Saturday, December 15, 2007

What is a fundamentalist?

What is a fundamentalist? Dr. Jim West’s working definition of a fundamentalist is helpful indeed even though one might not agree totally with it. This is enough to give you a hint who they are.
A fundamentalist is a person who believes that the Bible is inerrant or infallible.

That’s it. It’s that simple. If a person believes that the bible is inerrant or infallible- that person is a fundamentalist and is, further, guilty of bibliolatry (in spite of any protestations to the contrary). This is so because equating anything in heaven or on earth or under the earth with God, who alone is without error and not subject to fallibility, is idolatry. Soli Deo Gloria. Anything less than that is fundamentalistic.

Just in case you are reading a theology book and wondering if the author is a fundamentalist or not, this working definition will become handy indeed. This stir my interest to look at the other’s description of a fundamentalist and come up with the following:
Christian fundamentalists interpret the Bible as the inerrant, factual, and literal word of God. Though each of these terms can be argued as to what exactly the terms mean, it is in any case clear that fundamentalism rejects any modernist critical interpretation of the Bible. They reject most modern scientific findings in biology and geology, or at least greatly reinterpret them to "fit" their view of the Bible. Most believe, for example, that the world was created in seven 24 hour days simply because that is what the Genesis account says. Most fundamentalist also believe that the earth (and the universe) is no more than a few (less than ten) thousand years old based on the genealogies in the Bible.

Any findings by science that seem to refute this argument are simply discarded and seen to be "obviously wrong" since it disagrees with the Bible. In other words, "if it disagrees with the Bible (the fundamentalist view of the Bible), then it is wrong and probably straight from Satan." It must be stated for the record that there are differing levels or versions of fundamentalist belief. Some fundamentalists, for example, believe that the Genesis account allows for so the called "day - age" interpretation, in which the days of creation are actually unknown periods of time. Even such "liberal" fundamentalists, however, believe that everything written about in the Bible is an accurate reporting of actual historical events.

This "literal" interpretation of the Bible is very dear to fundamentalist to the extent that most believe that anyone who does not accept this "literal" interpretation are not true Christians. Many "hard core" fundamentalist even believe that anyone who does not use the King James (1611) version of the Bible is destined for Hell.
And from different perspective, this is an atheist’s top ten list of signs to know if you are a fundamentalist Christian.
10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.
Perhaps, unlike Dr. Jim I can tolerate a conversation however one sided it is (they all do the talking) with a fundamentalist it is their propensity to look down on me because I am studying theology that I couldn't stand.

I hope Rethinking Schools Online wouldn't mind my using of the picture.

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