who believe no such thing, although this is what the Bible teaches on this point. Having discarded the source and guarantee of these historic beliefs, will the Catholics continue to uphold them, merely on grounds that people who used to believe the Bible used to believe them? Will they affirm that these people, not the Bible, are authoritative, those who came after having somehow happily fallen under some divine influence that clean missed the Bible authors?:

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William Holman Hunt, Risen Lord appearing to Mary Magdalene


Spirit Person The First and the Last
Elijah Dispose of the Body
Raise the Temple The Old Testament
Almost Persuaded Intermediate State
The Competition



Emergent Church

The emergent church has a fondness for allusive speech lacking in precision. But as this popular new movement defines itself, it is starting to look more and more like old-fashioned liberalism. Hell-fire has never been popular with the world, so those who want to be loved by the world must discard it, but in favor of what? Of vague generalities. It was Jesus who preached Hell, and believers should take notice:

"Look your danger in the face. Anticipate the day when you shall behold a God in judgment and a world in flames; and now flee to Jesus from the wrath to come. To come! In a sense wrath has already come. The fire has caught, it has seized your garments; you are in flames. Oh! Away then, and cast yourselves into that fountain which has power to quench these fires, and cleanse you from all your sins." (Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, Kindle location 919).

Lake of Fire Worm Dieth Not
Lazarus I'm Not Going
The Face of God Dark Fire
Wheat and Chaff Vengeance is Mine
Wheat and Tares Old Testament
God's Will Gandhi in Hell
Hell in the Koran Infinite Loss
Do Unto Others



Bible Contradictions

Some people claim that the 'contradictions' in the Bible prove that God cannot have inspired its authors:



  • “...if the findings of historical criticism are right, then some kinds of theological claims are certainly to be judged as inadequate and wrong-headed. It would be impossible, I should think, to argue that the Bible is a unified whole, inerrant in all its parts, inspired by God in every way. It can't be that. There are too many divergences, discrepancies, contradictions...God did not write the Bible, people did...But they were not inspired in the sense that God somehow guided them to write what they wrote.”
  • (Bart Ehrman, 'Jesus, Interrupted,' p. 279).




Has the kind of Bible scholarship done at publicly funded institutions like the University of North Carolina indeed proven that the Bible is not inspired? Or does the fact, plainly and accurately stated above, that either the Bible is wrong or these people are wrong, prove, with sufficient clarity to satisfy any thinking person, that they are wrong?:




An example of a 'Bible contradiction' is the query: how many cock crows?:

“And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.”
(Mark 14:30).

“Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”
(Matthew 26:34).

At first glance, the Christian reader might classify this doublet with other 'two-for-one' 'Bible contradictions,' a suspect class. If I come home and say, 'I went over to the mall and ran into Susy and Joan,' and then later tell someone, 'You'll never guess who I ran into today,— Susy!' have I contradicted myself? Not really: to produce a contradiction, the listener must add an unstated condition: 'I ran into Susy [and did not run into Joan].' It may be that the second interlocutor knows Susy but does not know Joan; this is more an instance of 'editor's choice' than a contradiction. But something different is going on here, as the reader realizes who discovers that the Romans, alone amongst mankind so far as I know, counted dawn, not as 'cock-crow,' but as 'second cock-crow.' The plot thickens:




In addition to 'Bible Contradictions,' the atheists offer a set of Bible difficulties, such as, who was Cain's wife?:











Who Wrote the Gospels?

The earliest evidence is that the gospel authors were men within the apostolic circle:



  • Irenaeus
  • Tertullian
  • Eusebius
  • Jerome
  • Internal Evidence
  • Forgery




Metaphor

Some people say that the gospels were not intended as factual report but as metaphor. Indeed, they say, the ancients lacked any mental category that could distinguish between fact and invention. No such mental equipment was made available and placed on the market until the Enlightenment, or so they say. Is this the case, or did the ancient legal system make your life forfeit if you could not distinguish between fact and invention?:




Marcus Borg of the 'Jesus Seminar' is one of those promoting a metaphorical understanding of the Bible, versus "literalism:'

"When the gospels are read through the lens of biblical literalism, whether in harder or softer form, the literal factuality of their language is either taken for granted or emphasized. The gospel stories of Jesus's miraculous birth and his spectacular deeds are understood as reporting events that really happened." (Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' p. 18).

