I know calling someone “stupid” sounds bad, but sometimes the truth hurts. For example, I’m fat. It’s not fun to be called fat, but let’s face it. I’m fat. Now let’s move on…
A couple of definitions of stupid are as follows: slow of mind, lacking intelligence or reason, (my personal favorite) dulled in feeling or sensation. Fundamentalists are all of these. Oh, let me define fundamentalist for you. Theologian Sallie McFague defines fundamentalism as the refusal to acknowledge our limitations.
That’s a good definition because it recognizes all forms of fundamentalism. You see, fundamentalists are not just religious or political conservatives. A fundamentalist can be either pro-choice or pro-life, for gay marriage or against it. I have a few liberal friends that I believe are fundamentalists. I also believe that you can be a fundamentalist who is right about a particular belief or wrong about a particular belief. After all, gay marriage is either right or wrong. It can’t be both.
I’ll admit that I have a hard time loving fundamentalists. I would find it impossible if I had not at one time been one. You see, I’ve been a Calvinist, a Republican, a Capitalist, a Pharisee, a Dallas Cowboys fan, and a lot of other things in my life. I’ve been willing to look at many sides of an argument and change my mind about some things. So even though I hate Calvinism, I try not to hate Calvinists, etc. I know that what I believe is partly a result of my life experiences and I’m probably wrong about a great many things. When I was in grad school I taught at a predominately African American Baptist seminary and a predominately Caucasian Baptist seminary. It during was an election year. My black brothers and sisters in Christ were mostly voting for Bill Clinton. My white brothers and sisters were mostly voting for the elder Bush. They all loved Jesus and valued their Bibles. Go figure.
I’m going to continue to speak out against Christian fundamentalism. It’s tough to do without sounding arrogant or judgmental myself. But saying hurtful or doing hurtful things in the name of Jesus hurts the cause of Christ. I’ll try to love the stupid people and arrogant people that don’t understand the grace of God and their own limitations.
I found the following quote from Paul Tillich on Romans 5:20 helpful today. He speaks of Paul’s description of grace this way:
“’Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound’, says Paul in the same letter in which he describes the unimaginable power of separation and self-destruction within society and the individual soul. He does not say these words because sentimental interests demand a happy ending for everything tragic. He says them because they describe the most overwhelming and determining experience of his life. In the picture of Jesus as the Christ, which appeared to him at the moment of his greatest separation from other men, from himself and God, he found himself accepted in spite of his being rejected. And when he found that he was accepted, he was able to accept himself and to be reconciled to others. The moment in which grace struck him and overwhelmed him, he was reunited with that to which he belonged, and from which he was estranged in utter strangeness.”