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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 1996

Reinventing Fundamentalism--In The Wesleyan Mode

    The trauma and uncertainty of World War II led many Wesleyan Holiness groups in America to accept a system of lay theology that would later prove destructive to the ideological foundations of the Wesleyan-Arminian system. We are talking here about dispensational premillennial teachings, which were mistakenly equated with biblical fundamentalism during the modernist/ fundamentalist controversies of the 1920's era.
  
    The recent fact of our historical irony, friends, was that relationship wherein conservative Wesleyan-Arminians joined hands with hyper-Calvinistic Antinomians in a common defense against the inroads of neo-orthodoxy during the early years of the past twentieth century. In the bitter debate over liberalism, proponents of  the emerging new school of dispensational theology positioned themselves as champions of orthodoxy and painted themselves as defenders of the biblical fundamentalist cause. As ideology, however, the distinctives of the dispensational premillennial theory were but the logical extension of applying the necessitating implications of the dogmas of hard-shell hyper-Calvinism--limited atonement, unconditional election, irresistible grace--to Christian truth, they had nothing to do with the "fundamentalism" of the Bible, or the theology of historic Methodism.
   
    The Wesleyan Holiness movement, having failed to develop its own understanding of what constitutes fundamentalism, did not realized, at the time, that dispensationalism itself partook exactly of that same brand of naked antinomian ideology as was being promoted by the neo-orthodox. The upshot in all of this was that the same old heresy, Antinomianism, then became the predictable outcome of accepting either extreme of unWesleyan theology.
   
    In this same vein, dispensational premillennialism, far from representing the fundamentalism that it claimed, was rather the same liberalism, in heart, as was neo-orthodoxy.  How? Through its rootage in the same subjectivist (humanistic) anti-rational attitude and approach to the Word of God. 
   
    Dispensationalism solves the problem of' Christ's second coming delay by a curious juggling of the meaning of Holy Scripture. By splitting the rapture off for "immediacy" (i.e., any-momentness), while at the same time leaving the second coming proper to materialize within the confines of historical Scriptural prophecy, Darbyism ingenuously offers the same type of solution to the dilemma of Christ's delay as  neo-orthodoxy proposes--namely the fictionalizing of it.
   
    How so? By effectual destroying the historical integrity of Bible prophecy via the divorce of reason from faith-held, subjective interpretation. Example: the split-off any-moment-secret rapture theory is accepted purely on subjective grounds, it cannot be proven from a sound, rational exegesis of Holy Scripture! And this subjectivizing, faith-without-reason approach toward Holy Scripture, friends, is the chief hallmark of modern liberal theology!
    
    We alleged that dispensational premillennialism, as an ideological system, rests on a thing so simple, yet so utterly profound, as a fundamental misinterpretation of the central meaning of the Bible--the plan of redemption. From whence,--on what rational or logical grounds?--did it become so fashionable for those who misinterpret the Bible to claim that they are fundamentalists?   Biblical fundamentalism must mean schooling that reflects an accurate interpretation of Holy Scripture--if it does not mean at least that much, the term is empty jargon!
      
    Friends, the treacherous dealers of modern liberal theology have dealt treacherously, and we are very lean.  Liberal Calvinistic theories of both Darbyism, neo-orthodoxy, and now emerging radical preterism, have destroyed (are destroying) the historic faith of the Christian church. 
   
    The sad consequence is that, like the Master Himself, the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement has been wounded most sorely in the house of its friends. Fifty years ago many in our movement thought that the new dispensational premillennial system of interpretational distinctives was biblical fundamentalism. That they indeed did so is a provable, historical reality that cannot be successfully denied. What that buying, full-tilt, into Darbyism really did for us, evident now, friends, was to deliver us, bound and gagged, straight into the camp of the  system of theological relativity and situation ethics that we once so heatedly detested--neo-orthodoxy.
   
    We thought that our dispensational "gospel truth" was fundamentalism, friends, but in truth and in reality it was "antinomianism revived," an ideological system that destroyed the foundations of both our spirituality and our morality and turned us loose, philosophically-speaking, into the fairweather pastures of religious neo-orthodoxy.
   
    Neo-orthodoxy is not Christianity, friends, it is religious humanism. Here we sit in religious humanism, then, fifty years after we went down a pathway of what we thought at the time was biblical fundamentalism. What utter irony!
    
    More that irony, friends, is the fact that we were deceived. Now we, as a Wesleyan Holiness movement, are largely backslidden--purely and simply backslidden apostates from the historic Christian faith.
   
     It's time now to come in from liberalism's deception, it barrenness, its darkness, and its cold! There is enlightenment, a warming fire, freedom, and a feast--at home--in true biblical fundamentalism--in our Father's house!
   
    You that have wandered far afield in speculative theology, come home! Come home! I urge you in the Name of Jesus to give treacherous liberalism up--in all its forms--, intellectually retool, and come home!
   
    A great mistake was made. That was in the past. Repentance means to turn. Turn from the wrong and embrace the right. Truth is the only issue worth fighting for! Embrace the truth! Buy it, and sell it not!
   
    With the turn of the new twenty-first century a new day is dawning! A new day for revitalizing Christian fundamentalism--in the Wesleyan mode!
   
    The Calvinistic/Arminian debate is not obsolete in the modern world, nor will it ever be, if Jesus tarries, in any ages of the world to come. The debate adheres around the central issue of the truth, not just man's truth, but the truth of divine revelation. It cannot be dismissed without defining consequences, both in our attitude, and in our actions, toward that religion known as Christianity.
   
    Modern liberals uniformly say that divine truth--particularly the truth about the second coming of Jesus Christ-- cannot be rationally known. They are flat out wrong. Such an attitude of agnosticism, as this is, is plainly sub, if not, anti-Christian.
   
    Wesleyan fundamentalism insists, by contrast, that divinely revealed truth (including the truth about the second coming of Jesus Christ) can be rationally known. It can be rationally known, that is, if we are willing to be honest and open-minded enough to simply  "study and learn."
   
    What gets in the way of that--of being honest and open-minded, of studying and learning--, too often, is our own carnality--our own moral defect called inbred sin.
   
    Our personal carnality, friends, is our greatest hang-up in religion, and is our basic, hindrance-to-progressiveness problem.
   
    But God has a cure for that, too,-- a cure known as the message and reality of heart cleansing. The availability of that cure now leaves us all without excuse.
   
    So why are we that are supposed to be cleansed in heart so anti-rational as to accept the Calvinist antinomian Darbyites hair-brained salvation history/end-time Bible prophecy theory--notions that we cannot honestly prove from Scripture--notions that we cling to only on the basis of utter reason-evading, reason-denying subjectivity?
   
    Utter subjectivity--anti-rationalism--is liberalism, friends, for God adapted His revelation to the rational mind.        
   
    The fact is that only those who are made free from sin, by grace through faith, can take full advantage of God's revelation. The rest will stumble on in darkness--a darkness bolstered by their endless distortions of the Holy Scripture.
      
    Think about it. And please begin to understand that there is a cause. In the darkness of our current apostasy, there is a cause. The Church can be brought back to fundamentalism once again. God wills it so.

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