“Be holy for I am holy” ~God
“We can make God’s Word say what we want if we’re not careful” ~A Mentor
I want to close this guide with the final two good things that come from fundamentalism. Granted these two areas have been tainted by what was discussed earlier. We should still look at two key things. Holiness and a love for God’s Word is the baby. Legalism is the bath water.
God wants us to be holy. While the pursuit of holiness and the process of being set apart for God may be distorted by legalism, any movement that at its core seeks to be holy is commendable. Jesus came to forgive us our sins. Jesus is in the process of purifying His bride, the church. An emphasis on holiness isn’t legalism, it’s a focus on godliness. “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound” is a struggle all Christians face. I commend fundamentalism for its desire for holiness. We all should.
Authorial intent of the Bible, a significant tenet of fundamentalism, is an essential element to the faith. We can make the Bible say what we want if we’re not careful. Along with sticking to the Bible, however, is the adage you can’t make everyone happy. As Jesus’ life proved, sticking to God’s Word can cause conflict. The Bible is critical as faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Too often movements play fast and loose with the Bible. It should be the authority for faith and practice.
Every movement has or will have issues. Throughout church history movements have risen and faded. We must be careful to not treat a movement as a strawman. Rather than reacting we should seek God and the Scriptures and act accordingly. Reacting instead of acting is often what sets movements in the wrong direction. Writing off fundamentalism is just reacting. Looking at heart issues and identifying what is good and what needs to change is acting with proper measure.
Any error is covered by the cross. As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is opportunity for repentance. I understand that many have been abused or deeply hurt in highly (hyper?) fundamentalist churches. For one thing, not all fundamentalists are like that. For another, people can get hurt by other churches and movements too. Why? Because Jesus isn’t done with us yet. We must ask ourselves this: Is there a sin so great that Jesus forgave it at the cross but we can’t? The cross covers all, and our hurts should be left there as well.
The bottom line:
We have two choices in what we can boast in: the cross or ourselves. It doesn’t matter the movement. Fundamentalism promotes the Gospel, pursues holiness and highly views the Bible. These are essentials to the Christian faith. The lack of humility, legalism and unbalanced view of separation may have clouded fundamentalism. For sure there is a need for “self-policing” that needs to happen. Again, this is true for any movement for they’re issues of the human heart. We all struggle in these areas. To become a recovering fundamentalist takes three key things: 1) Boasting in the cross, not self. 2) Choosing grace. 3) Keeping the Gospel first and central.