When did we start listening to the Fundamentalists?

There’s something going on here that I don’t quite get. Maybe because I’m sick.

Fundamentalists have principles which they say Christians must follow, things like “sola scriptura” and the “clarity of scripture.” As I’ve pointed out again and again, they don’t live up to these principles. We sometimes call them on this, but one thing we don’t usually do is call them “unchristian.” We might say they’re not being loving, we might say they’re not being consistent, but we don’t say they’re not being Christian.

So, Progressives have their own principles, things like “the nature of God is revealed in the character of Jesus Christ.” At the very least they heavily nuance the principles that they share with fundamentalists. Many they don’t share at all; I don’t think I’ve ever heard a progressive argue for the “clarity of scripture.” (Sure enough, here’s Rachel Held Evans arguing against it, and I wouldn’t put her far into the progressive spectrum.)

And yet, right now some of us are calling progressive protestants unchristian, because they don’t follow fundamentalist principles. So we don’t call fundamentalists unchristian for failing to follow the principles they do endorse, but we do call progressives unchristian for failing to follow the principles they don’t endorse. Is this making any sense?

I can only figure two explanations. The first is that we’ve just internalized the principles that the fundamentalists advocate, so that they just feel obvious and self-evident. Another is that the fundamentalist principles are just such a good fit with our modernity that they just seem like common sense. Either way, we’re insisting that the fundamentalist “plain sense” interpretation is obviously the right way to interpret the Bible, and we call anyone who fails to follow it unchristian – except the fundies themselves.

Who can argue with the “plain sense” interpretation of scripture? Well, 1500 years worth of Christians and maybe 2500 years worth of Jews. And of course, that would include the people who wrote the scriptures themselves. Progressives don’t actually go back that far; they’re modernists too. They pick and choose like the fundies. The difference is that they admit it, and they try to have reasons for what they pick.

I think it’s time to stop pretending like the fundies have the copyright on Christianity, and stop acting like the progressives are trying to pull something.


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