A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Re-formed Fundamentalists

If there is one thing that can be asserted without proof (that's a tongue-in-cheek comment meant for literary effect), it is that those who are reformed out of a habit or a movement tend to be the most rabid fundamentalists of them all. The most zealous anti-smokers are former smokers. Those who continually level angry criticism at Christian Fundamentalism are those who used to be Fundamentalists. Others who cannot resist taking continual shots at Protestant liberalism are often former liberals. In their obsession with the things they used to be, they put forth a fundamentalism all their own. Usually, the only people who cannot see such re-formed fundamentalism on display are those who are re-formed fundamentalists themselves. And yes, fundamentalists come in many forms-- conservative and liberal, Democratic and Republican, religious and secular.

So, how can you tell if you are a re-formed fundamentalist of some stripe? There is currently no diagnostic test available, but allow me to offer some test questions that might indicate you have the affliction:

1. When you read something on a blog espousing a view akin to your former days, do you comment, not in reasonable fashion, but in anger and disdain for the view expressed.

2. When you hear an idea or a belief being expressed that is comparable to what you used to believe, do you first roll your eyes before considering the substance of what is being said?

3. Are you more interested in getting your now "enlightened" view across to the other person whom you hope to reform, than serious engaging what you have already decided is nonsense?

4. When you think about the views of the "other" are you angry before reflective?

5. Do you truly believe (be honest here) that those who do not share your views are stupid?

6. Do you get more joy out of insulting those who still hold to their "unreformed" views then engaging in serious discussion?

7. Do you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep at night thinking about all those evil people who are still caught up in their ignorance that you formerly held?

8. Do you see your assault on the ignorant perspective of others as an issue of justice?

9. Do you only read books from authors who basically share your convictions?

10. Have you answered "yes" to several of these questions, but are still convinced that the label "re-formed fundamentalist" cannot refer to you?

There is a cure for re-formed fundamentalism and it does not involve giving up your basic convictions. Surround yourself with reasonable and intelligent people who do not share your perspective. Contrary to what you might think, they do exist in plenty. Talk to them, have coffee with them, and get to know their families, and engage them on a substantive level. Converse with them and listen as well as talk. In so doing, you may find that over time the anger that consumes you will subside and eventually relieve you of your "fundamentalism;" and you will then be truly re-formed.

If, however, you desire to stay in your (conservative or liberal, Democratic or Republican, religious or secular) fundamentalist bubble, just continue to surround yourself with only those who are like-minded. Your world may remain small, but at least you can enjoy your righteous anger while being confirmed by your fellow fundamentalists.


PamBG said...

Really, all one can say to that post is "Ouch!"

Allan R. Bevere said...


I was in pain writing it.

Scott Russ said...

HEY! I resemble that post! I mean resent . . . yeah. Fine, im convicted. Good one!

Eric Helms said...

I can't believe you think thi junk--I used to think this too, then I got some sense knocked into me--what is your problem? :-)

Allan R. Bevere said...

Scott and Eric, nice responses guys.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I "repent", but I am married to a "different" sort, so I always have coffee, etc. with "that kind":)! And sometimes the "passion flows" with him, too...but we are still friends....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

And I recognize that there are subjects that are 'off limits' in my family of origin, as it breeds insecurity and anxiety in their chosen identificational groups...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I spoke too soon. On another blog there is a discussion on a specific doctinal issue, that I find quite 'unappealing". Why? because I think there are more important issues to discuss. And it limits those that are so "tied up" in questions that can never really be resolved.

In my family or origin, I simply don't "go there". With my husband, we don't "need to go there". And on another blog about our country's Founding, I find differences of opinion, and commitment in these religious areas, but a civil discussion overall.

Civil behavior is appropriate behavior when it concerns another. And civility doesn't have to be unemotional, or heated, but it should not be personal.