I’ve gathered my texts and I’m beginning to see some themes rising to the surface. The general research areas will be:
- While the term “fundamentalist” and the movement fundamentalism has fallen into disrepute and disrepair, the rhetorical form of fundamentalism is alive and well. In other words, romantic sectarianism continues. Nothing’s changed. Oh sure, some may drink alcohol or have hip music, but the rhetoric of the Christian life is identical to the BJU expression of romantic separation.
- Essentializing terms such as “biblicist,” “biblical,” “Bible-based,” “Christ-centered,” “Gospel-centered,” “Sacred,” even “Reformed” still identify and divide and perpetuate the same drama of romantic tragedy as did the essentializing term of “fundamentalism.”
- Even while criticizing Keswick/Dispensational/Pentecostal versions of soteriology, conservative Evangelicals reserve this identical containment drama for their prescriptive discourses for women and children. While they make fun of “decisionism” or “easy-believe-ism,” they perpetuate it in a “hard believe-ism.”
- In discourses for women, complementarianism — a theological reaction to the political threat of feminism — articulates a “second blessing” for believing women urging them to simply fulfill their “role” (a relatively recent and hardening term) as women. The exact same theologians that have rejected Keswick theology for themselves endorse it for their women. The complementarian Danvers Statement has risen to the level of a Confession.
- In discourses for parenting, punitive parenting — another theological reaction to some political threat but I’m not sure what exactly yet — has elevated spanking to a “conduit” or “means of grace” for children raised in the Faith. In other words, spanking has become not simply one tool among many, but a biblical command or, worse yet, a sacrament.
- I plan on researching the last 50 years of marriage and parenting advice in conservative Evangelicalism. On the face of it, it seems everything changed in 1970 when James Dobson published Dare to Discipline and Jay Adams published Competent to Counsel. The former was a psychologist talking in theological terms, and the latter was a rhetorician (!!) talking against psychological terms. Both were clear separatists — each shunning worldliness and pagan ways. Dobson is a Nazarene and Adams a Presbyterian (ARP), so a theological contrast appears more stark than it really is. Dobson gets so much attention due to his political aspirations, and Adams gets virtually no attention outside of a particular sliver of conservative Reformed Protestantism. But when it all comes out in the wash, they are virtually identical in their expressions (and their “descendants’ expressions) of Christian living.
I welcome any observations, contributions, criticisms, hunches, or disagreements. Save your ad hominem attacks for your own blog, forum, or dinner table, however. I’ve heard it all before anyway. It’s all old news.