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
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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)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yes, You Too Can Be a Fundamentalist

from Micah Bales:
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For a long time, I thought that fundamentalism was a right-wing phenomenon. But I've realized that just about anybody can get trapped in a fundamentalist mindset. Whether it's gay rights, the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, abortion, climate change, or racial justice-- all of our most cherished beliefs are susceptible to the snare of fundamentalism. No matter who you are or what you believe, you, too can be a fundamentalist!


Fundamentalism isn't a point of view; it's not a particular belief, but rather a way of living with our convictions. A person is a fundamentalist, not because of their views, but because they hold them in ways that negate the basic dignity and humanity of others. The fire-and-brimstone religious zealot is one flavor of fundamentalist, but there are so many varieties! It doesn't matter if you're an über-conservative or a radical progressive; fundamentalism is a possibility for all of us.

How can you tell when you’re slipping into a fundamentalist mindset? There are some tell-tale signs:

1. The fundy mindset is concerned above all with being right. Winning is the top priority for the fundamentalist, not truth.

2. Fundamentalism is basically about being in control. When we're caught in a fundamentalist mindset, we exclude, demonize, and remove from the conversation anyone who questions our basic assumptions. We may use words like love, reconciliation, justice, and safety, but the number one concern is our need to defend our air-tight worldview against anyone who threatens it.

3. You can spot the fundamentalist by their fear. The need for assurances and tight systems of control. Lists of rules and strict chains of command. Fundamentalism trembles under the weight of anxiety. But perfect love casts out fear.

The way of Jesus is the ultimate answer to the fear that lies at the heart of fundamentalism. Jesus knew that the truth he was living and preaching was going to get him killed. And Jesus had the means to fight back. He could have raised armies and founded a military kingdom, or retreated to start a sectarian commune, or toned it down a little bit and become a respected religious guru.

Instead, Jesus had the courage to trust completely in the truth that his Father gave him. He extended everything he had-- even his own life-- to those who wanted to destroy him. He trusted in the strength of his convictions so much, he didn't have to defend anything.

What would it be like to dwell in that kind of courage? How would it transform my relationships to live so fearlessly? What kind of love would I dare to show-- to friends, to enemies, even to the fundamentalists?
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The entire post can be read here.

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