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What’s on the Menu? Fundamentalist Friday Samplers

By: Cliff Ammons

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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Peace.

Your writer on the wing,

Charlene


 

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4 Responses

  1. Ralph Dubofsky
    | Reply

    Thanks Charlene!
    Great menu selections with very important food for thought and action. Fundamentalists of any religion are a constricting and confining influence on societal and cultural progress imho. Just look at the state of our national politics, economics, and the push of the “alt-right” propaganda culture for “return to the values” of societies 300-2000 years old!!
    How “progressive” is that? ISIS wants to go back to the 7th century, while “Christian” fundamentalists want to take the world back to the first century A.D., and Jewish fundamentalists want to go back to The Exodus and ancient kingdoms of the Old Testament. All supposedly proven correct by the same bible, plus their individual additions and supplements, commentaries and interpretations. There is no rational, logical, or intellectual approach to their bibles. As a matter of fact, logic and intellect are anathema to those who demand the world live “by faith”.

    Thank you for continuing to expose the illogic, intellectual vapidity, and dangers of fundamentalism. It is a genuine service to our culture and society of today, 2017, not 650 AD, or 37AD, or 5000BCE! Please keep up the good work! Peace.

    • Charlene L. Edge
      | Reply

      You’re welcome. I love writing here and sharing what I’ve learned and hearing back from readers, especially. Your points about each major religion having a penchant for the past is something we need to pay attention to.
      Thanks for posting this important reminder, Ralph!

  2. Steve
    | Reply

    I would also highly recommend Michelle Goldberg’s book “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.”

    • Charlene L. Edge
      | Reply

      Ditto. I have read Goldberg’s book — it’s a chilling account — and will add it to my Fundamentalist Friday post next week. Thank you, Steve.
      From the back cover, “In this journey through an America in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism, Michelle Goldberg takes us from the classroom to the megachurch to the federal court, demonstrating how the growing influence of dominionism–the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers — is threatening the foundations of democracy.”
      This book was published by W. W. Norton, New York, 2007. TEN years ago! If only more people had listened then …

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