The altnerative, of course, is to understand that these events did not happen, but are profoundly meaningful nonetheless.

One Way

Jesus said that He is the only way:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6).

Looked at from the divine perspective, there is nothing 'difficult' about this saying; why would God be obliged to honor all those self-improvement programs, salvation plans, therapies and religions invented by human ingenuity? These are, and have ever been, legion. The modern perspective sees all religions as of human creation; this was Ludwig Feuerbach's 'insight' that was so fundamental to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. But if all religions are of human creation, then all are equally futile. But if God really did become incarnate at a certain place and time: in Bethlehem in the days of King Herod, then it is in the nature of things that not all people are situated equidistant from the point from whence the ripples spread out, so as to hear the good news all at once. Why God is thereby debarred from acting in human history is not apparent.

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One Author, One Voice

The author of a recent opinion piece in the Huffington Post explains why it is a "misconception," which must be laid aside, to think that the Bible is of single authorship:

"The Hebrew Bible is not a book. It was not produced by a single author in one time and place. It is a small library of books composed and edited over nearly a millennium by people responding to a wide range of issues and historical circumstances. Because it is not a book (the name "Bible" derives from the plural Greek form ta biblia, meaning "the books") it does not have a uniform style or message.

"From narrative texts to legal texts, from cultic instruction to erotic love poetry, this library contains works of diverse genres each of which sounds its own distinctive note in the symphony of reflection that we call the Bible. As is true of any collection of books by different authors in different centuries, the books in this collection contradict one another. . .Deuteronomy harps on God's retributive justice, but Job arrives at the bittersweet conclusion that despite the lack of divine justice (in this world or any other), we are not excused from the thankless and perhaps ultimately meaningless task of moral living. . .Just as an attempt to impose harmony and consistency on the short stories collected in the Norton Anthology of English Literature would do great violence to those stories, any attempt to impose harmony and consistency on the diverse books collected in the Bible -- to extract a single message or truth -- does great violence to those books." (Christine Hayes, Huffington Post, 5 Common Misconceptions About the Bible, Posted: 11/26/2012)

Who do we know that fell prey to this 'misconception?' Peter, who said "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Ghost is one, not multiple. Since this work is all of one single authorship, then reading it so as to harmonize is the most natural response in the world.




Miracles

Is it a given that miracles are irrational and impossible, as is a background assumption of modern secular Bible study? Or, if there is a will behind law, is it not an obvious possibility?


An Example Immutable God
Cautionary Note The Enlightenment
Benedict de Spinoza Pinball Machine
David Hume Natural Explanations
Prophecy



Bad Religion

The productions of the contemporary 'Jesus' publishing industry are often tendentiously and erroneously classified as 'scholarship' or 'history.' A much more accurate classification is 'bad religion.' These authors quite frankly and openly admit that they prefer to follow the 'Jesus' they have invented for themselves over the real one of the gospels:



  • “No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text, a truth intentionally detached from the exigencies of history. . .Indeed, the Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known and lost became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.
  • “Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.”
  • (Reza Aslan, Zealot, p. 11).





These people want to follow Jesus, but they must reinvent Him in order to do so. Another reductive author hostile to Christianity, popular with the 'Jesus Seminar,' was Burton Mack. Reading these two authors, Reza Aslan and Burton Mack, together, will be very instructive, because they perfectly negate each other. Reza Aslan gives us Jesus the Failed Revolutionary, while Burton Mack gives us Jesus the Cynic Sage:

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Sequence Protestant Miracles
Not God Foolish Obsession
Truth in Advertising Layers
Perjury The Least of These
Cynicism John the Baptist
Noble Warrior It's All Good
Gross Out The Nations