physical world

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. 

You’re a Heretic.

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It would be very strange to see a person without skin.

Skin plays a vital role in our lives! It protects the rest of our body from outside factors which could destroy it. I have never heard anyone say that their skin holds them back from truly experiencing life… “I just wish I could be free from my skin so that I could live as a skeleton!” If someone said that they would probably end up in a mental institution!

Yet this is the attitude many of us have towards our bodies…

Have you ever heard the statement, “You are not a body with a spirit, you are a spirit with a body”? Well, it’s wrong. Really wrong. In an excellent article called Rallying the Really Human Things by Vigen Guroian, Guoroian makes an incredible observation – “Body and spirit are not two independent realities, as so many modern people – including many Christians – believe, but rather constitute the one person.

You do realize that in Heaven you won’t be a disjointed spirit hovering through space plucking a harp, right? The Bible speaks about a RESURRECTED BODY… it’s still a body!

Now you’re probably thinking I enjoy metaphysical language and this actually has no bearing on your life today… wrong again!

Since both the BODY and the SPIRIT are good, PHYSICAL is GOOD!
Christians tend to take life too seriously. We view religion as a means of punishing our bodies in order to sanctify our spirits. We neglect to laugh, eat good food, and watch funny movies because we are too… spiritual. Guess what – God created our bodies and he called them good! Yes, they have been marred by the effects of sin, but so has everything else! The Gospel redeems us so that we may truly enjoy life… even the physical part of life!

It is okay to read a book just for fun.

It is okay to enjoy a good meal.

It is okay to actually laugh.

It is okay to get lost in the beauty of nature.

It is okay to find pleasure in your spouse.

Quit taking yourself so seriously!

One of the best ways to redeem the physical is by reading a good FICTION book. Fiction books often paint the physical world with vivid imagery and expertise. These authors have discovered the rare ability of truly being present in the world. We Christians have a tendency to disconnect from our imaginations in honor of non-fiction books. If we are going to spend time reading, we want to read something that is TRUE and encourages us to live a more HOLY life. This is all good but FICTION allows you to understand the depth of human nature and the beauty of God’s creation. It is through reading fiction that you increase in your love for neighbor as you experience the emotions and thoughts of someone other than yourself!

Allow yourself to be caught up in the story. Although it seems like a waste of time, it is incredibly practical and beneficial! While you’re at it, enjoy a glass of wine!

(Any religious people mad yet?)

You’re a HERETIC.
When you believe that the spirit is good and the physical is bad, you’re actually a heretic. This false belief comes out of a dangerous teaching known as Gnosticism. This teaching ravaged the early church and misled many from the true faith. Adherents of Gnosticism believed that we are imprisoned by the physical world. In order to escape, we need to discover a special knowledge and become truly spiritual (gnosis is Greek for “to know”).

Somehow this has infiltrated the church in the 21st century. The result is a bunch of lemon-sucking Christians trying to become free of the very thing that makes them human. The irony is that God became a man in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He did not simply “appear” to be human… he really is 100% human and 100% God.

We would do the world a favor if we laugh, enjoy food, read fiction, exercise our imaginations, and embrace the humanness of our bodies… for the glory of God!


What are some other ways we can can redeem the physical world? Let me know by leaving a comment, I would love to hear from you!