In this article I am going to argue that Christian fundamentalism is not a faith position. The former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, declared, “the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty.” As their language and actions show, fundamentalists are absolutely certain.
We have a risen Christ, unquestionable proofs, and, as if we needed it, God has thrown in a host of unarguable evidences all around us!
(Accelerated Christian Education Science 1096, p. 31)
Sources of certainty
Fundamentalists claim certainty from three main areas: miraculous occurences, Creation science, and the historical accuracy of the Bible. To the fundamentalist, the evidence for these is beyond doubt. While they still say that their belief in God is based on faith, how much faith is needed if the whole of science and history is on your side?
[Jesus’] life, death and resurrection should prove beyond any shadow of a doubt to anyone seeking the truth that the latter is the case: Jesus is Lord, the true Messiah of God.
– Eric Holmberg, Hell’s Bells (citation, at 02:17). Holmberg also refers to “irrefutable evidence” at 01:23.
I was educated in the Accelerated Christian Education system (ACE), and it was made clear to me that Creationism was the only credible scientific theory for our existence on earth.
Fellows, for the Creationist, little faith is required to believe in a young Creation or a great, world-wide Flood… As far as I’m concerned, enough scientific evidence has been found to convince anyone of the truth of God’s Word.
Accelerated Christian Education Science 1096, p. 26
The same page describes evolution as an “indefensible theory.” ACE does not just teach that evolution is “only an unproven theory,” as its advocates in the UK claim. It continually derides evolution as a ludicrous, last-ditch attempt by atheists to disprove God. I was taught, in church and school, that even evolutionists secretly knew their theory was absurd, but that they clung to it desperately in order to avoid God.
No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof. Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God – they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof!
Accelerated Christian Education, Science 1107, 1996 revision, 1989, p. 24.
The Muhammed Ali of fundamentalist apologetics is Josh McDowell. With a whopping 50 million books in print, Josh has done more than anyone else to persuade the world that the Bible is completely consistent, completely accurate, and entirely supported by historical and archaeological evidence. His books are dedicated to providing supporting proof for Christianity, with titles like Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Here’s what he has to say:
The only way to determine God’s true identity is through open-minded consideration of the evidence. Christianity does not revolve around a list of spiritual exercises and practices, but around a core of verifiable, historical facts about a person and his claims to be God. Jesus Himself appealed to people’s reason and the evidence of His deity. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” He asked. “Or at least believe because of what you have seen me do (John 14:10-11). Christ wanted His followers to believe in Him for whom He claimed to be, so He appealed to the evidence that established that He was, in fact, the Son of the one true God. The evidence was and is there to convince our minds that Christ’s claims are objectively true.
My ACE Bible elective courses all taught the fundamentalist line that, for example, the Gospels were contemporary eyewitness accounts written by the disciples. Matthew’s Gospel was actually written by the Apostle Matthew, and so on. Furthermore, I was told that all historical and archaeological evidence supported this, so the Gospels were confirmed fact. This is not the opinion of most scholars, and most Christians accept that Matthew’s Gospel was written near the end of the first century by an unknown scribe (see here, page 296). They are able to hold this view without their faith being compromised. The intellectually honest thing for ACE to do would be at least to admit there is some debate, but I was taught only the fundamentalist line, as though it were fact. That’s because, to my teachers, it was fact.
Not all fundamentalists would be so keen on miracles as the Charismatics I surrounded myself with. Plenty of fundamentalists are not big fans of Oral Roberts. Nevertheless, for me, the continual testimonies of supernatural healings were proof as if proof were needed. On Benny Hinn’s TV show, I saw people healed of cancer and climbing out of wheelchairs every week. There could be no explanation for this besides the hand of God.
Knowing That You Know
The net result of all this was that I, and my Christian friends, did not merely believe in God; we knew God. This is clear in the language. The titles of popular worship songs included Hillsong’s “I Know It”, “This I Know” (and again), and of course “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”
As Oral Roberts (and consequently every preacher I ever heard) put it, “You come into a state of knowing that you know that you know.” (When You See the Invisible, You Can Do the Impossible. Destiny Image 2002. p. 67)
That sums it up. Fundamentalists know that they know. Do you disagree? Well, they know you are wrong.