Over the years of searching the internet for information on various biblical topics or on certain men of God, dead or alive, I’ve occasionally come across self-proclaimed ‘fundamentalist’ websites that perplex me. They perplexed me back in my Charismatic/Arminian days and they still perplex me as a Reformed believer. These sites appear solid at first peek. They often contain tons of articles on biblical subjects that go in-depth. But once I begin reading the material the red flags of discernment pop up. Has this ever happened to you?
Now, when I speak of fundamentalism I’m speaking of a specific niche in the Christian world. It isn’t just someone who adheres to the ‘fundamentals’ of the faith as the term meant when it first entered the American lexicon a century ago. No, it has devolved into a term describing a group of people who mercilessly denounce every doctrine that is even at slight variance from their own well-groomed, polished theological system. They can be legalistic, cruel, judgmental and condemning. Digesting this grace-deficient rot can make you gravely ill, like the time I ate that pizza pocket with black olives. And like that pizza pocket you will do well to never consume such garbage again. From my experience, here are a few tell-tale signs that you’ve stumbled onto a fanatical fundamentalist site:
- Cobwebby Websites. Their websites often have a dated appearance, as if designed in the mid-90’s. Note: This doesn’t hold as true anymore since many ‘fanfundys’, as they will henceforth be referred to as, have now taken up the art of the blog – which inherently contain much more up-to-date graphical themes. Don’t be fooled by the virtual veneer.
- Bloated Articles. These guys tend to go on and on and on about the topics they are addressing. They even make my posts appear like text messages in comparison. Article lengths are often extended diatrabes that will intimidate even the most well-read.
- Proof-texts Galore. These are often thrown out without context or explanation in order that they may quickly demonstrate a superior mastery of the scriptures and subdue potential protesters. Many times, the texts used are irrelevant to the point they are trying to make. For example, I don’t know how many times a fanfundy tosses out a cluster of scriptures showing God’s commands in an effort to disprove the notion that man does not have a free will. They assume God wouldn’t command things we are not able to do. Stuff like that.
- Acerbic Language. They often condemn preachers/teachers and views not in accordance with their own with the harshest language possible. Commonly used terms include ‘filthy’, ‘destestable’, ‘ravenous wolves’, ‘evil-doers’, ‘wicked reprobates’, etc. etc. These words are peppered liberally in almost every article they produce -to the degree that you might mistake them for speaking in hyperbole.
- Apostates Abound. You might initially agree with a fanfundy’s condemnation of the easy targets, say – all the TBN health & wealth prosperity preachers. But then as you explore deeper, they say the same thing about every single bible teacher that’s known on a national level! Even great influential pillars of faith in church history are not off-limits. Some are referenced as ‘evil apostates’ who have spread their filth and poisoned the church. They are universally denounced as wolves in sheep’s clothing! The only persons they don’t condemn are themselves.
- At Large Legalism. it’s very difficult to find grace displayed or taught on these sites. They do well to expound the laws we are fully expected to obey but they don’t bring light to the glory of God’s grace, which releases us from the guilt and power of sin so that we may freely obey him out of gratitude and thankfulness. The saving gospel of Christ is stripped of God’s loving mercy and filed under ‘Commandments we must obey to impress God.’ They strain at gnats about outward forms of obedience but demonstrate no mercy toward any sinner redeemed by grace alone who may struggle to mortify the deeds of the body. They are quick to condemn those who stumble in their walk with Christ.
- KJV Onlyism. The King James version of the bible descended from heaven on the wings of an angel, while all other translations are of the devil. Reading and believing the contents of a modern English version will send you straight to hell. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect 200 hundred dollars.
- Pyromaniac Perspective. These people seem to love the idea of hell and that many are going there. Constant references to hell and the lake of fire abound. Almost gleefully, they will remind you that those who don’t strictly adhere to their form of legalism are going to ‘burn baby burn’ in the lake of fire. They are adept at specifying just who will be there. I’m glad I’ve been warned of all the false prophets past and present who are on the fast-track to Sulfur City and Brimstoneville. Help! Somebody stop the train! I want off! Men such as RC Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine and a host of others are just kindling for the fire.
- Incorrigible Calvinists. As you could probably deduce from point 8, Calvinists are considered apostates that God has reserved the lowest level of hell for. Makes me feel special.
- Cannibalistic Baptists. Shamefully, as a Baptist myself, I must confess that these fanfundys are frequently Baptists of varying stripes. This does not exempt me, or any other Baptist, from their vitriol. Everyone’s fair game. These guys eat their own.
Disclaimer: I don’t wish to lump everyone who is a Baptist in this group. I’m convinced the vast majority of Baptists wouldn’t agree with the rhetoric spewed forth into cyberspace by these fanfundys and would find them just as offensive as I do.
Who else has had similar experiences with this category of Christian, either in cyberspace or in the real world? Please feel free to add more points to my list in the comment section.