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Skye

Am I a biblical fundamentalist?

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I have somewhat naively been perceiving myself as progressive, but it now appears I might have a different label, biblical fundamentalist.?

A very brief history of my relationship to Christianity: I was brought up in a Catholic school and never felt a need for Jesus, though I always had some affection for the notion of God. I determined to discover the truth of myself via psychology instead, basically implementing a self-psychoanalysis program, and following my own way (I even studied psychology at uni in the hope of finding the key to 'self'). I was interested in all religions and read about them as much as I could, really I think I might have been labelled primarily a searcher in this period. 

Being psychoanalytically inclined I couldn't help but notice during this seeking period that 'the Father' seemed to crop up in my dreams occasionally, and always in a very profound context. At a certain point I managed to worm my way into the deepest recesses of my heart, and found that it was completely dark, but at the same time I was presented with a task to continue further that required light to see by. 

After a few days of pondering this dilemma I thought to myself "Jesus is the name associated with light par excellence," and in that moment quite literally a small light started to shine (in the psychic space of my heart), that was just enough to enable me to continue on my way. Since then resonances with some of the gospel images have surfaced for me, and 'the Father' has also reappeared in my dreams, closer to myself than before. 

I believed, before coming to this site, that my attitude to Jesus had profoundly and violently matured, yet I arrive at the notion today that my new heartfelt relation to Jesus and the Father via the gospels and my resonance with them might be termed biblical fundamentalism. 

I don't really mind, it is at it is and it suits me, but it's quite funny to go from feeling quite progressive to fundamentalist in an instant. 

 

 

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Some radical fundamentalist beliefs (lifted from a Christian forum):

1. a six-day creation, not evolution (I actually believe the majority of scientists today are deceived)

2. a literal world-wide flood, where God spared 8 people and animals in an ark

3. the red sea parted while a million people crossed

4. a man was swallowed by a great fish (and vomited back on land after three days)

5. Jesus was born from a virgin woman (and hence, he is the Son of God)

6. Jesus is God (and yet was a man)

7. Jesus came back to life, days after being crucified (physically, and appeared to many people, and even ate with them)

8. Jesus is the only way to God (all other religions are false, and from the devil)

9. the sanctity of life (abortion is murder -- and I'm utterly horrified by the recent US Supreme Court ruling that gives guidelines on how to rip apart a baby as it is being born)

10. women should be in submission, both in the home and in the church (men should lovingly lead)

11. Jesus will return (straight from the sky), and this world will be destroyed by fire

12. Eternal life and hell -- We who believe in Jesus will live with him forever (those who reject him -- i.e., most people -- will go to hell)

 

Is this really all in the bible? If it is I don't think I am a biblical fundamentalist, I have my own personal reading of the bible, and am most inclined to the gospels and the historical Jesus literature, and perhaps Acts. 

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2 hours ago, Skye said:

Some radical fundamentalist beliefs (lifted from a Christian forum):

1. a six-day creation, not evolution (I actually believe the majority of scientists today are deceived)

2. a literal world-wide flood, where God spared 8 people and animals in an ark

3. the red sea parted while a million people crossed

4. a man was swallowed by a great fish (and vomited back on land after three days)

5. Jesus was born from a virgin woman (and hence, he is the Son of God)

6. Jesus is God (and yet was a man)

7. Jesus came back to life, days after being crucified (physically, and appeared to many people, and even ate with them)

8. Jesus is the only way to God (all other religions are false, and from the devil)

9. the sanctity of life (abortion is murder -- and I'm utterly horrified by the recent US Supreme Court ruling that gives guidelines on how to rip apart a baby as it is being born)

10. women should be in submission, both in the home and in the church (men should lovingly lead)

11. Jesus will return (straight from the sky), and this world will be destroyed by fire

12. Eternal life and hell -- We who believe in Jesus will live with him forever (those who reject him -- i.e., most people -- will go to hell)

 

Is this really all in the bible? If it is I don't think I am a biblical fundamentalist, I have my own personal reading of the bible, and am most inclined to the gospels and the historical Jesus literature, and perhaps Acts. 

