My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse

We became fundamentalists in 1958 when I was 7, and I ate it up! We joined a Freewill Baptist Church and I was with those churches until 1970. However, I did not absorb fundamentalism only from FWB churches; my strongest influences were from the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) movement which was even more fundamentalist than the FWB churches.

We subscribed to John R. Rice’s influential paper The Sword of the Lord, which I read devotedly. I also read many of John Rice’s booklets, including Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers. In addition, I read articles and books by other IFB leaders such as Bob Jones, Jack Hyles, and Oliver Greene. I listened to Lester Roloff on the radio. Other fundamentalist influences were Carl McIntire and the Moody radio station. I was pretty much saturated with fundamentalism.

fundamentalism

Characteristics of Fundamentalism in the 1960s

Like evangelicals, fundamentalists subscribed to the five fundamentals. The lists varied but generally included: inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth of Jesus, deity of Jesus, substitutionary atonement, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Sometimes ‘the miracles of Jesus’ or the ‘future return of Jesus’ substituted for an item.

Other characteristics of fundamentalism were intense legalism, rejection of evolution, and separation from the world. After losing the battle in the 1920s against evolution and critical biblical scholarship in most denominations and in public, fundamentalists withdrew to their own groups and refused to dialog with other believers. One strong aspect of fundamentalism was their strong negative tone; they constantly lambasted just about everybody—Bible scholars, believers who refused to embrace fundamentalism, those who taught evolution, and the world in general.

Some other emphases among fundamentalist were that women could not teach men, a high regard for the King James Version (we considered it the only legitimate translation), and a strong focus on the rapture and dispensational end-time theology. Does this sound like a bad situation? It was! But in more recent years fundamentalism has become much, much worse.

Fundamentalists Develop Further Isolation and More Extreme Beliefs and Practices

When I left fundamentalism in 1970, new forces were beginning to arise but had not yet become very influential. In fact, as a fundamentalist I was not aware of them at all. Here are some trends.

Intense Patriarchy

My father was a Free Will Baptist preacher and believed women could not be preachers. He also had a strong sense of his responsibility as head of the house; when I left the Free Will Baptist Church for another church, he seriously considered leaving the ministry because he was no longer qualified according to 1 Timothy 3:

A bishop then must be…One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. [KJV]

In today’s fundamentalism, patriarchy has grown much stronger with each man (not just ministers) being responsible for his family’s spiritual well-being. Wives are totally submissive to their male covering (husband, father, brother, or other male representative) and have access to God only through a male covering.

Not only can women not preach—they cannot instruct a man AT ALL. But they are responsible for their children’s’ spirituality, under the cover of their husband or other male covering.

Abusive Child-Rearing

When I was growing up, my parents believed in spanking with leather belts or switches as punishment. Among fundamentalists today, biblical child-rearing books go well beyond that level of punishment. In fact, the goal is no longer simply punishment but breaking the will of young children. The idea is that infants are born depraved and sinful and must be broken. Many normal age-appropriate behaviors, such as crying in infants, are seen as rebellion against God; and the parents’ responsibility is to break them.

Recommended tools include wooden paddles and rods. And the required response from the child must be instant and total capitulation to the parent—without question. If necessary, the parent should sit on the child to hold them down while being punished.

Purity, Shame, and Rape Culture

Our fundamentalist parents expected young people to not have sex or to touch each other inappropriately before marriage. But we did socialize, date, and go through normal development of relationships. Many of today’s fundamentalist do not ‘date’ at all. They don’t even kiss until their wedding. There is a lot of emphasis on not giving away parts of one’s heart, which is considered defrauding one’s eventual spouse.

Another aspect of this culture is that males are considered not in control of their sexual urges, so if a girl is molested or raped much of the fault falls to her for not being careful enough to avoid arousing the attacker’s urges. In fact this, combined with patriarchy and church procedure, creates a lot of opportunity for the rape of women and children in which the perpetrators are defended and victims are ostracized from the church; this is a wide-spread problem.

Homeschooling and Isolation

Separation was a big issue for fundamentalists in the 1960s—separation from the world and from compromised believers. Sometimes it became quite extreme; Bob Jones instituted 3 degrees of separation from other Christians.

