Think for a moment how much worse are the things allowed by fundamentalism than those condemned by it. The condemned practices of fundamentalism are pleasure without permission, action without authority, and belief without dogma. The permitted practices are power without compassion, obedience without question, and belief without reason. And now, consider in human history which path has led to innovation and compassion, and which has been a never ending fountain of sorrow.
Fundamentalism is really a misnomer. It should be called Literalism. I do believe that there are certain “fundamentals” that define us as Christian. I do not believe however that one of those fundamentals is Literalism. It is interesting in the Gospel Reading for today according to the Roman Lectionary Jesus talks about “bad fruit” and how such bad fruit tells us all we need to know. “Fundamentalism” or Literalism and its twin sister “evangelical” so called produces among others such fruit as xenophobia, racism, nationalism, sexism, homophobia, the worship of money and its child a heresy called “prosperity theology”, and robber baron capitalism!
Bishop, it’s always an honor to have you visit the blog. Do you agree that in addition to literalism, fundamentalism also assumes certain power hierarchies? As a child I was taught all of the isms, but they weren’t taught as conscious hatred. I was taught that everyone has a certain place in life. The sexism, racism and homophobia were presented not as white male privilege, but as God’s order, or even as decent manners. When people got “uppity” or challenged my privilege, I felt it as an assault on the order of things. Literalism makes that harder to see, but the hierarchy I think is essential to the nature of fundamentalism because, ultimately, it’s about power. That’s how it seems to me, what say you?
literalism and compassion don’t seem inversed to me. I think Jim might be using the term in a broader sense than that. It’s the “ism” part that might refer to compassion, the blind faith in a triumphant christian God, which says “all enemies of that God be damned.” You can claim to be a literalist without having that spirit. I think the theological term “triumphalism” would be less confusing, but it doesn’t mean anything to most people, so fundamentalism will do, but it probbaly needs an adjective or two. how about evangelical Christian fundamentalism?
Thanks James. It seems to me that all interpretation is a mixture of subjective and objective. If I think I am taking a text literally, that means I do not recognize my own subjectivity. When we disagree, I will assume you are wrong or worse. Literalism is problematic because compassion takes place by respecting differing subjectivities. Anyway that’s my opinion, what do you think?