No, most of that is not in the Bible.  Some of the bolded headings are, but even then the non-bolded part is largely incompatible with orthodox Christian thought.

Each point is a subject in itself, deserving of several sermons and not readily reducible to an internet post.  St. Bernard of Clairveaux wrote over 40 sermons just on Song of Solomon, a book that most Christians avoid whenever possible.

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6 hours ago, Skye said:

I believed, before coming to this site, that my attitude to Jesus had profoundly and violently matured, yet I arrive at the notion today that my new heartfelt relation to Jesus and the Father via the gospels and my resonance with them might be termed biblical fundamentalism. 

 

Fundamentalist is a pretty strong word. It means believing that every word in the Bible is there because God has commanded it to be there, and it's infallible. I often hear the label "classic Christian" used to describe a faith that is softer than fundamentalism, but takes the supernatural parts of the Bible seriously.

 

I think 11 out of those 12 are biblical beliefs, if the Bible is interpreted literally. The 1 that isn't is the abortion part. That is at best, debatable. The closest one we get in the Bible is a piece of Mosaic law, Exodus 21:22-25, that treats causing a miscarriage for a woman as a physical assault, and the punishment is a fine. If it was considered a murder or manslaughter, there would be a death penalty. Literally interpreted that would mean that in God's law, abortion (or it's iron age closest equivalent) was not a murder. To make the case for anti-abortion from the Bible, one has to quote a few poetic expressions such as psalms, and those are vague at best. 

 

It's actually funny that the one moral issue that is the most closest associated with fundamentalist Christian morals in the US is actually not based on the Bible, but rather on later philosophies. It's as if someone got political at some point down the line.

Edited by Jack of Spades

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Jack,

Is this Exodus passage used as a defense against abortion by some Christians? When I first read your post, what came to mind was not a direct, intentional attack on the fetus but an attack/assault on a woman (whether the attacker knew or didn't know she was pregnant) that might result in a miscarriage. Thus they seem to be two different things. If so, it is not a direct statement on what we would call abortion (attack on the fetus not the mother). Just curious.

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

Jack,

Is this Exodus passage used as a defense against abortion by some Christians? When I first read your post, what came to mind was not a direct, intentional attack on the fetus but an attack/assault on a woman (whether the attacker knew or didn't know she was pregnant) that might result in a miscarriage. Thus they seem to be two different things. If so, it is not a direct statement on what we would call abortion (attack on the fetus not the mother). Just curious.

 

You'll find more educated opinion than mine on the topic of how to exactly interpret the verse by simply googling it. I'm just mentioning that it exists. The fact that the interpretation of single verse in the Mosaic law would be crucial here only highlights the fact that the Bible doesn't provide a good case against abortion.

 

Edit:

The Mosaic law is very detailed and spends lots of ink addressing far more trivial things. If the law wanted to make it clear, there would simply be a command something along the lines of "Whoever shall kill a pregnant woman, has taken two lives and the punishment shall be...". It's the absence of that kind of command that speaks the most to me.

Edited by Jack of Spades

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Abortion was prohibited by the early Christians.  Contrast with the Roman custom of infanticide by exposure.  Later abortion was permitted by Christians but only before the heartbeat could be heard with the rationalization that ensoulment had not yet occurred.

 

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From the Didache, AD 50-160

Quote

Chapter 2. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden. And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.

 

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15 minutes ago, Burl said:

Abortion was prohibited by the early Christians.  Contrast with the Roman custom of infanticide by exposure.  Later abortion was permitted by Christians but only before the heartbeat could be heard with the rationalization that ensoulment had not yet occurred.

