Tag Archives: fundamentalism
Hebrides News – 20 December 2014
I see that the Church of Scotland continues to defy and undermine the word of God by asking its 46 Presbyteries to vote – before Hogmanay – on whether to allow congregations to appoint ‘gay’ ministers.
The folly of putting God’s law up for a vote, especially in a morally compromised church, is nothing less that demonic. The church is not a political entity and ought to know that the Bible, the word of God, is its operating manual and no law is paramount to that.
Who does the Church of Scotland think they are when they freely give presbyteries and congregations the opportunity to vote on whether they should accept ‘gay’ ministers?
National kirk is an “ungodly institution”
Any church that brazenly, and bizarrely, fancies it can decide on what is acceptable or unacceptable in the perfect word of God has lost its very right to be called a church. Not only is it an apostate church, it is also a synagogue of Satan.
The truth has to be formally recorded about the Church of Scotland. The national kirk is an ungodly institution run by godless, and graceless, men and women. The kirk is both a disgrace and a sinful blot on our nation’s spiritual landscape, and shame on it. The scandalous evidence of its reputation is in the public domain for all to see. Instead of being a light in the midst of darkness it has blackened the nation by approving of practices which a holy God, and His unchanging word, condemns and abhors.
Let us set the record straight here. Nowhere in the Bible does God approve of a homosexual relationship, and neither does a holy God let sinful man redefine marriage.
Scripture clearly tells us that the Rev Scott Rennie should not, because of his immoral lifestyle, be in the Christian ministry. A manse and a pulpit is no place for a man who unashamedly disregards God’s word and Divine law, and who has no love for the truth. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Homosexuality and Christianity can never approvingly coexist beside one other. It never has and it never will. This is absolute truth as recorded in the Bible, and Divine truth cannot be edited.
When the Church of Scotland says and thinks otherwise, and it quite clearly does, then it is guilty of hypocrisy and religious sacrilege. In their approval of relationships which are depraved, ungodly and unbiblical, then God’s damning words of judgment are pronounced upon the hierarchy of the church. He regards them, not as true Christians but as “traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God…men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the truth.” (2Timothy 3v4&8) This is God’s verdict, not mine, and what solemn condemnation it is. He will not be mocked, when church commissioners dare to poke fun at all that is sacred and ‘change the truth of God into a lie’ (Romans 1 verse 25).
What is desperately needed more than anything else, both in the heart of the Church of Scotland and in the heart of every other Scottish church that has turned its back on God’s word is repentance and reformation.
Mr Donald J Morrison
85 Old Edinburgh Road
Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson has claimed that “terrorist” same-sex couples are forcing Christians to marry them or else face jail.
The right-wing TV host, who runs the Christian Broadcasting Network, made the claim on his show, The 700 Club.
He said: “It’s one thing to want to persuade somebody to believe like you do, that’s what Christianity is about, to bring the Gospel message and say this is good news and we’d like you to accept it.
“It’s something else to take the arm of the government to force somebody to do something that is against, contrary to their religion, and that’s what these homosexuals are trying to do.
“They are trying to force people who are Christians to marry them or else face jail, to make cakes honoring them or else go to jail and give their sermons over and divulge their innermost thoughts or go to jail, that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with.
“These people are terrorists, they’re radicals and they’re extremists.”
Pope Francis Attacks Christian Fundamentalism Again, Says It’s ‘Not Healthy’
AUTHOR: STEPHEN D. FOSTER JR. JANUARY 3, 2014 5:10 PM
Prepare to hear more howling from conservative critics of the Holy Father. Pope Francis has called out Christian fundamentalism for being ‘not healthy.’
Pope Francis attacked Christian fundamentalism as “not healthy.”
On Friday, La Civiltà Cattolica published remarks that Pope Francis made in November during a meeting with the leaders of men’s religious orders. The pontiff once again blasted those who stick to extreme ideology and attacked fundamentalism for being blind to reality.
“It is not a good strategy to be at the center of a sphere,” the Pope stated. “To understand we ought to move around, to see reality from various viewpoints. We ought to get used to thinking.”
Ah, thinking. A concept that most conservatives fail to grasp either because they’re desperate to defend a hateful ideology that doesn’t work or they fear that their heads will implode from the effort. Of course, Pope Francis says being entrenched in such an obsessive ideology is unhealthy.
