Being a Christian is not Fundamentalism, although Fundamentalist Christians will tell you otherwise.
One key issue within the institutional church that pushed me away was Fundamentalist thinking.
Fundamentalism has many different definitions depending on who you talk to, but for my post I will define it simply as a religion. When someone inside this religion is confronted with a conflict between either love (compassion) or conformity to doctrine, it appears that most would choose the latter regardless of how the decision affects others within the walls of the church institution or on the society in which they live. In other words… don’t believe what I do… then me and you are gonna mass debate.
This choice is likely made because, as a group their highest priority is to be conformed in doctrine rather than in love (Jesus IS love). So they are not unifying in Christ, they are unifying in doctrine.
This type of thinking is in completely opposite of the teachings of who the “fundies” say they worship … Jesus.
For me, and I am sure many other people within the walls of an institutional church (regardless of denomination) would get so caught up in doctrinal seriousness, that service, or acting out in love toward each other (and in the community) did not even show up in their thinking radar. They think it does, but does it show?
When I joined and got involved it was like I had a frontal “love”botomy. To convert was to convert to the group’s way of thinking as priority number one. Does anyone understand where I am coming from here?
Here is what really confused the snot out of me for years. This so-called emphasis to conform to a doctrinal set of rules seemed to be the result from the belief in the “requirement” of absolutely conforming to doctrine to achieve salvation. Follow all the rules and you will be assured salvation. You will be covered.
Yet, on the other hand, many people will also officially claim that simple acceptance of “their” doctrine is sufficient for salvation. This dichotomy is often seen, and was definitely seen in the fundamental Christian churches I attended growing up.
This contradiction seems to go completely unnoticed or if it is noticed, it is definitely ignored. Believe me, if you try to bring up a discussion about this subject in church the shit will hit the fan.
The main thing that really pisses me off in another facet of fundamentalist thinking is the belief in the correctness of their thinking. Consistently, fundamentalists will make the claim that they are right to the absolute exclusion of others, and that they “oh holier than thou”, and they alone, offer the path to salvation. It is my way or the highway type of thinking. You want to be accepted, you need to conform to be just like us… well I say bullshit to that. I need to write a book about theology and title it… Do you ever think you are wrong?
A lot of the talk I heard in the halls, in groups, and in conferences I attended, the fundamentalist religious thinking was alive and well (it just took me a long time to realize it). It seems they regard their “mission” with great seriousness. I even heard some claim that the salvation of the world depends on them, and some will seriously contend that the earth will end without them …….. hahahaha. When I look back and think I was actually knee-deep in this man-made shithole of a system and it makes me laugh. I have to laugh or I break out in tears.
“Fundies” seem to be concerned not only with their conformity to doctrine, but the conformity of the rest of society to it, too. Why do you think a lot of them try to legislate morality by using the political process to their advantage? Hello, Chick-fil-a, can I take your order.
If they think they are right on all issues, then everyone else must abide by their rules too. Again.. it is the “fundies” worldview that works.. accept it or they will shun you. (Sounds just like Christ, right?)
Why do you think fundamentalist thinking among the institutional church has such a broad appeal?
My answer: I think it is because it is the easy way out. If you join in the hoopla, you do not need to think for yourself, the thinking is already done for you. All you have to do is listen, and obey the pastor and your ticket to the pearly gates will be punched, and you will be covered.
You will be covered alright … in BS.