Christian fundamentalism–another gospel? Guest post by Michael Hardin

Michael Hardin is a mimetic theorist, author of The Jesus Driven Life, and co-founder of Preaching Peace. Perhaps better known as “the guy with the ponytail in Hellbound?“. He posted this on his Facebook page today, and I simply had to repost it here.

But thank God, who is always leading us around through Christ as if we were in a parade. He releases the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere through us. We smell like the aroma of Christ’s offering to God, both to those who are being saved and to those who are on the road to destruction. We smell like a contagious dead person to those who are dying, but we smell like the fountain of life to those who are being saved. Who is qualified for this kind of ministry? We aren’t like so many people who hustle the word of God to make a profit. We are speaking through Christ in the presence of God, as those who are sincere and as those who are sent from God.  — The Apostle Paul to the Corinthians

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
― Albert Einstein

For over 100 years Christian Fundamentalists have drawn a line in the sand. On the other side of that line are Liberals. I know. I became born again in a Fundamentalist Dispensationalist Baptist church. I read everything Francis Schaeffer wrote. I read Josh McDowell and quoted apologetics at every turn. I read voraciously, listened steadfastly and studied diligently. That part of my life’s journey lasted about two years. I moved on to Evangelicalism.

Religion needs to defend itself, the Gospel needs no defense. Religion is about certainty, the Gospel is about assurance. Religion needs every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed while the Gospel dwells in ambiguity and mystery. Religion seeks perfection, the Gospel offers wholeness. Religion validates sacred violence and a wrathful god, the Gospel speaks of the nonviolent, non-retributive God. Religion takes the State as its consort; the Gospel refuses the State and takes a peace loving people as a Bride.

Yesterday I reposted some thoughts Martin Trench had on Fundamentalism.

I have come to the conclusion that Fundamentalism (in any religion, branch of science, or discipline) is actually a mental disorder brought about by the persons inability to cope with a complex world, and need to see everything as black & white/right & wrong/dualistically, and always have an enemy that you are waging a culture war against. It is a sickness which is destroying western Christianity. It has nothing to do with the character of Jesus. Talking to Fundamentalists and trying to help them see a bigger, fuller, more inclusive and fully rounded view of God is a total waste of time. As a former, and now fully recovered Fundamentalist, I know this to be true. When you have to reject the proven findings of every branch of science and archaeology in order to hold to your beliefs, then something is seriously wrong with what you believe. If you think that God wants you to believe something which can be clearly proven to be completely untrue – you are worshipping a false god. There is no way to reason with an unreasonable person. Their only hope is to eventually become so sickened by the unChristlike fruit that Fundamentalism produces and by accidentally stumbling upon information that they cannot refute which contradicts their comic-book-version of faith …. then they may be open to talk. Try to talk to them before that and they will attack you and accuse you.

Let’s remember – it was Fundamentalists who crucified Jesus.

I thought his analysis was both on the mark and to the point. Christian Fundamentalism is not a faithful representation of the Gospel. Some will get their dander up and their panties all in a wad because I said this. But think this through. What if we are right? What if Fundamentalism is not a true representation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Does this not have enormous implications? So, after a hundred years of drawing a line in the sand, now we turn around and do the same. I can hear the defensiveness cranking up. (And before you non-Fundies get too snarky just realize that some of the same stuff could be said about the Jesus preached in progressive churches but that’s for another day).

“Do not judge.” But haven’t Fundamentalists been judging since they began? Have they not said that across that line is only relativism, untruth, ungodliness and liberalism? Have not Fundamentalists created their own little insular world with radio hosts, book publishers, TV shows, church decrees, and schtick to hang up on living room walls? Sure they have. They invest heavily in all this and why? In order to demonstrate that they will not be polluted or tainted with any outside worldly liberal influence. The Jerry Falwell’s the Pat Robertson’s, even the Billy Graham’s (and Billy is, or was, a closet Fundie) all created the ugly monolith known as the Religious Right. I know. I have books on the origins and beliefs of this movement. I have a friend who was there in the beginning who now repents of this (Frank Schaeffer). Now it has morphed into the Tea Party, merged with conservative Evangelicalism and its adherents see themselves as Keepers of the True Flame of God and Country here in the United States.

