The term "Christian Fundamentalism" is often used to describe a grouping of Evangelical Christians who are particularly focused on the importance of Scripture being understood literally. When talking about the "good" and the "bad" of Christian fundamentalism, it's essential to note a few qualifiers.

The title may conjure up a range of images that may or may not be accurate. Some people automatically associate the term with bigotry, dogmatism, and even terrorism. On the other hand, many devout Christians who consider themselves fundamentalist see themselves as true believers, fiercely adhering to the literal words in the Bible, standing for righteousness and promoting a moral life.

The Good Aspects of Christian Fundamentalism

  1. Passion for God’s word: Christian fundamentalists have a strong dedication to the Scriptures, and they believe the Bible contains ultimate truth. They study the word diligently and follow its teachings. This dedication can lead to a deep passion and commitment to live according to God’s design.

  2. Mission-oriented mindset: The central message of the Gospel provides fundamentalists with a deep sense of mission to spread the Good News to others. This drive to share the truth and call sinners to repentance is a significant aspect of their faith.

  3. Moral conservatism: Fundamentalists often take a stand against societal evils, including abortion, same-sex marriage, and the promotion of casual sex. While these stances can seem restrictive or unaccepting to others, the fundamentalist’s morality is based upon a belief that this lifestyle is what God has outlined for His creation.

  4. Support systems: For fundamentalists, a supportive network of fellow believers provides a strong sense of belonging. Close-knit communities are common in fundamentalist circles, providing opportunities for spiritual guidance and mutual encouragement to live the Christian life.

  5. Disciple-making: As part of their commitment to spreading the Gospel, fundamentalists invest a great deal of time and energy in discipling new believers. Their passion for personal evangelism and teaching others to follow Jesus can have lasting impacts on the lives of numerous individuals.

The Bad Aspects of Christian Fundamentalism

  1. Rigidity: There is an unfortunate tendency among some fundamentalists to view their beliefs as the only acceptable interpretation of Scripture. This narrow perspective can lead to an unwillingness to entertain differing views or to engage in respectful dialogue with people from different religious perspectives.

  2. Fearmongering: From time to time, Christian fundamentalists may leverage their biblical understanding in a way that elicits fear among the faithful. This could involve making threats of divine judgment or emphasizing dire apocalyptic scenarios. Such behavior can feed extremism in certain situations and has the potential to scare away those unsure of the faith.

  3. Discrimination: The overemphasis of literal interpretation can lead to intolerance towards other faith groups, people of different sexual orientations, or other marginalized communities. Unfortunately, a small percentage of these more extreme cases turn into forms of discriminatory or even hateful actions.

  4. Anti-intellectualism: In some cases, a fundamentalist worldview can breed suspicion towards academic pursuits that are seen as "worldly" and "secular." This mistrust of higher learning sometimes makes the logical argument, critical thinking, or even scientific study seemingly counterproductive to the path of faith.

  5. Legalism: Fundamentalist groups may place great emphasis on adhering to a strict code of behavior and religious rituals. Often labeled “legalistic," these communities may go to excessive lengths to follow every last detail of a commandment or set of rules, missing out on the spirit of the faith.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that "Christian Fundamentalism" is an umbrella term used to describe a broad range of diverse communities within Evangelical Christianity. Certain attitudes or behaviors associated with the term might be due to individuals or smaller subgroups, and not necessarily a reflection of all who identify with the label.

Questions & Answers

© 2018 Kenneth Krevolin


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Growbench - 7 months ago

Well stated analysis, but can be applied to many faith concepts, including Islam or Judaism, to which 'fundamentalism' equivalents exist. Emphasis on either interpretative rigidity/dogma, or passionate fervor for one's belief-system, seems to be a recurrent human trait, sometimes with unfortunate by-products as you noted.