 

Anti-abortion stance is not new to the culture of the ancient world: The Hippocratic Oath which originates centuries before the first Christians, specifically prohibits abortion. "I swear by Apollo the Healer.... I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion." That ancient Greek text, unlike any book in the Bible, is perfectly clear on the matter. But it's important to recognize that the existence of such a ban doesn't mean that the motive for it would be what we are inclined to think. It could be that it's considered a murder, or it could be that it's considered sexual impurity, or it could be that it's considered an unsafe practice, or something else.

 

But, we are getting off-topic here. The topic is fundamentalism, so I don't think it's relevant what the church did after the Bible was put together. From the point of view of fundamentalism, the church might just as well been unbiblical, and the only thing that matters is what the Bible says, not what the early Christians did. 

 

I rest my case. I recommend everyone who's interested in the topic and somewhat new to the ideas, to read the Wikipedia page "Abortion and Christianity".

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59 minutes ago, Burl said:

Abortion was prohibited by the early Christians.  Contrast with the Roman custom of infanticide by exposure.  Later abortion was permitted by Christians but only before the heartbeat could be heard with the rationalization that ensoulment had not yet occurred.

However, abortion and infanticide are different. And, interesting that abortion was at one time permitted because the soul was not yet present. 

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3 hours ago, Jack of Spades said:

 From the point of view of fundamentalism, the church might just as well been unbiblical, and the only thing that matters is what the Bible says, not what the early Christians did. 

The flaw in this is that the late 19c belief system that 'the only thing that matters is what the Bible says' is not only unbiblical, but the Bible is obviously chock-a-block full of non-scriptural revelations.  The Bible also never makes any claim to inerrancy, which is another common fundamentalist paradox.

I believe Fundamentalism as formally organized is now an extinct sect, with the term 'fundamentalism' adopted by a host of different independent churches.  Fundamentalism was an early 20c Christian movement defined in "The Fundamentals"  - a series of ninety essays published in twelve volumes.  Fundamentalists were certainly not 'Bible only', but required their own body of dogma larger than the Bible itself!

In truth, the Christians today who identify as fundamentalists today are anything but.  They are trying to recreate a splinter Christian dogma/social culture dating back to the 1800's from memory and imagination.  God bless 'em, but their planet flies in an eccentric orbit.

This peculiar notion that the Bible is a standalone authority seems to come from a mistaken take on Luther's 'Five Solas', one of which is 'Sola Scriptura' where Luther denies that a church can demand that any human work that is not biblical is required for salvation.  This eliminated indulgences and five out of the seven sacraments.  Many modern Protestants have twisted this into 'only what is in the Bible is true' which is incorrect.  

The most accurate statement is that the Bible is sufficient but not exhaustive.  

"Now there are also many other things Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain all the books that would be written."  John 21:25

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6 minutes ago, Burl said:

The flaw in this is that the late 19c belief system that 'the only thing that matters is what the Bible says' is not only unbiblical, but the Bible is obviously chock-a-block full of non-scriptural revelations.  The Bible also never makes any claim to inerrancy, which is another common fundamentalist paradox.

 

Yeah. There is a strong biblical case to be made that the "inerrant word of God" view on the Bible is not very biblical. Paul in the NT reads the OT (the only Bible of his world) rather creatively and allegorically. For example in Galatians 4 Paul goes all-in with allegoric reading of an OT story to make a point.
 

I think historically fundamentalism can be seen as a counter-reaction to two different phenomenons; first as a protestant counter-movement against the authority of the Catholic church and then again few centuries later as a counter-movement against the authority of science.

 

6 minutes ago, Burl said:

In truth, the Christians today who identify as fundamentalists today are anything but.  They are trying to recreate a splinter Christian dogma/social culture dating back to the 1800's from memory and imagination.  God bless 'em, but their planet flies in an eccentric orbit.

 

In Christian lingo, one could say that trying to live in the world of 1800's or 1950's is not any less worldly than living by the spirit of the times of 2018. It's just worldly life from another era.

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