Sunday, August 7, 2011

“SI is a Fundamentalist Place?” The Facade & Veneer Is Stripped Away

Introduction (8/8):
Aaron Blumer links to this article from the controversial Steve Davis article at SI. I have one major point to share about his commentary there. He still does NOT and can not cite even one example from SI's front page that is thoroughly positive toward and edifying about Fundamentalism.

Incredibly Blumer cites the Dead Right article by Phil Johnson, which was widely criticized and documented by Fundamentalists as unfair and out-of-balance for a variety of legitimate reasons. Does Aaron really want to stick with Johnson’s Dead Right as an example of a positive from SI on Fundamentalism?

If Aaron has any front page article at SI that is thoroughly positive toward and supportive of mainstream, historic Fundamentalism he would have shared it by now. He can't because it does not exist. Yet, we can read a host of anti-fundamentalism articles at SI over its history. The latest being the Steve Davis article, the 2009 three part attack series by Kevin Bauder and the many hostile articles through SI’s Blogroll. If you are visiting for the first time, peruse other articles in the Iron Skillet (see links to right), all are thoroughly documented and prove the bias of SI and its leadership against historic Fundamentalism. Please continue to the main text of this article.

At Shaper Iron (SI), under the About SI page, the following statement appears,
SI is a fundamentalist place. We welcome readers of every kind, but remember that SI is about how fundamentalists see the world.
The facade that SI exists for and on behalf of Fundamentalism has never been a credible claim. With the latest article at SI, an open attack on Fundamentalism written by a self-described former Fundamentalist, any legitimacy of the SI statement has been stripped away.

On Friday (8/5) Sharper Iron (SI) site publisher Aaron Blumer posted an article at SI’s main page that ends the debate on the bent and bias of SI against Fundamentalism. The article is titled, Church Planting Thirty Years Later by Pastor Steve Davis. You might ask how an article with that title could be hostile toward Fundamentalism. There is very little I need to add to affirm what this article exemplifies and how it typifies the attack mentality of SI toward Fundamentalism. SI provides its own irrefutable evidence of the hostility toward Fundamentalism. I will post three examples from the discussion thread that make clear the nature of the article.

Pastor Greg Long wrote,
“I am a pastor at a non-fundamentalist church, but count me in with those who struggle to find the value of this article. Steve, brother, I think by now most of us know you are no longer a fundamentalist, and you seem to enjoy letting us know that. Your articles on here seem to be mostly about stirring the pot….”
Pastor Dave Marriott wrote,
I am still struggling to see the publishable value of this article. From my perspective the author basically communicates, “I have left this ‘fundamental’ world because fundamentalists are prideful, smelling of dogmatism in their positions. I continue to affirm the gospel, but I will not quibble over such minor matters as the continuation of spiritual gifts, the kingdom of God, or even whether or not the evening and the morning were really the first day, etc. If anyone still gets bent out of shape over these minor matters, I don't have time for them anymore. Oh and by the way, while I still have the podium, if some of the finest churches in fundamentalism will still invite me to come and preach and influence the next generation, I'd love to. In fact, sign me up! I promise not to be controversial or touch on areas where there may be disagreement.”
Pastor Marriot continued,
“My advice to the author [Steve Davis], albeit unsolicited: You claim to desire to be under the radar ("relative obscurity" is I think how you termed it) and content with just a few ministry friends, but yet you took the time to write a polemic against the fundamentalism of which you have been a part, thus showing up on the radar? If you are going to leave the 'IFB' orbit, just go ahead and do it. But do it quickly. Do whatever it is that you think God has called you to do. However, leaving in this manner makes you look a bit ugly and even desirous to take as many people with you as possible. Go do the missiological work that you have done and for which you have trained, but please stop writing to us, if you are no longer among us.”
JG wrote,
“I did ask if he's now being a missionary to the fundies to show us a better way. I agree with those above who suggested that this article gives that impression, though whether he thought of it in that way is another question. I also wonder why it was published on a fundamentalist site, at least with that title. It's really, ‘How and Why I’ve Left the Fundamentalism I Knew’. At least then we’d know what we’re getting. This article isn’t about church planting at all, and everyone knows it.
Finally from Bob Topartzer,
“We have seen your journey from certainty to increasing doubt in articles you have written and were posted here on SI. Such a journey has been taken by thousands since the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1947 the journey was given a name by those who were taking it. They called themselves NEW EVANGELICALS. At least SI was able to give you a forum for your journey confessions. Your biography and destiny has already been written about in a book titled ‘Promise Unfulfilled, The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism,’ by Rolland McCune. As it is often said; ‘those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ We will, and occasionally do, remember you and others like you in prayer. I have been on that other grass where it looks greener. It is full of yellow spots and dead spots with those getting more numerous and larger all the time. Better watch where you step.”
Why was the article, with its obvious hostility, published at SI? The answer is exactly what I’ve been documenting about SI all along. SI is NOT a site for positive discussion of Fundamentalism or edifying Fundamentalists. JG rightly questions why that article made it on to the SI front page. Easy to answer: It belongs there because it expresses exactly what the attitude of SI's leadership is toward Fundamentalism.

Furthermore, JG, Bob and Dave Marriott have hit the exposed nerves with Steve Davis. The reaction of Pastor Davis was less than cordial, he responded with hostility and condescending tones.

