What do you think?


Need for Improvement

This article from Sharper Iron in 2005 expresses much of what my younger perspective of fundamentalism has observed. Tradition has trumped the Big Idea in many generations of fundamentalism and has made it a dusty and an antiquated pre-historic roadblock to the task of the Church. Read it thoughtfully.

The 30-Somethings Perspective of Fundamentalism by Pastor Jason Janz

At the National Leadership Conference in Lansdale, PA last month, several men representing various decades were asked to present papers on Fundamentalism. They were to address three areas: what they were encouraged by, what they were concerned about, and what they would like to discuss. SharperIron has already posted the “20-somethings” perspective and now we will post the “30-somethings” perspective.

Encouragements, Concerns, and Desires
By Jason Janz

My name is Jason Janz. I am an assistant pastor at South Sheridan Baptist Church in Denver, Colorado. I am 31 years old. I am currently in my ninth year of ministry serving under Dr. Les Heinze.

I do not intend to speak for a generation, but from my heart. What I say may mirror folks my age or it may leave me on an island, but this article is a humble attempt to meaningfully articulate my encouragements, concerns, and desires regarding fundamentalism.

What am I encouraged by?

I am encouraged by the fact that throughout the history of fundamentalism, we have always made a priority out of the Bible. The early World Christian Fundamentals Association in 1919 declared in the first point of their doctrinal statement, “We believe in the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments as verbally inspired of God, and inerrant in the original writings, and that they are of supreme and final authority in faith and life.” Then in 1976, the World Congress of Fundamentalists stated their first point, “A Fundamentalist maintains an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible, and verbally inspired Bible.” I believe this to be the Big Idea of fundamentalism. Historically, the tent under which fundamentalists meet has been broad. The Big Idea has always had a large scope. Regardless of how some people want to narrow down the definition, the truth remains that true fundamentalists hold to the Big Idea and are willing to fight for it. I stand with men throughout the ages who have battled for the Bible and I have a deep love and appreciation for them.

I am encouraged by the advancements in education. The benefits of this renewed emphasis is manifold. First of all, it has strengthened preaching to be more expositional. Second, broadened minds have begun to produce healthy views of the Big Idea. Third of all, it has created a culture of learning where people seem to be in process rather than having arrived. We are all on a journey and this has produced a humility that is appreciated.

I am encouraged by the Bridgers. The Bridgers are men older than me who are aggressively addressing the problems within fundamentalism often at a cost to them and their ministries. I call them Bridgers because they are willing to tackle some issues that if left alone, would be left to my generation to initiate. When my generation sees this courage, it quickens hope in many of us. Dr. Jordan articulated last night the fear and trepidation he felt in starting a conference. He went and sought permission to build a bridge. Thankfully, the ruling elite let him do it. Now, ten years later in one small circle of fundamentalism, a bridge was built. To where? To a healthy fundamentalism. I stand up here tonight because the bridge has been built and now he is encouraging young men to walk across. I find young fundamentalists of all ages.

What am I concerned about?

As far as concerns go, here is something I am not terribly concerned about: the movement. I have already made the decision that I am a fundamentalist and I am here to stay. So, whether you like it or not, you are stuck with me. My decision that needs to be made is not if I am in or out of the Big Idea, but rather where in that Big Idea I feel most at home.

My concern about fundamentalism is a concern of emphasis rather than position. I am concerned only about one thing: the church. Christ is the head of the church (Col. 1:18), but I wonder what He thinks when He sees our churches. I recently asked a college president what church in fundamentalism was a model for a fundamental, aggressive, Great Commission church and he replied, “I can’t think of any.” While we have churches that subscribe to a belief in the Great Commission, we have yet to see many models that pursue this with all their might.

