A Century After the Question: They Have.
What would have happened if Fosdick had asked a different question???
- like - Who is going to be more welcoming, like Jesus, in serving and blessing others???
I hate labels, although I understand that they are a convenient handle with which to simplify discussions. But that can be problematic. I know that not all so-called "fundamentalists" are the narrow minded bullies who get all the attention. And conceivably a near majority are not white. Many of the "fundamentals" are embraced by Christians who confess the Nicean-Chalcedon Christian Faith, myself included. I also employ historical-critical and literary-critical method in commentaries by others, in my own studies, teaching and preaching, I was a "straight" supporter of the Gay Liberation Front at the University Cahpel at U of Michigan in my Senior year. I've believed in evolution since before my freshman year in a Lutheran High School. I also have great differences with much so-called "modernist" theology which jumps to huge theological conclusions poorly using historical and scientific method. How would you categorize me? As a "moderate"? I have no idea what that means.
I look forward to catching up on these recent postings. I grew up in a liberal, mainstream Protestant church, became an evangelical during the Jesus Movement of the 70's in Southern California (Calvary Chapel, Campus Crusade, Intervarsity, etc.), and now am one of the many evangelicals who feel too liberal for the conservative evangelical church but too conservative to totally fit in with my progressive Christian friends. I'm thankful for your writing, along with that of many others that provide insight as I continue my wonderful but sometimes confusing journey.
I was born and raised a Catholic by thoughtfully progressive parents. Of course it was not until I left home that I understood that my “normal” was not the norm. I was more and more disappointed with the Catholic Church as I grew in years and experience. I now belong to an Episcopal community. I’m in the midst of the Education for Ministry program in which I’ve found many kindred spirits. However, I am also more aware than ever of fundamentalist ideology in this small town as well as in the world. Thank you for your courage and assertiveness in making this history and it’s continuing influence available. Your message and encouragement are priceless! May you continue to be blessed in your work as we are.
I REAlly connect to your sharing of Fosdick's sermon and wonderful comments, i espexcially engaged with your shame,shame,shame sharing
You prompted me to pull Fosdick off my shelf again. His last book of sermons ("What Is Vital In Religion") speaks directly to some of our underlying issues. "The divisions which produce our Protestant sectarianism are caused for the most part by concerns that are not vital...Today the need is deep for the indispensable vitalities of Christian faith; and to see them clearly, present them persuasively and live them devotedly is the importunate task of our churches."
Hum....as living and breathing space for us humans shrank (due to population explosion) and economic opportunities began to disappear (due to globalization of the economy) fundamentalism grew. Kind of makes me wonder if ...no, where the connection is.
The Evangelicals didn't just grow overseas, they grew in leaps and bounds from the early 70s until very recently. Willow Creek (Seeker sensitive), Saddleback Community Church (25,000+), many of the multi-site churches (one preacher linked into many sites), etc. They've made Sunday morning an "experience." Concert-like music, coffee bars, neighborhood groups, glitzy youth centers, and the very popular "vacation-on-other-people's-dime-while-masquerading-as-a-missions-trip." I was a pastor in evangelical churches and a missionary (four countries on three continents for 25 years). Thankfully, in the early 2000s I started to ask myself the hard questions. It's taken more than fifteen years to deconstruct. Now I just shudder when driving past any of their tax-exempt structures, especially the multi-million dollar ones that are used primarily only on Sundays. Grateful today to be an exvangeical chaplain in a Level One Trauma Center, a public, safety-net hospital.
Blown away by the timing of this centennial coinciding with the possible/inevitable split in the UMC.
You are writing about THE most important question in Christianity at the moment. Thank you. As I see it, the Fundamentalists are killing Christianity by their distortions of it. Thinking people have walked away from the church, and from Christianity in general. There was no alternative - until now, when people like you, Spong, Borg, Crossan, Fox, Fuller, McLaren, and many, many more, are discerning the distortions and offering new hope. Christianity has managed to reinvent and revive itself many times before, so I hope that this may be yet a new reformation. Margaret, in far away Australia, but where the issues are just the same.
In every age of the “modern” world we have had successfully fought off the rise of an anti-intellectual culture both in church and politics. 1930s the Nazis and the Facists. 1950s Joe McCarthyism. 1980s Reagenism. And now today Trump and Putin. We will beat this generation of anti-science, anti-the Love of God, anti-compassion, this evil. Remember to love! Remember that even in these misguided souls is still a child of God. Pray for us and them. There should be plenty of room under the cross for all. But fight them we must. How else are we to follow Christ?
The words of A DECLARATION ON THE “RUSSIAN WORLD” (RUSSKII MIR) TEACHING reminds me of the Theological Declaration of Barmen and the Belhar Confession. Did Hitler and the complicit “church” win? Hell no! Did Apartheid and the complicit Dutch Reformed Church win? Hell no! Fundamentalism has not won, and it will not win as long as there are faithful progressive Christians and progressives of any other faith, for that matter, still alive. The Truth will compost the fundamentalist dung and use it as fertilizer as it always has. We must stand strong and faithful, and always declare what God is as well as what God is not. Thank you for your faithful voice.
Use of the phase " ...of being anti-intellectual and intolerant" caught my eye. A few months ago while reading Jemar Tisby's How to Fight Racism I realized he was asking me to become less tolerant. Wondering what that might look like, I sought advice from duckduckgo. To my surprise this bit of wisdom was my reward: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance (to me this seems to describe the dilemma the UMC finds it's self in today). The only solution to intolerance of tolerance that I have seen seems to be separation/segregation - I find that disappointing.
Thanks for the post.
As long as the approach is win-lose, it is the Church that loses its fellowship of believers in different stages of faith development. This weakens faithful witness to God’s love for all people. Is this what Jesus might have been foreseeing when he asked if faith would still be on Earth when he returns?
I read this yesterday and have been thinking about this. When I got “saved” I went into a complete fundamentalist community for a very long time, to the point that I thought you had to be a republican to be a Christian. It seems like a very long time ago that I started questioning doctrines and beliefs I had for so long. I’m still in a place of deconstruction but I stand firmly that God is love!
The fundamentalist in me often wants the floor to himself. One would think that after so many decades that he would be long gone, but alas, being human is hard and for fundamentalism to be laid to rest it is the ego first, that must die.