Recently I was interrogated about what I believe, & one question struck me: Would you say that you are a fundamentalist?
I’ve been thinking about why SHE thought I might be a fundamentalist, or at least more of one than her; and what makes the differnce between a believer & a fundamentalist of ANY religion/philosophy/worldview.
Well after she had apparently exhausted her interrogation of me (returning to certain areas a few times), & constantly been told that she does not agree with my beliefs, I was curious as to what exactly she does believe (because everyone does believe SOMETHING, even if they’ve never thought them through, but just picked them up along the way).
The closest to a straight answer that I received was that she really has very little idea of what she REALY believes. She has hopes, and vague impressions, even a few random disconnected convictions (mostly of what she does NOT believe); but in essence she has no answers to the BIG questions, and as a result she does not believe that anyone else can know either.
But can you really assume that matters of God, heaven etc. are a complete mystery to everyone else just because it is a mystery to you? Is it valid to disagree with someone, when you have clearly been hiding behind the mask of “everyone has their own beliefs of equal value” to avoid working out & evaluating what YOU believe?
In the light of what emerged when I turned the questions in her direction, I suspect that her desire to label me as a fundamentalist is quite simply because I am confident & certain of what I believe. But that in itself should not be enough to label someone of that. After all, she seemed to be quite confident that no one could really know the Truth, which would therefor make her a fundamentalist of sorts too.
I get where she’s coming from though. I was bullied so often at school, that I took to bullying the bullies. For years I thought I was in the right, but experience & scripture has shown me that that is still bullying, and does not really solve the problem. (Admittedly I did befriend them when they stopped bullying). As a result, I know how easy it is to become what you despise in the act of acting out against it.
That definition still seems a little too limited though. I think her objection with me may have extended to something that was not specifically said until the end: assurance.
I know I will go to heaven because I trust in Christ’s death & resurrection get me there, and that assurance goes beyond certainty or what many think of as belief, and I suppose it does put me in a similar category to fundamentalists of other religions. After all, there aren’t many ways that a muslim for example can have that assurance, unless they are a suiside bomber or similar. I would however suggest that there is one major difference: my assurance comes from something God did 2000 years ago, and in gratitude compels me to LOVE, theirs is based on their own action which is often destructive in nature.
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends
In a sense, I am indeed a fundamentalist; but my ‘terrorist’ weaponry is lOVE. Not just the superficial love for those who agree with me, or those who are easy to love; but sacrificially for EVERYONE. God Loves all people, of all races, all classes, all ages, all nationalities… All people! And Christ died for them just as he died for me, whether or not they are brave enough to take up the salvation of love & grace that comes with it. If my God & Savior value them, then who am I to refuse them my love. And if living that love prompts others to interrogate me, then I will answer as best I can, & pray that the gaps I leave, will be filled by others.
(I am not yet perfect, but Christ is perfect, & He is in me.)