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Civil War II — Reconstruction

By 1960, Civil War II was already on for BJU. For their cult of personality, racial segregation would be coded and exploded into a thousand ecclesiastical separations. To exploit Burke’s summary/equation on Hitler’s Battle, the rubric looks like this: the powerful leader/family’s inner voice would equal leader-people identification, equal unity, equal fundamentalism, equal the South, equal Bible, equal sword, equal gospel, equal war, equal school as midrib, equal responsibility (the personal responsibility of the absolute evangelist), equal sacrifice, equal the theory of “fundamentalist separation” (the free will choice of the family who then accepts the responsibility, and demands first-time obedience in exchange for this sacrifice), equal love (with the followers as feminine), equals idealism, equals obedience to Order, equal race. Or to put it more succinctly: just like “the patterns of Hitler’s thought are a bastardized or caricatured version of religious thought,” so the patterns of fundamentalism’s “theology” are a bastardized version of Christian theology.

For fundamentalist rhetoric, a civically abhorrent social segregation is no different from a reluctantly tolerated ecclesiastical separation. This Civil War II is more cold than hot, but still “brother” fights against “brother” to this day. This analysis disagrees with George Marsden’s conclusion that fundamentalism was a more-Northern reaction to World War I. Instead, it is clearly a Southern and Northern continuation of the bloodiest American war in history.

Even though, for Americans, Burke is all ours—he writes in our dialect, within our conflicts, to our culture—his essay comically dismantling “Hitler’s Battle” is still about another time and another place. Bob Jones University’s “Battle” for racial segregation is wholly American, and intersecting Burke with Weaver and Haynes and other scholars on fundamentalism, myself included, brings Hitler’s rhetorical tragedy uncomfortably close. This is ours. This is our ongoing war—our anti-Hitler Battle. Our job is “to find all the available ways of making the” fundamentalist “distortions of religion apparent, in order that politicians of his kind in America be unable to perform a similar swindle.”

11 thoughts on “Civil War II — Reconstruction

  1. I find Marsden’s conclusion much more persuasive because it takes a comprehensive approach that accounts for the many cultural influences that produced fundamentalism in all periods of its history. Marsden takes a dispassionate look at how fundamentalism interacted with the larger culture, not just a regional subculture. Also, your judgments seem not to account for the fact that fundamentalism is changing, for the better, in my opinion.

    I am very familiar with many of your sources. In fact, I have a copy of the message “Is Segregation Scriptural?” among others. So, little of what you’re saying is a revelation to me. I’ve thought this issue through for many years and discussed it with others, critics as well as sympathizers. While some of your criticisms are valid, characterizing them as “our ongoing war–our anti-Hitler battle,” strikes me as badly overblown.

    1. Since you haven’t read the research I’ve done (I haven’t posted this paper yet) and since Marsden has the advantage of presumption and a large body of work, I am underwhelmed by your hasty conclusion.

      Enjoy that.

    2. And I’m equally amused that you claim some privilege for owning a copy of this sermon. That you own it proves an insider status, since outsiders are not allowed to own it.

      Now the world owns it. And we are all on an equal, nonfeminized standing.

  2. Oh Camille, I love the way you intellectually challenge the self-asumed elite, to consider taking a reality check’ regarding their inconclusive conclusions! Like religious Ostridges with their heads in the sand, people who think fundamentalism is improving, are simply not dealing with reality. Some people would rather hold onto ‘their religious bag of marbles’,for the false security of total control, because it’s easier to remain the same, than to humble themslves to God, and ever change, let God change them. Fundamentalism will ‘never’ change the world in a way Jesus changes people and society,or ever improve. Fundamentalism will only continue to ruin people’s lives, wherever its deadly, religioous tentaclesreach to strangle and choke out the freedom and liberty out of people’s lives. Dead stuff doesn’t bring new life to anyone anywhere. Fundamentalism will only do what it’s been doing already for too many decades to count: spoil the message, ruin the presence, and bring divison and heartache to precious people’s lives, wherever its ‘ deadly religious poison’ roams to devour the saints. Fundamentalism ‘improving’? Not a chance! Any religious system, as flawed and, distorted as Fundamentalism is, that presents such a counter’sign of the Gospel to society, that wounds the saints and drives away the unsaved, that brings such reproach to Christ, as those who practice its ‘worst’deceptions, its twisted truths,its contradictory doctrines, its distorted theologies, such a flawed system of beliefs and practices could ‘never’ improve. The false beliefs and deceitful practices of ‘fundamentalism’ need to be continually exposed, for what they really are, not real christianity at all. But a very, very bad, negative, toxic system whiich makes people ‘sick.’ Any system that ‘feeds’ people with a sinful desire to fight against his own brother, and grind women into the asphalt, and rationalize racism, needs to be continually exposed for what it is, and the people mentally trapped in it, reached out to with the mercy, compassion and love of Jesus, to help them leave, get out, and be free. We must never stop telling the truth, that fundamentalism from it very inception, was a serious mistake, and a serious error in judgement, a movement, that has done more harm to christianity in America, than any other religious movement. So keep telling the story, that fundamenatlism is ‘not’ the christianity that Jesus ever taught, and that racism was ‘never’ Jesus message. Barbara

    1. Barbara, you should be careful about making sweeping judgments about the motives of a person you have never met, merely on the basis of a blog comment. We should be able to disagree without presuming to issue condemnations that none of us is qualified to make.