The Davis article exemplifies in stark relief what SI is and has been from its inception. Aaron Blumer authorized its publication on the front page knowing full well the meaning and intent of the article. Later in the thread Aaron posted,
For those who are fond of intimating that SI has ‘gone neo’ and the like, just a reminder that the aim here is to give you stuff to think about.”
Never at SI has any positive or uplifting “stuff” been published on Fundamentalism “to think about.” Why? Because SI is NOT a Fundamentalist site. SI does not exist to promote Fundamentalism in a positive light or to edify Fundamentalists. It NEVER has been either of those things.

In private and publicly I have challenged SI leadership, Aaron Blumer in particular, to produce even one front-page article from SI archives that is thoroughly positive and uplifting on Fundamentalism. To date not one example has been produced because there are none! Aaron Blumer knows there are none and would never allow for a positive expression of Fundamentalism at SI in the first place. SI does not exist to build and encourage Fundamentalists. Instead SI relentlessly seeks to tear down, besmirch and demonize Fundamentalism for the purpose of encouraging an entire generation to join the non-separatists in the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism.

Any SI participant who has tried to defend Fundamentalism and deal squarely with those who tear away at historic Fundamentalism are immediately set upon, gang tackled and/or ridiculed by SI moderators, administrators and the angry (former) YF’s that dominate the threads at SI.

SI’s blog roll has never invited or allowed for any blog to appear that is positive toward Fundamentalism and/or takes an opposing view to doctrines, fellowships or practices that SI stands for and defends. Instead it offers several that are openly hostile toward Fundamentalism such Paleo-Evangelical, Urban-Missional, Pensees, etc.

Will SI’s site publisher Aaron Blumer, continue the facade that SI is a place for Fundamentalism? The veneer that SI is positive place for Fundamentalism has been stripped away. The article by Steve Davis removed any lingering doubt about SI’s bias against and hostility toward Fundamentalism.

I urge any persons or ministries that participate at or support SI in any way to end the relationship. Your participation perpetuates a site that is not the friend of historic, balanced Fundamentalism.


1) Thirty Years of Church Planting

For the related article by Dr. Rick Flanders please visit IDOTG and read, He's Leaving Fundamentalism

For further examples of SI’s hostility please see the following articles:

SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters

Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”

I Had to Ask: How Does This Sharper Me?


  1. I find it interesting that the author cites the issues at Northland.

    "There are a few glimmers of hope as some IFB brethren have begun to break out of their isolation. I think particularly of Northland University which has invited professors from outside IFB circles and of Calvary Baptist Seminary with Mark Dever at their ATC Conference."

    Here he seems to acknowledge that there have been changes at Northland that Northland itself seems reluctant to admit to. Why does it seem that we are blind to things that are in plain view that those outside our "circles" seem to be able to readily identify?

  2. Andy:

    A bit off topic, but I will offer some reaction.

    I personally emailed Dr. Olson at NIU a week prior to posting one of the major articles in my NIU series. I gave him an opportunity to identify any factual errors or misrepresentation. After several exchanges Dr. Olson did NOT identify any errors whatsoever.

    Yet, in the face of irrefutable documented evidence from NIU of change he insists he has not changed the college.


  3. It is remarkable that those such as Steve Davis applaud Northland. If NIU hasn't changed then why all the new praise from these types? As far as SI, I do believe that they come across as being more anti-fundamental than fundamental. Maybe they should also re-evaluate their real identity. I get frustrated by people who hide what they really are in order to play to both sides so to speak.

    Jim F.

  4. Jim:

    Thanks for the input. Later I will post a link to one article from my series on NIU. It documents the actual changes away from om what NBBC practiced and how it defined it's stands 10 years ago.

    On si- I have frequently referred to it as a "pseudo" fundamentalist site because that is exactly what it has been from it's inception.

    I've asked Aaron Blumer for just one main page article that is throughly positive on Fundamentalism and/or edifying to Fundamentalists. He has not and cannot produce even one example because none exist.

    Once, not long ago si/Blumer defined si as a place for Fundamentalists of the conservative evangelical variety. (paraphrase). Once I addressed that as a fair description of their real identity, who and what si is in existence for he dropped it and edited out the "ce" portion.

    As for trying to appeal to both sides, si has to. Primarily to attract advertisers. The si mods have alienated and run off most genuine balanced fundamentalists.

    Read through some of the other articles here.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Here are links to two of the articles I published on the changes that Matt Olson has brought to the former Northland Baptist Bible College. The changes that Matt Olson says are not changes at all.

    Is NIU “UnChanged?”

    Northland Int’l. University’s Convergence with Evangelicalism: What Does it Mean for Impressionable Students?


  6. I need to make a brief response to a Joel Shaffer who just posted a comment at SI, named me and suggested that when he poses a certain question(s) to me I do not reply.

    Joel has posted questions and comments to me at my primary blog IDOTG. In every case I can recall I replied to Joel thoroughly. I appreciated his questions and the opportunity to engage him.

    If memory serves and I could be mistaken, but I believe Joel neglected to reply to my return questions.

    Joel: I am happy to entertain your questions here or at IDOTG as long as we have a two way street understanding. OK?