But because of homeschooling, today’s fundamentalism is even more isolated than ever. Fundamentalist homeschooling avoids ‘evil’ public education altogether. The curriculum is often inferior, definitely opposes evolution, and is filled with fundamentalist indoctrination. The teaching is only as good as the abilities of the parent-teachers, and many home-schooled children have significant difficulty if they continue to college or university.

These are just some of the harmful developments in today’s fundamentalism. We will discuss them, and others, in more detail in upcoming posts; but, if you wish, you can read more about them now at our Resources on Today’s Extreme Fundamentalism page.

Articles in this series: Today’s Extreme Fundamentalism

My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse Patriarchy, Bill Gothard, and the Umbrella of Protection
An Overview of Bill Gothard’s Role in Today’s Cultish Fundamentalism
See also:
Resources on Today’s Extreme Fundamentalism

***

This entry was posted in fundamentalism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to My Fundamentalism of the 1960s Has Changed for the Worse—Considerably Worse

  1. Patricia Bennet says:

    I too was a fundamentalist until my Viet Nam veteran husband had a psychotic break and was involuntarily committed to the state hospital. The church not only blamed me for his being sent to the hospital but also publicly shunned me and denounced me from the pulpit. Every friend I thought we had turned their backs on me which broke my heart. I’ve never returned to a church after that event. Instead I practice my own form of Christianity which revolves around following the example of Jesus in love. Such has freed me from all bitterness and given me great joy. Thank you for your wonderful posts.

    Liked by 4 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      I am so sorry, Patricia. They can be so harsh and unloving, and ostracizing people is not at all uncommon.

      Like

    • sheila0405 says:

      My Church forbade psychology and psychiatry. Only “Biblical” counseling was allowed. Nothing secular!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        I remember the ‘biblical counseling’-only rage. Not only was it of no value, the counseling was very harmful. I think it has slowed down some now, but it is still out there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mike Stidham says:

          There are recent developments where the “Biblical counseling” is taking on influences that nuance the strict approach of those like Jay Adams, and allow for some inputs from secular psychology. Having been exposed to the former, I’m finding the writings of newer people in the movement like Heath Lambert a needed corrective.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thanks Mike. I am glad to hear that biblical counseling is now including insights from counseling psychology. It seems to me, though, that the Bible is not equipped to provide counseling on general life issues, some of which are quite serious.

            How is the Bible used by Lambert in counseling?

            Like

        • Mike Stidham says:

          The newer generation of Biblical counseling probably still uses the Bible as the primary source to a degree you’d still be uncomfortable with, but at least it’s starting to move beyond the “psychology BAD, no meds for you!” stigma, if only in baby steps.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. pvcann says:

    Journeyed for a short time but broke out quickly, its sad because some of my family have stayed in, as did friends. It’s a weird space and so disconnected.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anthony Paul says:

    Hi Tim:

    I would just like to make one comment on your post at this time… as I sit hear reading about your experiences with perhaps the most fundamental of all fundamental churches, I have a big grin on my face as I think back to my own very limited experience with this type of cultism. Educated into Roman Catholicism I moved over to the Evangelical Free Church many years later. It only took me 8 years to discover that it was time to move on… and yet today I still feel very bitter about some of my (and my wife’s) experiences in that church community. I’m grinning because in reading your story I’ve discovered that mine is but a mere wisp of smoke — a footnote to my life, if you will… and I am grateful to The Holy Spirit for its relative brevity.

    Your post brings to mind one very basic precept of fundamentalism: its penchant for separating its members from a sinful world. This, of course, can truly be said of many churches; and consequently many of us may feel a sense of guilt for having abandoned those who have taught us so many wonderful things about the relationship between God and man. I often take heart in the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) who once wrote this about the real meaning of The Church: “Face to face with outcasts, it is as free as the nobility. It has its place not only with the poor but also with the rich; not only with the pious, but also with the Godless. All are world… there is no sphere from which it distances itself out of anxiety over going astray… Only this kind of church is wholly free, the church that confesses its secularity and thereby claims to be a perfect church.”
    (A Testament To Freedom, The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly & F. Burton Nelson, Ed. p. 92)

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, I think you nailed one of the most significant objectives of fundamentalism: “separating its members from a sinful world.” I would suggest a related objective: separating its ‘sinful’ members from the church. And I would say this fundamentalist concept of ‘sin’ includes both the ‘sin’ of wrong behavior and the ‘sin’ of wrong belief.

