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What Is A “Convergent?”

November 16, 2016

The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International recently coined the word “convergent” to describe people who occupy a position that it sees as a particular threat to biblical fundamentalism. What is a convergent? I think I know the answer to that question, but the FBFI has not exactly provided a crystalline definition–as Tyler Robbins pointed out. Now Don Johnson, the editor of Proclaim and Defend (the blog of the FBFI) has written an explanatory piece and published it on his own private blog, an oxgoad, eh? The problem is that Pastor Johnson’s explanation doesn’t really do much to explain. Here is his list of characteristics.

  • Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism)

  • Embrace of a philosophy of fellowship, social action, cultural relevancy that is at least similar to new evangelicalism

  • Movement from fundamentalist to the convergence philosophy – i.e. the philosophy that embraces evangelicalism and its positions as opposed to fundamentalism and its positions

  • “First-love” Calvinism – the love of a zealot for the new found perfect theology (as opposed to the Calvinist fundamentalist who willingly co-labors with non-Calvinists who share a fundamentalist philosophy)

  • A new emphasis on Christian liberty (often expressed in use of alcohol and a broader taste in Christian music)

  • Pragmatism in church polity (Application of modern business models to church governance and business practices)

  • In some, questionable pastoral ethics, seen in shifting existing congregations away from fundamentalist roots

  • An openness or even embrace of supernatural gifts, especially prophecy, as legitimate modern phenomena

  • A keen interest in the “star” evangelical writers as the “go-to” guys for ministry philosophy, doctrine, reading, etc. And perhaps not only interest, but promotion of their writings as the last word on the subjects they address.

Because I know the boys in the FBFI (I am a member), I think I know what they mean when they talk about “convergents.” If I didn’t already have a good idea, though, I don’t believe that either the organization or Pastor Johnson would give me much help in figuring it out. And I honestly have no idea who might actually fit all of the items on Pastor Johnson’s list. I’m generally sympathetic to the concerns of the FBFI, or I wouldn’t retain membership. I Still, I wish they’d do a better job of explaining themselves.

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