A SURVEY OF “YOUNG FUNDAMENTALISTS”
Republished September 26, 2006 (first published October 5, 2005) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com) -
A survey of “Young Fundamentalists’ Beliefs and Personal Life” was published this year, and it contains some interesting findings. The survey was done by Jason Janz, Assistant Pastor of Southern Sheridan Baptist Church of Lakewood, Colorado, Dave Burggraff of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and Jerry Thacker of Right Ideas. It is available online at http://www.sharperiron.org/downloads/2005%20Young%20Fundamentalists%20Survey%20Results.pdf.
For the purposes of the survey, a “young fundamentalist” is one who is under 35 years old. The survey was done entirely online between January 21 and February 14, 2005, and was extensive, containing 135 questions pertaining to life and doctrine. Roughly 1,100 surveys were completed.
When analyzing the survey it is important to understand that it covers only a relatively small portion of “fundamentalism” and that it was not scientifically done. Responders were not selected personally by and contacted individually by those taking the survey, but word was sent out to a number of schools and organizations who were invited to participate. There was no attempt to obtain a scientific and across the board “sampling” of fundamentalism.
More than 90% of the responders are graduates of schools that have taken a clear stand against the defense of the KJV, with the largest representation (a full 79% of the total) from Bob Jones University (29%), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (22%), Northland Baptist Bible College (21%), Piedmont Baptist College (4%), Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (3%). Obviously the teachers in these schools or in churches associated with these schools pushed the survey more heavily than those affiliated with other schools. Only about 4% of the responders graduated from a school that takes any sort of textual stand for the KJV, and of these, as best as I could tell from the published information, 3 out of 4 of these are graduates from Pensacola Christian College.
A majority of the responders grew up in a church that was affiliated either with the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF) (211), the Sword of the Lord (163), General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) (117), Baptist Bible Fellowship (BBF) (113), Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) (98), Presbyterian (68), or Southern Baptist (77).
Thus very few of the large number of truly unaffiliated independent Baptist churches were represented in the survey.
Many, if not most, of the largest fundamentalist churches in America are not represented in the survey.
Many of the fundamental Baptist schools are not represented at all, such as Fairhaven Baptist College, Crown College, West Coast Baptist College, Ambassador Baptist College, Landmark Baptist College, Heritage Baptist University, Maryland Baptist Bible College, Southeastern Fundamental Baptist College, Golden State Baptist College, Hyles-Anderson Baptist College, Massillon Baptist College, Heartland Baptist College, Baptist Bible College of Springfield, and Norris Bible Baptist College. As my readers know, I do not support some of these schools, but to obtain a more accurate sampling of what “young fundamentalists” believe, it would be necessary to include a much broader base of response, including these and other schools and institutions.
Further, there are hundreds and hundreds of fundamental Baptist churches that give little or no support to Bible colleges or mission boards or organized fellowships. A true sampling of “young fundamentalists” would have to find a way to include these staunchly fundamentalist and Biblicist assemblies. A pastor friend who looked over the survey observed, “The very fact that they focused on colleges is very telling to me. That is the ‘bastion of fundamentalism’ to them--the institution of higher education. I’m glad the Lord is interested in and at work through His churches.” 1 Timothy 3:15 says it is the church which is the pillar and ground of the truth.
With these severe limitations in mind, therefore, we will examine the survey results.
Only 83% of the responders agreed with the statement that “the Bible is the inspired Word of God, not mistaken in its statements and teachings, and is to be taken literally, word for word.” For 17% to refrain from agreeing with that statement is a serious matter.
5% of the responders believe that the Bible is “the inspired Word of God, not mistaken in its teachings, but is not always to be taken literally in its statements concerning matters of science, historical reporting, etc.” This statement is not as carefully worded as it could have been, so that it is difficult to know exactly what these 5% were thinking. Did they think, perhaps, that the question was saying that the Bible is not always to be interpreted literally or that it uses language of “appearance” and such? Or do they actually believe that the Bible contains historical and scientific errors? If it is the latter, this is an extremely serious matter, even if it is only 5%. Even New Evangelicals such as the late Francis Schaeffer, Carl Henry, and Harold Lindsell believed that the infallible inspiration of the Scripture is the “watershed” of believing Christianity. Harold Lindsell testified that within a mere 10 years of its founding “neoevangelicalism ... was being assaulted from within by increasing skepticism with regard to biblical infallibility or inerrancy” (Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 1979, p. 319). New Evangelicalism was characterized by a rejection of separatism and an almost indefinable yearning for a more positive Christianity, which is exactly what we see among many of today’s fundamental Baptists. I have warned that fundamentalists who adopt the New Evangelical philosophy will go down the same road of compromise and that it will produce the same unbelief, and I am convinced that we are already seeing evidence of this. I believe that if we could know the truth of the matter, there are professors at some of the fundamentalist schools that participated in this survey who do not believe the Bible is absolutely infallible in every detail and who are beginning to adopt form critical views of the Gospels and such. The late Edward F. Hills, who had a doctorate in modern textual criticism from Harvard, warned that the adoption of modern textual criticism eventually leads to modernism, that “lower” and “higher” criticism are companions.