      Of course this creates an increasing isolationism as well as a narrowing of acceptable beliefs and behaviors. This is not what Jesus meant by ‘come to me you who are burdened down and I will give you rest’. Fundamentalism says ‘come to me and I will give you burdens.’

      Liked by 3 people

      • It was very restrictive to be raised believing that drinking alcohol, dancing, going to movies, etc. was sinful. You get this view of the rest of the world, even other Christians, that they’re all doing vile things even if they’re watching Bambi in the theater or square dancing. It’s hard to break free of it, after years of disciplining yourself to follow the rules of the church because otherwise you’re in danger of hellfire.

        Then you learn as you get older that the rules of the church have changed significantly over time. “Wait–It used to be against the rules just to go to an amusement park?” You get to know other Christians at school who are pious but don’t follow those rules. And you begin to realize that maybe these are man’s rules and not God’s. But it’s still awful hard to break free of the restrictions in your head.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Anthony Paul says:

          Hi Hobbit; thanks for joining the discussion.

          I am still very bitter about having to endure the righteous judgement of good christian Bible-believing folk at the EFC Church we attended back in the 90’s. My wife and I both enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with our meals and we continued to do so whenever we would entertain church people in our home. In addition, in those days I was a smoker so that added another black mark next to my name.

          The result for both my wife and I is that we have kind of taken a vow to stay out of churches — except for funerals and weddings. When in prayer and the mood descends upon me I fervently pray that God keep me and protect me from “the good people” of His church… they can be a nasty bunch.

          These christians often remind me of Bob Dylan’s words to a song he wrote years ago…
          “I pity the poor immigrant…. who lies with every breath…
          Who passionately hates his life and likewise fears his death.”

          Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          “It’s hard to break free of it, after years of disciplining yourself to follow the rules of the church because otherwise you’re in danger of hellfire.”

          Hobbit, I agree! To my benefit I began to question things early–beginning with legalism when I was 18. Then gradually I thought through other issues. So I have been questioning my baggage issues for almost 50 years. But I remember it all!

          Liked by 2 people

    • I was in the EFC for a while, too. It felt like home for some time because of many similarities to the denomination I grew up in, Nazarene. But my husband was bothered by the idea that he wasn’t really “saved” because he was Lutheran. Then they started pushing very Calvinist ideas that neither one of us was raised with. Hubby went back to being Lutheran, and I moved on to the Orthodox Church.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy says:

    I’m 64 yrs old. “Saved” at 26. These things still haunt me. I feel it affected my marriage & caused vocal & emotional bullying. I’m better now but still working on not feeling like a door mat. I no longer go to any church. Feel isolated

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Kathy… I am truly delighted to hear from you. Your post was short but it struck me at the core of my being. You are not totally isolated… you are here now among fellow travelers. I have a bit of a different take on salvation believing that Jesus knew each of us long, long ago in the far reaches of eternity (Psalm 139). Salvation is God’s work, not ours.

      I identified with you immediately because as I said in my previous post, I too have given up on churches. I felt isolated for a very long time… I suppose that is our walk through the desert… but now I find my church wherever The Holy Spirit provides one. Lately, Tim and his band of bloggers is my church and I feel that this is enough for me until such time as I move on again. I am 72 years old but I still have so much to learn.

      Remember that you are not a doormat unless you lie down. God did not create you to be a cookie-cutter christian just like so many have learned to be, using the correct phraseology, looking humble and pious and all that sort of nonsense. You were created a very special and unique human being… don’t ever let go of that. Although many church people want you to be like them, Jesus came and died to bring us freedom from these self-imposed chains with which we bind ourselves and one another.

