Friday, September 12, 2008


Author Bruce Lawrence, Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age, defines fundamentalism as " the affirmation of religious authority as holistic and absolute, admitting of neither criticism nor reduction; it is expressed through the collective demand that specific creedal and ethical dictates derived from scripture be publicly recognized and legally enforced ."

If Bruce Lawrence's expression is widely held, then indeed American democracy cannot abide such a sub-group in this nation.

1.religious idealism as basis for personal and communal identity;

True enough, I guess. We try to live by our beliefs and ideals which instruct us to be forgiving, loving, compassionate, unselfish, law-abiding, kind, honest,courageous, etc. We try to do this individually and corporately as families and churches. We believe in being good neighbors. That's not to say that all of us live up to our ideals all the time--but we know we should --and most of us try.

2. fundamentalists understand truth to be revealed and unified;

Revealed, yes. Unified? what does that mean. We certainly don't all agree on Biblical interp, roles of women --thus, many denominations and independent churches.

3. it is intentionally scandalous -- outsiders cannot understand it;

Scandalous??? what does THAT mean?
I think outsiders can understand it, they just don't share our beliefs.

4. fundamentalists envision themselves as part of a cosmic struggle;

I guess so. the battle between good and evil, people of faith and people who despise bht Bible-believing (so-called fundamentalist) Christians, don't believe in God, don't believe the claims about Christ. There is a battle between those who believe in religious liberty and those who want to shut up the Christians, seeing them as dangerous--when the real danger is the Left's desire to squelch the religious freedom and free speech rights of Christians.

5. they seize on historical moments and reinterpret them in light of this cosmic struggle;

Sort of. Some of us do. Some of us see natural disasters, enemy attacks, as possibly judgments from God --calling us to our knees.
The Bible implies this to be so --but also says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We don't always know God's purposes in the evil He allows --when it is HIS random or purposeful allowance in a fallen world or when it is OUR doing. For sure, man's inhumanity to man is man's doing. But America's defeat at the hands of an enemy could result from our inner moral deterioration and failure to believe in God, hostility toward Christ and His followers. Hedonists fall asleep at the wheel, oblivious to the harm of immorality in a nation.

6. they demonize their opposition and are reactionary;

I think the demonization is worse on the left, frankly. We just define immorality Biblically and say so; you want us stopped, muzzled, eliminated because you claim we are dangerous. You sure aren't doing anything to bring us to your side intellectually with all the ad hominem attacks.

7. fundamentalists are selective in what parts of their tradition and heritage they stress;

Really? Some churches are hung up on the role of women, and there are Calvinists vs. Arminians in scriptural perspective --but we all know we should be busy about the Father's Business of proclaiming Christ to the world and doing compassionate deeds to "the least of these." Some are pentecostal; some are not; some are holiness churches; some emphasize more man's depravity and think he can't live a holy life even with God's help.

So what?

8. they are led by males;

Yes, but women have been very influential --through their children, and the teaching of children, missionary work, and their helpmeet roles and wise counsel and assistance to male leaders, including their husbands.
They have been influential in Bible study leadership --even Beth Moore's studies are admired and followed by men. Some TV women preachers have had effective ministries. They certainly are less run by men than the Catholic church.

9. they envy modernist cultural hegemony and try to overturn the distribution of power.

Huh? Maybe you mean they try to prevent the culture from going to Sodom, Gommorah and Hell in a handbasket? by resisting porn as "free speech," by resisting infanticide by abortion as women's right, by resisting the muzzling of the church by new laws preventing Biblical preaching and teaching if it "offends" someone, by resisting the change in marriage definition, undermining the strength of the traditional nuclear family.

I don't call our leftist critics "a clear and present danger" to the US, as UptheFlag and Mr. Rake call us, though left wing ideals ARE corrosive to decency in our culture --but when you start calling someone "dangerous," isn't the next step the denial of freedom to such a group? After all, we put dangerous people in jail or on a short leash --as they put Christians in jail in Korea and China and Muslim nations for speaking freely of Jesus Christ.

There is evil in the world --and danger --but it is not coming from the Christians.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


steve said...

I grew up in a fundamentalist / evangelical household, and I only remember the church being very pro "separation of church and state". This was in the 70's and early 80's. There was a movement to levy taxes against church property or something like that back then by Toledo City Council.. can’t remember the details, I was just a kid. Anyway, I remember back then, church leaders were pretty zealous about not mixing government and religion. Somewhere along the line since then, in a broader national sense, evangelical Christians have become overbearingly political. It probably all started with the Falwelian "moral majority" movement and the 700 club. But if evangelicals are going to promote a political message from the pulpit, maybe it's time to re-examine taxing the church. If the line between church and state is able to be muddled to the extent that it has become today, where a sort of quasi office of religious affairs exist in the executive branch of the government, maybe a tax is in order to support this new government bureaucracy.

