REVILING CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM

cross.pngIn every era, some group must be especially singled out for hatred and ridicule. Some group must serve as the butt of our jokes. Some group must be blamed for our troubles. Some group must be identified as the enemy of the state. In this era, that group is Christian Fundamentalists.

A Personal Story

I came of age during the sixties. Then “Jesus freak” was the the favored expression for Christian evangelists, and the mass media taught everyone to dread being nagged by such a creep. Unfortunately, it was not until latter I realized the nature of the lesson I had learned.

When I was a college student, I once participated in a small group discussion on the merits of the Christian belief. How the group came together I no longer remember. Exactly what I said I have forgotten. I just remember saying that Christians believe in the Bible because that is what they wanted to believe; nothing exists that proves Jesus was God. As I understood it then, wishful thinking is all there is to faith.

The next day, when I was sitting alone in the dining hall, a young lady, a participant in the discussion, offered to join me at my table. Reflexively, I gave her a frosty reception. She left, obviously hurt, and I was shocked and mystified by my own behavior. What possessed me to turn down the offer of an attractive young woman to sit at my table? What was I afraid of? I was sitting alone; I would have enjoyed her company.

Why do we revile the Christian Fundamentalists?

Why do we revile Christian Fundamentalists? What do Christian Fundamentalists believe that we should find so repugnant? What is Christian Fundamentalism? Encyclopedia Britannica (here) briefly describes Christian Fundamentalism this way.

In keeping with traditional Christian doctrines concerning biblical interpretation, the mission of Jesus Christ, and the role of the church in society, fundamentalists affirmed a core of Christian beliefs that included the historical accuracy of the Bible, the imminent and physical Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and Christ’s Virgin Birth, Resurrection, and Atonement. Fundamentalism became a significant phenomenon in the early 20th century and remained an influential movement in American society into the 21st century.

The Encyclopedia Britannica article describes the history of conflict between the millennialists (Christian Fundamentalists) and the modernists over church doctrine. At the end of the article, Jerry Falwell (now deceased) is credited for creating Moral Majority and initiating a crusade against negative cultural trends by Fundamentalists.

What did Falwell preach? As the founder of Liberty University, here is one of the reasons (see here for the source) Falwell offered for attending his school.

An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,” a strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support for America’s economic system of free enterprise.

Falwell apparently had no compunctions about extrapolating his religious beliefs to his political beliefs, but some view that by itself as a hideous, unforgivable sin. Further, Falwell believed in biblical Creationism. How unscientific! Yet any Christian must take what the Bible says quite seriously. For example, the United Methodist Church, hardly a political action group says this (here) about “God’s Word”.

God speaking to us about salvation
We say that God speaks to us through the Bible and that it contains all things necessary for salvation. This authority derives from three sources:

  • We hold that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God, that they were filled with God’s Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge.
  • We hold that God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture.
  • We hold that the Holy Spirit works today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life’s present realities.

The Bible’s authority is, therefore, nothing magical. For example, we do not open the text at random to discover God’s will. The authority of Scripture derives from the movement of God’s Spirit in times past and in our reading of it today.

All Christians believe God speaks through the Bible. In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis shows us how much Christians share in common about their beliefs. Lewis’s work systematically covers such topics as divinity of Jesus and His resurrection, virtue, sexual morality, marriage, forgiveness, sin, and faith, hope, and charity.

Do not almost all Christian recite similar versions of the Apostle’s Creed? Do not all Christians pray as Jesus taught (Matthew 6:5-15)? Then why are Christian Fundamentalists singled out for revilement? Well, I do not believe Christian Fundamentalists are singled out for revilement. Instead, I think Christian Fundamentalists serve as straw men for battering the Christian faith itself.

For those who would be their own god and set their own standards of behavior, Christianity offers a resounding repudiation. The Christian example proclaims that God has set standards for us to live by. Whether a Fundamentalist or not, the example set by a believing Christian shames those who do not practice Christianity. The Christian need not offer any judgment; the conscience God gave each of us judges us, and we find ourselves found wanting. Pride demands retribution.

The Culture War

The art of war comes instinctively to us. When we war we isolate and attack in force what we perceive as weakness. Which Christians set themselves apart? Which Christians are most easily attacked? The uncompromising stance of Christian Fundamentalists set them apart. Their dogmatic adherence to biblical Creationism leaves them open to mixing religion with science.

Nonetheless, all Christians must remember our foes attack Christian Fundamentalists first because they are Christians and second because they are Fundamentalists. Therefore, we must stand up for the right of Christian Fundamentalists to choose and practice their own religious beliefs.

We must not forget the obvious; our foes do not share our values. We cannot assume our foes believe in religious freedom. We must look at their deeds as well as their words.

