My Problem with Fundamentalism

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I’m a recovering fundamentalist.

Fundamentalism can be applauded for a variety of things. First, if you are a fundamentalist, you take the Bible seriously. You view the Bible as a set of demands upon your life that must be lived out. This encourages you to pursue holiness and righteousness.

This is good… except when it’s not.

Fundamentalism breeds legalism. Fundamentalism turns Christianity into a set of fundamentals – or rules – that we need to obey. Here are some of the rules:

1. You CANNOT listen to “secular” music.

2. You CANNOT mow your lawn on Sunday.

3. You CANNOT wear a dress that doesn’t go down to your ankles.

4. You CANNOT hang out with non-Christian friends.

5. You CANNOT play video games.

6. You CANNOT drink any amount of alcohol.

…You get the point.

Fundamentalists tend to downplay the physical world. In an effort to attain a certain level of holiness, these Christians tend to reject any type of “earthly” pleasure. This causes them to become lemon-sucking, self-righteous Christians.

Vigen Guorian describes this perfectly in his article on Christian imagination, “Modern fundamentalism doesn’t take the Incarnation seriously enough. It limits the the limitless God to the written word and denies his presence in the physical creation.”

What exactly DOES the incarnation teach us about God?

The incarnation shows us that the physical world really IS good.

When God created the heavens and the earth, He declared them as really good! Nevertheless, the enticement of sin brought ruin and destruction to the universe. This leaves us to question whether or not the physical world should be rejected altogether since it has been marred by sin.

The incarnation is a resounding NO!

God really did become a man. Jesus is fully man and fully God. He did not APPEAR human… He really is human. If God embraced the physical world by becoming part of it, we can find joy in creation as long as we remember the Creator in the process.

My encouragement to you today is to view creation through a God-centered lens. We sprint through our busy lives without taking the time to truly SEE. We need to slow down and search out the hidden parables throughout creation. I challenge you to go for a walk today and consider some of these questions:

1. What do the birds teach us about who God is?

2. How do trees reflect God’s beauty?

3. How does God’s care for seemingly insignificant insects such as ants teach us about his care for us?

Slow down. Open your eyes. Worship God. 

3 comments

  1. I think that I am in agreement with you basically. I think, however that what you have really rejected is legalism. I consider myself a fundamentalist, however we must accept God’s creation as you say. Really the Bible is about God, His grace, His holiness, His love, and it is all about Him. We all need to remember that.
    T.A.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Fundamentalism has a very negative connotation in the minds of many people and that is what I was playing off of. In the true sense of the word – believing the Bible is true and seeking to build one’s belief system on the fundamentals contained in Scripture – I am still a fundamentalist as well!

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