How do you evangelize fundamentalists?

How do you evangelize fundamentalists? May 2, 2014

I don’t go out of my way to befriend fundamentalists on facebook, but because of the anonymity of the Christian blogger networking world, I’ve happened to acquire a few complete strangers as facebook friends who turned out to be fundamentalists. The other day, I saw one of them holding forth in my newsfeed saying that contemplative prayer was a heresy as well as the “new-agey” concept of “mystical union” with Christ (aren’t the academic Calvinists writing books about this?), so I thought I would weigh in. I failed miserably to communicate, partly because I was a smart-aleck and partly because I refused to answer when the fundamentalist asked me my position on gay marriage since it had nothing to do with contemplative prayer. So I wanted to put out a genuine question to my readers since some of you are ex-fundamentalists and perhaps some of you are even current ones: how can I do a better job of evangelizing fundamentalists?

Let me start off by saying that I don’t define genuine evangelism as being about converting you to my theological opinions. That may be where it ends up all too often, but authentic evangelism is simply inspiring other people’s hearts, whether they’re believers or not, with the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s allowing God to speak a word through me that becomes true joy in the heart of the person who hears it, like when John the Baptist leaps in the womb of Elizabeth upon meeting his messiah. It isn’t telling other people what they want to hear, and it also isn’t telling them what they think they’re supposed to want to hear; it’s telling them what they were created to rejoice about hearing.

Now it is true that I have a very different understanding of this good news than the fundamentalists do. The best news that I see proven through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has to do with God’s nature. Jesus shows us once and for all that God is not the angry, merciless curmudgeon drill sergeant of the universe, so we can stop walking on egg shells, filled with sin-multiplying defensiveness and insecurity-rooted self-justification, and instead trust that God’s love has covered the multitude of our sins, so that every minute of our lives we can accept his gift of a completely fresh start to be the good creation he made us to be, regardless of how many times we’ve failed. The good news is not that God is infinitely angry with you, but Jesus died to rescue you from God, and by the way he’s still really angry with you, so if your behavior starts to slip, then you might not have been sincere when you asked Jesus into your heart.

My bones literally ache to share the good news I’ve received not just with the non-believers who are oblivious to their own sin and the devastation that it causes, but almost even more with the fundamentalists whose God I’ve honestly never met. I freely admit that I don’t have a clue what goes on in fundamentalist brains. I’ve never been a fundamentalist. I grew up moderate Southern Baptist, which means that I always thought the fundamentalists were probably right but I always hoped that they weren’t.

While I’ve had the theological system of fundamentalist doctrine explained to me many times, I’ve only been exposed to it as an outsider looking in. Having never gone through a phase of embracing it for myself, I can only speculate about what’s going on inside a fundamentalist brain. Based on my outsider observations, I would speculate that there are three basic categories of fundamentalist. Please tell me how off the mark I am with these speculations. They’re certainly caricatures but they’re the most accurate caricatures I can come up with.

1) Cradle fundamentalists are raised to be tremendously suspicious of people outside their families and congregations due to a very strong view of the wickedness of humanity. Since wickedness is measured on God’s infinite scale and not ours, non-Christians (i.
e. non-fundamentalists) who might seem nice and reasonable are actually horribly evil. The words of the Bible are the only words that are safe to trust. Because our brains are corrupted beyond repair, we cannot trust our own sense of logic to evaluate any other human thought that’s set before us. Since nobody can be trusted other than our own father if he’s a Christian and our pastor, there are litmus tests we must use to verify the “Biblicity” of the people we’re talking to. So for example, if someone starts quoting scripture in defense of contemplative prayer which your pastor said was heretical, then ask that person if they support gay marriage or not because that will give you an instant confirmation of whether you should listen any further or not.

2) Convert fundamentalists seem to be a much tougher nut to crack than cradle ones. The people whom I’ve seen convert to fundamentalism after being raised or spending time outside of it usually do so in response to an addiction or other serious sin that requires an absolute self-reinvention to move forward, in which everything they believed before was completely wrong and everything they believe after is completely right. The absoluteness with which they repudiate their past is dependent upon the absoluteness with which they trust their present ideology. The radical disdain for human nature in fundamentalism resonates well with the addict or sinner’s overwhelming shame, so when they are delivered from sin, it comes with the assumption that backing down one millimeter in their zeal about human wickedness will inevitably result in falling off the wagon completely. The only way to ensure that you’re not backing down is to constantly ramp things up, which is why you have to become increasingly anti-gay or anti-Muslim or anti-liberal or whatever else to ensure that you aren’t compromising and falling back into the pit of hell from which you were rescued.

