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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Friday, August 4, 2017

Is Christian Fundamentalism Doing All That?

Tim Rymel has a bone to pick with us religiously conservative Christians. His problem with us goes beyond our preaching of the Gospel and goes into the political causes pursued by many of us (click here for a previous article). And if one considers his own history, his problems with us has to do with his own personal experiences as well (click here for a bio). 

In the article being reviewed today, Rymel complains about the political direction we Christian Fundamentalists pursue and that is in part because of the degree of control we have over the American political scene (click here for the article). He characterizes our political values as being 'historically racist, homophobic, xenophobic, dangerously nationalistic, and exclusive.' The only characteristic that I see he misses is that we are also self-righteous. He has good reason for attributing these values and characteristics to us religiously conservative Christians. After all, didn't 81% of us Evangelicals vote for Trump? We should note that there was an anti-Trump movement among Evangelicals and Fundamentalists but most of them were still supporting politically conservative candidates, which, to be honest, pursued the same political values previously mentioned.

In addition to listing our political values,  he briefly mentions the intolerance and anti-scientific attitudes we Christian Fundamentalists often displayed. As for the anti-scientific attitudes, I believe that, historically speaking, he was only partially correct. Certainly with regard to evolution, he is correct. Christian Fundamentalists have shown a significant respect for some other parts of science. But certain scientific hot topics are seen as challenges to what we read in the Bible. Evolution has been one of those topics and climate change is the new kid on the block.

Then Rymel wrote about how us religiously conservative Christians were not always so politically involved. That our interest and participation in American politics is a more recent occurrence during the past few decades. And because of our political values, we pose a threat not just America's ability to progress, but to survive as well. And so far, there is not too much any objective reader, and unfortunately including my own fine fellow flaming Fundamentalist friends and family, should disagree with.

Where I disagree with Rymel is when he writes the following statement:

Fundamentalism - Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology - is the antithesis of progression.

The reason why I disagree with this statement is because, at least for Christianity, he is blaming Christian Fundamentalism for what many Christian Fundamentalists do. Though I think that his blaming Fundamentalism is understandable considering his own personal experiences and the political causes that many of us religiously conservative Christians have promoted, that doesn't imply that our Fundamentalism is to blame.

Well, if Fundamentalists are impeding progress, then why not blame Fundamentalism itself? It is because, at least for us religiously conservative Christians, our opposition to what leads to progress is not a result of our Fundamentalism. Rather, it is a result of other causes and ideologies we have so closely associated with our faith.

What is Christian Fundamentalism? As it was originally defined in an effort to distinguish the authentic Christian faith from theological liberalism, Christian Fundamentalism is solely about the supernatural intervention of God in history through His Son Jesus Christ. Christian Fundamentalism is about 5 basic tenets of which 4 directly have to do with Christ. Christian Fundamentalism believes the following: 

  1. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of a virgin after having been conceived by the Holy Spirit
  2. Jesus Christ died a 'substitutionary death' for those who believe in Him
  3. Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead
  4. That Jesus Christ performed physical miracles to prove His ministry
  5. The original autographs of the Scriptures are without error because they are God-breathed
Now there will be some slight variations in the listings depending on the agenda of the subgroup of Fundamentalists who are providing the list. What we should note is that Fundamentalism was defined in an effort to distinguish itself from the naturalism of theological liberalism of the early 20th century.

The importance of defining Christian Fundamentalism by its tenets rather than the varying behaviors and attitudes of his adherents is that it enables us to get to the core of what Chrsistian Fundamentalism is suppose to be about. And what I don't see in those tenets are any logical connections between Christian Fundamentalism and what Rymel has observed in Christian Fundamentalists. This means that a Christian Fundamentalist does not have to change his/her faith to avoid the pitfalls that many Christian Fundamentalists have experienced.

Then why do so many of us hold on to such harmful values and display such negative behaviors to others? I believe that what Rymel is complaining about has more to do with the other ideologies, causes, and groups many of us religiously conservative Christians have aligned ourselves with. Then why have so many of us aligned ourselves with these ideologies, causes, and groups when they produce such negative effects in our lives? The answer to that question probably requires that we experience more self-awareness than what we are comfortable with.

Rymel's criticisms are worth reading by us Christian Fundamentalists? Why? It is because, as we should have already understood, when we call ourselves Christians, everything we do, promote, and support is associated with the Gospel. And if we are interested in moving people to honor God by our lives rather than dishonoring him, we should seek the views of outsiders to see how we are coming across. That doesn't mean that we will always agree. For example, those who hold to the Scriptures can never agree with Rymel's views on sexual orientation. But we can still learn much from him. His article shows that.


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