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.
11 thoughts on “I want to be a Fundamentalist!”
Nice post. I spotted it via LinkedIn. I still keep a blog as well, but nothing compared to several years ago. Good to see you writing, serving…and agitating. 🙂
Thanks Adam, good to see you here. Yes indeed blogging is not what it was at its peak, but still worthwhile when we can get to it. Hoping to get back to a little more. Agitating? Yeah, I know it just flows out of me. I don’t think of it as agitation. 😉
Nice, thoughtful post. What do you mean by, ” integrity to their fundamentals as inclusion to the Kingdom of God”? Did you mean ” integrity to their fundamentals as [necessary for] inclusion [in]to the Kingdom of God”?
Stephen. Yes. 😉
If we have, maybe, rescued the Bible and Christianity from the Fundamentalists… it just might be possible to co-opt fundamentalism from them too! All things are possible in the “Light”.
I like your thinking Bill.
“#1 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and #2 Love your neighbor as yourself.” Sound pretty fundamental to me.
One problem is that claiming to be a fundamentalist or orthodox means you believe you have it right, implying that everybody else has it wrong. Actually we don’t have to call ourselves. Jesus calls US. John 15:16.
Hey Mark! But can I believe I have at least the basic thing right? Or at least that I am trying to get it right? Maybe that’s the difference: One thinks they have it right, and another is working real hard to get it right. 😉
What I’m saying is that many who call themselves fundamentalists are missing out on the fundamentals, so I’ll let God do the calling.
Though Fundamentalists initially fought what they regarded as “modernism”, they accepted the presuppositions of modernint, and so tried to fight modernism with its own weapons. They find postmodernism more difficult to cope with because most of their weapons don’t work there.
When Fundamentalists write statements of faith (which they seem to like doing a lot, to see how other people stack up to their standards), they usually begin by saying what they believe about the Bible. What you say about the Bible is very important to Fundamentalists. But they miss the point. Either we decide about the Bible, or in the Bible Christ has decided about us.