Time (plus Calvinism) heals all wounds.

But mostly the Calvinism.

I’m speaking somewhat tongue-in-cheek here.  Yes, it’s true that Calvinism* is finding a warmer reception among younger Fundamentalists than it finds with older generations.  (I say that broadly; there are always exceptions.)  Yes, it’s true that many young Fundamentalists bristle when older Fundamentalists caricature and wrongly attack Calvinism.  But will “the growing Calvinist influence” that evangelicals are observing today “help heal their decades-long dispute with fundamentalists”?  Collin Hansen speculated that it might.

But Dave Doran respectfully (and insightfully) disagreed.  Here’s the paragraph (from Hansen) that Doran specifically took issue with:

After years of tension, Billy Graham delivered the decisive break between evangelicals and fundamentalists in 1957. Graham turned down invitations to preach in New York City under the sponsorship of fundamentalist churches before accepting one from the liberal Protestant Council. Fundamentalists have never let Graham or his evangelical sympathizers forget the snub.

That allegation is simply not correct.  Fundamentalism’s separation from the “new evangelicalism” of the 50’s was not about snubs; it was primarily about separation from apostasy for the sake of gospel ministry.

Further, Hansen’s logic doesn’t click for me.  Those Fundamentalists went off to pout because Graham picked the liberals above them.  Now that Fundamentalists are reading Piper, Calvinism will bring us all back together. Huh?  If the divide between “evangelicals” and “fundamentalists” started over hurt feelings after the ’57 NY crusade, why will election and predestination bring us back together as though nothing happened?  It seems to me that patching the relationship should have something to do with the original issue.

Please don’t misunderstand this: I’m not looking at Christianity today with a pair of 1957 glasses.  None of us should do that!  There have been significant changes to the Christian landscape in the last 15 years (for instance, look at Mark Dever and John MacArthur and try to force them into either Fundamentalism or “new evangelicalism” – doesn’t really work, does it?), and we need to remember that and nuance our discussion and practice appropriately.

All the same, the “decades-long dispute” will not be resolved by Calvinism, even if every Fundamentalist embraced it heartily, which is somewhat unlikely.  Calvinism isn’t the issue; in fact, it’s a topic that Christians can disagree about and live with (read: Calvinism is not something to separate over!).  It can be healed when both sides come to view separation from a biblical perspective and agree on which issues matter at which levels.  (And quietly, I suspect that all of us have some learning and moving to do in that area.)

* The Calvinism referred to in this post is the biblically sound, evangelistically active Calvinism, not anything hyper or caricatured.  And just because I’m talking about it here doesn’t mean I embrace every detail or nuance of the system. I’m not aware of any systems that are worthy of embracing whole-heartedly.

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