I want to be a Fundamentalist!
Billy Graham started as a fundamentalist. Then he stepped away from the movement in the 50’s, because he wanted to cooperate with other Christians, and fundamentalism was isolating itself from others. Today, people are suggesting that Billy is getting Fundy again (a contention I reject, for a number of reasons, but the mostly I hate it when people pick on your grandpa, and Billy just might be the quintessential everyone’s grandpa). It is unfortunate that the word “Fundamentalist” was assigned a place in vocabulary garbage can of our culture.
The Christian Fundamentalist movement began in the late 19th century as a response to the modernization of Christianity. Today it battles the post-modernization of the church, and outwardly appears to embrace modernity. By the 1920s, the movement began to splinter as certain factions of Fundamentalism demanded integrity to their fundamentals as inclusion to the Kingdom of God. It is from this type of Fundamentalism that Billy Graham and many others fled.
I like the word “fundamental.” I wish I could be a “Fundamentalist.”
When I think of the fundamentals of the Bible, I do not think of things like Biblical inerrancy, a literal Hell with 4,000º flames torching and torturing never-dying humans, faithfulness to a specific apocalyptic interpretation, or a necessary embracing of young earth creationism. Instead, I think of the great commandments: #1 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and #2 Love your neighbor as yourself.
I think of these commands being modeled by Jesus in His death on the cross. I think of returning to such simplicity by treating everyone I meet as my neighbor, and loving them hilariously. I think about telling His story, because He gave me a “Great” commission to do so, and I think of freedom as the thing God offers our oft oppressed world.
These are the things, which are fundamental to me, and to my faith. They form (as the definition of fundamental means) the basic core of my Christianity, I want people to know these are the fundamentals, and that walking in these basic values is a wild and wonderful adventure. I want to be a “Fundamentalist” who shares these simple fundamentals.
But, I can’t be a “Fundamentalist,” if it is defined in the narrow ways our culture (and the Fundies themselves) has defined and rejected it, because my fundamentals don’t allow me to isolate and reject anyone. My hand and my heart must always be extended according to my fundamentals.
I want to be a Fundamentalist, but I can’t.
P.S. – Thanks to Dan McGinn (aka Black Dog Brother) who has his art hanging at Gulu-Gulu Cafe in Salem right now.