To me the sad thing is, is that I believe the evangelical Christian church in the United States has lost its way. The more political the church becomes, the more drowned out the message of Christ becomes. That’s why I believe Jesus said.. render unto Ceasar… etc…

Nobody wants to see abortions.. Liberals and Conservatives alike, but isn’t it up to God to judge such practice on an individual basis? To just slander all liberal and moderate Democrats, especially Obama, who I believe has a fairly nuanced approach to abortion-really places a “stumbling block” in the way toward someone deciding on being a follower of Christ. The Christian evangelical church has become this hotbed of aggressive angry people out on a political mission, vs a loving home and safe harbor for people searching for Christ. How did that happen?

I refuse to go to my parent’s church (Monclova Baptist Church) because I feel these people have become political soldiers of intolerance, (John McCain’s words also by the way) and are no longer evangelizers in the Christian sense of the word.

When the pastor of Saddle back church asked Obama about abortion, he gave a great answer in my opinion. Such a moral issue is above my pay grade he said. And that’s what abortion is, a moral issue, not a political issue. Obama continued on, “let's see if we can work together to reduce the number of abortions.” That’s a better answer than McCain gave, which was basically just pandering to his audience. McCain hasn't always been pro life, and now your going to tell me he’s seen the light? Yeah right… The truth as I see it, is the economic arm of the GOP… The true power in the republican party.. They don’t give a hoot about abortion. To the GOP power brokers, it’s just a wedge issue used to divide Americans. Here’s the proof. George Bush ran on a very militant Pro Life platform in 2000 and 2004. Has George Bush reduced the number of abortions in this country by ONE in the last 8 years? No he hasn’t and neither will John Panderer McCain. Here’s my prediction, and you can buy me a Code Red Mountain Dew if it comes true. 10 Years from now, Rowe –V- Wade will still be the law of the land, and Abortion will be freely practiced in this country regardless of who becomes president. So come on Evangelical’s bring the issue of abortion back into the church and make it the moral issue that it truly is and get it out of the political arena. Because focus on this one issue, you bunch of one note Johnny’s is irreparably dividing this country

– oh yeah and the gays too.

If Jesus came to Toledo today, he would be downtown ministering to the downtrodden, the drug addicts, the drunks, the poor pregnant teens who ARE in danger of an abortion.. He wouldn't be sidelined from afar lobbing rhetoric stones safely from his self glorifying suburban house of mammon worship, but would be actively rubbing shoulders with the down trodden and breaking bread.

Rob R said...

Just a few thoughts steve. I have some sympathies with some of what you say. I do feel that too many Christians feel that American and conservative ideals are what the country needs to heal and get back on track. Much of conservative republicanism makes sense to me, but I am skeptical that government is the answer. Republicans are for small governement and government getting out of the way, but I really don't think that the church should wait for the government to get out of the way. I don't believe that the democrats have the power to destroy the wonderful things that the church can do for the US and the world as some Christians view it. They give them to much credit. And I am troubled by the gospel of freedom and democracy, that this is what the world needs, such as the middle east. I hope it works, but it is a faith that I don't know we should place our hopes upon.

But on some of the things you mentioned.

That’s why I believe Jesus said.. render unto Ceasar… etc…

Jesus said this looking at a coin with a graven image to a man who saw himself as God.

And remember, Ceasar was an evil oppressor who saw himself as a competeter with God. Though I think we need to caution ourselves in the hope in government, do we want our government to be ceasar as ceasar if we have a choice?

Nobody wants to see abortions.. Liberals and Conservatives alike, but isn’t it up to God to judge such practice on an individual basis?

God will judge us individually when we think of ourselves strictly as individuals. But God doesn't want us to be just individuals, he's called us to be one in Christ and one with the suffering and weak. Many aborted babies qualify.

When the pastor of Saddle back church asked Obama about abortion, he gave a great answer in my opinion. Such a moral issue is above my pay grade he said. And that’s what abortion is, a moral issue, not a political issue. Obama continued on, “let's see if we can work together to reduce the number of abortions.”

But that's kind of contradictory. If it's a moral issue and not a political issue, why would Obama want to reduce abortions at all? And if abortions aren't murder, why should we reduce them at all. And if they are murderous, why aren't we opposing them as much as we do murder?

anyway, the morality/political dichotomy is a false one.

