This post is part of a series.
In Part I of this series, I discussed the first, and bogus response to Islamofascism, which is the rejection of all revealed faiths. Today, I discuss response #2 – the rejection of all “fundamentalist” faiths.
While extreme secularism and atheism may reject all faith, many secularists and moderates merely reject what they often pejoratively call “fundamentalist” faiths. By ‘fundamentalist,’ they essentially mean those who take their scriptures’ claims of authority, inerrancy, and historical narrative (including miracles) as literally true. In their mind, anyone who believes in miracles or anything supernatural are basically opposed to reason, and therefore, have nothing standing between them and sectarian violence that is immune to reason, and responsive only to the claims of religious authority. But if religion is merely a system of positivism and inspiring allegories, then such secularists are happy.
Dangers of this Approach
Again, like the previous response, this approach makes the mistake of making all “fundamentalists” of equal danger to humanity, which not only discourages intelligent discernment between ideologies,
it promotes good and ‘harmless’ fundamentalist religions to the same status as violent
ones, while making the truly inhuman faiths like militant Islam less
objectionable, and “not really different from other religions.”
Second, this approach neglects the core teachings of the faiths in question. By broadbrushing all serious religionists as unhealthy fanatics, it fails to evaluate what a serious devotion to their various religions’ core teachings might look like, furthering the anti-intellectual lack of discernment that this approach is based upon.
For example, when we look at fundamentalist Christianity in America, what do we see? How do such ‘dangerous’ religionists react to perceived moral ills in society?
- Abortion: Picketing and social activism and the creation of an entire network of crisis pregnancy centers
- Blasphemy: Um, perhaps criticism?
- Homosexuality: Social activism
Do I even need to outline Islam’s reaction to the above? No, because it’s all the same – violence and murder. Admittedly, Christians in the past may have had some unsavory reactions to the above, but what is consistent about Islam is that, when one returns to its core teachings, you get a very different reaction than the above. And putting all serious followers of a faith (those wanting to stick to the foundational teachings of their prophet) is a dangerous and lazy thing to do.
What should Christian “Fundamentalists” do?
First, there are two kinds of Christian “fundamentalists.” There are those from the historical Baptist/Fundamentalist tradition who ignore the pejorative use of the word ‘fundamentalist’ and wear the badge with pride, noting that their distinctive contribution to the gospel is holding to the fundamentals of the faith, while liberal Christians past and present left Christ and his Word to become worldly and useless to God.
To this group, I would recommend doing what many evangelicals have done, and that is to stop proudly self-labeling as ‘fundamentalist.’ However, they won’t do that because (1) in the true sense of the word, it describes their emphasis, and (2) they want to be connected to the historical movement of which they are rightfully proud. The English language is robust, and many Christians have used alternatives that lack the negative connotations of ‘fundamentalist’, such as ‘Bible-believing’, ‘Bible-Christians’, or even ‘essentialists.’
However, fundies rightly note that no matter what they call themselves, worldly people will despise them because of their doctrines, which contradict the spirit of the world. They would argue, perhaps correctly, that whatever name they use would soon become a byword synonymous with ‘fundamentalist,’ and besides, who cares what the unregenerate think? You know, their arguments make some sense to me, so if they want to continue to self-label as fundamentalist, no big deal. What many have done is add an adjective, such as the NeoFundamentalist, or Fundamentally Reformed.
The second group of fundies are those who don’t self-label, but share the commitment to the scriptures as true, authoritative, and ‘the only inspired, inerrant word of God.’ This includes evangelicals, reformed, pentecostal, charismatic, and other ‘bible’ denominations. What should they do about being labeled ‘fundamentalists?’ I would give the following advice:
- Avoid the mistakes of historic and modern fundamentalism
- Pray for healthy churches
- Learn biblical discernment instead of creating a culture of criticism
And keep demonstrating to the world that serious Christians are not a danger, but are rich in good works, even if we do push for unpopular legislation or moral values. And let’s remind errant secularists that not all religions are the same, not even all ‘fundamentalist’ religions. They might not listen, but those who are less radicalized will probably respond to such sound reasoning.