For too many, the hatred of Christianity is visceral and intense. Because what Christianity teaches about right and wrong differs from their own beliefs, many find Christianity deeply offensive. Because it is a Christian value, Christians invented freedom of religion, and these people do not respect Christianity. These people would eradicate Christianity. They would teach our children Jesus is a myth, and they would replace Christian values with their own.

Note: I originally post this article here, on citizentom.com. Since then many of the links have broken. So, I updated them.

Why post this old article again? Because the news media has destroyed the value of the term “fundamentalist”, many of the Conservative Christians who use to refer to themselves as Fundamentalists, now call themselves Evangelical Christians (see What is an Evangelical Christian? (gotquestions.org)). As this post indicates, THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY, Evangelical Christians interpret the Bible quite thoughtfully, but the news media is in the process of destroying the label “Evangelical Christian” and all it stands for. Instead of relabeling ourselves, we need to calmly shame our detractors into silence by standing with each other, doing our best to behave as our Lord would have us behave. We need to protect each other, and we also need to defend our right to believe in the truth of His Word.

16 thoughts on “REVILING CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM

  1. I like your point on the Apostle’s Creed:

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
    Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
    He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
    He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

    Let’s see here, a profession of One God who is triune who created existence. A profession of Divine Revelation in the different persons of the Trinity, a virgin birth, the Jewish understanding of Sheol, Resurrection, Heaven, sin and the end-time judgment.

    If you support Evolution and modern Science and still profess this on Sunday, do Christians think those things are acceptable to the secular elite?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Phillip

      The secular elite obviously is not happy with Christians.

      I don’t think modern science is the problem. I think our secular education is a problem. Our children learn science without the benefits of a classical education. No philosophy. A propaganda version of history. Christianity starts wars. Secularism prevents conflict. No civics. Instead of learning how to be a citizen, public school children learn how to be workers. The most capable may make their way into the elite class if they can get into some place like Harvard or Yale and accept the idea that the peons must be managed.

      What is science without the knowledge of God? A little knowledge that is dangerous. Science is only a subset of Philosophy. A scientist who never learns anything but science is surprisingly ignorant.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Tom—we are reviled and detested…not welcome even in our home towns…
    I’m using the following quote for my post tomorrow—
    “I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those
    who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”
    St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
    When I read the quote, I was pricked by its question…would I go anywhere? Would I do anything? Would I communicate to those who don’t know, but perhaps more importantly, to those who have forgotten…
    So…do we bear the attacks in order to go and do?
    We don’t have much of a choice if we are who we saw we are and claim to be.
    Go forth…proclaim the Good News!

    Like

  3. Phillip,

    You recited a profession of faith. Frankly, how and why evolution, science, and secular elite should make any difference to a person who professes his faith. Perhaps instead, we should consider this King Solomon wisdom verse.

    “then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. (Ecclesiastes 8:17)”

    Perhaps the above Bible wisdom verse should be considered by all Christians, and instead of debating Bible vs Science, we should celebrate each new discovery as further proof of the power, majesty of the miracle of Creation.

    As for Jesus Christ, perhaps we need to focus on His message, to love one another. While we also focus on the message of King Solomon to enjoy each day and not be concerned with wasting our time in a vain quest to believe we are capable of comprehending what only He is capable of knowing.

    In my opinion, we should celebrate each new scientific discovery as further proof of why we profess our faith.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

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  4. Jock McSporran

    Citizen Tom – After reading your post, it isn’t completely clear to me what you mean by `Fundamentalism’ – so I’ll ask you some questions.

    1) Did the last supper take place on the day of the Passover (Matthew Mark and Luke would suggest this) or the day before (John’s gospel would seem to suggest this)?

    2) The words at the very end of John 14, `Come now, let us leave.’ Pointedly, these words are spoken before any words of institution of the Eucharistic ceremony, which is pointedly missing from John’s gospel.

    3) How many temple cleansings were there? John puts the temple cleansing at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, while the synoptics put it three years later, at the end.

    I’d say that there has to be exactly one temple cleansing – otherwise it would destroy the force of all the gospel narratives.

    With John’s gospel, I take the line of JAT Robinson in `The Priority of John’ – where there are discrepancies, these are not innocent errors of recall; John, fully aware of what the other writers have written is pointedly giving the true version of events.

    If you can outline how you deal with these issues, then I’ll have a better understanding of what you mean by `Fundamentalist’.

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    1. @Jock McSporran

      It seems to me you are being disingenuous. You start by saying, “it isn’t completely clear to me what you mean by `Fundamentalism’”. Then you ask me to explain a bunch of supposedly contradictory statements in the Bible?