  3. Camille,

    It seems that you have drawn a hasty conclusion yourself. I did not claim special status, only previous familiarity with the source, as I stated. I obtained my copy in a very ordinary way. More to the point, criticism of fellow Christians does not rise to the level of overwrought terms as “our ongoing war” or “anti-Hitler Battle.”

    On your historical analysis, no, I have not read your research, though I would be happy to do so. I was responding to the expansive judgments in your post. Someone agreeing with you would have the same basis to do so as I had in disagreeing, so it’s fair either way.

  4. “Camille, Thanks for saying what you said. I know my blog comments were ‘strong’ but, as you objectively observed, I was not speaking those strong words, to any particular individual, but to an all too common , ‘social-cultural mind-set’ that does not ‘like’ other people’s opinions, that clash with their own. My way or the high way attitude closes the door to reasonable dialogue. I have found that it helps to choose to not be offended by things so easily. You, Camille really can speak to an issue directly. That makes your communicating so effective. It is true that making a generalized comment isn’t judging. Some of us just have a hard time dealing with opposing points of view. But if we can work it through, and ‘get over it’, and agree to disagree, I think we’ve got room for dialogue. The blog is a great arena for that. Thanks for what you said. Barbara

  5. Stephen, no offense was intended. I don’t doubt the sincerity of your motives, for ‘wanting’ to believe things are changing for the good. Having wants, desires, and sincere motives for ‘wanting to believe’ that things are changing for the better, will not change anything! Something that has as bad a track record as fundamentalism has had, pretending to believe that things are changing for the good,such wishes really are illusionary pipe dreams. It takes action, honest dialogue, reaching out to people, treating people like ‘real persons’ and not like religious objects, caring about people like Jesus did, that changes things for the good. Didn’t Jesus go about doing good and healing people? Whay can’t we christians do that? Instead of hurting hindering and harassing fellow believers we ‘see’ as our enemy, because wer’e so insecure, and because some christians are so paranoid and afraid that somebody wants to steal away their freedom, their rights. This cerebral fixation on argumentation, pettiness, and power struggles so typical of fundamentalism, is really not helping christians show the world what christianity is supposed to be. Whenever I or others have been ‘driven away’from groups or communities we have loved and served in, it always seems to be the hypocracy and the lack of charity, which have grieved and wounded us the most. And it is the hypocracy and lack of charity that the unsaved see, and then conclude, ‘if ‘that’s’ christianity, I want nothing to do with it.!” By the way I’m not referring to you here, Stephen. Have you ever thought about it, that the ‘only’ religion or faith system, that has ‘more’ or the ‘most’ hate sites on the internet, is the christian faith? We dont need a PHD in human intelligence,to suggest a possiblity that fundamentalists just might have something to do with that! What kind of a spirit would be behind all those hate sites, judging, condemning, demonaizing, and maligning the Godly characters of fellow believers and wonderful parachurch minstries that are helping people, and bring people to Salvation? Certainly not the Spirit of Christ. Paul says in Romans 8 ” if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” He’s going to be ‘ a bad christian’. A christian who is out there ‘doing his own selfish, religious thing’, bringing reproach to Christ, and hurting the Body of Christ at the same time. And believing he is ‘serving God.’ There’s the deception! A person wants to do something. He superimposes his will and wants onto God’s will, feels good about it, then believes, God wants him to do that, does it, and says it’s God’s will. BJU Jonesiesim has been doing that for over eighty years! Keep on dialoguing Stephen. That’s how we learn and grow. And again, no offense was intended. Barbara.

    1. Barbara,

      Thank you for clarifying. Since you originally referenced statements I made, I thought that my first response was correct. But I certainly accept and appreciate your follow-up comments.

      I agree with your comment, “It takes action, honest dialogue, reaching out to people, treating people like ‘real persons’ and not like religious objects.” By God’s grace I am practicing that. That is why I believe fundamentalists can change (and still be fundamentalists), because I have seen God’s change in me. Trying to be a bridge builder is a huge change for me. In the past I have shunned people. But I will live in Heaven with all my brothers and sisters, so I intend to learn to do it now.

      I believe that fundamentalism is changing because I see evidence in my church, evidence outside of my church, and evidence at BJU. I have two children attending BJU and I can tell you that God’s grace has been poured out on both of them through many people at the school, from Stephen Jones on down.

