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nube's picture

I have been thinking a lot about fundamentalism and fundamentalists lately and IT SEEMS TO ME that the real problem with Fundamentalism--from a hermeneutical standpoint--is that it asserts a certain definite kind of authority over the scriptures, which insists that the bible must be true in this way (and not THAT way) if it is true at all. To me, who is not an expert, it seems as if fundamentalists are in danger of being like those learned men who know every jot and tittle very well, and believe that the inerrancy (and therefore truth) of scripture is to be found in the preservation and observation of those same tittles and jots.

Are there any practicing fundamentalists out there who are able to clarify for me better the way they understand the bible, and why they are fundamentalist? I know many good fundamentalists, but I have never been able to understand their position on the authority of the Bible, though I sense that they have a deep respect for the book and for the Lord. It is not my desire to attack fundamentalists but to understand them--please help me understand your position, so that we may commune with respect.

tomgroeneman's picture

once upon a fundamentalist

In one respect it is good to be a fundamenatlist in the sense that one adheres to the basics of the Christian faith and upholds to a high view of the inspiration of Scripture. On the other hand, the Biblical literalism that this engenders sometimes is maybe what you are getting at as a form of legalism. As a hermeneutical approach, quite often what happens is a verse or verses can be taken literally and outside of their context and applied almost forcefully to people and their situations. I once had much of the same ideas about Scripture and the Faith but have now realized that many people find this attitude offensive where my strong convictions interfere with my ability to communicate love which is after all the ultimate goal of evangelism. A literal interpretation of Scripture is most of the time appropriate but we also need to be careful to allow for alternative readings that may not be so literal. Nowadays, the term fundamentalism is most frequently used as a pejorative label and includes any belief system that requires absolute allegiance. The American media has used the term to describe many Christians who are vocal and committed to their faith thus attempting to silence their prophetic witness in a pluralistic society where the truth is up for grabs and a fundamental morality of clear definition of good and evil is frowned upon. I would rather be misunderstood and labeled as a fundamentalist than compromise with the world and so become the enemy of God (Jas. 4:4). Sticking to the fundamentals is a positive thing but being a hammerhead in the way you go about it is not.

Tom Groeneman