Do you think fundamentalism is relevant to your life? Are you hungry for more information about it? If so, consider this post as a little fundamentalism menu. On today’s menu, we find appetizers, side dishes, and main courses on the topic of Christian fundamentalism. Last week’s post Launched in L.A.: The Campaign of Christian Fundamentalism was a meaty appetizer to kick-off this new blog series: Fundamentalist Friday. But wait. There’s more! In case you think fundamentalism is the only topic I’ll be writing about, I’m here to assure you it’s NOT.
On other days, there will be other words.
From the menu
At some presentations I give, I hand out a sheet of paper listing attributes of the group, The Way International, showing in what ways it was/is a fundamentalist cult. Today, I’ll only include items about its fundamentalist aspects. These items are found in many other groups, too. As you consider the menu, you might think about what kind of person you want to be and whether or not these menu items would make you healthier, i.e. more loving, understanding, joyful, open-minded, or peaceful. Do they foster creativity/self-expression, or constrict it? (I think you know what I think!) Also included is just one sample consequence of holding that belief.
Below the menu items are sources for further sampling.
- Belief in inerrancy of the Bible: Christian belief, common among fundamentalists, that the Bible is entirely without error, not only in theology and ethics but also in history, geography, and science. A less strict view of the Bible, held by many evangelicals, is that the Bible is simply inspired by God.” (Stephen Prothero. Religious Literacy. (New York: Harper Collins. 2007) Page 235. Consequence: To eliminate contradictions, the four gospels are meshed together, creating a “fifth” gospel written by whomever thinks they made them “fit together.”
- Belief in Literalism: The Bible should be taken literally except where figures of speech are used, although V. P. Wierwille, founder of The Way, did not always do that, nor do the current leaders of The Way’s organization. Consequence: Using verses in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the LGBT community, for instance, is made to appear as if it is “of the devil.”
- Hostility to modern theology: Rejects the methods, results and implications of modern critical study of the Bible. (i.e. higher criticism and historical criticism). Consequence: Believers operate under the impression that the Bible is “God’s Word,” not men’s words penned from oral traditions, etc.
- Exercise of militant piety: An assurance that those who do not share their views on the Bible are at least wrong, at worst, possessed by devil spirits. Consequence: prejudice or even hatred against other Christians, as well as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, and any other religions.
- Belief in Creationism: The doctrine that the universe was created only a few thousand years ago, rather than the billions shown by modern science, and that God created man and woman and all the species outright, rather than by a process of evolution. Consequence: Public schools are conflicted over which to teach: creationism or evolution? Government legislation based on Creationism affects all Americans and denies students scientific knowledge.
For further sampling
Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t by Stephen Prothero
Fundamentalism by James Barr
The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism by Karen Armstrong
The Roots of Fundamentalism by Ernest R. Sandeen
Jesus Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman
Your writer on the wing,