Pope Francis referred to a letter written by Father Pedro Arrupe in which he spoke of poverty and how “some time of real contact with the poor is necessary.” The pontiff believes that if people who have much spend time with those who are poor, they’ll be more sympathetic to their plight and be more understanding. Instead of believing that the poor are mere bottom-feeders who are lazy, wealthy conservatives would grow hearts and change their tune if they actually spent time with those who struggle in poverty.
“This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life – experiences of people,” Pope Francis continued. “If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy.”
In short, if we don’t do this, we risk becoming heartless conservatives who believe in hating everything and everyone instead of being more like Jesus.
Pope Francis has consistently stood against most of what Christian conservatives believe.
Pope Francis has been a relentless thorn in the side of Christian right-wingers. Ever since he became the head honcho of the Catholic Church, conservatives have viewed the new Vicar of Christ as an enemy. Far from being the harbinger of hatred that Christian righties wanted, Pope Francis has condemned hating gays, called for a more pro-women approach, advocated for environmentalism, and has strongly stood up for the poor, immigrants, and the marginalized. The man has even called upon Christians to treat atheists and Muslims with respect, kindness, and understanding. Pope Francis has pretty much condemned everything conservatives stand for here in America. And that includes their refusal to budge from a rigid, extreme, and narrow-minded ideology based on hate.
In October, Pope Francis called ideological Christianity “an illness” that needs to be more in line with the teachings of Jesus.
“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness,” the pontiff declared during a daily Mass. “And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”
Pope Francis has even criticized the superior complex that conservative Christians demonstrate on a daily basis. In front of an audience in St. Peter’s Square last month, the pontiff said that Christians shouldn’t act superior to others because:
“God reveals himself not as one who stands above and who dominates the universe, but as He who lowers himself. It means that to be like Him, we do not have to place ourselves above the others, but come down, come down and serve them, become small among the small, and poor among the poor.”
Pope Francis is calling out conservatives again by condemning Christian fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is dangerous. It always has been throughout history. Pope Francis understands this, which is why he is condemning it. It’s an extreme ideology steeped in hate that is based on strict interpretations — most of which are actually misinterpretations — and outdated notions that have become unacceptable to society. The Christian fundamentalism practiced by conservatives fits this description perfectly, and Pope Francis just called it out again. And an overwhelming majority of Americans and American Catholics, as well as people all around the world, agree with the Holy Father. Clearly, it’s time for conservatives to change.
In my first ever blog post, I wrote that the blog existed to expose the activities of Accelerated Christian Education. I now think that “expose” was the wrong verb. It implies that ACE is in some way underhanded about what it does. ACE is actually completely blatant about its educational philosophy, and their leaders’ own writing on the subject of education is far more damning than anything I could write on the subject.
What ACE and other fundamentalist curricula are, however, is mostly invisible to the general public. As Paul F. Parsons explains, there’s a reason for that.
Fundamentalist schools, in particular, operate in secrecy. This is done not only to discourage the prying of government agencies but to avoid the eyeing of a suspicious public.
So here’s what ACE says it exists for in its own words. After I spoke to Reading Skeptics in the Pub…
View original post 1,627 more words
Progressive Christian Channel
A few thoughts on fundamentalism
May 29, 2013 By Kevin Miller
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fundamentalism in preparation for an upcoming project I’d like to do on Rene Girard’s mimetic theory. As part of the development process, I’ve been doing a series of presentations to help me workshop the material. I’ve never approached a documentary project in this way before. However, I’m finding the opportunity to “test drive” the content with various groups tremendously fruitful.
I’m keying in on the issue of fundamentalism, because I begin my presentation with a “state of the union” on religion. I note how in the mid-20th century, sociologists and other qualified observers predicted that the rise of modernity would lead to the demise of religion. They assumed that as we moved toward a more scientific “evidence-based” way of seeing the world, worldviews that took more of a magical or supernatural approach would simply fade away–or be overrun by a tsunami of evidence that revealed such worldviews to be rooted in illusion rather than fact.
Instead, 60 years later it appears like exactly the opposite has happened. Instead of going away, religion is louder, stronger and more violent than ever. Of course, everyone points to 9/11 as the wake-up call that fundamentalism isn’t going away any time soon. And one has only to think of the Boston Marathon bombing, the brutal attack on the soldier in London, the recent skirmishes in the southern Philippines or any number of other religiously motivated acts of violence that occurred over the past couple of months to realize that religion–particularly fundamentalist religion–is very much a force to be reckoned with in today’s world.
But does religious violence necessarily indicate a rise in religious affiliation? I find Rob Bell’s recent comments about evangelical Christianity especially enlightening in this regard:
I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And i think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful.
So rather than defy predictions of religion’s demise, perhaps these violent outbursts merely confirm it. The last gasp of a dying institution. To invoke a Tolkien image, they are merely the flaming tail of a Balrog seeking to pull us down with it into the abyss.
As if to bolster this hypothesis, in North America at least, we are seeing a stampede for the exits when it comes to people’s willingness to identify with institutional forms of religion, especially Protestant Christianity. A lot was made of the recent Pew study which documented the rise of the “nones,” one-fifth of the American population who claim no religious affiliation. That’s not to say the nones don’t believe in God. Many of them do. Call them “spiritual but not religious.” But, like this guy, they are increasingly sceptical of institutionalized expressions of faith, which seems to portend that America is following the same path toward secularization that many European countries have walked.
So what does this picture tell us? Is religion on the rise or is it on its way out? At the risk of being annoying, I would say, “both.” Particular expressions of religion are certainly waning, and others are waxing. But the need to ground our identity in something that transcends our individual experience has remained constant.
Witness the trailer for the upcoming documentary The Unbelievers, for example. I find it intriguing that Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss have essentially adopted the means of “the enemy” to win people over to their cause. In this trailer, you see them preaching, proselytizing, marshalling celebrity endorsements and working out strategies to communicate their message more effectively to the broader culture. Hanging over it all is an apocalyptic tone, a sense that failure to fulfil their mission could spell disaster. Swap out the names and the ideas being communicated, and this could just as easily be a trailer for the next big release from Campus Crusade for Christ. This isn’t a criticism of Dawkins so much as an observation. How could it be any other way? Dawkins is only doing what every human feels an inherent need to do–ground his identity in a narrative that makes sense of the world, and then validate that narrative by getting as many people as possible to assent to it.
The important question is how we deal with those who disagree with our chosen narrative. This is where the spectre of fundamentalism rears its head.
After scouring the web for a good working definition of fundamentalism, I decided to go with “a violent reaction to modernity.” I prefer this definition, because it helps encapsulate the idea that fundamentalism isn’t so much a set of beliefs as a sense of inflexibility in terms of how those beliefs are held. This means everyone–even Richard Dawkins (even me!)–can potentially fit into the fundamentalist category.
However, I think fundamentalist atheism differs from other forms of fundamentalism in one key regard: rather than a reaction against modernity, it seems to be more of a reaction against post-modernity–the idea that there could be more than one plausible explanation for reality, and that perhaps even our perception of reality is itself a social construction, always in need of revision. (Of course, many Christians resist this idea as well.) People like Dawkins talk about moving people toward an evidence-based view of the world. But what qualifies as evidence? That determination can only be made by referencing your worldview. For example, a Christian may accept a personal revelation gained through prayer as evidence of God’s existence. Someone of Dawkins’ ilk will dismiss such “evidence” as nothing more than a psychological projection. Same phenomena, different explanation, because according to each worldview, certain lines of inquiry or explanation are necessarily excluded.
The problem is, a worldview is nothing more than a set of improvable philosophical assumptions. We tend to believe our worldview is based on evidence, but I think it’s more accurate to say a worldview is a set of non-negotiable moral or intellectual intuitions that we have come to accept as facts. So when someone comes along and questions those assumptions or asks us to consider forms of evidence that our worldview has already excluded, it’s only natural to assume that person is cognitively or emotionally defective. How else could they dispute something so obvious?
So we attempt to educate such people, to win them over to our position. But when these dissenters refuse to surrender to the obvious supremacy of our view, we come to suspect that perhaps these people aren’t merely defective in some way, they may actually be evil. They know we’re right; they just refuse to admit it.
This raises an important question: How can we possibly resolve such disputes, especially when we can’t even agree on what qualifies as evidence? It’s like we’re speaking completely different languages.
Pluralism is one response. Live and let live. All paths are equally valid. There’s no need to decide. However, if all paths are equally valid, then all paths are equally meaningless. And the assumption that all paths are equally valid is itself a philosophical preference rather than a scientific inference. So even according to its own rules, there’s no need to grant it privileged status.
These questions could easily lead to paralysis, but I tend to be rather pragmatic. To me, the only important questions are: Which worldview(s) are most conducive to careful and accurate observation of the universe? Which worldview(s) yield the most accurate predictions? Which worldview(s) require us to accept the fewest improvable assumptions? Which worldview(s) yield the smallest number of unexplainable anomalies? Which worldview(s) minimize rather than exacerbate conflict? And which worldview(s) are the most receptive to change in light of new information? This doesn’t mean worldviews which fail to pass this test should be eradicated, but it is probably in the best interest of all if they are simply abandoned. (Of course, I say this fully realizing that all I’ve done here is articulate my own philosophical preference…)
However, as I think about it, perhaps this final question is the most important. It also leads to an even better definition of fundamentalism–a worldview that refuses to change in light of new information. By necessity, every worldview requires a certain degree of inflexibility. Otherwise it ceases to function as an explanatory filter. But when preservation and defence of our worldview becomes the end-all, be-all of our existence–when our worldview becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end–we can be certain we have crossed over into a fundamentalist way of viewing the world.
Whether or not that leads us to become violent, it certainly leads to an impoverished existence. And I don’t care what your philosophical preference is, no amount of evidence can dispute that
The Threat of Literalism
No, not liberalism (I don’t ordinarily consider that a concern) – I’m troubled by literalism.
Literalism is the belief, the philosophy, the attitude that truth can only be found in exactness and certainty. Literalism is an obsession (and it is an obsession) with what is actual, literal, with the “letter of the law,” with the need to nail down (sometimes, literally) what is true and not true and then defending that “truth” at all costs. It’s a way of being and believing that seeks to maintain a tight “hold” on reality. It’s a way of being that is suspicious (maybe paranoid) of anything that smacks of analogy or metaphor, of anything that leaves open the possibility of multiple meanings, of plurality, because for the literalist, for example, there can only be one interpretation of a text – whether it’s a religious text (such as the Koran or the Bible) or a secular text (like the U. S. Constitution) – only onemeaning, only one way to be and one way to believe in this world.
So, why is literalism such a threat? Because, quite simply, the literalist bent undergirds and stands behind the many expressions of fundamentalism (religious and otherwise) unleashing its toxic effluence throughout the contemporary public square. The unmitigated fact is that reality is infinitely more complicated and complex than fundamentalists will acknowledge, actually more than they are free to admit. Fundamentalism, especially the religious variety, is the very opposite of freedom. It’s a form of bondage. It’s a defense reaction against the ever-increasing intricacies and challenges of the contemporary world. Fundamentalism might be viewed, as one commentator has said, as a refusal to see beyond the vested and small certainties that do more to hold off the unknown, than give answers. As a result, fundamentalism and its bedfellow literalism have inflicted untold most damage against the very world they say they care most about and try to defend and preserve, the world of religious faith.
James Hollis, Jungian analyst and writer, suggests that literalism is actually a form of religious blasphemy because it seeks to concretize (nail down, define) and absolutize the core experience of the Holy, of God – a God, if God, who cannot be controlled or defined; a God, as theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) insisted, who was Wholly Other, a God who remains ultimately a mystery. And a mystery is not the same thing as a puzzle (which can be solved); a mystery is always enigmatic and is therefore inherently unknowable. The German theologian Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769) reminded us, “A God comprehended is no God.” Even for Christians who confess that Jesus Christ is the fullest revelation of God the world has ever known or will know (as I do), this does not mean Christians are free to say we have an exhaustive knowledge of God. Humility of knowledge is essential whenever we attempt to make truth claims. Thinking we comprehend the truth is a fantasy. I’m not saying the truth doesn’t exist or that it’s completely inaccessible; it just means we need to remember that our “hold” on it is always elusive.
Hollis, whose writings I admire and enormously respect, even argues that literalism is a kind of psychopathology in need of deep healing (redemption?). From his many years as a psychotherapist he has come to see that a way to gauge mental health and emotional maturity is the degree to which one is able to tolerate what he calls the triple A’s – ambiguity, ambivalence, and anxiety. The ability to hold these in tension – and not escape into literalism and fundamentalism, into strategies of avoidance – is a way to test our psychic strength. I can certainly resonate with this. The literalists (of all varieties) I have known and know (and love) have difficulty tolerating ambiguity, ambivalence, and anxiety. They use their faith or their political ideology to bolster themselves against, hide themselves from the triple A’s that define the human condition.
Writing twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Protagoras (c. 490-420 BCE) might provide wise counsel to our troubled, conflicted age, and offer some hope: “Concerning the gods,” he wrote, “I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, nor of what form they are; for there are many obstacles to such knowledge, including the obscurity of the subject and the shortness of human life.” We could all use a little more humility and intellectual honesty like his in the public square