This so-called Baptist (if he is still so-called) is one whom I ran across in the past who vociferously denied basic truths of the Bible. I had not heard anything from him in years, until someone called attention to his blog posts. Such an one thinks fundamentalism and fundamentalists are evil. To him anyone who believes that the Bible is a real, rational, and reliable document is a fundamentalist. Further, the literal interpretation of Fundamentalism is caricatured as something silly rather than an historical-grammatical approach to understanding the writings of the Bible.[ii] He is the real villain. I’m not joshing. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
Despite his railings against fundamentalism, his straw-men arguments, and his use of Truett Cathy as a foil for his rant, Villines is at least honest about his view of tolerance – something many tolerance and diversity advocates try to hide in the shadows.[iii] He writes, “As a social liberal, I have never argued that tolerance is, in and of itself, a positive value.” This is the true underbelly of the so-called tolerance movement. He further states, “Not all beliefs are equally valid or deserve equal ‘tolerance’.”[iv] Immediately following this, though, he makes another strawman gaffe, “Just because someone believes something does not mean it should be exempt from critical analysis or logical inquiry.” It is he who wants to “exempt” certain views from critical analysis or logical inquiry – to place them directly on the scrapheap of failed ideas without analysis or inquiry because they are presumptively deemed “rooted in ignorance, superstition, or bigotry.” He and I can agree, “not all ideas are equally valid.” However, he wants to determine some things are not “equally valid” based on his preconceptions without analysis or inquiry.[v] He plainly states, “Fundamentalism…deserves a place at the same table where all irrational and destructive behaviors are consigned, but it does not deserve a place at the table with healthy, mature approaches to faith.” Freedom of speech advocates personally hold certain preconceptions as well at tolerantists like Villines. Nevertheless, freedom of speech exceeds so-called tolerance, giving all ideas a place at the table with the exhortation “May the best idea win.” You see, tolerantists are not satisfied to hold personal beliefs that some ideas are not equally valid – they want to bring down the long arm of government on their side without critical analysis or logical inquiry. Squash!
Truth should never be afraid to battle face-to-face with falsehood; neither should it shield itself from inquiry hiding behind governmental coattails!
Psalm 119:151 Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.
John 8:32, 36 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
[i] According to enOxfordDictionaries, fundamentalism is a “form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.” I am OK with that basic definition. Villines’ blog rant makes it clear that (1) he is talking about Christian fundamentalism, and (2) he does not understand the concept of “literal interpretation of scripture.” In its simplest form, Christian fundamentalism emphasizes five fundamental points of faith (as clarified by the 1895 Niagara Bible Conference, in the face of the rise of modernism and liberalism): (1) the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures; (2) the deity of Jesus Christ; (3) the virgin birth of Jesus Christ; (4) the substitutionary blood atonement of Christ for sins; and (5) the physical resurrection and bodily return to Christ. These elements were being denied then, and are usually denied by professors like Joshua Villines now. I hold these five fundamentals, but “Fundamentalist” is not my preferred self-descriptor. I am a Baptist. Many Fundamentalist are adrift on the sea of bad ecclesiology.
[ii] This type of literal interpretation easily and “literally” accepts figures of speech as figures of speech, symbols as symbols, etc., no matter how silly some silly person wants to make them look while pretending fundamentalists do not know how to do this. Thomas Ice described the problem this way: “‘wooden literalism,’ which they now label as simply literalism...is assumed by them to be a naïve, sophomoric understanding of biblical literature. Many have answered these claims and tried to set the record straight, but they are increasingly falling upon the deaf ears of opponents who simply refuse to listen,” then quotes Bernard Ramm, “The program of literal interpretation of Scripture does not overlook the figures of speech, the symbols, the types, the allegories that as a matter of fact are to be found in Holy Scripture. It is not a blind letterism nor a wooden literalism as is so often the accusation.”
[iv] According to Dictionary.com, “tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” The practical societal application of tolerance usually implies someone is superior and in a position to tolerate an inferior – and that the “superior” will decide whether the “inferior” will be “tolerated.” Those who most vociferously preach tolerance often do not have much tolerance for those who do not see things their way. Stefano Gabbana said of singer Elton John, “You preach understanding. You preach tolerance. And then you put the knife in? All because someone else doesn’t see things your way?” John proposed a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana fashions because he disliked and disagreed with comments they made about in vitro fertilization and homosexual’s adopting.
[v] Notice that Villines view must be correct and others must “earn” a place: “If an idea can be substantiated with logical consistency, then it has earned the opportunity for tolerance.” Such a view as his might try to hide, but must be exposed as setting itself up as the standard by which other views “earn” the right to be tolerated. The fact is – his is the real view of tolerantists, despite how often they falsely assert such platitudes as “everyone should feel welcome.”