It happened again yesterday. The president of a fundamentalist college, Northland International University, announced his resignation at the end of the academic year. A feeding frenzy ensued, especially on Facebook.
It didn’t matter that his resignation was being handled in an orderly manner, looking from the outside like a Paul and Barnabas type of separation in which both sides will go forward to achieve great things for the sake of the gospel.
People had to post their speculations about the situation anyway. This is the way of the world, and of Christian fundamentalism. We eat our young.
The attached post has two posts attached to it. One of them is a 21 page document on what may eventually cause the death of fundamental Christianity.
As a lady fundamentalist, I read all 21 pages and consider it a valuable read–one I will go back to again and again. For one thing, it gives a historical perspective on how fundamentalism developed and how it has defined itself within various decades.
Oh, it points out our flaws. And it is even written by someone who has stayed outside of fundamentalism due to those very flaws.
I expect there will be lots of ad hominem attacks on the writer. Probably already have been, as the article has been around a while.
But it should make us think. If we love Christian fundamentalism, we should read it with a prayerful heart, asking whether any or all of it could be true.
The part I wish to focus on here is the tendency we have, just like much of the world has, to try a person via social media, rather than engaging face-to-face.
The article legitimately points out that Christ gave us a process for dealing with sins that affect the church. It is called church discipline. It is detailed in Matthew 18, mostly.
Many will say, “Well, the differences are between people in two different churches.” Or, “This issue involves a parachurch ministry, not an actual church.”
Their point is that fundamentalism does not have one common person in authority over such individuals, someone who could lead a church discipline process.
I say, “Pah!” to that. The Apostle Paul himself marvelled at how quickly people took each other before the civil authorities rather than using the church discipline process to right things that were wrong between them.
I have to stand with Paul here. Surely there has to be a better way to work things out in a parachurch ministry (a Christian university) than resorting to a civil trial-by-Facebook.
And there is a better way. Northland University has handled their issues, and righteously it seems.
It is the rest of us who need to get on board, close our gaping mouths that feel they need to comment as experts on everything that happens, and just pray for Northland.