Friday, November 17, 2006

Kindred Hearts

Recently I came across this post at Paleoevangelical--if you have not noticed we link to this site under our "top shelf links" section. Take a look at the excerpt from Doug McLachlan's book, Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism. He has some great thoughts on what he refers to as "succeeding miserably". Many pastors and churches in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and even 90's did just that--now it is time to reap what was sown. I noticed he nailed a lot of the themes that we have been harping on here at Bread and Circuses. Here is the portion Ben cites from page 20 of Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism:
"For more than a quarter of a century, we have labored under the false assumption that bigness equals greatness and that success can be measured quantitatively. We are much more effective at counting numbers than weighing ideas. This is a form of secularization and an indication that we have bought into the affluence mentality of our day. We seem always to be thinking in terms of numbers, numbers, numbers! How much? How many? How big? This push has led to the disintegration of ethics in reporting statistics and represents a tragic failure to recognize that invisible spiritual growth cannot be accurately gauged by mechanical measuring devices. Moreover, it forms the ground of pragmatism which has invaded so much of Christian ministry. The trouble with pragmatism is that it works: it attracts large crowds. But under its influence, we end up "succeeding miserably" because we are not succeeding Biblically.

In many cases the result has been the development of a philosophy of ministry which revolves around a celebrity focus (the star of the show who attracts the crowd) who functions as a corporate executive manipulating and then discarding his people in his relentless advance toward statistical superiority. All too often, evangelism in this context has been reduced to humanism as the Spirit and the Word are set aside while the Gospel is packaged and marketed almost as though it were a plastic toy."

  • Numbers, numbers, numbers...
  • Salvation = plastic toy to give away...
  • Philosophy of ministry centered around iconic egomaniac...
  • True success in ministry always equated with implementation of pragmatic methodologies...
Does any of this ring any bells? I feel like I have discovered a kindred heart living up in the northernmost parts of Minnesota! After discovering this snippet, I made haste to ebay and found a copy of Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism--I should have it within the week and cannot wait to dig in.

I am sure that Dr. McLachlan and I would not agree on every issue facing the current generation of fundamentalism--no doubt I will find out that I am off on some things when I grow older and wiser. I do believe that he has a very keen insight into his own generation and that he has no patience with the outer fringes of what we affectionately call, "Hysterical Fundamentalism". My prayer is that more and more people will begin to utterly reject cultural fundamentalism and embrace a Christ-centered and authentic historic fundamentalism--this is the purpose for our blog.

Take the time and check out the above links--you may even want to bookmark Paleoevangelical and check back regularly to see what is on Ben's mind.

PT Barnum


Mike Y said...

Those are in fact great observations and you probably do share much in common with him, as do I. I'm just not sure how much I would actually want to claim "authentic" fundamentalism as it's still an adherence to something not someone. But you already know that.

Take care and thanks for the post.

PT Barnum said...


Great to see you again! I agree completely that "fundamentalism" of any stripe is not what we are ultimately striving for--I guess what I really appreciate is his taking on the pragmatic philosophy of ministry among IFBs.

I trust all is well with you and your family. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

PT Barnum