      You say you no longer go to any church… try not to think of yourself as being alone and isolated… think of yourself as having found a new sense of freedom and let that be your joy. You are never far from Him.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. fiddlrts says:

    It’s nice to see all this laid out concisely. I have been noticing the same thing. And it’s not just that fundamentalism has become more extreme, but that evangelicalism has become far more fundamentalist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      fiddlrts, I agree with you on both points: fundamentalism has become more extreme and much of evangelicalism has become more fundamentalist.

      Like

  6. luckyotter says:

    Great post! It’s upsetting how intolerant and cult-like so many of these fundie churches have become. There’s nothing very “Christian” about them at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. luckyotter says:

    Reblogged this on Lucky Otters Haven and commented:
    This article from one of my favorite bloggers is about how religious fundamentalism, like politics, has also moved so far to the “right” that these churches now resemble dangerous cults more than churches, and they seem preoccupied with control, a doctrine of hate and punishment, and make excuses for the abuse of women and children.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sheila0405 says:

    My 1960s Fundamentalist upbringing was like yours. My dad stepped down from leadership in the church citing the same passage in I Timothy when I got pregnant out of wedlock. The church did a real number on me with guilt and shame. I had to give my daughter away, no way was I permitted to raise her. What a sorry mess. This was 1976 & it hastened my exit from Fundamentalism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sheila, I am so sorry for your experience. Among the biggest talents fundamentalists have are guilt, shame, and condemnation. But I don’t want those talents; haven’t they heard of Jesus? Well, yes they have; but they received a garbled story.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Anthony Paul says:

    As I follow this discussion on Fundamentalism and the Church, I have to confess that I have misunderstood some points about this whole concept of what comprises “fundamenalism”. Tim has made some comments which seem to distinguish between Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Am I wrong in this? I have always understood that any Bible church which accepts Scripture as inerrant and direct revelation from God to be, in fact, a Fundamentalist Church. I was once a participant in (not a member of) an Evangelical Free Church which sees The Bible in exactly this way… so I believed them to be Fundamentalist. My sister attends an unaffiliated Bible Church which believes in total inerrancy…. is this not a Fundamentalist Church?

    There is one big difference between the EFC Church which my wife and I used to attend and the manner in which Tim and so many others were raised in the Baptist Church… The EFC does not actively and openly declare such acts as dancing, smoking, drinking, card playing, etc. as sinful and signs of ones unregenerative nature… though not openly condemned I personally found that it was seriously frowned upon by the leaders and deacons of the church — I found this to be more hypocritical than just coming right out and just condemning these acts as sinful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sheila0405 says:

      Outright condemned in my church. I was enrolled in a Fundamentalist college for one semester. We were even forbidden to skate! Rollerskating and ice skating were not permitted, even during breaks. It was suffocating.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony Paul says:

        OMG… I’ve been mistaken… the church we attended was downright liberal by comparison. Many of these other churches really know how to take the “fun” out of FUNdamentalist.

        You have my sympathies… I’m glad you got out when you did.

        Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, you are not the only one to be puzzled by the distinction between fundamentalists and evangelicals. There is definitely an historical connection, but they are not the same thing. The following historical article should shed significant light on the issue, and the link in the last paragraph will complete the comparisons and differences between fundamentalists and evangelicals.

      The EFC is an evangelical denomination, though most evangelical denominations have some congregations that are much more fundamentalist. I hope this helps.

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/what-is-a-christian-fundamentalist/

      Like

      • Anthony Paul says:

        Tim, Thank you so much for your comments… They go a long way in dispelling some of my misconceptions about what distinguishes Fundamentalism from Evangelicalism. I have read your linked blog and have found it to be a concise and very interesting history of Fundamentalism in America. Of particular interest is one comment you made in which you state — sadly, but quite correctly I might add — that “…they became ‘fighting fundamentalists’, and the legacy of separation, isolation, and harsh attack continues to this day.”