Fundamentalism is being challenged from every side. Science has broken down its poor excuse for creationism. Historical criticism has destroyed any chance of seeing the Bible as Perfection Dropped From Heaven. But far more important is the work of thinkers who have been able to show that the Gospel itself is deconstructing Christian Fundamentalism. It is the Gospel of the Prince of Peace which calls into question Fundamentalism’s god of arbitrary power and might. It is the Gospel which shows clearly that the Living God has no interest in human blood, does not want it, never needed it, and hates when we shed it. It is the Gospel that is showing us that faith in a neo-con neo-Calvinist Teavangelical God is idolatry. That god is a false idol, an admixture of nationalism and civil religion with a little Jesus thrown in to make it palatable to the mindless grey masses. It is a seductive serpent. It lies and kills. It justifies all manner of exclusion and warmongering. It is not the truth, never has been and never will be.

Is this judgment? Yes it is. Have I condemned any Fundamentalist to eternal perdition as they have others who were not with them? No I haven’t. I am not condemning people, but an ideology. I am saying that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christian Fundamentalism are worlds apart. I am saying that if you attend a Christian Fundamentalist Church you may not be worshipping Jesus. The Jesus of Fundamentalism is different than the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of Fundamentalism is not the Prince of Peace, the One who takes away all fear, the one who challenges the very heart of all religion and all culture. The Jesus of Fundamentalism looks more like John Wayne or Rambo or the Terminator than the Jesus portrayed by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Fundamentalists use these same Gospels to twist the Living Jesus into a fake.

Let us name Christian Fundamentalism for what it is: it is ‘another’ gospel’ which is no gospel at all. There is no good news in Fundamentalism, there is only an angry deity, an arbitrary lottery spinning, blood thirsty, vampiric, alcoholic, torture loving, war mongering little god that puffs itself up like the Wizard of Oz. But we have seen behind the curtain. We have seen that that god is a fake. We know that that god is the One Jesus came to destroy. Hallelujah and Praise be to God who brings down the satanic god that accuses, marginalizes, discriminates, lies and kills. Jesus is and always as been the Victor and He has drawn a line in the sand by His death and resurrection. The old has past, and Behold! The new has come.

So how does this Gospel smell to you?

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  • Anna Lopez

    It is just funny to me that people write articles like this and think they’ve come up with some revolutionary thought. It’s funnier still that there are people surprised or angry as a reaction to these articles. I’ve know this all along. It’s amazing how stupid people can be.

    • Kevin Miller

      And how dismissive and arrogant other people can be!

    • Anna Lopez

      Oh and Kevin I saw your snide little retort before you decided to remove it. You said, “And how dismissive and arrogant some people can be.” Yep. Those who spent decades of their life hurting people in church in the name of Jesus, dismissing their needs in favor of promoting their own agenda, and arrogantly assuming they have “the truth” that needs to be shoved down the sheeps’ throats. I was never like this. I saw all along what the hypocrisy was. And I simply said so.

      And YOU call ME “dismissive and arrogant?” Sounds like someone’s got some big britches, Mr. Christian Author Who Thinks He’s Got Some Big Revolution. And an unpaid nobody like me knew this all along. Dismissive and arrogant… yes indeed.

      • Kevin Miller

        I didn’t delete anything, Anna, and I stand by my comment. To it I will add the fact that you appear to be the type of person to lash out at a complete stranger with all sorts of unfounded assumptions. Not a very constructive approach to dialogue. I was attempting humor. Obviously, I failed. But I get the chance few people succeed with you.

        • Anna Lopez

          Oh, I see now that you put the comment back in place. It was not here last time.

          The reason you took my comment personally is because your ego is getting in the way of your mission. If you were really sure of yourself and doing this for altogether altruistic purposes, you wouldn’t feel the need to REACT so indignantly to what I said. Take it personally, be insulted, and then pass judgment on me. Which by the way was not what I did at all, my comment was a general comment at, indeed, people’s willful ignorance which is equivalent to stupidity. People who continue with reactions of astonishment and anger to hearing the truth about their little church club ARE stupid. If you’d read more carefully what I said, you’d realize I was not, initially, calling YOU stupid.

          I may however revise that opinion now that you’ve claimed to know me well enough to make such a judgment call on me…. your article is good but your egotistical, defensive attitude is not. 🙂

          • Kevin Miller

            Anna: You’re tilting at windmills here. Your comment came across as arrogant and dismissive. I acknowledged that. End of story.