Fundamentalist – Yes or No?

Twitter … Why you askin’ all them questions?  How am I supposed to answer that in 140 characters!

OK … I am forced into a quick blog entry by a Twitter conversation with @neely_baugh and @beardme74.  It started with a discussion on wifely submission … (we will save that one for another article) and it became about a fundamentalism.  Like is the norm on Twitter … I threw out some fodder about being a reforming fundamentalist without thinking that out.  Here is the exchange that followed:

CalvinistBarneyFife ‏@beardme74
@chuckdadof7 @Neely_Baugh @DefendTheSheep fundamentalist is a big word. How do you define it?

Chuck Farley ‏@chuckdadof7
@beardme74 @Neely_Baugh I still believe in the five fundamentals of the 1910 NBC, but not the follow on interpretations of scripture.
Chuck Farley ‏@chuckdadof7

@beardme74 @Neely_Baugh I am hopefully looking at scripture as a whole and not a compilation album of history, stories, and procedures.

Then Neely got me really thinking …

Neely Baugh ‏@Neely_Baugh
@chuckdadof7 @beardme74 I define fundamentalism as rigidity and an unwillingness to value differing beliefs. Can happen in any religion.

fun•da•men•tal (ˌfʌn dəˈmɛn tl)


1. serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles.
2. of, pertaining to, or affecting the foundation or basis: a fundamental revision.
3. being an original or primary source: a fundamental idea.
4. a basic principle, rule, law, or the like that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-37)

So is fundamentalism it a conservative thing? It does not look like it. Either we have  a basic principal, rule, law, or the like that serves as groundwork for our beliefs (the rock) or … we just hang out on the beach and just let the elements decide where we stand . A so called liberal or progressive may have a strong fundamental belief that everyone must be willing to accept and value other Peoples beliefs therefore he or she is a fundamentalist.

Now this certainly is not the way Neely and I were looking at the word fundamentalist.  I am not sure how Deputy Fife was thinking about it when he asked the question, but I like the way he directed traffic.

A little brief history as I understand it … the christian fundamentalist movement came out of some strife within the church at the beginning of the last century similar to what we are seeing today.  (I call it the Mary & Martha debate) Social vs Spiritual, Works vs Faith, Law vs Grace.  God is always in balance, but we are not so good at it.  At that time, part of the church saw great need to address social issues that arose in the aftermath of reconstruction, abuses  as a result of the industrial revolution, and a general revolt against Victorianism. Basically, Christian people cannot live in the presence of oppression without God’s conviction coming down.

No Not that Mary & Martha
No Not that Mary & Martha

The Martha’s of the world wanted to jump in and right all of the wrongs and just took off and sort of left their faith behind (It is in her nature).  The Mary’s just wanted to hang out at Jesus’s feet (didn’t realize that he was not sitting there anymore, He was about His Father’s business.

Some cooler heads got together at Princeton and drafted the Five Fundamentals.

  • Biblical inspiration and the inerrancy of scripture as a result of this
  • Virgin birth of Jesus
  • Belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin
  • Bodily resurrection of Jesus
  • Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus

It is dangerous to synthesize faith into a little box. In short order, a group of men took the Bible, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Book of Common Prayer and condensed it into five short statements.

That first one is the problem … not whether it is true or not, but what does it mean? It is somewhat shifting sand in itself.  I truly believe that the Bible in its many forms and translations says exactly what God wants it to say when it is read or heard under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So yes it is inerrant and inspired.  The problem is that we as humans (Marys, Marthas, or whoever we are) stink at waiting on that inspiration. We grab the parts we like or “speak to us” and run with it.  So we make the Word whatever we want it to be.

There are laws in the book, but it is  not a law-book. There is history in it, but it is not a history book. It includes a play, but it is not a drama.  Songs and poems are a big part of the volume but it is not a music book. Stories? yes but it is not a story.

Then what is this book?  The best I can gather is that it is an unfinished love letter for the Creator and his creation.  He is speaking to each of us and to all of us.  He knows the ending, but He laves the creation to finish the story. So unless I can read or hear His word as His beloved and I will never know the inspiration of that perfect, inerrant love letter.

So, yes.  I am a fundamentalist.  What fundamentals do I stand on?  These five are a pretty good start, but there is much more that I think that my Creator is saying to me.  You will have to come back to find out.


Leave a Reply