Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It Was Only A Dream. However...

I don't remember many of my dreams anymore. The ones I do remember are often bizarre: crawling on a spider web stretched horizontally over a great glowing chasm, maze-like buildings filled with people I don't know, or the time I escaped the grim reaper by flying off the roof of a 3-story school building somewhere in the Midwest. I had a dream last night. I'm sick right now and my dream was made rather lucid by the combination of drugs and fever. You would think I'd have another bizarre dream.

It was actually a rather normal dream. I was younger, perhaps an adolescent, and so was my younger brother.

We were visiting a small town that had two churches. We had been to one church and found the congregation welcoming and the teaching sound. We liked it there, but my brother wanted to visit the other church.

It was an independent fundamentalist (indy fundy) church. My brother went in as people were seating and tried to find a seat. The building was small and there were only a few inches between the outside ends of the pews and the walls. (I don't know why the fire marshal ever approved that. But, hey, it's only a dream.) Therefore, the only way to get into the pews was from the center aisle which at the moment was congested with people making their way to their pews. As is typical, the coveted positions are right next to the pews so the first people to sit often sat right on the ends next to the aisle. As is also often typical in may churches, people had places that they preferred to sit.

As I walked into the back of the church I saw that my brother had tried to sit in a pew and was being forcibly removed by the owners of the pew. I came up and told him that we'll just find another pew. This became easier as people cleared out of the aisle and into the pews. However, all the ends of the pews were filled. There was space in some of the pews, but the owners of the pews were set against getting up and letting us in so we could sit down. There was even one man who blocked the way to an otherwise empty pew who refused to even make eye contact with me.

I told my brother we would just leave and go back to the other church. Then I called out and said, "We're leaving now! Bye!" The sad thing to me was that many people responded, "Ok. Bye!" Just as we got to the back of the church I heard a lady call out, "Wait! We have some room on our pew!" It had to be the fullest pew in the house. Her whole family was in it. They were scrunching together to make room for us.

It's a good thing it was only a dream. However, it's not implausible. My dream didn't really have to be about indy fundies. It could have been about anyone. I had a brief conversation recently about acquiring a taste for an indy fundy service. Add to that yesterday's post about false professors and you have the makings of an indy fundy dream.

I've had good and bad experiences with indy fundies. My dad's dad was a Southern Missionary Baptist preacher. I don't understand the association between the churches that he served, but it seems that he was always preaching in a different church. There was one church near his home that he ministered in regularly. So, each of the churches may have been associated somehow - would you call that "independent"? Even the Independent Baptist churches I know seem to be associated. So, I don't know. Nevertheless, he was as close to an indy fundy as any I've ever heard preach.

I sang the indy fundy circuit with a trio once. I had been adopted by a family of wild indy fundies a couple of years before I was married, and we used to sing together. This was a good experience. However, I was still a Lutheran at the time. The pastor of one church found this out afterward and said that he wouldn't have let me sing in his church if he had known I was a Lutheran. That was a bad experience.

Fundamentalism has a bad rep. Theoretically, fundamentalism holds a good foundational view to theology, which is good. However, many fundamentalists are not very foundational. Take the preacher in the next video for example. TomintheBox called his approach to exegesis "Sqirmeneutics" and I agree. For those who don't know, hermeneutics is the set of rules we use in order to properly understand the scriptures. Squirmeneutics, according to TomintheBox is "1. the science of misinterpretation, esp. of the Scriptures, to such a degree that it causes listeners with any common sense to squirm" or "2. misinterpretation of the Scriptures so absurd that it causes one to question whether or not it could possibly be for real."

This preacher has issues. First of all, unless he would call boys "men", he needs to consider that those who urinate against the wall include boys. "Males" is appropriate. Second, the males that are referred to here are not being referred to in a favorable light. They are marked for destruction. Thirdly, the expression "[urinate] against the wall" was an ancient Hebrew idiom for "males", not an admonition for men to stand up when they urinate. His conclusions are completely unfounded. Therefore his fundamentalism is nothing of the sort.

The point to this article is that Whether you're an indy fundy or some other breed of church member, we tend to become rooted more in our ecclesiological habits than in seeking to glorify God. We need to learn to recognize the difference.

There are so many expressions of worship, whether corporately or otherwise, and different styles of preaching that are legitimate to get stuck on a single routine. I love to see the exuberance of African worship or the intricate synchronization of Messianic circle dancing. I love to see the poignant dramas of Hispanic churches and hear the cries of prayer of a multitude of people calling on God at once. I love the sound of large choir and the singing of a lone soul in mourning. I loved the glottal punctuation of my papaw every time he breathed as he preached. I love the natural flow of words as a preacher speaks off-the-cuff from notes or the careful wording when he has written the sermon out ahead of time. I love a congregation that is involved in worship.

I hate sermons that are vapid and vacuous or simply untrue. I hate worship that is full of pretense and self-aggrandizement. May we all seek the better things.

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Blogger Mark Pemberton said...

You know how I love to visit the indy fundy churches.... LOL

Hope you feel better bro.


Thu Feb 28, 11:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

I remember reading this, but I forgot to respond.

Yes, here is my brother who I reluctantly followed into that church.

BTW, happy birthday, bro!

Thu Mar 06, 12:06:00 AM GMT-5  

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