And for a lot of us, Obama did something that is impossible for us to swallow in opposing the born alive protection act for babies who were out of the womb, victims of failed abortions and just allowed to wither and die.

Matthew said...

Rob, my friend. That was a great response.

See Barb, we can agree.

Barb said...

Steve, why are WE viewed as the devisive ones instead of your side? The church isn't the social change agent in the matter of abortion and gay agenda; the Left is. Liberals are the ones who changed the law on abortion and they are trying to do so on gay rights. So seems to me, they are the devisive ones, wanting the nation to go against centuries of legal history.

Neither side wants to give in on these social issues. Your side is no less stubborn than ours. The church side has history on its side; church people are truly motivated by their religious belief in the sanctity of life, and traditional morals -- that's why Palin has invigorated the GOP base.

The other side seems to be motivated by licentiousness; what they want to do --be homosexual or abort the results of their hedonistic immorality.

Neither of these two behaviors was EVER considered moral OR LEGAL in our country before --though we usually looked the other way re: gays in their closets.

We know that illegal abortions with dying mothers did not occur in high numbers --the cemetary stats don't bear out the allegations of many deaths of unmarried, young girls from coat hanger abortions (someone did a study on this); my generation was afraid of getting pregnant so we were not as promiscuous --or we got married if pregnant, like palin's daughter, or gave babies up for adoption. Today we have thousands, maybe millions of single moms struggling to raise babies with the help of Uncle Sam --and millions aborting. Neither is an ideal solution for kids or the nation. We know that single parenting too often results in poverty and delinquency for fatherless kids.

Today, Christians have accepted that homosexuals do their thing without either us or the gov't threatening their liberty to do so. But asking us to condone gay marriage is beyond the pale --absurd.

Abortion is a national embarrassment because it is truly killing off our young --i.e. biting off our noses to spite our faces. We NEED our young. In Germany they are PAYING people to give birth. Our old people are living longer and longer --with no tax-paying workers left to support them.

Legal abortion is, at the very least, lousy public policy. Chastity and birth control, adoption and marriage are the better solutions.

Our church preaches against abortion at least once a year --says very little about homosexuality except in the study of Romans --which is more likely in a S.S. class than in a worship service. We are ministry oriented, outreach oriented, and evangelistic --more than political.

But as individual voters, we want leaders who share our world view --not our church affiliation --but leaders who believe there is a Supreme Being to appeal to as Palin appealed to Him in asking for good things for her state--in urging the Church to pray to God that our efforts in Iraq would please Him and be in accordance with His will. As i recall, she observed that gov't wasn't the answer to all of a state's problems --that people need inner change spiritually to get their lives on track. This was something she said in her church; something we evangelicals agree with; something that tells us she has a world view grounded in TRUTH.

After all, it's the dysfunctional and immoral lives of individuals and families that causes so much economic hardship, so much gov't dependency, so much crime and delinquency, so much domestic abuse and violence, so many fatherless kids, so many abortions and divorces, so much STD, so many addicted folks.

People whose lives are centered on Christ and involved in church do better on average on all the social indicators.

Contrary to liberal opinion, it's not typical church people who would beat up a Matt Shepherd --(just beer bleary sinners who hate minorities of all kinds) it's not the church people who are most likely to be in trouble with the law, divorcing and so on.

The so-called Religious Right is on the front line in foster parenting, adopting minority children, doing disaster relief, sending money around the world to help people, working with the poor, integrating their schools and churches.

I think liberals mostly talk about compassion and their solution for the world's ills is the forced redistribution of wealth by a socialistic gov't. After all, they champion abortion. There isn't any unselfish compassion in that act.

crusader09 said...

I'm going to respond single-mindedly towards one thing that Steve said, because I think this conversation on a whole, not just here, is too heated and I am too invested in the rest of it to be terribly objective:

"And that’s what abortion is, a moral issue, not a political issue."

Bull. The issue is the taking of lives. If you, Steve, were to kill me while I was pregnant, you could be charged with two murders in some states: mine and that of my unborn baby. But if I, as the mother, choose to take the baby's life, it was my civil right? (That example is not to say anything about you personally, Steve, just an abstract example). That is the largest crock of hypocritical bull-you-know-what I have heard in my whole life.

America, and each state individually, have to decide the value of life. We, as Christians, have to stop allowing this conversation to be trivialized. If it's illegal to take life, then it's illegal to take life. Period. But letting the libs turn this issue into a faith-based one, where we are crazy for reading the Bible and believing in God, is ridiculous. Let's get real here people. My views on abortion have nothing to do with my faith. Biologically, the moment the fertilized egg splits into two cells, it has become a living being. It can reproduce, it metabolizes, it respirates, it meets the criteria for life. So why, when we talk about abortion, do I find myself defending Scripture? The two ideas are unrelated.

