Fundamentalism – a response to Pattimax.

Thomas

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In a discussion I said, "Fundamentalism to me seems to ignore reason, and ignore faith, but rely on fear, silence and superstition...".

Pattimax asked 'What is your definition of Fundamentalism?" to which i replied "An error of judgement."

Pattimax's response "Not a very wise definition. I can understand where errors of the past may have influenced that definition, but denominational healing is taking place" gave me cause to think. So I would now like to re-present my argument.

Fundamentalism does not allow for any other reasoning than its own.

+++

Pattimax also gave six 'fundamentalist convictions':
1. The supreme authority of scripture as a source of knowledge of God and a guide to Christian living.
2. The majesty of Jesus Christ, both as incarnate God and Lord as the Savior of sinful humanity.
3. The Lordship of the Holy Spirit.
4. The need for personal conversion.
5.The priority of evangelism for both individual Christians and the church as a whole.
6. The importance of the Christian community for spiritual nourishment, fellowship, and growth.

To which I night reply that they are general to Christianity as a whole, to a greater or lesser degree (No5 is debatable as a 'priority'). They might be convictions, but I would suggest they don't define 'fundamentalism' nor 'fundamental Christianity'.

What I would suggest is to state the above, and then expect someone else to accept it without reserve, is simply asking too much.

To return to my definition, the 'problem' with fundamentalism is that it makes no allowance for the reasoning faculty of the other – it is right, and everyone else is wrong. "Because the Bible says so," is not enough, any more than simply saying, "the Holy Spirit told me" is a guarantee of veracity.

Love is being open to another. Fundamentalism is a lack of charity, a lack of care, and a lack of consideration.

Fundamentalism demands that it be accepted without reason, and makes no attempt to reason its own position. Take point one above. I agree with it, but I do not expect anyone else to agree with it, and it is not, in itself, a convincing argument.

Points one, two and three for example, taken as they stand, imply tritheism, so even within a Christian context, they require explanation, and that is the function of 'theology', and theology is a science, following the laws of reason and logic, even if the obect transcends reason and logic.

Thomas
 
Hi,

It might be boring, but whenever an issue over the meaning of a word crops up I always think it is helpful to have a look at some dictionary or encyclopedia, if only as a baseline. Thus, the following two (from wiki and merriam webster) agree it can be used to mean its original, limited sense (from North American Protestanism) or can be applied more broadly to any religious (or even non-religious) thinking or attitude:

“Fundamentalism originally referred to a movement in North American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism, stressing that the Bible is literally inerrant, not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record.

The term is now used much more widely, indeed often simply as just an emotive, pejorative term.

Some refer to any literal-minded or "intolerant" philosophy with pretense of being the sole source of objective truth, as fundamentalist, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion.”

Fundamentalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“1 a often capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b : the beliefs of this movement c : adherence to such beliefs
2 : a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles <Islamic fundamentalism> <political fundamentalism>”

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/netdict?Fundamentalist



I would say Thomas that I agree with you. The term is now used in general currency, not just referring to Christians, and is certainly pejorative; taken to mean “acceptance of something come what may”. It seems to me that talking to someone of this mindset is probably a waste of time unfortunately. Irrelevant as well, unless they want to kill you because you fail to concur with their beliefs. I don’t think your average atheist fundamentalist wants to kill anyone for their beliefs but they are as equally tiresome (as I have found on another forum). Perhaps the opposite word is “tolerancism.”

s.
 
Thomas,

Perhaps it would helpful to contrast your definition of Fundamentalism (assuming we confine it to the first definition of Snoopy's reference) with what you think it is not. Or perhaps juxtapose this with what you believe is the correct position.

I find that you are painting the term with a broad brush when you assert that Fundamentalism lacks charity, care, and consideration. I wonder if you could be more specific. I happen to know of plenty of Fundamentalist organizations that are providing food, shelter and medical care to the unfortunate. In addition, the emphasis on evangelism attempts to provide spiritual nourishment not only in introducing people to the Savior, but to disciple them as well in the teachings of the scripture and the opportunities to serve in the church. Showing Christian love does not me we need to compromise our convictions for a more eumenical approach. The truth of the Gospel need not to be watered down simply because we don't want to offend someone sensibilities. Jesus never compromise the truth. This is why Fundamentalism hold the Bible in such high regard, because it is the source of truth. I'm all in favor of Tradition to shed light of the context of scriptures being read, but the message of the Gospel is pretty clear to me.

