Re-Forming Reformed Fundamentalists

Re-Forming Reformed Fundamentalists September 30, 2017

Allan Bevere writes:

So, how can you tell if you are a re-formed fundamentalist of some stripe? There is currently no diagnostic test available, but allow me to offer some test questions that might indicate you have the affliction:

1. When you read something on a blog espousing a view akin to your former days, do you comment, not in reasonable fashion, but in anger and disdain for the view expressed.

2. When you hear an idea or a belief being expressed that is comparable to what you used to believe, do you first roll your eyes before considering the substance of what is being said?

3. Are you more interested in getting your now “enlightened” view across to the other person whom you hope to reform, than serious engaging what you have already decided is nonsense?

4. When you think about the views of the “other” are you angry before reflective?

5. Do you truly believe (be honest here) that those who do not share your views are stupid and/or immoral?

6. Do you get more joy out of insulting those who still hold to their “unreformed” views then engaging in serious discussion?

7. Do you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep at night thinking about all those evil people who are still caught up in their ignorance that you formerly held?

8. Do you see your assault on the ignorant perspectives of others as an issue of justice?

9. Do you only read books from authors who basically share your convictions?

10. Have you answered “yes” to several of these questions, but are still convinced that the label “re-formed fundamentalist” cannot refer to you?

There is a cure for re-formed fundamentalism and it does not involve giving up your basic convictions. Surround yourself with reasonable and intelligent people who do not share your perspective. Contrary to what you might think, they do exist in plenty. Talk to them, have coffee with them, and get to know their families, and engage them on a substantive level. Converse with them and listen as well as talk. In so doing, you may find that over time the anger that consumes you will subside and eventually relieve you of your “fundamentalism;” and you will then be truly re-formed.

Click through to read the rest of the post from which the above is excerpted. See also Roger Olson’s post on the meaning of the word “fundamentalism.”

I would prefer to refer to such individuals as insufficiently-reformed fundamentalists, people who have not in any sense challenged their fundamentalist outlook, but have simply gone from being fundamentalist about one view to being fundamentalist about another. Because fundamentalism is less about the views you hold, and more about the dogmatism with which you hold them…

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    That’s the tricky part. I fully confess that I am guilty of some of those things on the list. But what complicates the issue is not so much fundamentalist -views- but fundamentalist -thought patterns-. That, I find, is way more frustrating and false-sense-of-justice inducing than the actual views.

    • Your post makes me think of doctor West of perelandra by CS Lewis. The “unman”. The one stopped from being formed by the image of God and started being formed by the commodification process of propaganda.

      • Nick G

        Yes, Lewis did have a strong tendency to depict those he disagreed with as less than human.

  • I don’t buy Bevere’s argument. In my experience, fundamentalists express far more anger than reformed fundamentalists. But I would add that some fundamentalist notions warrant a bit of anger: the subjection of women to men, the fake creationism sciences peddled to school boards, and the anti-LGBTQ bigotry come to mind.

    • Linnea912

      Fully agreed. Fundamentalists love to play the victim, even as they’re the ones harming (or doing their darnedest to harm) others with their rigid rules and insistence on having the world all their way.

  • John MacDonald

    “Surround yourself with reasonable and intelligent people who do not share your perspective.”
    – no such animal, lol.

  • bobyount

    Love this quote “fundamentalism is less about the views you hold, and more about the dogmatism with which you hold them…