Saturday, February 16, 2008

Separation from non-inerrantists

If an inerrantist is seen collaborating with a non-inerrantist, that inerrantist will likely get the business. I had forgotten all about fundamentalism's push for a strict separation from all things not fundamentalist. Not only that, but the idea of separation was elaborated along the lines that there are different degrees of separation that fundamentalists are required to observe, because the Bible says to do so. For example, a fundamentalist church might not have endorsed Billy Graham because he didn't mind sending people off to non-inerrantist churches, for example. But some fundamentalist churches went further and taught that the Bible inerrantly says that fundamentalist churches should also separate themselves from any other organization who did not feel the same about Billy Graham. And the really spiritual churches came up with the idea (from the Bible) that they should also separate themselves from churches who had not sufficiently separated themselves from churches/organizations who decided to host Billy Graham. I forgot just how powerful a social stigma associating with a non-inerrantist can be for a fundamentalist. In some cases, the pressure to separate remains a tacit cultural force in sectors of evangelicalism that are of fundamentalist descent. It will always be an uphill battle to get productive, non-apologetic conversations going about inerrancy with fundamentalist evangelicals.

[I know evangelicals generally don't like to think of themselves as fundamentalists. I myself have been called a fundamentalist a few times within the last year or so--my non-inerrantist leaning not being non-inerrantist enough. I always find it to be a curious accusation, but it clearly means that I am the bad guy, presumably because I was perceived by those interlocutors as being inexplicably close-minded and too interested in what scripture said.]

Fortunately, separation seems to be on the way out, even in fundamentalist circles. (See Younger believers aren't buying into it, even if some older ones think it's crucial. If one is open to applying hermeneutics to one's own religiosity, it's the younger generations that can help facilitate this. It's the younger people who can help move things along. They haven't lived the controversies, they weren't there when the denominational lines were drawn. They weren't even there when the passing generation impressed upon us how important the fundamentals of the faith are (and have always been--meaning, of course, ever since they can remember). So maybe my effort to appeal to an older generation with respect to how they teach inerrancy to younger people is hopelessly misguided. Perhaps it's the younger believers who need to be reached directly. It's the younger ones who will change the world (that is, if it can [or wants to] be changed). So perhaps our kids will have an easier time talking about inerrancy than many evangelicals have at the present. But it will still depend on how the older generations teach them scripture in the first place and what voice the younger ones are given in their communities. That leaves me to wonder: how in the world will things ever change?