Fundamentalists Who Aren’t

Fundamentalist Who Aren't

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Islamic Fundamentalists.

Christian Fundamentalists.

Is there a difference?

Is it fair for the media to bunch together everyone who utilizes the “Fundamentalist” title?

Scott Bidstrup, author of a hypertext essay called “Why the ‘Fundamentalist’ Approach to Religion Must Be Wrong,” says that:

“A fundamentalist religion is a religion, any religion, that when confronted with a conflict between love, compassion and caring, and conformity to doctrine, will almost invariably choose the latter regardless of the effect it has on its followers or on the society of which it is a part.”

It is a sad reality that many people hold to this hyper-dogmatic definition of Fundamentalism. Unfortunately few people turn to the originators of the word for an appropriate definition. The term was coined to describe a group of Christians who separated from theological liberals of the early 1900’s. Since then the movement has expanded and the word has taken on definitions not originally intended.

Dictionary.com says that Fundamentalism is

1. A movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming. 2. The beliefs held by those in this movement, & 3. Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

If someone is speaking about a group or individual that is not a Christian Fundamentalist then the third definition is an acceptable derivation of the original intent: “Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.” To squeeze and manipulate this definition and employ unnecessary extrapolations, as Mr. Bidstrup did, does nothing more than show an a priori bias against the belief system of the chosen “Fundamentalist.” Also, to group together various organizations/belief systems who use the term “Fundamentalist” is not a wise idea and verges on propaganda. I don’t agree with Muslim Fundamentalists. Therefore I will not group myself with them, and I’m not going to redefine the word.

As a Fundamentalist, myself, I believe that the doctrines of love and holiness are equally important. Mr. Bidstrup doesn’t realize that both can exist in perfect union. God is perfectly loving, and yet perfectly just. He loves everyone and wants them to spend eternity with Him, but if a man chooses to rebel against God, God’s perfect holiness demands punishment for sin. In the exact same way, Christian Fundamentalists strive to adhere to the express commands of the Bible. But if a Fundamentalist truly wants to glorify God she will always be loving, even toward people who are unsaved or living in sin. God commands us to love just as He commands us to be holy.

This short article does not even begin to deal with which fundamentals Fundamentalists hold to. But I hope it serves to present a more accurate picture of the word fundamentalist and explains that just because different groups utilize the title does not mean that they can be grouped together or attributed the same beliefs.

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