This post will not make fun of fundamentalists. I think they are wrong on some areas, but they are right on areas where Evangelicals are the weakest. Unfortunately, they elevate all of their distinctives to the level of the Gospel, which colors all of their writing and preaching. In particular, I will focus on the ministry of Rev David Cloud. I first discovered Bro. Cloud’s website in the Summer of 2001. He was one of the most challenging guys I’ve ever come across. That was at the same time I was first getting into the Bible in a deep way, and his messages were very stimulating. I’m also focusing on Cloud because he is probably the most intelligent of the Fundies and is clearly the best writer of them. And he isn’t as shrill, either.
This is their most notable distinctive. At the root level, they are correct. We should separate from the immoral and with those who compromise on doctrine. If one is not careful, though, this quickly becomes a self-eating mechanism. I agree with them on separatism concerning 90% of the stuff in Lifeway. Much CCM music is suspect. Bro Cloud’s teachings on separatism, at the same time I discovered D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, rescued me from entering Promise Keepers. In 2002 a minister from my old church, an SBC church, invited me to go to a Promise Keeper’s rally. I had some suspicions based on what Bro Cloud had documented. I was also reading the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (this would have been in 2003, I think), and realized I could never do that.
This was actually a disappointment. At a time in my life when I was disillusioned with Calvinism, I was open to any good critique of it. Bro Cloud’s sermon didn’t get beyond surface level “throwing texts at each other.” Essentially every argument had at least one “word-equals-concept” fallacy. And of course, there were the historical mistakes (contra to what he claims, Calvin did have a conversion experience, even using that very language). It was so bad I had to stop listening and decided, maybe Calvinism is right after all. Elsewhere he complained of Calvinists “explaining away the Scripture with what other Scriptures supposedly say.” Well, fair enough, but he would do the same thing if I quoted Romans 9.
They have other distinctives on not drinking, not associating with the SBC, and the King James Version. The problem is that the focus on these distinctives, whatever merits they may have, usually sideline the main ideas of the Bible.
Where they are useful
If you want to find out which Evangelicals have compromised with Rome, or if you want to ‘get the dirt on some Evangelical leader,’ these guys likely have it ready for you.
- The danger of Contemporary Christian Music. Cloud’s actually done good research on the pagan undertones of many CCM songs.
- If you want the dirt on some evangelical leader, odds are these guys can find it for you. I knwo that sounds mean, and it probably is, but it’s also the truth.