The mindset of the Christian fundamentalist is difficult for me to understand. In this essay, I will make some attempt at an analysis.
Let's begin with page 8 of TIME, November 29, 2004. On that page is an interview with Billy Grahan He is a person I respect and admire a lot; I have attended one of his crusades (Chicage, about 1962), along with Carol, my wife, and Margy, my sister.That crusade was a profoundly spirtual experience for all three of us. I think he would be considered by most people as a "moderate" fundamentalist.
But I am bothered by some of Graham's remarks in this interview, Toward the end, the following appears:
Q. "Beyong politics, are there issues such as poverty, Famine or the AIDS crisis that you'd like to see Christians embrace now?" A "As an Evangelist, I try to address how the Bible speaks to personal and societal problems. I will probably mention all those issues and more in my upcoming crusade sermons. The big issue is sin. From the very beginning, man rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden and that has been inheirited by the entire human race. It's a problem all over the world and in our own hearts. That's why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to sin, ... ."The above seems to me to portray all that's fundamentally (sic) wrong with fundamentalism. It is not that what Billy says is untrue; it is that what he says is given, incessently, as the fundamentalist's answer to every question. As such, it is simply unresponsive. Billy's answer assumes that when a person "accepts Christ," that all things will naturally flow from that. But so many fundamentalists appear to take that as "just "believe" in Jesus and you don't need to do anything else. That's wrong.
A parody of this position is "Say you believe in a God that loves you unconditionally or He will send you to hell to be tortured for eternity."
I caught part of an interview with James Kennedy the other day. He is pastor of a large Presbyterian church in Coral Ridge, Florida, has a widespread TV ministry and preaches the "Young Earth" nonsense. He was asked what people should do who don't agree with everything he preaches. His reply was "They need to repent." The hubris of this fellow, and his partners in crime, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc. is incredible.It is good that they have "seen the light." It is not good that they insist that the light they have seen is all there is to see!
On May 21, 1944, Judge Learned Hand spoke these words: "The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure it is right; it is the spirit which seeks to undrstand the minds of others; which weighs their interests alongside its own, without bias." I see no evidence that fundamentalists understand this.
History is filled with evidences that, over and over, conscientious, committed, Bible-believing, praying, devout Christians have sometimes been wrong. Dead wrong. Tragically wrong. Stupidly wrong. Yes -- sinfully wrong.
Christianity is not what one believes, as fundamentalists think, but to whom one relates. It is not a checklist, not a transaction, not what we do. It is who we are.
Fundamentaism may be regarded as being divided into three parts: 1 presuppositions 2 Disregard of contrary evidences 3 Shrill advocay How to recognize fundamentalism: 1 Opinions misstated as facts 2 No attempt to give grounds for argments 3 No attempt to study contrary argumentsThe basic premise of the fundamentalist:
ALL the world's miseries, injustice, poverty, pain, illness, tornados, earthquakes, death, are the DIRECT result of two specific humans, Adam and Eve, disobaying God by eating a piece of fruit from a specific tree.
What the fundamentalist does is claim the high ground in argumentation. "For those of us who believe the Bible ... ." is a common starting phrase. "For those of us who stand for God's moral teachings ... ." is another. For the most part, they appear to treat the Scriptures as a "book of magic." "The manufacturer's handbook" is a favorite term. They mistake their own interpretations of scripture for TRUTH. It is hard to reason with such a person. Some may say it is impossible to reason with such a person.