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Things I Never Heard in Fundamentalism — Humanity (2)


When we left our previous life, two arbitrary things got quilted together:  (1) my blogging and (2) Grant’s singing. Because of my activity online (pre-October 16, 2007), Grant was no longer allowed to sing solos at our church. This was simply punitive — one unwarranted, unprovoked, painful action against Grant that was virtually unrelated to my “sin” of blogging. It would be like taking away a teenager’s car keys because her sister wrote a “Letter to the Editor” which her parents disagreed with.

This drove me deep underground emotionally. Think Anorexic Spirituality again. My spiritual neediness, I concluded, was sinful and, thus, shameful.

We had started to look for a new church by then, and we had whittled it down to two choices: our present one and another brand-new PCA church just up the road here, Blue Ridge Presbyterian. This newer church was precious and homey. The people were so kind. Their gentle spirit made our eventual decision very difficult.

The elder in charge of music at Blue Ridge was a dear old friend from BJU, Steve Griner. He often accompanied Grant back in the day. It was nice to hear him play hymns in his characteristically masculine style (male pianists play with such vigor). And he had asked Grant to sing a solo one Sunday.

We were both so touched. We weren’t even members! Here we were broken and bruised — kicked in the spiritual kidneys while we were already curled up on the ground. I had really, seriously wondered if we were good enough for any church since we were clearly not good enough for our last one where we had pretty deep roots. And still Steve asked Grant to sing. Grant chose the song that Steve had arranged for Grant’s BJU ministry team years before, “Take the World but Give me Jesus.” Look at the last verse:

Take the world, but give me Jesus.
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.

Early that same Sunday, while Grant rehearsed with Steve, I sat in the nursery with our boys. And Pastor Griffith came in. Apparently, he had been looking for me. He had sought me out. He said, “Camille! I read your blog this week. And I just had to find you and give you a hug. . . . I’m so sorry!”

And there in his Geneva robe, that dear Christian undershepherd gave me a great big bear hug.

So . . . on the same day that Grant sang again was the same day that a Pastor empathized with and accepted me.

I still tear up thinking about it all. I hadn’t been hugged by a pastor since I was six and getting ready for my baptism. And to get hugged after all that and even because of all that. . . . well, God’s got a good sense of drama.

Now I must admit, I still duck and hide when I see our current pastor or any ecclesiastical leader for that matter. But I do see what he’s after every Sunday and its contrast to what I got even very recently though perhaps unintentionally in fundamentalism. When Pastor Lewis (no relation) preaches about our humanity, he says:

Take off the fig leaf.

In fundamentalism, it was “Shut up or else!” But outside of fundamentalism it’s okay to admit your flaws and struggles. In fact, it’s a sign of spiritual health. Because we’re safe in God’s love, we can admit our frailty and even our not-so-popular and still-forming opinions. We can let our “sins be strong, but let [our] trust in Christ be stronger,” like Luther told his buddy Melancthon.

It’s really just another way of singing “In His cross my trust will be.”

9 thoughts on “Things I Never Heard in Fundamentalism — Humanity (2)

  1. What I heard through this post was community – what was lacking at BJU and what was discovered at 2 different churches. It’s refreshing when people say, “We don’t understand, but we love anyway,” and, “If you don’t agree or keep silent, you can’t be a part of us.” One is grace, the other, well, isn’t.

  2. I remember when this happen and I’m still left feeling the same way: equal parts grateful that you have found grace and so very sad that such a simple gesture, one I wouldn’t think twice about–hugging someone who’s having a rough time–could be so novel, so unexpected. It makes me want to hug you all over again. And continue to be grateful for all the ways God is using his children to extend *his* grace to you.

  3. As I continue to hear this story unfold, it’s unsettling and interesting all at the same time. I’m well familiar with the idea of repressing speech, and for punishing someone when they disagree with the powers that be. But for some reason, it really disturbed me that they would take it to a level where they prevent your husband from singing. It’s so childish, and yet, it’s more than that – they were preventing your husband from using his God-given (and peerless) talent in His service! That disturbs and hurts me.

    It’s been encouraging to read your journey into grace – not only discovering grace in your own lives, but also in displaying grace to those in your past who have done you harm. Please continue to share, as many of us are learning along with you, and loving the camaraderie of spirit.

  4. Fundamentalism is about control of the underlings. Any attempt that is viewed as squirming from under that control is squashed so as to keep others from attempting the same.

    Christian liberty has been killed and freedom in Christ has been nailed to the cross. A new law has supplanted freedom from the law. The blind lead and those with weak eyesight follow.

  5. Hey Camille,
    I just started to re read the so well expressed ‘things I never heard.” It’s really wonderful to read how the bloggers are being helped to think through the confusing details of their past fundy life. The description of the sheep in fundamentalism as, ‘underlings’ reminds me of this problematic man-made, unnatural structure of ‘congregational control’. Not ony treating people, the sheep, like objects, but of this un- -natural, artificial, anti-social construct, and again manipulation – setting- up of ‘a spiritual class system.’ One in which some, a few people, in an given place, are and believe they are,and convey this distorted concept.. of being ‘more important than’ the many, the rest of the people in a place. And these Mr. superior class bozos, ‘really want’, to be seen that way. They’re so ‘full of themselves!’ The very ‘seeing’ of the many people, from a lofty position of assuming an entitled superiority over them, places the ‘lofty ones’ as automatically looking down on people ‘with contempt’, and treating them ‘as’ inferior. The evidence of this in fundamentalism, is the blatant evdidence of ‘fundamentalist’ leaders ( false leaders ) NOT really knowing what the Gospel really IS or even REALLY MEANS. So in fundamentalism, evangelism isn’t really, letting the Holy Spirit win hearts to Jesus,so that God’s Spirit can work a transformation in precious people’s lives! Butevangelism to fundamentalist power brokersis their RECRUITING of more ‘underlings’ for their FALSE ARMY. How sad that, after getting people to settle for a false gospel, they then get people to start doubting that God could continue to love them, unless of course, they are willing to walk the fundy plank to the powerless,mindless, non thinking, blind gullibility of ‘swallowing everything these ‘bozos’ speak from their bozo pulpits, and swallow this stuff, hook, line and sinker’! Animal Farm anybody! And then be good obedient meek sheep, giving all sorts of pats and strokes, and only saying the nicest things about their so called wonderful leaders! Regardless of the fact that their leaders can be anything ‘but’ nice’. Fundamentalism, as far as the bozos in the pulpits go, is really a distorted religion of do whatever they say, and please the pastor. Make the leaders feel good about themselves. Because they need all the nice strokes they can get! you see, what that is, is a reversal of true christian service. Such pastors really ‘need’ to be served ‘by’ the people , making the people feel, think and believe, that that’s the only way they can ‘please God!’ Please the man in the pulpit , and God will be pleased with you. Do whatever the man tells you to do, and this obedience will show you what is true! So ‘truth’ is filtered through the man in the pulpit, such men ‘own’ the right to tell people what the truth IS! I DON”T THINK SO! JEsus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.” Aren’t you glad that HE is the saviour, and not fallen men?

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