A fundamentalist shares her wisdom

Over the past six weeks, a commenter identifying herself as “Caroline” has been setting me to rights on fundamentalism. From these comments, I’ve deduced that she is (or possibly was) a home schooled student in Accelerated Christian Education, and a fundamentalist.

I’m also assuming that English is not Caroline’s first language (well, that’s the charitable interpretation). If that’s correct, I also infer that, in this instance at least, ACE has not worked well as a method for teaching English as a second language.  What else can we learn from Caroline?

Caroline made her debut in reply to “5 Even Worse Lies from Accelerated Christian Education“. If you read everything Caroline writes and everything I write, you’ll be here for a while, so I’ve edited it done my best to make it scannable.

Based on this article, it kind’a proves that you’re not a Christian Fundamentalist. Maybe you have a different doctrine. Are you a Catholic or your religion is related to Born Again Christian? These have different doctrines but most people confused themselves by calling both of them Christians. Both are different. Do you know Biblical Christianity? I’m a Fundamental Baptist and uses the Accelerated Christian Education. It seems like you can’t just accept the simple truth of the Bible. I believe that you didn’t understand the Bible well.

I cannot help but bow to the persuasive force of the first sentence.

But look at this: Catholic Christianity and ‘Born Again’ Christianity are both distinct from Biblical Christianity. Since the Bible is God’s Word, that means that both of those Christianities are not truly (or at least not completely) of God.

Next, we learn that the truth of the Bible is simple (ie straightforward), and that if we don’t accept it, it is because we don’t understand it (which must make us very simple indeed).

Accelerated Christian Education will be mostly understand by Christians who have understood the Bible deeply. Accelerated Christian Education does not promote any religions. Accelerated Christian promotes: “no religion can save you, only relationship with God.” that is what you call Biblical Christianity.

ACE can only be understood by those who understand the Bible deeply. Those who understand the Bible deeply believe it. Since I do not believe the Bible in the way that Caroline does, I do not understand it, and therefore I don’t understand ACE. Therefore there is no need for Caroline to listen to me or anyone else who disagrees. This was the same logic Ronald Johnson used to defend ACE in 1987.

I understand the people who have different views on this article, it is because we have different basis and both of us are willing to fight for these basis. Parts of the Bible and Science sometimes fight because it disproves each other. It is only your choice whether to believe in the basis of the Bible or the basis of Science. As for me, I will stick to the basis of the Bible because the basis of science is still not clear.

Caroline might be making a very deep philosophical point about epistemology here. Or she might be making the “science changes but God never changes, so I’ll trust God” gambit. I’m not quite sure what she means. However, I completely reject the preceding two sentences. This argument makes it sound as if the truth claims of science and the truth claims of the Bible are on a totally equal footing, and there is only personal choice to decide between them. I’d argue that evidence comes into it as well. And Caroline can’t possibly believe they’re on an equal footing either; she believes one of them is the Word of God.

1. Science Proves that Homosexuality is a learned behavior

If you have read the Bible, have you seen that a gay was born? It only means that once a person is born, he/she develops this immoral behavior due to different causes. It might be because of the environment that he/she is living, because of influence, or because of his/her belief. Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in a form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe (*wikipedia). “Being homosexual is NOT a fate, it is a choice.” Therefore, it is learnt.

Based on this paragraph, you are pro-homosexual and you believe that it is their fate. But if you are a Christian Fundamentalist, you will pity those who are homosexual because they won’t be able to enter heaven. No matter what, God is not pro to Homosexuals. To be frank as a fundamentalist, homosexuals will end up in hell.

To her credit, Caroline says, “if you are a Christian fundamentalist” rather than what I would have said 15 years ago – “If you knew the Truth”. I’m not sure what the relevance of wikipedia’s definition of science is to this debate, nor do I understand where the quotation came from. I’m not sure this paragraph needs much comment, except to say that ‘with pity’ is not the way I see fundamentalists treating gay people.