I also fail to see how Fundamentalism is without reasoning. If you mean that Fundamentalism takes a literalist view of scripture it is because they regard God's Word with authority:

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." - I Thessalonians 2:13

The Bereans sought confirmation in the scriptures to those things taught by Paul in Acts 17 and they were commended for it. As far as the Canonization of Scripture is concerned, it is taken by faith that God preserved what He wanted preserved and what we have today is the Message we need. If we don't have a final artbitrator of truth, then what can we fall back on (You seemed to nullify both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit with your comment, "Because the Bible says so," is not enough, any more than simply saying, "the Holy Spirit told me" is a guarantee of veracity."). Tradition can only go so far. Even Jesus warned about danger of tradition nullifying the commandments of God:

"But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
"For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." - Matthew 15:3-6
 
Hi Snoopy –

It's interesting that within Christianity the phenomena is traced to North America! That, of course, does not mean that every aspect of fundamentalism springs from Protestantism, however.

But does it point to Christian fundamentalism being largely, although not exclusively, an American phenomena?

It's interesting. Certainly, once the Reformation led to the Enlightenment, then Protestant theology was largely the driving force behind the historical-critical method of Scriptural evaluation which reduced it to almost a nothing, and which as a scientific technique has come under severe philosophical criticism on the continent in the last century ... but fundamentalism is an inadequate response to philosophical relativism ... and can lead to 'single issue terrorism' as witnessed in the US.

I don't know of anywhere else where Christians took to bombings and murder in the name of their faith.

Thomas
 
I don't know of anywhere else where Christians took to bombings and murder in the name of their faith.

Hi,

Pardon my ignorance (which is vast and deep), but what are you referring to here please?

s.
 
Pardon my ignorance (which is vast and deep), but what are you referring to here please?
If I'd have to guess, I'd guess he is referring to abortion clinics...but not the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades....it actually seems to me that killing in the name of religion is rampant in the world and has been forever...what about the sicarii, the zealots...from everything2.com
The sicarii were a sub-branch of the zealot sect of Judaism. Their religious understanding evolved into a distinctly anti-Roman agenda, which brought about their development into a near-guerilla organization. "We must destroy the Roman Empire. We will kill all collaborators, no King but God." was one of their many (for lack of a better word) slogans. The sicarii derived their name from the knives they were infamous for carrying with them. Typically, they would wait until a large public celebration, a time when the streets would be crowded. They would sneak up behind a Roman official (or Roman collaborator), and assassinate them. The ensuing panic would give the assassin opportunity to escape. The sicarii became such a menace that the Roman army had to intervene. Anyone suspected of being affiliated with the zealots was put to death.
Peter, and Judas?
 
If I'd have to guess, I'd guess he is referring to abortion clinics...

OK thanks (assuming that's what Thomas meant). Violence and killing to save life; the ends justifies the means. Gotcha.

s.
 
If I'd have to guess, I'd guess he is referring to abortion clinics...but not the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades....

I think Inquisitions and Crusades are a bit of an anachronism in light of the discussion.

A more pertinent point might have been 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland?

Thomas
 
I think Inquisitions and Crusades are a bit of an anachronism in light of the discussion.

A more pertinent point might have been 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland?

Thomas
I hear ya...I just really think in reality when it heads to that kind of situation...it has exceeded fundamentalism...and gone to fanaticism...terrorists of all shapes to me are not religous they are using religion and religous people for their warped causes. I'd ponder whether fundamentalists would be more susceptable to their enticements...martyring in the name of ________, it is what ________ would want for you, it is a sure ticket to ___________. They pray on the outcasts, the downtrodden and make promises that sound like other promises they've heard...