      There is nothing new about any of these supposedly contradictory statements in the Bible. The New Testament has been available since the 1st Century, and with Google we can turn up all kinds of articles on each of your questions. For example => https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS838US838&ei=wSBNXoPYH-KkytMPv-2ouAM&q=Matthew+mark+luke+john+disagree+about+passover+supper&oq=Matthew+mark+luke+john+disagree+about+passover+supper&gs_l=psy-ab.3…214069.215430..215905…0.0..0.157.710.4j3……0….1..gws-wiz…….33i10.N5mL7KMx8kY&ved=0ahUKEwjDvMOIxt3nAhViknIEHb82CjcQ4dUDCAs&uact=5.

      Since I have no special knowledge about these issues, I am not going do research you can do more effectively for yourself on your own. Instead, I will make an observation. Academics have this problem. They must publish articles or risk not advancing in their careers. They may even lose their jobs. So, some of them advance controversial theories as if they were doing something “new”.

      The term “fundamental” is not mysterious. If we want to understand a complex belief, we first need to focus on the fundamental concepts that undergird it. When Liberal Christians started challenging the integrity of the Bible, Conservative Christians countered by focusing upon and supporting concepts they considered fundamental to Christianity. The Encyclopedia Britannica article lists some of those fundamental beliefs.

      How do I deal with controversies such as those you mentioned. After doing some study, I have observed that the contradictions are often more imagined than real. When the Gospels were written, each of the authors had a different agenda. Matthew focused upon Jesus as our King. Mark told us of the Servant Jesus. Luke spoke of the Savior of mankind. John emphasized Jesus’ divinity as God made flesh.

      Because each of the authors emphasized a different aspect of Jesus’ life, each of the Gospel’s tell a different story and emphasizes different events. Yet Jesus is in fact our King, the Greatest Servant, our Savior, and God. Jesus is also the Good Shepherd, the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty One, our Advocate, and so forth.

      Look at a diamond. Rotate it. From different angles that diamond will appear to be different. Yet it is the same diamond.

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      1. Jock McSporran

        Oh well – that is disappointing. I now understand the `wavelength’ on which you are operating.

        Of course, I know something of the questions, what various people think, etc …. but (as you know) the whole point was to find out what *you* think, so that I could see if there was any point of contact or any possible intersection.

        Your answer shows that clearly there isn’t – so I won’t comment further on your posts and I regret that I wasted my time and yours.

        The fact that you chose to `come out fighting’ is worrying. You should be very careful before you come out on the attack against God’s people, people who have been brought into the number of the Saviour’s family (as I have).

        I get the impression that you are a `harmoniser’. I used to be a harmoniser myself and I used to enjoy the commentaries by William Henriksen (I still find his `More that Conquerors’ extremely good), but he did have a tendency to read one gospel through another – and in places this lost the force of all the narratives. Much more interesting to take the view that the authors actually disagreed with each other and try to understand why.

        As for the technical terms, I used to think I was a `fundamentalist’ myself, until I discovered how some people took the term (and other people took a completely different view as to what `fundamentalist’ actually means). I then thought that `Evangelical’ would be the correct descriptor until I discovered how broad (and hence meaningless) the term actually is, then homed in on `Conservative Evangelical’ (which has also changed its meaning since the mid 1980’s).

        So, if you write a post with these technical terms, it is important to understand what *you* mean by them.

        But do not worry – I won’t waste my time (and yours) by commenting on your posts under the line again.

        Like

      2. @Jock McSporran

        I am obligated to give to everyone who asks an account of the hope that is in me. I am not obligated to spin my wheels doing research you can do yourself.

        Atheists, unbelievers, and doubters constantly demand “proof”. If you are a serious seeker, then you must realize you have to do your own homework. I cannot do your seeking for you.
        1. Were you asking what the expression “Christian Fundamentalist” means? No. Your questions were designed to cast doubt on the inerrancy of the Bible. Even if I had carefully evaluated each question and demonstrated that Bible does not contradict itself, then it is likely you would have dragged out more questions. It is easy to find such questions. More work is needed to investigate and find the answers.
        2. I explained what the expression “Christian Fundamentalist” means. Christian Fundamentalism puts the focus on core beliefs. Christian Fundamentalism does not demand blind faith or a literalist interpretation of the Bible.
        3. I explained why I think the so-called contradictions in the Bible are more apparent than real. The writers did not contradict each other. They wrote from different perspectives. Just because one author did not mention something another author told us about an event does not mean both authors are not correct.

        BTW. It is not obvious that John had access to the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is likely the writers of Matthew and Luke had access to Mark. Parts of Matthew and Luke are very similar to Mark, but John looks very different from the others.