      My longtime association with BJU has generally been a positive experience. There have been stress points. But I can honestly say that I have grown in grace due to the Holy Spirit working through godly people who have surrounded me.

      Fundamentalism generally and BJU specifically have had serious failings. I believe these are aberrations from fundamentalism. Of course, fundamentalism has weaknesses that it is prone to, such as divisiveness, power struggles and legalism. But these are not unique to fundamentalists. They are part of the human condition. They are in every branch of Christianity of which I am aware.

      I know that a number of people have been hurt by harsh words and actions from BJU leaders. This is wrong and grieves me deeply. But I also see evidence that actions and attitudes are changing. I see evidence that BJU is trying to reconcile with people it has hurt, to build Christ-like relationships in its community and with evangelicals outside of fundamentalism. This is long overdue. But I do not agree with the attitude, “too little, too late.” I am trying to use my small influence to encourage more constructive change.

      I’m not sure which “hate sites on the internet” you referenced. Flinging out harsh and careless accusations against fellow Christians is a major sin of fundamentalists. More of us are reading the blogs of people such as Tim Challies, who when he has to publicly disagree with a brother, does it graciously, carefully, truthfully and with good will. May we all do the same.

  6. Stephen, I’m so glad that you have experienced God’s Grace in your life as you have. His Grace really does make a wonderful difference. I too have experienced God changing me on the inside. I too believe in bridge building, and keeping communication lines open is an excellent way of doing that. I can see that you are being really proactive in that. God will use you to bring improvement and change to people’s lives and relationships. It will be hard work at times,because people don’t always want to listen, but love is the higher way, and the rewards for your committment will be wonderful.I know what it is like to be shunned, and so I too would never want to do that to anyone. You’re very honest in sharing where you’ve come from. I have observed the silly petty behavior of assuming someone has ‘backslidden’ simply because they’ve missed a few prayer group meetings. A group I used to belong to became like that. Such small minded thinking! Why we do this I will ‘never know! Don’t forget to forgive yourself for your past behaviour of shunning people. Self-forgiveness helps us heal from our past failures. I think that there may be different ‘forms’ of fundamentalism , and that perhaps that would explain why certain forms of it are what you call ‘an abberration’ of it. I think when something takes on an ultra-extreme form of belief, it tends to become rather distorted and a caricature, of whatever the original belief was adopted for, as for what purpose. Perhaps this is something that happens when a ‘separatist,such as BJ SR. reacted to what he perceived to be liberalism. That may have been an exaggerated reaction, based on an irrational fear of something changing for the bad and the negative that he could not control. This fear of loss of control is a very real fear. And may be behind much of distorted thinking and irrational behavior associated with ‘abberrations’ of fundamentalism. The ‘separatist position was taken, and that was one reason why BJU was started. To protect and defend the true faith as fundamentalists believed it to be, way back eighty one years ago. It’s a whole subject in itself, the ‘defending the faith’, ‘defending the truth’, and what this really means. This is an area which I do not understand, that I believe has to do with ‘intellectualizing’ the ‘spiritual’or ‘spiritualizing’ the ‘intellectual’ of our thinking and belief system, and ‘intellectualizing the faith’and that those of us who get caught up in this tend to lose our focus on the real meaning of the message, which of course about a person, The Gospel is all about Jesus. And Jesus is a Real Person, not a dogma to fight over and that people and relationships, are what God is so deely concerned with.I have seen the damage done to relationships, when an organization starts focussing more on programs than people, a system of beliefs than the saviour, and rules instead of relationships. It’s a disastor! A wonderful church fellowship had this happen to it. They have regained some of their lost positives, but they unfortunately lost many of their gifted and discerning members who simply could not serve with such selfish and uncharitable practices being so carelessly and casually endorsed by the pastors and leaders there., whose heads, were stuck in the sand like ostriches. The hate sites have to do with anti-catholicism and anti-supernaturalism. Many ministries or ministers that have an effective ministry,are called mean names and false prophets. Those are the ‘bad christian’ hate sites I was referring to. Although certain YouTube video bytes that are negative about ‘other’ christians, may not be hate sites, they’re still ‘mean’, because all they do is criticize. It seems that those who do the criticizing seem to have nothing better to do than get touchy about something another minister has just said! I personally think these critical ministers that go on line on Youtube like that, are simply unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfed with their walk with the Lord, and have no joy in their life at all . They certainly have no sense of humor! I feel sorry for them, but I would not speak against them as they are fellow christians, and my christian faith teaches me to ‘love my neighbour.’ I am glad that you are seeing improvement in your Alma Mater ad other places of fundamentalism. If your sons are having a good learning experience there, and not being hurt,that shows how effective and Grace filled, your prayers are for them. Nice to share with you again. Barbara

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