        Of all things “religious” in our own time, I find this theme of separation from the world to be the most un-Christian and most disturbing simply because it is the most un-Christ-like. Their actions seem to totally ignore and belie the fact that Jesus, The Son of God Himself, came to live among us — all sinners — as Emmanuel. His life was and still is (or should be) at the center of all human activity. In an earlier blog I mentioned the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran Pastor of The Confessing Church in Germany in the midst of Nazi tyranny. In sharp contrast to what many pastors teach today, the following quote says a great deal about how he viewed his mandate to speak as a pastor and teacher about what The Bible says about Christ:

        “When holy scripture speaks of following Jesus, it proclaims that people are free from all human rules, from everything which presumes, burdens, or causes worry and torment of conscience. In following Jesus, people are released from the hard yoke of their own laws to be under the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ. … Jesus’ commandment never wishes to destroy life, but rather to preserve, strengthen, and heal life.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wow, Anthony! I really like your Bonheoffer quote! And you are right about separation; did Jesus separate himself from the world? No he plowed right in.

          I am glad the article helped, but you mention that you read AN article. Did you read the second article that completes the story of the comparisons and differences between fundamentalists and evangelicals?

          https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/what-is-an-evangelical-today/

          Like

          • Anthony Paul says:

            Hello again Tim: I have read your second article RE the evangelical side of the story though I did miss it the first time around. I find both articles very informative especially in light of the fact that although I consider myself pretty well read I am unfamiliar with many of the names you mention. As time permits I will familiarize myself with the works of Harold Ockenga, Peter Enns et.al. I have come across Rob Bell’s thinking and writing and I am intrigued. I also like Brian McLaren and a lesser known Evangelical whose ministry is based in Florida: Steve Brown. The latter has written a wonderful book entitled “A Scandalous Freedom” sub-titled “The Radical Nature of the Gospel”. Brown is perhaps closest to the basic and fundamentalist Evangelical tenets of The Bible but I like and respect his thinking quite a lot because he is considered anti-nomian… a radical, and a Christian rebel who has been known to “…give away free sins” to callers on a radio show he did years ago. He refuses to condemn folks like Rob Bell and Anne LaMotte for their liberal freedom and I think he is one of the most liberal conservatives I have come across.

            Freedom is everything with Steve… Listen to what he says in the book referenced above: “The good news is that Christ has freed us from the need to obnoxiously focus on our goodness, our commitment, and our correctness. Religion has made us obsessive almost beyond endurance. Jesus invited us to a dance… and we’ve turned it into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we’re doing it right and are in step and in line with the other soldiers. We know a dance would be more fun, but we believe we must go through hell to get to heaven, so we keep marching.” (p. 82)

            Thanks, Tim for some very thought provoking and well written articles.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Anthony, I am glad you found the two articles useful. I would not expect you to be familiar with most of that stuff; I just happened to be fascinated with fundamentalist-evangelical history since I was a teen. It was my life for many years, and I like to understand what I am a part of; I guess that is one reason I have left so much of it behind–because I understood it.

            I was surprised by you accolades for Steve Brown. I have always considered him a die-hard Calvinist, although I guess antinomianism does fit in with Calvinism. In reformed and evangelical circles he is quite well known, but not as much as Rob Bell is on a popular level. I have not heard much from Steve Brown in the last 15 years or so.

            Brian McLaren represents the emergent movement in evangelicalism. I read some of his articles from time to time, though the emergent movement is not as much the rage as it was five or six years ago.

            American Christianity is quite varied and complex and is influenced by a LOT of different individuals.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Patriarchy, Bill Gothard, and the Umbrella of Protection | Jesus Without Baggage

  11. Rebecca says:

    I am a youngin, but I grew up like this. My home school group taught purity culture and no touch courtship, that sexuality was dangerous and crushes were wrong because “the heart is deceitful”. After much consideration and many tears, I’ve begun working on a book for my peers to help them climb out of legalism and purity culture. I’m sad to see we aren’t alone in being taught this, but at the same time, I am thankful we are not alone too.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: An Overview of Bill Gothard’s Role in Today’s Cultish Fundamentalism | Jesus Without Baggage

  13. Marjorie Weiss says:

    I recommend a book that helped me understand from where Fundamentalism arose in history and how it affected the world and so many people. “Stealing Jesus, How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity.” Bruce Bauer is the author.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s