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...no, not THAT "f-word." Rather, the f-word I refer to sometimes draws an even more negative reaction. That word is "Fundamentalism."
"Fundamentalist" is a specifically Christian term. Consequentially, much modern usage in the media (i.e. referring to ISIS as "Islamic Fundamentalists") is a severe misrepresentation of both faiths. In its purist form, Fundamentalism does not directly refer to any specific church, sect or political organization. Rather, it simply describes an inner-denominational movement tracing back to the early 20th century in which Christians responded to the challenges of modernity by codifying their most foundational beliefs.
Eventually, these were cataloged in a four-volume set known as The Fundamentals: A Testimony of the Truth. Published in 1917, The Fundamentals provide a fascinating, if not somewhat paradoxical, look at the fledgling movement. While some aspects (such as the rather strident anti-Catholic overtones) may be offensive to some, other parts are quite enlightening.
For example, in James Orr’s essay “Science and the Christian Faith,” he acknowledges that “there is no violence done to the (creation) narrative in substituting…vast cosmic periods — for "days" on our narrower, sun-measured scale.” These sentiments hardly fit the stereotypes of Fundamentalists in today’s world.
The first known use of the term “Fundamentalist” was by religious journalist Curtis Lee Laws, who referred to “those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal” in their defense. Unfortunately, since Fundamentalism did begin as a defensive movement, the resulting "Fightin’ Fundie" caricatures have often been very much deserved. On occasion, this has led to forays into anti-intellectualism (the Scopes "Monkey Trial" debacle) and in some cases, to outright bigotry (the shameful tactics of the "Reverend" Fred Phelps).
This characterization is unfortunate. While it is true that the Fundamentalist label is relatively new, the ideals it represents are as old as the Christian faith itself. As theologian J.I. Packer observes:
"Our critics suppose that that what they call 'Fundamentalism' is something as new as its name. But it is not. Nor was sixteenth-century Protestantism, nor seventeenth-century Puritanism, nor eighteenth-century Methodism. These names denote simply particular aspects and episodes of the continuing history of evangelical Christianity."
At the core of Fundamentalism is a staunch belief in the message of the Scriptures. Fundamentalists believe in a God who has not only spoken, but has done so in a way that is reliable, understandable and practical. Is this simple faith? Yes, but it has been the historic position of the Christian church from its very beginning. In the words of Dallas Theological Seminary professor P.D. Feinberg: "Biblical inerrancy has been the view of the church throughout its history…(I)n each period of the church's history clear affirmations of the doctrine can be found."
With this premise established, the other elements of the Fundamentalist world view are easier to understand. For example, to believe in the authority of the Bible is also to embrace the absolute truth it presents us with. This can be seen in what is perhaps the most visible picture of Fundamentalism, the arena of politics. But before we are too hasty in rejecting these concerns, we must note that in many issues, the Fundamentalists are actually proving to be ahead of their time.
For example, given the advances of prenatal medical technology, it has become increasingly difficult to deny that an unborn child is truly a person. Why then is it considered so “extreme” to say that the child deserves legal protection? When we look at the horrendous impact of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, is the Christian sexual ethic (abstinence until marriage) really that unreasonable? Is it wise to cast science and faith as enemies when some of the greatest scientists in history (including Galileo, Copernicus, Keplar and many others) were Bible believers?
These issues are not going away, and if our goal is to be a tolerant, understanding people, we must look past our stereotypes and see the real substance that is all too often overlooked. Failure to do so is a “fundamental” mistake.
#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames
On occasions where my writing veers into the political arena, it is easy for some to assume that I am a Republican. The truth , however, is that I have not actively identified with any political party in well over twenty years. That decision was very deliberate and I have never, ever regretted it.
At varous times in my life , I have been both a "bleeding heart liberal" and a loyal "Christian right" foot soldier. But as odd as it may sound, my core beliefs really weren't that different in either phase. Even in my most liberal phase, I still knew that abortion was wrong. At my most conservative, I was still uneasy about the callous attitude many right wing politicians took towards the poor. So after a long period of inner turmoil, I finally decided that I would look at individual issues on their own merits and do what I believed was right regardless.
While it is true that my views remain right of center on most issues, I want to see an end to war, poverty and racism just as much as my more progressive friends do. While we may disagree on some of the means to these noble ends, we can be civil and charitable in our discussion of them.
For all of the passion and animosity they provoke, "conservative" and "liberal" are actually very ambiguous terms. If you call yourself a conservative, exactly what is it you want to conserve? Historically, it has represented the desire to preserve positive things such as tradition, morality and patriotism. Unfortunately, it has also been used to defend racism, anti-intellectualism and blind allegiance to the status quo.