If Homosexual is fate and not learnt, it only means that a gay cannot be a man again because it is his fate to be a gay. God wants homosexuals to turn their back again to God and change. If homosexual is learnt, then it means that you can be a man again! This learned behavior is a wrong behavior, so why not correct it now? It is your choice whether to believe in the basis of the Bible or the basis of the world and science.

1. Apparently gays are not men.

2. I am reminded of another commenter, “Ace student” (I swear I don’t make these up), who wrote “And if you all think that homosexuality is not learned, then you must think that God condemned homosexuals since they were conceived.”

I am trying to learn elementary logic at the moment. This person is obviously much, much better at it than I am, because I can’t make that conclusion follow from the premise at all.

3. There is the assumption that the Bible and science are necessarily in conflict, so a choice must be made. What about people who reject this dichotomy?

Caroline has written many more comments, all stunning. Some highlights:

In reply to Lana’s post, ACE and the suppression of women:

I’m a fundamentalist, and most of the leaders in the church must be male. Even there is no exact verse in the Bible that tells “male is the superior,” it is seen in the Bible. The first man that God created is a man, but a man cannot live without a woman. The leaders in the Bible are mostly males. Why? The reason is not stated but a man will be far better as a leader, because it is not a girl’s job to protect a boy.

Here we see another tenet of fundamentalism: Sometimes, there is no reason given, but obeying the rule is still the right thing to do.

In fundamentalism, we study every detail of the Bible? (what must we wear?, the do’s and dont’s) Why? Because we want the people to see the difference of the person in Christ and the person that lives for himself. If you are wearing a short mini skirt, would somebody approach you and ask: “How to be save?” Of course no one

The church and school builds most of our character, so it is our choice whether to follow the fundamental principles that are in PACEs. Still, it won’t affect our salvation but it will effect our effectiveness in world evangelization.

It is true that my approaches to women in short skirts have rarely been to ask them how to be saved.

The trouble with the “it is our choice whether to follow fundamental principles” is that fundamentalist indoctrination can be so guilt-inducingly crippling that even after you reject the dogma, you continue to struggle with feelings of inadequacy and sinfulness if you disobey. Defeating the Dragons has a great post on this.

The awesome Sarah Nash asked Caroline what was wrong with being gay, other than THE BIBLE SAYS SO! This was the reply:

Harm? The real harm to those homosexuals are not really physically it is spiritually. They will be fighting a hard battle by themselves and will only get hurt if they will not change. That is why I feel sad for them for they don’t know what the Bible says.

For those homosexuals out there, you won’t be happy if you will try to please the world. The only source of happiness is God. So, repent your sins and accept Jesus as your personal Saviour and Lord through prayer: “Lord God, I believe and confess that I’m a sinner that in need of a Saviour. Please forgive me and I accept you as my personal Saviour and Lord. In the name of our mighty Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Homosexual is a learned behavior therefore you have the right to decide. Fate is not the one who will decide what will happen to you, it must be you.

The only cure to homosexuals is not religion but Biblical Salvation.

I think this is the other side of the coin we saw above. In fundamentalism, sometimes there are rules you have to obey for no reason. Similarly, sometimes you can assert facts with no evidence.

In future, Caroline’s comments will have to be moderated before they are posted. This is because I was sufficiently stunned by her first comment to wonder if it was a poe. I asked, “Is it a coincidence that this was posted on April Fool’s Day?” Caroline replied:

I didn’t notice it too, to be honest I laughed at it too. But fools are the people who will believe the opposite of what I just said.

If you disagree, you are a fool.

Of course that’s true. 1 Corinthians 2:14. I remember when that made total sense to me, too. So now my question – to myself – is this: How do you engage with fundamentalists to help them see how damaging that mindset is? I have no doubt this post has made no impact on Caroline’s views at all. I can’t figure out what to say.

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