Mark Futato and Reformed Fundamentalism…

Do not fear, Futato is not a fundamentalist! In the middle of one of his lectures in Hebrew exegesis he made this striking comment about a conversation he had with a friend. The friend mentioned to him that the difference between Reformed Theology and Fundamentalism is that Reformed theology begins with creation and Fundamentalism begins with the fall. If that is the case, Futato remarked, then many Reformed people are Fundamentalists.

For those who did not understand the profundity of this remark, allow me to explain. The strength of the Reformed tradition, stressed most powerfully by Abraham Kuyper, is that Reformed theology understands the dignity of man. In the words of Richard Pratt, we are “Designed for Dignity.” The continual stress of some pastors concerning the depravity of man is misaligned with the chronology of Redemptive history. Man, particularly redeemed man, is created for dignity; a dignity given to Him by God himself when He breathed life into a dead corpse.

Covenant members are not to be addressed (though there is an appropriate time for this) on the basis of their old humanity (their continual sins and hatred of God) but on their new humanity (their gift of perseverance and joy to worship their Creator). Consider the Apostle Paul’s address to the less than spiritual Corinthians. He begins his letter by addressing them not as rotten sinners, but those united to Christ and in fellowship with God’s son. Fundamentalism stresses the depravity and sinful nature so strongly that it leads to a message of sadness –inconsistent with the gospel of redemption. Reformed thinkers who dwell on their sinfulness, and forget their new status, lose sight of the powerful resemblance we have with our heavenly Father.

Fundamentalism is alive and well in Reformed churches. The lack of emphasis on dominion (part of the Creation mandate; Genesis 1) and the new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) while stressing the sinfulness and inability to live righteously brings about an impotent gospel. We are called to address our people where God began–Creation–not where we were–lost in sin. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
This entry was posted in Abraham kuyper, Dominion, Genesis. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mark Futato and Reformed Fundamentalism…

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  2. Jon Orcutt says:

    Is the assertion that Fundamentalism misses the mark by beginning at the Fall rather than at creation:
    1. a private opinion,
    2. the conclusion of a carefully worded theological survey administered to a select control group of Fundamentalist theologians, pastors and pew-sitting believers ,
    3. a subjective assumption based on limited personal observation,
    4. a sociological analysis of a segment of Christendom?
    What did Dr. Futato mean by the term “fundamentalism”? Who does Dr. Futato have in view when speaking of Fundamentists? How does he know they truly are fundamentalists? And finally, why is it so evil or bad to actually possess theological convictions that have implications that are more than tentative?
    The biggest issue here is what does Dr. Futato mean by “creation”? Does he mean a God-directed “Big Bang” about 14.5 billion years ago? Does he mean for us to believe that there has been death, disease and suffering from the beginning of life? Does he have in view some type of theistic evolution? How “historical” is Futato’s “Adam” of Genesis? At least the Fundies believe in a factual, historical Adam and Eve and a factual, historical Fall. Can the same be said for Dr. Futato without the redefinition and mythification of Genesis 1-11?

  3. Uri Brito says:

    Real quick:
    1) No. Lived in fundamentalism for over 20 years.
    2) Yes. Interacted with fundamentalist scholars for over 4 years while attending a fundamentalist college.
    3) No. Objective analysis based on lengthy experience and dialogue with well-known fundamentalist seminary professors and evangelists.
    4) Yes. an important segment of fundamentalism.

    I do not agree with Futato’s creation analysis, however, his overall kuyperian framework should and must be embraced by all those who claim reformed theology. Grace and peace in this advent season.

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