When I hear conference messages and speakers begin to address the idea of the church, I get excited. Are we going to discuss the work of the ministry? Yet, I find myself often disappointed. I usually hear a message reacting, positively or negatively, to those in evangelicalism who have painted a picture of the church. I see us as on the sidelines watching the evangelicals play ball. From my vantage point, however, at least they are writing about it and engaging in it. They are struggling, wrestling and working through the isses. Whether the slick, market-driven Warren and Hybels, the conservative Ryken, or the who-knows-what of Webber, McLaren, Sweet, and McManus; all of these at least seem to be making the church the priority. Having said that, I am concerned about several areas in the church.

I am concerned about the lack of evangelism in the fundamental church. I recognize the Holy Spirit is the one who draws men to Christ and that without His work, conversion would never take place. However, I do not see these truths in Scripture as an excuse for why people are not getting saved. Most would agree that fundamental churches are not growing. And if churches are growing, it’s incrementally slow or simply transfer growth. One pastor recently exclaimed to me that we have a wonderful door of opportunity to reach evangelicals disenchanted with the worldly church (evangelicalism). The statement left me flat-footed. Is that why we are here? Have we lost the passion behind the Gospel so much that we are comfortable with just “fundamentalizing” disenchanted evangelicals? We seem to have reacted against the Hyles-and-Hybels-easy-believism but have neglected to act in a positive direction, and it seems we have lost our way. I am not an Arminian. I believe in a God-centered view of ministry. However, I am not ready to surrender to the fact that I cannot reach a culture with the Gospel because I am God-centered in theology and fundamental in doctrine. I believe that a God-centered ministry must be evangelistic.

In studying evangelistic evangelical models, much of their effectiveness boils down to the leadership of the church and the allocation of resources. The leaders are wholeheartedly committed to reaching lost people with the Gospel. These pastors talk about it as if it’s their primary passion. In resources, they are willing to set aside 10% of their general operating fund for outreach. Sometimes it disturbs me when we dismiss growth in compromising churches with a passive, “Well if I played rock and roll, I’d be growing too.” I do not think it’s that easy. Bob Jones Sr. once said, “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.” I am concerned. We need a heavy dose of evangelistic unction.

I am concerned with the lack of discipleship in the church. If the local church is the primary plan of God for this age to bring Him glory through the discipleship process, we must be ardent about that task. Our theological sword has been sharpened. Most of us would agree that the glory of God is the end goal of all ministry. However, our practical sword where we actually “do theology” to create Christ-followers is the new challenge. We must not just state what we are against and hope that produces sound believers. We have seen that produce external self-righteousness instead of internal transformation that conforms us to Jesus Christ. Salvation does not stop with a decision. The Gospel transformation has just begun. However, what is sanctification? How does it work? How do people change? I believe this is the new challenge for the fundamental church.

I am concerned about a lack of authentic worship in the church. Worship should encompass my whole life, but when the church comes together, we worship corporately. We worship through hearing the Word, praying, giving of our means, and singing. When it comes down to the musical side of worship, my concern is not about the form. It’s about the substance. Some have mischaracterized my generation as wanting to “rock out.” However, I would say this is true only with the reactionary guys who may not know what they truly want or what they are feeding. I do not want to “rock out.” I want to bow down and look up. I do not always see the existing musical expressions emphasizing this. Let me explain. The existing way says, “Let’s sing it out on the 2nd” or “Let’s speed it up a bit on the last” as a hopeful way to get people to sing. The young guys want someone to say, “Think for a moment on this song. This week, did you see His power throughout the universe displayed? Do you think about God His Son not sparing. I scarce can take that in. Let’s sing from a heart of worship.” The existing style says, “People are really singing today.” However, the young guys desire to say “People seem to be really worshipping today.” When it comes to instrumentation, I see it as a means to this end. Therefore, when it comes to picking instruments, an instrument that stands in the way of the true purpose could be eliminated and an instrument that enhances the experience could be added. So, let me say it. For this young guy, the organ gets in my way. No offense, but it shuts down my soul. I won’t have one in my church wherever I pastor. I know these are broad statements that need about twenty disclaimers, however, if I provided them, I would lose the heart of what I’m trying to say. I believe that authentic worship will place the value on substance over form.

