I am not a Fundamentalist

Most people in western culture will be aware to some degree of a certain brand of church from the USA. I mean, of course, the people often, somewhat perjoratively, called “fundies”. Which is short for Fundamentalist.

Now, fundamentalism in and of itself shouldn’t be a bad thing. At its core it is an attempt to get back to the most basic, the most fundamental facts of a topic. However, what has happened is that various church movements in the last hundred years ago have taken this to some extremes. The Wikipedia article is informative.

One core belief held by Fundamentalists is of the accuracy and inerrancy of The Bible. It is one of the most hotly defended beliefs. It is the one that means people are taught the history of books of the Bible like Genesis really happened as recorded. What’s more, such beliefs are not restricted to the most conservative, the most visible or the most combative of Fundamentalists. Many evangelical churches who would never identify with the former also believe the historical stories in the Bible are accurate (if incomplete) historical records.

Unfortunately, this ignores modern scholarship.

Setting aside what science thinks about how the world came into being, scholars are pretty sure that most of the stories in the bible were never intended to be the sort of historical records we are accustomed to. And that’s largely for the simple reason that that idea just did not exist until a few hundred years ago. Evangelical, non-Fundamentalist Christians actually think they know this, curiously. That’s when you hear the reminder that the oldest stories were intended to tell who (and often why) and not how.

And still they forget.

For various unclear and largely half-thought-out reasons I went back to my (old) church tonight. The message was the first in a series about “God’s Big Stories”, and the first one was about the creation story. As a story demonstrating God’s power, this is a pretty big one! And pretty much what it was written for. And then I was disappointed to see a kind of quiz seeing how well the younger attendees remembered which days what acts of creation occurred.

I used to believe creation happened in six actual days just like in Genesis 1. It is, after all, what I was taught in the basically evangelical and reasonably conservative churches I attended whilst I was growing up. But ever since I got bored and frustrated with the same unsatisfying teaching going around in circles and went looking for myself, this has become a casualty of larger realizations.

In short, I’m not a fundamentalist. Not anymore. Not even the merely ignorant sort I was raised to be.

 

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