12% of the responders believe “the Bible becomes the Word of God for a person when he reads it by faith.” This, of course, is the heresy of Neo-Orthodoxy, unless, again, the responders did not understand the question’s meaning and implications.
Only 1% agreed with the statement “we should separate from ‘KJV only’ organizations/ministries.” It appears from this that very few take the more radical position that the defense of the KJV is a cultic and dangerous position, which is interesting.
Only 9% have read books on both sides of the Bible Version issue. This is very telling and it is largely the fault of the faculty of the aforementioned schools. It explains why there is such widespread ignorance of this issue and why a reasonable, non-Ruckmanite, textual-based defense of the KJV is so widely and persistently misunderstood and misrepresented. “Young fundamentalists” coming from the circles represented by this survey admit that they are not educated on this issue.
33.9% said they are unsure as to which text is “the best representation of the Greek New Testament.” God inspired only one Bible and has promised to preserve it, and it is sad to see so many professing fundamentalists, who allegedly believe in infallible inspiration, unsure about where that Bible is located.
31% said the Textus Receptus is “the best representation of the Greek New Testament.”
21.4% said the Westcott-Hort or the UBS or the Eclectic text is “the best representation.”
13% either believe in annihilation or believe that hell is not a literal place and eternal in duration.
58% hold a Calvinist view of sovereign election, with another 8% unsure on the issue.
11% believe that a believer can achieve “a state of Christian perfectionism.”
Only 79% claimed to be pre-millennial and post-tribulational; 14% hold either to the amillennial (8%) or postmillennial (5%) views.
When asked in question # 34 if their definition of fundamentalism includes “secondary separation from evangelicals,” far more disagreed (about 590) than agreed (about 350).
A significant number said a “militant contention for the faith” is NOT a part of their definition of fundamentalism (roughly 360 out of the 1000 who responded to this question do not include that in their fundamentalism). It appears that there should be more messages on Jude 3 in the circles represented by this survey.
A significant number said “the philosophy of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels” is not an issue that determines whether or not one is a fundamentalist (roughly 395 said it is not an issue whereas about 500 said it is an issue).
48% of the responders disagreed with the statement “Fundamentalists need to preach against loose music standards.”
70% disagreed with this statement: “One of the main problems within fundamentalism is the growing trend towards Calvinistic theology.”
46% agreed that “John Piper’s ministry has been a help to me” (which might help to explain the high number of Calvinists and the New Evangelical leanings among the responders).
A full one-half of the responders disagreed with this statement: “Unity and fellowship with other ministries and leaders must be based on unity in all matters of faith and doctrine.” They disagreed with simple biblical statement!
62% agreed with the statement, “Fundamentalists have majored on the minors.”
Only 55% agreed with this statement, “I am a convinced fundamentalist and I have no intention of ever leaving fundamentalism.” Thus a whopping 45% of the responders are not convinced fundamentalists.
40% said, “I feel more at home with the likes of John Piper and John MacArthur than many fundamental leaders.” Again, this is an extremely telling statement and the percentage agreeing with it is significant.
Only 14% agreed with this statement: “There is danger in much of the contemporary music today, and fundamentalists need to continue to hold the line.” This is a truly amazing statistic. It means that 86%, the overwhelming majority, of the 1,100 “young fundamentalists” from the circles covered by the survey think that contemporary music is innocent to the future of fundamentalist churches and lives. This represents a degree of ignorance that I find incomprehensible. It appears that there are a large number of fundamentalist pastors who have a lot to answer for in allowing their people to remain so dangerously uneducated
When asked what Bible they would use if they were to start a church, 55% said they would use something other than the KJV -- 22% said the NASV, 16% the NKJV, 13% the English Standard Version, and 4% the NIV
35% admitted that they had personal Bible devotions 3 or fewer times during the past week.
Nearly as many of the responders said it is not wrong to attend R-rated movies as said it is wrong.
20% believe that drinking in moderation is permissible.
I can only thank the Lord that there are hundreds of fundamental Baptist churches that are not properly reflected in this survey.
In reviewing the survey and my analysis, Dr. Thomas Strouse of the Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary observed: “It is obvious that the term ‘fundamentalist’ (coined out of Protestantism) does not necessarily mean NT Christian. It is an external, man-made movement promoted to a large degree by the BJU/FBF influence. We need to focus on what we really are--independent NT Baptists.”