Because of the lack of evangelism, discipleship, and worship, I feel the church has lost its attraction. There is an elephant in the room and the words “Church is boring” are painted on his hide. By default, the sharpest young men seem to do four things: they go into para-church ministries where creativity is valued to stay alive, they pursue a lifelong career in academia, they drift into other movements that are more accepting, or they just become an island – content to minister with few friends.

If you want to be fundamental, creative, and relevant, don’t do church. The moment a pastor experiments with something new, he will become suspect. In Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism, Doug McLachlan quotes Os Guinness as saying that when innovation is used, “both constructively and critically, accompanied by a parallel reformation of truth and theology, the potential for the Gospel would be incalculable.” McLachlan argues that it is essential that we learn to adapt our methods or “we will become ineffective in evangelism and incapable of retaining the next generation of thinking pastors within the fundamentalist orbit.” The atmosphere seems to be just the opposite in evangelicalism. Rick Warren said in an interview with Christianity Today that when he was offered jobs in institutions and para-church ministries that he turned them down because he could not imagine wielding influence that was primarily organizational and not congregational. In the same article he was quoted as saying, “The sharpest guys I know are starting churches.” A vibrant, Christ-centered, Great Commission church must be pursued with all of our might.

What would I like to discuss?

I would like to discuss the church. Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25) and purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). I believe He cares deeply about it. I believe His life, carefully studied, provides us a model for what the pulse of the church should be. He is the ultimate substance over form. He got dirty. He served. He forgave. He sacrificed. He pointed to someone besides himself. So, what does a Christ-centered church look like? How would a Christ-centered focus impact the preaching? How would a Christ-centered focus impact our intentionality in building relationships with the lost? How would a Christ-centered focus impact our budgets? How would a Christ-centered focus impact how a lost person feels when they walk into our church? How would a Christ-centered focus impact how we share the Gospel? Would Christ attend our church? When The Passion of the Christ came out, many fundamentalists wrote diatribes against doctrinal aberrations in the film and rightly so. However, I was silently pleased that at least our culture was seeing a picture of Jesus Christ that they had perhaps not seen before. The Rocky Mountain News published an article after the movie opened and came to this conclusion, “Regardless of how you feel about the movie, you left the theatre saying ‘I want to follow that man.’” The church, infused with a biblical Jesus, will be something fundamentalists can hold out to a dying world as hope. I want to follow that man.

by Jason Janz : March 23rd, 2005 at 11:17 PM.

Internal Transformation

“Those who adorn only the exterior, but neglect the inner man, are like the Egyptian temples, which present every kind of decoration upon the outside, but contain within, in place of a deity, a cat, a crocodile, or some other vile animal.” Clement of Alexandria said this as he pondered the emphasis of so many on their external embellishment to the neglect and stifling of their soul.

2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” No matter what age you are in this life, there is a fountain of youth for your soul. This fountain is the inner renewal of the mind. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Jason Janz quotes another author in his excellent book on building a vibrant relationship with God, “Renew means “the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon the life.”” Jim Berg, in his book Changed into His Image agrees, “Having a renewed mind is not just memorizing a few Bible verses about a problem you are having, although that may be a start. It is not just becoming familiar with Christian principles and convictions about godly lifestyles. Having a renewed mind involves a relationship with your Creator that actually changes you because of your exposure to Deity.”

Renewing changes you from the inside out. Janz writes, “God’s purpose for His children is not external imitation, but internal transformation.” This is where you will grow into the stature and measure of Christ. It’s all about the relationship. Rules without relationship equals rebellion. The other stuff is just there to preserve the relationship! So allow the Spirit to renew your mind by the youthful fountain of meditation on the word. More on this meditation as the tool of renewal later.

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