14032RE: [CF] OT: religious fundamentalists
- Aug 1, 2005I see the term "religious fundamentalists" thrown around a lot in the
media and on the Web recently, often used interchangeably with
"conservative Christian," "the religious right," "born-again Christian,"
"evangelical Christian" and "pentacostal Christian."
I myself always preferred the term "Christian," assuming everyone else
knew that the term encompasses as much diversity as there is in the
world. But since sub-sets of that group have come to be stereotyped as
ignorant, theocratic or other derogatory terms, I get a little
defensive, which is why I offer these comments.
A "fundamentalist" Christian is not the same as an "evangelical
Christian." As for the other terms, they often overlap but are not
An evangelical Christian according to the Institute for the Study of
)displays these four specific hallmarks: conversionism, the belief that
lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in
effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism,
a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
The same organization goes on to say:
"Fundamentalist" is a term that is frequently bandied about in the news
media these days. Unfortunately, this term has been used so casually in
describing anyone who seems to hold some sort of traditional religious
belief -- be they a Bible Baptist TV preacher, a Hasidic rabbi, a Mormon
housewife, or a soldier of the Islamic Jihad -- that the word has become
nearly useless. When used within the North American historical context,
however, there are precedents for the use of this term which restores a
sense of descriptive cohesion. Fundamentalism was a movement that arose
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries within American Protestantism
reacting against "modernist" theology and biblical criticism as well as
changes in the nation's cultural and social scene. Taking its name from
The Fundamentals (1910-1915), a twelve-volume set of essays designed to
combat Liberal theology, the movement grew by leaps and bounds after
World War I. ...
"Since the 1940s, the term fundamentalist has come to denote a
particularly aggressive style related to the conviction that the
separation from cultural decadence and apostate (read liberal) churches
are telling marks of faithfulness to Christ."
So, in the world of Christianity, one unusual mark of a "fundamentalist"
is that this group tends to want to live apart from the world, while an
evangelical would tend to want to live "in" the world with the notion of
Obviously, this is not the proper forum to go into great details on all
the other types of Christians, but I feel it is important that -- just
as we should understand the differences between the types of Muslims --
that we should understand the differences between the types of
Christians and not allow such labels to become a short cut to
Regardless of what label we give a person or the label given by that
person to him/herself, I think we can best judge the person by his/her
actions and reserve our comments and responses for those actions, and
not the label. Even more importantly, I think we cannot always judge a
group by the actions of a few.
Now climbing down from her soapbox,
Norman, Okla., USA
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