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Fundamentalism

“I’m just saying…”

A recent Facebook post has been stirring the pot recently on my board.  Here’s what I wrote:

“Norway is one of the wealthiest (per capita) countries in the world. It also, according to some, has a tendency toward economic socialism & multi-culturalism. I have read two right-wing bloggers & heard “the third most listened too” radio show host in America blame this part of Norway’s national character for the recent act of terrorism conducted by a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian. Really?”

One of the many comments got me thinking.  A friend said:

“A Christian is a follower of Christ………..by that deffinition he is no Christian …….Christ never killed a bunch of kids!and he went to the cross when he could have spoke the crowd into oblivion.”

I wrote a long reply, but thought I would post it here as well, just to stir the pot a bit further.

“I agree to a point. The problem is that NONE of us who claim to follow Christ do the things Jesus would do, nor avoid the things Jesus would avoid. So the notion that a Christian is a follower of Jesus fails to hold water. The ev…angelical proclamation from my Baptist upbrining says that a Christian is one who realizes that God has been gracious and forgiving through Jesus and confesses faith in that same Jesus. Could somebody do such a act if they have received God’s grace? It is hard to imagine, yet it is withing the broad spectrum of evangelical theology based on grace.

By any evangelical theological framework in Christianity, this person may well be a confessing follower of Jesus Christ.

Now we know how many peace-loving Muslims feel. To the majority of adherants in that religion, the 9-11 attacks are sinfully wrong. “They are not real Muslims,” these peace-lovers would claim. But many evanbgelical Christians says that those who did the 9-11 attacks were Muslims cause they claimed to be Muslims. Well, such a stance now comes to bite them in the rear-end. If this guy was not a “real” Christian – then the 9-11 terrorist were not real Muslims.

I cannot deny this terrorist in Norway is a Christian. I will not deny that he is a recipient of grace. I have no biblical rational for making such a claim as a evangelical preacher of grace.

The real issue, as another has said, is that our use of inflamatory language to brand those who are NOT LIKE US (enemies) AS TERRORIST because of THEIR EVIL RELIGION “WILL” come back to haunt us when somebody like us (our religion) does some evil act. You can’t play in the mud and not get dirty. If we fall in a pile of “sh&t” we will smell just as bad.

So, then, the issue amounts to WHERE this evil comes from. Theologically, we could speak of the “powers and principalities of this world” or “the evil one’ or Satan. The deeper issue, however, involves how we give access to the work of the evil one – particular in the area of RELIGION (particular, Christianity, as an adherant of this faith). Access is given when we think our thoughts, feelings, interpretations, convictions, etc. are infallible. That brings us back to the one single word that describes the most horrific evil in Christianity today (and many Muslims would say the same thing about their religion). THAT WORD (that attitide) is fundamentalism.”

I know that I have many friends who claim to be fundamentalist.  By that, they mean adherance to a certain set of doctrines.  I am not talking about those doctrines, per se.  Nor am I talking about these folks.  The very fact that they remain my friends, despite the fact that they perceive me to be an “extreme liberal” (I AM NOT) is evidence that they do not hold this attitude.

I am talking about the attitude of modern day fundamentalism that brands anyone who disagrees with them as evil, wrong, or demonic.

When you start down such a path – when you proclaim such attitude – it won’t be but so long before you start planning their destruction IN THE NAME OF WHATEVER GOD YOUR RELIGION BELIEVES IN. I have seen these types of people and the damage they can do first hand.  In the Southern Baptist Convention they have destroyed families, churches, and the greatest mission-sending agencies in the world – because they could not abide any divergent viewpoints.  Forget the fact that there was common ground on 98% of all doctrines – the 2% difference was enough to raise their ire and set in motion the destruction of the SBC.

That attitude has come back to bite them in the rear-end, by the way.  Having successfully ran off all the “so-called” liberals, the same folks are dividing up in camps over all sort of issues.  New church starts are declining.  Baptisms are declining.  Money sent to mission fields is on the decline.  But battles over who can express the most “meanness” against gay, the libs, etc. is on the rise.

The notion that the attitude of fundamentalism is not dangerous and destructive is, in my humble opinion, beyond question.

If the attitude sticks long enough – if it is passed down a generation or two – it can lead to all sorts of evil actions.

It has led otherwise decent, church-going, bible-thumping, Christ-confessing white folks to cover their faces with sheets and terrorist black folks.

It has given way to the Black Panthers, Al Quiada, the Taliban, the KKK, the Oklahoma Bombing, 9-11, and the Norway attack.

So, the question is, what do we do about it?

I intend to live as peace with fundamentalism as much as they will allow me to.  I will love fundamentalist.  The mindset is one that is locked up in legalism.  It is a mindset that thinks that god cannot take care of himself and needs our help.  It is a lousy way to live.  For me the bottom line is that I have NEVER MET A HAPPY FUNDAMENTALIST.  They always are at war with somebody or something – and that’s an awful way to live.

Loving them, however, does not mean that I am not honest or direct.  I intend to “call a spade a spade.”  I will confront the attitude whenever I feel the leading of the Holy Spirit to do so.

Jesus did that, by the way.  Do you remember when Jesus cleansed the temple?  We sometimes think that this was Jesus way of saying, “No bake sales in church!”  It is really about so much more.

The “money-changers” were set up in the outer-court of the temple – where the gentiles and women were allowed to worship.  Men could go a bit further, into the inner court.  Only the High Priest could enter the most inner chamber: “the holy of holies.”

So, the exchange of money (Greek coins for Temple currency) and the selling and buying of sacrtifical animals had become a big money-making enterprise in the only place where non-jews and women could worship.

The issue at play was not bake-sales, but an exclusionary practice based on the notion that some folks were more important to God than others.  If you were “the right kind of person” you could worship in peace.  If you were the wrong kind of person, you were stuck with the animals and forex traders.

The rage Jesus expressed was based on LOVE for all people.  His aim in driving out the money-changers and their animals was to redeem God’s house as a place of “prayer for ALL people.”

When I see fundamentalism expressed, I will most certainly confront it – because I know the damage it does to the proclamation of the Gospel.

Finally, I will spend time examining my own attitudes.  I have some strong theological convictions.  They are based on a radical understanding of the magnitude of God’s amazing grace and magnificient love.  Still, I know that it is easy to become legalistic about grace (thereby disgracing its proclamation).  So, I will present my beliefs with both conviction and humility.

I do not want to become the evil that I am speaking against.


4 Responses to “Fundamentalism”

  1. Hagere says:

    The thing is that I feel this does represent a certain population of Christians. Just like how we don’t feel all Muslim’s are terrorists but recognize the importance that some do act in this way driven by their religious zeal. Hopefully this event serves as a wake up call to Christians that their dogmas are in every way just as violent and ignorant as the Muslims they condemn.

  2. And Glenn Beck compared the young people at that camp in Norway to Hitler’s youth in Nazi Germany. Why do ‘feel’ so much better when we can hang a tag on people who, like the rest of us, move and act out of a complicated, wide and often puzzling array of influences and circumstances? What is more, it never succeeds in explaining anything.

    • Bill says:

      Yeah, I left that part of Beck’s comment out of the discussion. What I found so repulsive was that he was more shocked as a “political camp” then he was as the mass murder.

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