Great stuff from the Real Live Preacher blog:
If you want to know about the Taliban, ask an Afghani woman. If you want to know about Christian fundamentalism, ask a Christian. Fundamentalists are more than interesting television for us. They are people with real power who harm our churches, destroy good ministers, and sully our name.
We’ve been in the cages with these cats, and they go for the jugular. They are always on the prowl, circling the campfires of the followers of Christ, howling the name of Jesus and splattering our heritage across their banners of hatred.
Watching fundamentalism do its work is like watching the crucifixion over and over and over again.
Never confuse fundamentalism with a particular set of beliefs. Fundamentalism is a methodology. It is a way of relating to people. There are fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, and don’t forget the politically correct zealots. You will meet fundamentalists in every walk of life.
Fundamentalism’s method is confrontation and its fuel is anger. There can be no dialogue and no mutual respect. There will only be winners and losers. They are right. You are wrong. End of discussion.
Fundamentalist Christians also carry a terrible, secret burden. Your soul is their responsibility. If you go to hell, they will answer to God for their lack of witness. Imagine carrying THAT load around all day. …
With such hellish stakes, extreme measures are called for. The end justifies the means. This is why so many Christian fundamentalists want to use the government to push their agenda.
I agree with many of Preacher’s observations, and yet I’m concerned about the tone. I hear a pessimistic, judgmental finality that mirrors fundamentalist Michael Johnston’s statements at his Kerusso Ministries web site. Johnston states matter-of-factly that Christians who disagree with him are satans in sheep’s skins, bereft of good will toward anyone, patently untrustworthy, incapable of being listened to.
Is there a means by which blind and deliberate intolerance — fundamentalism’s habit of slamming doors shut — can be analyzed without slamming more doors shut? This is difficult.
But unlike the finality of Michael Johnston’s condemnations, Preacher does offer an approach that leaves doors open.
You cannot follow the way of Christ and walk in the way of anger.
You just cannot.
The way of Christ is for those with nothing to prove and nothing left to lose. It is not anger and conquest that sustains you on “The Way.”
What sustains you is the simple placing of one foot in front of the other, all The Way to the end.
Comment submitted to Ex-Gay Watch’s former blog comment system
I tried to be careful in saying that fundamentalism is not a set of beliefs. I bear no anger to those who differ from me, nor will I treat them unkindly. Fundamentalism is a way of relating to people who do not share your beliefs.
Fundamentalism is that very attitude that says, “I am right, you are wrong, and I WILL confront you and condemn you.”
It is that way of relating that DOES make me angry.
After 20 years of fighting this, I’m afraid I have slammed the door shut on relating to fundamentalists. I can relate to VERY conservative Christians – “some of my best friends are…”, as they say. Some would call me a conservative Christian. That’s a relative term. I can enjoy relationships with atheists and pagans and the whole spectrum of belief and unbelief.
I cannot relate to fundamentalists because at it’s core fundamentalism is a refusal to engage in an honest relationships with me.
—Real Live Preacher 1/26/03; 3:36:24 AM