Christian Fundamentalism has a bad name because it’s a term that’s often used to stereotypically describe someone who believes in biblical orthodoxy…
…but in a BAAAAAAD way:
Christian Fundamentalists are regularly stereotyped as being inflexible, bigoted, arrogant, unloving, religious and legalistic and perhaps not ‘cool’, ‘street-wise’ or ‘relevant’ any more.
More specifically, at the apex of the negative branding of ‘Christian Fundamentalists’, is the notion that they are controlling and narrow-minded, damaging of ‘free thought’, emergent generations and general ‘freedom of speech’.
I don’t think this is what it means to be a Christian Fundamentalist.
Phoebe and Ross and Dinosaurs
Phoebe had a problem with Ross for being a Dinosaur Fundamentalist in that she found his absolute unwillingness to ‘budge’ on some issues relating to evolution to be as *arrogantly* prehistoric as the suitcase of dinosaur remains that he loved.
The problem with Ross though is that he didn’t believe in his beloved dinosaurs as much as he thought he did. Within a short argument with Phoebe, he was led to admit that there might be a ‘teeny tiny possibility’ that he was wrong about his entire belief system.
How was he going to go into work tomorrow?
How was he going to face the other science guys?
How was he going to face himself?
I don’t think this is what it means to be a believer or follower of Christ.
I think God means us to carry our cross with an atmosphere of gentleness and grace and love and kindness, to have a teachable heart and an open, enquiring mind, (like the Berean Jews in Acts 17), but with a clad-iron, immovable assurance of the unchanging, elementary and orthodox doctrines of the Bible.
We rightly second-guess women’s hats and prawn sandwiches and weird, life-sapping Levitical laws; we wrongly second-guess the cross, the blood, the good news of the gospel and the clear teachings of Christ. [Yes, there needs to be conversation about how we reach what is progressive and not].
But Jesus was a ‘Christian Fundamentalist’ and so am I.
Jesus believed what the Bible taught about God and man, heaven and hell, sexuality and marriage. And so do I.
But that did not make Christ controlling, unloving or evil and neither does it make you controlling or unloving or out-dated for following in His steps.
The Two Stereotype-Busting Book-Ends of Loving Christian Fundamentalism
Look in John 8 where Christ finishes the chapter with the most audacious, fundamental claim imaginable – that ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’:
Book-End 2 of John 8: Jesus was crucified, quite literally, for being a Fundamentalist for claiming to be the only way, the only truth, the only life – ‘only’ is a word of Christian Fundamentalism.
Book-End 1 of John 8: Before this, the chapter opens with Jesus in the gutter with a woman who was about to be stoned to death for being caught in adultery. He was stooped over in the muck writing mysteries in the sand. Jesus’ lowly, bent-over physical posture signifies the heart condition of a Fundamentalist: tender-hearted, compassionate, strong, immovable and deeply loving of people and truth.
So, don’t be like Ross whose entire belief system was eroded because of peer-pressure and the accusation of arrogance or narrow-mindedness or control.
Stick with the truth.
See it through.
Stand up for the sound doctrine of the Bible.
As Mal Flecther once said,
You can’t be politically and prophetically correct
Draw your lines with 2 Timothy 4:3
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
2 thoughts on “Don’t Be A Ross”
You make a sound points Nick, thanks for sharing this!
I like how The Message translation paraphrases what the Psalmists said in 119 “You’re truth never goes out of fashion, it’s update to date as the earth…”
I think the challenge is when people know the laws of God but miss Him (personality & character) entirely – that’s a tragedy because unlike many books written by authors long gone from this world, our author still lives and is ready teach and guide.
Right now in Africa the church is dealing with problems caused by this, actually it’s because the people don’t even read the words of our Father so they fall for every wind of doctrine, be it:
-eat this grass, it’s holy
-eat these rats/mice/snakes because they are holy
-let me suck on your breast (woman) because God wills it
-here, this oil will heal you and make you prosper (while there’s scriptural instructions for the use of oil, it has become corrupted – people trust oil and not Jesus)
And so many others. We are just praying for God to raise more prophetic voices so that people will hear truth again and follow it.
Wow, mate…this is a powerful insight into your world and a totally different context. Doesn’t this contextualisation of the gospel highlight its transcendent timelessness? Whatever culture, whatever period of history, God’s ways are timeless and unchanging! I love that verse from the Message!