Its a slippery slope, but once you decide to go that far...I think in most cases you've left your religion at the door.
 
Its a slippery slope, but once you decide to go that far...I think in most cases you've left your religion at the door.

It's a slippery slope indeed...

"With the reelection of George W. Bush, and the prospect of long-term Republican hegemony over American politics, it seems likely that American civilization is now transitioning from the twilight phase I wrote about several years ago in The Twilight of American Culture to an actual dark age. Indeed, the British historian Charles Freeman published an extended discussion of this transition as it occurred during the late Roman Empire, the title of which could serve as a capsule summary of our current president: The Closing of the Western Mind. Mr. Bush, God knows, is no Augustine; but Freeman points to the latter as the epitome of a more general process that was under way in the fourth century: namely, "the gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority." This is what we are seeing today, and it is a process that no society can undergo and still remain free. Yet it is a process of which administration officials, along with much of the American population, are aggressively proud.
And so, where are we now? Early in 2005 the New York Times reported that increasingly, across the nation, secondary school teachers were leaving the subject of evolution out of the curriculum because they'd get in trouble with their principal if he or she found out they were teaching it. Even when evolution is listed in the curriculum, it may not make it into the classroom. Many administrators discourage teachers from discussing it, and teachers often avoid the topic out of fear of protests from fundamentalist parents. Add to this the pervasive hostility toward science on the part of the current administration (e.g., stem cell research), and we get a clear picture of the Enlightenment being steadily rolled back.

Religion also shows up in the current American tendency to explain world events (in particular, terrorist attacks) as part of a cosmic conflict between Good and Evil, rather than in terms of political processes. This is hardly limited to the White House. Manichaeanism rules across the United States. According to a poll taken by Time magazine -- can this really be correct? -- 59 percent of Americans believe that John's apocalyptic prophecies in the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled, and nearly all of these believe that the faithful will be taken up into heaven in the "Rapture" (the latter discussed in Thessalonians). According to the Book of Revelation, God is going to punish the nonbelievers with various plagues, after which Christ will return to earth -- with a sword in his mouth -- for the final showdown between Good and Evil (the battle of Armageddon).'
The vengeful quality of the apocalyptic vision comes across quite clearly in the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye (one of the founders of the Moral Majority) and Jerry Jenkins, which had, by early 2003, sold more than 62 million copies. One in eight Americans reads these books, and they are a favorite with American soldiers in Iraq. The Book of Revelation is pretty much the road map for the novels, and the worldview is reassuringly black-and-white, with "good" triumphing in the end. At the end of the series, Jews who have persisted in their faith are consigned to the Everlasting Fire, along with Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and devotees of other "aberrant religions." Seas turn to blood; locusts torment the unbelievers; and 200 million demonic horsemen wipe out a third of the planet -- a kind of cosmic ethnic cleansing, as it were. It doesn't get much darker than this."



Morris Berman – “Dark Ages America - The Final Phase of Empire
 
Thomas,

I find that you are painting the term with a broad brush when you assert that Fundamentalism lacks charity, care, and consideration.

Dondi, I'll second your response...I couldn't have said it better.
 
from wiki:

The original formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which distilled these into what became known as the "five fundamentals":[3]
  • Inerrancy of the Scriptures
  • The virgin birth and the deity of Jesus
  • The doctrine of substitutionary atonement through God's grace and human faith
  • The bodily resurrection of Jesus
  • The authenticity of Christ's miracles (or, alternatively, his pre-millennial second coming)[4]
In particular, fundamentalists reject the documentary hypothesis—the theory held by higher biblical criticism that the Pentateuch was composed and shaped by many people over the centuries. Fundamentalists assert that Moses was the primary author of the first five books of the Old Testament. Some fundamentalists, on the other hand, may be willing to consider alternative authorship only where the Biblical text does not specify an author, insisting that books in which the author is identified must have been written by him.