Similarly, the word "liberalism" bears the undertone of compassion and generosity, which obviously, are wonderful things. Yet even these noble motives can go horribly astray if they are not kept in proper perspective.
Both sides have their signature issues. For Democrats, these would include education, health care and the environment. Likewise, Republicans champion causes such as taxes, fighting crime and national security. Yet these concerns themselves are not partisan. Republicans want good schools and Democrats want to be kept safe from crime and terrorism. Sadly, we often take our eyes off the ultimate goals and let ourselves be torn apart by "gotcha" politics.
As a former professor of mine once pointed out, it is possible to be opponents without being enemies. Examples would include Republican President Eisenhower and Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn. Another would be President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill.
it is also noteworthy that, even among Jesus' original disciples, there was a fascinating diversity. There was Simon the Zealot, who belonged to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the Roman government. Yet there was also Matthew who, as a tax collector, was an employee of that same government. I would imagine that they had some pretty lively discussions!
I certainly recognize that the differences are there, and that they are often quite significant. Civility should never be used as a front for lack of passion or conviction. There are times when a non-compromising attitude is both commendable and necessary. But compromise is not always a bad thing. In fact, it would be impossible to accomplish anything worthwhile without it.
For example, if our only available options are helping some poor people or helping none, reducing some greenhouse gasses or reducing none, preventing some abortions or preventing none, aren’t the choices pretty obvious?
Friends, blind political tribalism is tearing our country apart. Be involved. Be passionate. But please also be human. God is not a Republican or a Democrat and trying to remake Him in order to fit our labels is nothing more than idolatry.
(T)he ability to laugh at one’s faith is a sign of growth and theological maturity... humor is a way of explaining religion — to its adherents and to others. Increasingly, believing members of orthodox faith traditions are able to joke about their foibles and shortcomings before an audience of their community (4).With these facts established, we will now look at a few specific examples of humor in the Bible. First let’s look at the Book of Exodus, chapter 32. Moses has been on Mount Sinai communing with God and receiving the Ten Commandments. While he was gone, he leaves his brother Aaron in charge. Unfortunately, though, we know what happens. The people’s commitment to God and to Moses turns out to be very fickle, and they have Aaron melt down their gold and make a golden calf idol for them to worship. Obviously, when Moses returns, he is not happy! He burns the idol, grinds it to powder, mixes it with water, and makes the people drink it.
We were reading to our eldest son from the seventh chapter of Matthew' Gospel, feeling very serious, when suddenly the little boy began to laugh. He laughed because he saw how preposterous it would be for a man to be so deeply concerned about a speck in another person's eye, that he was unconscious of the fact that his own eye had a beam in it...His laughter was a rebuke to his parents for their failure to respond to humor in an unexpected place. (5)Here Mr. Trueblood brings up a vitally important point: Many of Jesus' parables and illustrations had humorous overtones in the vernacular of that day. A common form of communication for Jews in that day was called hyperbole, or exaggeration to emphasize a point. A modern example would be “I haven’t seen you in a million years!” Here, Jesus uses it in a very funny way. Being a carpenter, He used the tools of His trade to make a stinging point about religious hypocrisy. “Why are you worried about a speck in your brother’s eye when you have a two-by-four in your own eye?”
"The more seriously we take God, the less seriously we need to take ourselves. Self-deprecating humor not only reduces the intimidation factor, it personifies the possibility of success of people with flaws. Pastors who can joke about their own shortcomings are paradoxically making the ideals of religion seem more possible by putting them in a common human experience (8)."It is sometimes said that "The medium is the message." While that may be true to some degree, we must also make sure that the medium does not obscure or compromise the message. As we have seen, there is certainly a place for humor in communicating spiritual truth, we must never let that distract from the seriousness of our message. The minister's chief role is to be a messenger of God, not simply an entertainer. The Bible says that walking with God is a life of pleasure (Psalm 16:11), delight (Psalm 37:4), sweetness (Psalm 119:103), joy (John 15:11) and freedom (John 8:32). Yet this relationship is built on very somber realities. In short, God is holy, man is sinful, but God loves us in spite of that. In His death on the cross, Jesus paid our sin debt so that we could receive God's forgiveness and experience this joy both here and forever! If you have never entered into this relationship, why not open you heart to Him now?
1. News is not necessarily "fake" because it's not what you want to hear.
2. News is not necessarily "fake" because it might make a politician you like look bad.
3. News is not necessarily "fake" because it challenges or asks hard questions of a politician you like.
4 Don't complain about "bias" if your response is equally biased in the other direction.
5. Be skeptical of anyone whose "facts" always support a particular politician or party line.
6. Have you ever considered that you may be adding to the problem by not properly researching or fact checking your own statements?
Keep It Real,
#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames