I really appreciated Mike’s comments on my previous post. (It’s nice to know that someone is reading this stuff.)
Mike said, “Now you are sounding like a fundamentalist.”
Well, yes, I guess I am sounding like one.
A little over a half-century ago, I would have called myself one. Back then the word stood for someone who held to “the fundamentals of the faith” – a biblical literalist. I still consider myself as one, by that definition. But even then the word carried some baggage with it. Often the adjective “fighting” was affixed to it, because of the desire by many to contend over non-essentials. And the legalism: it was not enough to believe in the Bible, one needed to conform to rigid standards, supposedly drawn from the Bible. And separatism: those who didn’t hold to certain views and behaviors were to be treated as though they weren’t really Christians.
There are many “fundamentalists” of this sort still around today, though some of the rules have changed.
I believe, Mike, that many of those you mentioned who have “come out” of the church and have no use for “doctrine” or “theology,” yet feel they are better Christians because of this, have really thrown out the baby with the bath water. They have rebelled against the peripheral issues, and thrown off the essential truths of the gospel with them. We cannot be “better Christians” by denying the doctrines of the person and work of Christ.
I believe I speak as one who has struggled with these peripheral issues and their importance. But I have found that much of my growth as a follower of Christ has consisted of two processes which are concurrent.
The first and most important is a development of a knowledge of, and a relationship with God through time in His Word, through prayer and through worship.
The second is a peeling away of non-essentials: fad doctrines, pop Christianity, religious stuff. This includes a lot of the do’s and don’ts that were once considered important.
I’ve found that the more I grow in the first area the less I worry about the second.
July 2, 2008