Nine Characteristics of Hypo-Fundamentalism
The prefix hypo is derived from a Greek word meaning under, defective, or inadequate.
1. Hypo-fundamentalism abdicates biblical dogmatism and promotes an ever-growing Inclusivism in theological issues. Although Hypo-fundamentalism may not accept false doctrines as true, they are tolerant and accepting of those holding various degrees of false doctrine. Therefore, they seek to redefine biblical Separatism. This was the sin of Peter and Barnabas at Galatia (Acts 15:1-6 and Galatians 2:11-12).
2. Hypo-fundamentalism has a corrupted view of Ecclesiology. Failing to make distinctions regarding dispensational transitions, they adopt the Kingdom Age view of the Church and adapt that view into the Church Age. This corrupts such texts as Ephesians 4:1-16 from a local view of the Church (Ecclesiology) to a universal or mystical view of Ecclesiology within all of the ambiguity of what defines modern day Christianity. Hypo-fundamentalism increasingly accepts varying degrees of Reformed Theology often beginning with Calvin’s Soteriology and the willingness to accept, or tolerate, Reformed views of Eschatology and Ecclesiology.
3. Hypo-fundamentalism rejects the preservation of God’s inspired words and accepts and adopts Eclectic Textual Criticism as their model of Eclectic Reconstructionism of the Bible. Although they claim to believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the autographs, they do not believe they have the preservation of those inspired words in any apograph or group of apographs. Although they usually reject Dynamic Inspiration of the Originals, in their view of preservation, they then practically can only accept Dynamic Preservation because they can never be confident their reconstructed texts have the exact preserved words from the originals.
4. Hypo-fundamentalism rejects militant opposition against doctrinal heretics and promotes an ongoing dialogue with them as opposed to separation from them - apposition rather than opposition. In apposition there are varying degrees of allowed “fellowship” (ambiguously defined) so as to gender ongoing discussion rather than following the biblical mandate: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10).
5. Hypo-fundamentalism accepts ever-increasing degrees of Soteriological Inclusivism and Soteriological Reductionism. These varying degrees extend into Lordship Salvation, Monergism, Predestinationism or Predeterminism, Easy Believism, Only Believism, even into the Crossless Gospel extremes. Although there is ongoing discussion regarding these variations, they continue in varying degrees of cooperative ministry within the dialogue.
6. Hypo-fundamentalism seeks cultural relevancy above personal sanctity. This exists on numerous levels. However, on whatever level it exists it is sacrificing God’s supernatural and enabling grace for the world’s “friendship” (acceptance). This is another level of apposition – the belief that ministry to a culture is done as part of that culture rather than separation from that culture by establishing a local church counter-culture within the culture. Hypo-fundamentalists seek to obfuscate the line of demarcation that separates the believer in his being “in the world” (John 17:11), rather than “of the world” (John 15:18-19 and 17:14).
7. Hypo-fundamentalism seeks to avoid being viewed as religious fanatics at almost any sacrifice to true Biblicism. This is manifested in the extreme by introducing contemporary Christian Rock Music into worship services and the toleration of practices such as Contemplative Prayer, tongues speaking, social drinking, pre-marital sex, and general worldliness in dress and entertainment. Many hypo-fundamental churches no longer require abstinence from the use of alcohol and refuse to make social drinking a test of fellowship. Sin is spoken of in generalities rather than specifics. Their common word expressing distaste for these tests of fellowship is the word Legalism as defined contrary to biblical norms
8. Hypo-fundamentalism adopts the Right and Left terminology of Centrism while always viewing themselves as being the Center. Their word for this is balanced - meaning only their defined allowances of deviations from their center. All to the right of them are dogmatic hypers, and therefore rejected as unmovable. Everyone to left of them are potential friends. True Biblicists see no right or left when referring to biblical Truth. True Biblicists see only right and wrong.
9. Hypo-fundamentalism favors varying degrees of multiplicity of elder rule that leans more towards Presbyterian Polity in Board administrated churches rather than Congregation Polity administrated under the leadership of a godly Pastor/Elder/Bishop. In many cases, this is theological reaction against the apparent abuses of ungodly Pastors/Elders/Bishops, who “lord over” God’s people. Abuses give no mandate to abandon established biblical precedents. Rather, true Congregational Polity should biblically correct these abuses through confrontation and reproof. Hypo-fundamentalists think they have a better way than God’s way.
Dr. Lance T. Ketchum
Dr. Lance T. Ketchum