What I’m Reading: Contending for the Faith

Contending for the FaithLast weekend, I read through Dr. Fred Moritz’s Contending for the Faith again. It’s a quick read, even a one-sitting read. And it’s a good read. What Dr. Moritz provides is not a commentary on the book of Jude as much as a commentary on fundamentalism as prescribed by the book of Jude, and he does an excellent job.

Dr. Moritz doesn’t address v. 4-19 in depth since he’s not writing on false teachers, but on fundamentalism. My one disappointment is that he doesn’t address the glorious doxology in v. 24-25 at all. That’s a shame, because that passage is the cherry on top of a wonderful epistle (which may very well be my favorite book of the Bible). In fact, it’s what the whole book is all about. We contend for the faith once delivered to the saints…for the glory of God. We keep ourselves in the love of God by building ourselves up in that same faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit and by looking for Christ’s return…for the glory of God. We minister to those who are lost and in danger of hell-fire…for the glory of God.

Here are some of my favorite statements from the book:

“Both orthodoxy (‘the faith which was once delivered’) and militancy (‘earnestly contend’) are biblical concepts. One cannot be forsaken without causing harm to the other. Those who embrace God’s revelation must ‘earnestly contend’ for it.” (p. 104) (Note that militancy, then, is motivated–or should be–by a love for the faith, not for a movement. We defend the faith, the body of doctrine delivered to us in the Scriptures.)

“It is striking to note that some younger Fundamentalists today are resisting the idea of militance. With ecumenical compromise, apostate denial of God’s Word, and godlessness active on every hand, antipathy to militance among fundamentalists is hard to comprehend.” (p. 105)

Quoting Dr. David Burgraff’s explanation of the growing disdain for militancy:

“Having grown up in the 1960’s, which saw the revolt against absolute values, today’s fundamentalists have been influenced by our culture which has held a general disdain for militancy on almost any subject. There is a dread of being thought of as too negative, combative.” (p. 106, quoting Dr. Burgraff’s unpublished paper “What Will Keep Us from Becoming New, New Evangelicals?”, p. 5)

(Note: If anyone knows where a copy of Dr. Burgraff’s paper may be acquired, please say so.)

“Christians must earnestly contend for [the] faith and stand against those who pervert God’s grace and deny God’s Son. But that is not all there is to Bible Christianity;. New Testament Christianity also demands an intimate walk with the Lord. Jude stresses the importance of this walk with God by phrasing this exhortation–‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’–as an imperative. Fellowship with God is not an addendum to Christian faith and life; it is an imperative. Christians will not please God and be all He wants them to be unless they maintain their love relationship with Him.” (p. 133, emphasis mine)

(Note: You read it here first: there are more than 3 verses in the book of Jude!)

“Jude’s command to ‘keep yourselves in the love of God’ (v. 21) takes on added importance when we see that believers can get so wrapped up in the legitimate work of God, so involved in sacrificial service, and so committed to biblical militancy that they forsake the love of God. The work of God, sacrifice and militancy are right. However, they must be seasoned with a fervent love for God. This generation of Fundamentalists needs to be diligent to obey this first-century command.” (p. 143)

Dr. Moritz gets pretty worked up over those who point the finger at the failures of previous fundamentalists and use those failures as an excuse to reject separation and militancy:

“Personally, I am weary of those who identify themselves as Fundamentalists, yet seem to expend all their energy in criticizing and denigrating brethren within the movement…Examination of any Fundamentalist leader’s life will reveal imperfections and inconsistencies that reflect the fallen Adamic nature. We ought not excuse such failures, nor should we emulate them. Biblical self-examination is always profitable (I Cor. 11:28). We should abhor our sin and failures and constantly seek Christlikeness through the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:18). The Bible teaches us to grow in grace (II Pet. 3:18). Preachers are mandated to serve with a gentle spirit (II Tim. 2:24-26). In addition, we must constructively evaluate and continuously seek to improve our churches and ministry. We should rigorously evaluate our own movement.

“Having said all that, we must also remind the negativist critics of Fundamentalism that they also reflect such imperfections and inconsistencies! God uses men, thought they are imperfect. Whatever imperfections are obvious, we must also firmly state that they do not negate the rightness of the biblical position we embrace. We should not discard a biblically correct position because we dislike the actions of certain individuals.” (p. 160)

That sounds a lot like a reasonable challenge to, um, “Get over it.” It also sounds like what I urged in Deja Vu:

“However, if you determine to stay within fundamentalism, I urge you to do so for honorable reasons. Stay because you agree with the movement’s principles, even if you have been embarrassed by some of its proponents. Stay because you recognize that Scripture requires both faithful proclamation of the truth and militant opposition to error. Stay because the Bible teaches the doctrine of separation.” (emphasis added)

I highly recommend the book. I’ve appreciated Dr. Moritz for years, and I appreciated his expositional pulpit ministry the one time I heard him preach (at the young fundamentalist conference in Indy a few years ago). Good stuff. If you haven’t read the book, you should. Or read it again.

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6 Responses

  1. Sounds as if Dr Moritz has fallen prey to the snare of severe anachronism in this book.

  2. I don’t follow you. Please explain.

  3. Ms “P”, my guess, is saying that Dr Moritz is out of touch with current pro-ecumenical positions within christianity. He’s not currently “evangelical” enough for Ms “P”. Kind of a backhand to fundamentalism [?].

    dale’s Disclaimer: This, of course, is purely my opinion, and does not reflect upon this website, nor is it meant to be demeaning or deregotory to Ms “P”. It is solely the inerpretation of the author of this response.

  4. I like this quote:

    “Card playing still baosts its old sinful origin, dancing is more sensual and suggestive than ever, and Hollywood entertainment grows ever more corrupt. Politicians and the pope condemn the film industry, while Christians rent videos and watch the broadcast channels, seemingly without conscience. ‘Wine is,’ still, ‘a mocker,’ and ‘strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise’ (Prov. 20:1). Clothing styles change over centuries, but the changeless Word of God still teaches principles for appropriate dress (1 Tim. 2:9). God’s purpose for us is not to reform a godless culture, but to gather out ‘a people for his name’ (Acts 15:14).” Amen!!!

  5. Sorry, page 125, CFtF.

  6. That is good.

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