WHY ARE SOME CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS OPEN-MINDED WHILE OTHERS AREN’T?
How easily are you threatened by another person of faith in Christ who believes something different than you do? For instance, “How old is the earth?”
The two terms, evangelical and fundamentalist, mean different things to different people. There is considerable history going back 200-400 years in the reformation or Protestant movement. What I’ve learned in my experience is that I find it easy to get along more with evangelicals than with fundamentalists. However, there remain many doctrines I still believe that place me in the fundamentalist camp. But not the way some fundamentalists want to define what fundamentalism is.
This is important to me as I begin to promote my new book. Evangelicals will likely find the book extremely helpful and historically enlightening. Fundamentalists will likely hate the book and decide I should be shunned. What I have learned about the differences between the these two segments of Protestantism (and there certainly several others outside of Evangelicalism which we won’t mention here), is the issue of open-mindedness versus closed-mindedness. The former are eager to learn new things that might challenge closely-held doctrinal beliefs. The latter are much more likely to throw up a defensive boundary, psychologically speaking, at the first mention of an important belief that raises a question about their closely-held belief. Another trademark distinguishing the two is what is affirmed to be true about science and secular culture. The former easily adapt their thinking to what they accept as truth. They find learning about these matters beneficial in all kinds of ways. The latter are suspicious that all science is a threat to a biblical worldview and the influence of art, music, poetry, and media generally are all more likely to lead us into non biblical thinking and even sin.
I read an article today by a Roger E. Olsen, renowned evangelical author, professor, editor, and member of many cornerstone evangelical organizations. His article is well-worth reading from beginning to end. Below I’ve selected a cogent section that deals with attributes and distinctions between evangelicals and fundamentalists. As you read it, think about where you fall. Ask yourself if there are any attributes that make you uneasy that you may embody or believe such a thing. Are you open minded or closed minded? Does it matter to You? Click Here for full article.
All of us, as evangelical Protestant Christians, believe in 1) the supreme authority of inspired Scripture for faith and practice, 2) basic Christian orthodoxy as embodied in the consensus of the church fathers and reformers about the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, etc., 3) a supernatural worldview, 4) salvation by God’s grace through faith alone, 5) personal conversion as normative for authentic Christianity, 6) the cross of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation and as vicarious atonement, 7) the virgin birth, resurrection and visible return of Jesus Christ.
The distinctive hallmarks of post-1925 fundamentalism are 1) adding to those essentials of Christianity non-essentials such as premillennial eschatology, 2) “biblical separation” as the duty of every Christian to refuse fellowship with people who call themselves Christians but are considered doctrinally or morally impure, 3) a chronically negative and critical attitude toward culture including non-fundamentalist higher education, 4) emphatic anti-evolution, anti-communist, anti-Catholic and anti-ecumenical attitudes and actions (including elevation of young earth creationism and American exceptionalism as markers of authentic Christianity), 5) emphasis on verbal inspiration and technical inerrancy of the Bible as necessary for real Christianity (including exclusion of all biblical criticism and, often, exclusive use of the KJV), and 6) a general tendency to require adherence to traditional lifestyle norms (hair, clothes, entertainment, sex roles, etc.).
I remain firmly committed to premillennialism and to the inerrancy of the scripture. But the King JAMES Version goes too far as it’s too often seen as the surety or safeguard which supposedly guarantees the preservation of the Bible’s revelation to us. As my previous post pointed out, Young Earth Creationism and a belief in the exclusive inspiration of the King James Version are two views joined at the hip. My new book challenges this linkage. I argue someone who believes in a young earth shouldn’t automatically exclude the witness of the Septuagint because, in reality, it better supports the YEC view than Bishop Ussher’s and the KJV chronology. It’s one of the big reasons to get and study the book
I counsel, “Keep an open mind” and investigate the facts. That’s what Rebooting the Bible offers you. It has all of the necessary history and scholarship in one large, but accessible volume, to enable you to be a Berean and get the truth figured out for yourself. Don’t let a blowhard and demagogue cheat you out of knowing what really is the case concerning how we got our Bible. That person thrives on anyone who is frightened of different points of view. Don’t be that person. The demagogue wants you to believe what they say rather than what the evidence tells you. Have a mind of your own… and keep it open.
 Olsen, Roger E., (2012, April 19). “What Distinguishes “Evangelical” from “Fundamentalist”? Retrieved February 2, 2019, from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/04/what-distinguishes-evangelical-from-fundamentalist/