        If John was unaware of the other three Gospels, that increases the likelihood that his version of the Gospel would look very different from the other three (and it does). That said, here is the big reason that the Gospels sometimes appear contradictory.

        John 21:25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written.

        Jesus was intensely busy during His ministry. Because Jesus did so much, the writers had to be selective. Hand written accounts by four writers had to be kept brief, especially if they were going be hand copied by each subsequent generation.

        Like

    1. @atheistmilitantsrising

      Thank you for your comment. You provide a good illustration. Many people are happy to hate those whom they disagree. So they look for the worst representatives of a group (or the worst lies about that group) they don’t like, and they pretend those people’s words and deeds characterize the entire group.

      Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if one of the people reading these comments looked at your comments and went to your website? What if that person decided your words and deeds were representative of all the people who call themselves Atheists? Would other Atheists like that? Doubtful. You call yourself a militant. You are looking for a fight. Most people are not that hostile.

      Like

      1. LOL. Funny how Christians constantly trash us atheists, How we are immoral people because we do not believe in your god or Jesus. How we are all bound for hell, no matter how much good we do in our lives. How Christians demand brutal death penalty punishments for atheists, or all our rights be taken from us. And this is not just a few Christians, this is a large segment of the Christian religion. And it is not only us atheists, you Christians insult, denigrate, and defame and tell us we are worthy of being put to brutal deaths, but you Christians also do this to lgbts and many others. And in your damn hypocrisy? You all got no problem now with your adulterers, like say Donald J Trump, who are also condemned to hell for all eternity in your bible, but you would not know this any longer from Christians now would you? Maybe because if we applied the same death penalty punishment for lgbts in the bible that are in the bible for adulterers? Many Christians would be put to death for adultery?

        Oh and most people who would go to my site? Would also if they were smart enough? See I apply satirical words to the hypocrisy of Christians. You all say that we should be putting to death lgbts and atheists according to your bullshit, hateful, bigoted, hypocritical filled religion? Then I say, according to your bible? That all adulterers should be put to death.

        Then again? I am an Aniwaya Cherokee Native American and I know for a fact what your disgusting, ChristoTaliban psychotic butchers and murderers did to my Native American ancestors and still do to us to this damn day. And? Christians? Committed the worst single act of mass genocide in recorded human history in what Christians did to us Native Americans of North, Central and South America and you Christians justified it by your buybull and religion stating your psycho, brutal, blood-thirsty, genocidal maniac god gave you these lands to subdue and conquer.

        But you damn Christians to this day? Still freaking justify what you all did to us “savage Native Americans”.

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      2. I call myself a militant because this atheist? And many more like myself? Are sick and tired of you ChristoTaliban and MuslimTalibans who believe it is your damn right to put us atheists to brutal deaths. For centuries Christians? Tortured and brutally murdered atheists. That is a fact. But we Atheists are supposed to be more Christian than you Christians and constantly turn the other cheek, as your fellow Christians brutally murder us atheists, or demand laws be passed that takes away all our rights. We even have psychotic ChristoTaliban pastors demanding our legislative bodies make it a death penalty punishment not only for lgbts but atheists.

        So what are we atheists supposed to do? Lay down and let you all step all over our civil rights and put us to death without fighting back? Why is it justifiable for Christians or Muslims to put to brutal deaths atheists, or demand they be put to death and no freaking atheist should stand up to this evil in the name of Christianity and Islam? Or is it only Christians and Muslims have a right to go out and brutally murder others, based on their psychotic religious beliefs and all those they seek to put to death should just lay down and let them do so?

        Why is it alright for Christians to go fight Muslims, because Muslims put Christians to death, but it is not ok for atheists to fight Christians who want to put us to death? Why is it ok for Muslims to put to brutal deaths atheists, and atheists cannot fight back?

        It is you Christians and you Muslims who call wars on us and we are supposed to just lay down like lambs to a slaughter? Hell no.

        Cause we atheists? Are sick and damn tired of you ChristoTalibans and MuslimTalibans bringing your terror to us, putting us to brutal, horrifying death. and we got every damn right to stand up to you ChristoTalibans and MuslimTalibans, defend our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and put you scum to death in self defense.

        Like

      3. @atheistmilitantsrising

        What people believe makes a difference in how they behave. If one is Atheist, basically a Pagan, it is not as likely they will uphold Christian moral standards. Why should they?

        Ironically, you are attacking me for not upholding those standards. Supposedly, I am victimizing you.

        Anyway, the worst thing I might try to do to you is persuade you to become a Christian. Not interested? Then take a breath, relax, and stop spewing hateful nonsense. Consider the stupidity. You are doing exactly what you are condemning.

        Like

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