The Flaw in the Fundamentalist’s Fabric

The major flaw in the fabric of fundamentalism is the motive for what they do. For many fundamentalists their motive can be driven more by fear of man (peer pressure) than Scripture, or to be more precise, the gospel. Because there is such an emphasis on the external there is a strong temptation to judge one another based on external observations. I don’t think many would own up to this type of “external judging”, but it happens. I know pastors who will not go to a movie theater in Greenville because they don’t want to be seen in one by another Christian. This one pastor went to Charlotte to see “It’s a Beautiful Mind”. They really don’t care if they are seen by someone who doesn’t go to church, but not by a Christian. This is really odd. They (or he in this case) is more guarded about his activity in front of a Christian than a non-Christian. It seems the folks we should be presenting ourselves to are non-Christians and our “presentation” in front of Christians should not be a problem.

However, I understand that Paul had this same problem in 1 Corinthians 8 where there were new believers who thought it was a sin to eat meat. They had been taught all their lives that eating meat sacrificed to idols is a sin and you do not do it. When they became Christians they were seeing other Christians eat meat and they were “stumbling” over this in their hearts. Therefore, Paul told the Christians who were eating meat not to do it in front of the newer Christians because it would cause them to sin against their conscience. In this case Paul was concerned what other Christians thought. However, there are some differences between what Paul was dealing with and what we have to navigate through in fundamentalism.

For example, Paul was concerned about new converts to Christianity rather than converts who have been saved for many years. These new converts had an “excuse” so to speak in that they had not had the opportunity to “try out” this new religion and therefore were in a major learning curve in which their conscience was weak due to a bad religion. They were immature.

Similarly, these converts came out of a wrong religion where fundamentalists are supposedly in the right religion. Paul was teaching Christians how to deal with new Christians who did not know any better rather than teaching Christians how to deal with Christians who have been Christians most of their lives and in many cases are second and third generation Christians. This is a major difference between 1 Corinthians 8 and today.

The fundy, as they are affectionately called, has zeroed in on something that Paul is trying to combat and they have created a false dichotomy between the secular and the sacred to such a degree that some fundy pastors have to go out of town just to enjoy a movie in a theater. This is quite odd to me now even though there was a time when I embraced that kind of thinking and practice.

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