Fundamentalists also criticize evangelicals for a lack of concern for doctrinal purity and for a lack of discernment in ecumenical endeavors in working cooperatively with other Christians of differing doctrinal views, even though some fundamentalists had been accused by their critics for doing the same (esp. embracing doctrines such as dispensationalism, King James Onlyism, the rapture, Christian Reconstructionism, etc. that critics argue have no biblical basis). American evangelist Billy Graham came from a fundamentalist background, but many Christian fundamentalists repudiate him today because of his choice, early in his ministry (1950s), to co-operate with other Christians. He represents a movement that arose within fundamentalism, but has increasingly become distinct from it, known as Neo-evangelicalism or New Evangelicalism (a term coined by Harold J. Ockenga, the "Father of New Evangelicalism").


(end quote)

fundamentalism is though, more than that... studies on religious groups have found that people who profess to be fundamentalist xtians are often racist, homophobic, are Pro-Life rather than Pro-choice, and believe strongly in the "just world hypothesis", wherein people who suffer do so because they deserve to suffer, rather than they suffer because of specific experiences or circumstances, and the older fundies get the more rabidly fundamentalist they become... while this may be an individual's choice, initially, having large groups of people who openly support such screwed principles is dangerous for the rest of us, as if we are not clean and bright and living for Jesus like they do then we are maligned, sinners, outcasts, and worthy of all the misery we endure. If we have people who think like this in our juries, in our schools, in politics, then we will eventually end up living in hell with all the fundies living on a heavenly hill. To uphold creationism, to deny abortion rights, these things may be a choice for individuals to make, but what happens to society and the rights of the individual when we allow such groups to influence public policy?

I am currently thinking about running a study which measures Eysenck's psychoticism dimension in fundies, and if I ever get round to it I'll let you know the results...
 
Hi Dondi –

Thomas,

Perhaps it would helpful to contrast your definition of Fundamentalism (assuming we confine it to the first definition of Snoopy's reference) with what you think it is not. Or perhaps juxtapose this with what you believe is the correct position.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
1 Peter 3:15

I would offer, as examples, the severe treatment, bordering on abuse, meted out to unmarried mothers in Catholic convents that 'took them in' and invariably treated them little better than slave labour ...

I find that you are painting the term with a broad brush when you assert that Fundamentalism lacks charity, care, and consideration. I wonder if you could be more specific. I happen to know of plenty of Fundamentalist organizations that are providing food, shelter and medical care to the unfortunate. In addition, the emphasis on evangelism attempts to provide spiritual nourishment not only in introducing people to the Savior, but to disciple them as well in the teachings of the scripture and the opportunities to serve in the church.

Evangelical organisations operating in Nigeria and other parts of Africa are telling kids there's no reason to go to school, because 'the end is nigh', likewise the adults are abandoning life on the land, because 'God will provide' ... in short, by any reasonable standard (except their own) these organisations are doing more harm than good, destabilising the already fragile infrastructure and creating a culture of dependency that they proclaim as a virtue of their evangelic mission ... "look, these people would be helpless, if it wan't for us" ...

Showing Christian love does not me we need to compromise our convictions for a more eumenical approach. The truth of the Gospel need not to be watered down simply because we don't want to offend someone sensibilities. Jesus never compromise the truth.



This is why Fundamentalism hold the Bible in such high regard, because it is the source of truth. I'm all in favor of Tradition to shed light of the context of scriptures being read, but the message of the Gospel is pretty clear to me.

I also fail to see how Fundamentalism is without reasoning. If you mean that Fundamentalism takes a literalist view of scripture it is because they regard God's Word with authority:

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." - I Thessalonians 2:13

The Bereans sought confirmation in the scriptures to those things taught by Paul in Acts 17 and they were commended for it. As far as the Canonization of Scripture is concerned, it is taken by faith that God preserved what He wanted preserved and what we have today is the Message we need. If we don't have a final artbitrator of truth, then what can we fall back on (You seemed to nullify both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit with your comment, "Because the Bible says so," is not enough, any more than simply saying, "the Holy Spirit told me" is a guarantee of veracity."). Tradition can only go so far. Even Jesus warned about danger of tradition nullifying the commandments of God:

"But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
"For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." - Matthew 15:3-6 [/QUOTE]
 
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