As for the separation of church and state issue, I'm not touching it. Rob and Barb are more qualified to address this issue than I am, based on what I've read... and it makes me upset enough that I'm not going there.

But for the statement that America "cannot abide" such a group... well, America was formed expressly to abide such groups. And muslims, and jews, and buddhists. My beliefs have never infringed upon another person's cvil rights, so America must abide me.

Rob R said...

Thank you matt.

Christian Apologist said...

Ok first of all Obama is campaigning for the highest political office in America. Therefore no question is above his paygrade so that is the most absurd answer I have ever heard.

Of course if you really want to say that it is a moral issue and not a political one, do you really want to vote for a guy who has not developed enough moral maturity to determine whether killing a baby is good or bad?

Barb said...

good question, A.

crusader09 said...

I'm sad this topic seems to have died, because I am really interested in hearing how a liberal would respond to my argument that the pro-life debate is NOT a moral one...

steve said...

Who's a liberal?

crusader09 said...

I'm sorry Steve (sincerely, I don't really do sarcasm). I made what is apparently an unfair assumption: you have seemed liberal to me based on what you've said. If that is not the case, I apologize sincerely. But it does seem that you are probably on the pro-choice side of the issue. And if that is still not the case, you said this: "And that’s what abortion is, a moral issue, not a political issue."

I said that it is a political issue and was hoping you'd answer. Because, honestly, I've never had one single answer (and I'm not talking good answers, I have stopped everyone in their tracks with this argument) to my view. Not to say that I am widely discussed in the political world, but I'm interested in your, and that of anyone who believes that abortion is not a political issue, opinion.

Barb said...

Political AND moral issue. ARen't morals about what's right and what's wrong? And doesn't gov't take a position on what's right, wrong, just, unjust, and what should be legal or illegal?

crusader09 said...

I don't even think one needs to go so far as to argue (rightly, I think too, Barb) that morals are tied to law. All Americans protected under the Constitution have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'm pretty sure that aborting you before you've got a chance to be born is a violation of your right to life, and it's as simple as that.

And I know it begs the questions about the death penalty (at least, if I were arguing against myself, that's where I would go...), but let's stick with abortion for right now... Though I'm not afraid of the topic.

kateb said...

I missed this before...very interesting reading. My take on the situation is that people can develop a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit and we should really work hard to make sure the kids know this prior to the age of sexual activity experimentation becoming appealing to them.

We also need to work hard to work on young women's self-esteem and that will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies if they believe that they, their sexuality and their unborn children are of great value to God. When young women respect their own sexual value they won't be so quick to respond to sexual temptation.

And Steve said this: "If Jesus came to Toledo today, he would be downtown ministering to the downtrodden, the drug addicts, the drunks, the poor pregnant teens who ARE in danger of an abortion.. He wouldn't be sidelined from afar lobbing rhetoric stones safely from his self glorifying suburban house of mammon worship, but would be actively rubbing shoulders with the down trodden and breaking bread."

I absolutely applaud you for this statement Steve. It shows me that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and have worked to come to know his nature. I agree and I was so happy to read that.

Barb said...

I guess STeve hasn't come back.

I wonder if Steve is doing what he thinks Jesus would do himself? Does he know people like he describes there? suburbanites in their houses of mammon worship who don't do anything for the poor?

I'm sure there are such, but was he thinking of someone in particular? Liberals like to say that about me and other Christians with no evidence whatsoever.

I have always been aware of Christian's obligation to the poor. My parents picked up a retarded classmate of mine to take her to church and to spend the day at my house --she lived in a shack by the river in a family of 17. There were two other families that we involved ourselves with as I grew up --plus a family of relatives who lived horribly because of the alcoholic father and the retarded mother.

My husband stops nightly to take food from the clinic lunches --not paid for by him but by the drug reps --to a family he cares about, who are needy.

I have spent years involved with a certain welfare family.

some of my son's friends haven't money, sons of single moms, --and we just grubstaked them for a birthday dinner for one of his friends the other night --since he is still a fulltime student and dependent on us himself. And my husband said he'd fund a Cedar point trip for the guys.

This is not to brag about us --but to refute the misconceptions and allegations that Christians who speak out on social issues --don't care about the poor and don't help them.

John Stossel wrote a book about givers --and found that Christians are the most charitable group of all in the USA --and the Republicans give more than democrat--and the working poor give more than any --but my husband and I want Jesus to recognize us as giving to Him by giving to the needy --as He taught.