3) Disaffected fundamentalists seem like the only practical target audience for evangelism. They might be cradle or convert, but something has happened internally within their fundamentalist community to crack the steel bunker in their minds. Maybe they were slighted or chewed out unfairly by the pastor or humiliated by another man who’s more alpha than they are or verbally abused by a spouse or backstabbed by the church gossip. So a tiny seed has to have already been planted from within fundamentalism that says this might not be the truth. Now here’s what’s tricky for me. It would seem that disaffected fundamentalists would need to hear a word that rebukes and shatters the power of the authority figures in their community who have them trapped in order to gain the empowerment to leave. In other words, wouldn’t they need a stick of dynamite like Matthew 23 (Jesus’ ruthless take-down of the Pharisees) rather than a charitable, “bridge-building” word that seems to tell them that their oppressors are totally reasonable brothers and sisters in Christ whom they should show more grace? Aren’t they like the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet in Luke 7 who needs to hear Jesus publicly humiliate the man judging her?

But this all seems like too easy of a cop-out for me as an evangelist. It gives me the license to be as trollish as I want to be and justify it by saying that I’m just giving the meek disaffected fundamentalists resources for talking back to their oppressors. I want to believe that I can be gentle and gracious in order to melt hearts that way. I don’t like thinking that I should just bash away in order to set more people free. But that’s what my instincts are telling me. Which is why I need your help. Are these speculations I’ve shared a completely self-serving caricature? Or do they have any validity? I need some ex or even current fundamentalists to correct me so I can be more faithful to the mission God has given me.

Hey, evangelize me if you’re a fundamentalist. I need all the evangelism I can get. If I’m wrong about you, help me to taste the joy that you know. 🙂

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  • Guest

    Morgan, every church of which I’ve been a member has been certain that they are right and everyone else is horribly wrong. Most seek some way, if not to outright earn their salvation, to at least think of themselves as being less needy than others, especially outsiders.

    Few are the Christians I’ve me whose accusatory finger points inward. Humility is a rare commodity, from which we would all benefit. Only God is holy, and that beyond our understanding. He is absolutely just. And, of course loving. But consider that what Christ suffered on the cross was necessary for our salvation. Motivated by God’s love, yet required by his justice.

    Evangelism must aim for the heart. And it must spring from your heart. From your own vulnerable heart. Marilyn Lazlo, a Wycliffe Bible Translators missionary once told me that her efforts at evangelism never quite succeeded until the people ‘saw her bleed.’ It was her weakness and how she dealt with it that helped convince them to listen to her.

    God’s arm is not so short that he cannot reach fundamentalists. He can. He will. But it will be through your weakness rather than your eloquence or well-reasoned arguments.

    And you’re just the man for the job. <3

  • Lianne Simon

    Morgan, every church of which I’ve been a member has been certain that they are right and everyone else is horribly wrong. Most seek some way, if not to outright earn their salvation, to at least think of themselves as being less needy than others, especially outsiders.

    Few are the Christians I’ve met whose accusatory finger points inward. Humility is a rare commodity, from which we would all benefit. Only God is holy, and that beyond our understanding. He is absolutely just. And, of course loving. But consider that what Christ suffered on the cross was necessary for our salvation. Motivated by God’s love, yet required by his justice.

    Evangelism must aim for the heart. And it must spring from your heart. From your own vulnerable heart. Marilyn Laszlo, a Wycliffe Bible Translators missionary once told me that her efforts at evangelism never quite succeeded until the people ‘saw her bleed.’ It was her weakness and how she dealt with it that helped convince them to listen to her.

    God’s arm is not so short that he cannot reach fundamentalists. He can. He will. But it will be through your weakness rather than your eloquence or well-reasoned arguments.

    And you’re just the man for the job. <3

    • MorganGuyton

      “Evangelism must aim for the heart. And it must spring from your heart. From your own vulnerable heart.” Amen!

  • eurobrat

    I’m not a fundamentalist, so I’m really not the person you’re looking for, but… In my experience, people who are fundamentalists will not be changed by anything, not unless some drastic event in their lives makes them decide to change. So I would say (naively) just be kind and loving toward them, without hoping or planning to alter their views. This is probably closest to what Jesus would have wanted you to do anyway.

    • MorganGuyton

      That seems like the best we can do.

  • Jason Jones

    My experience with fundamentalists extends only so far as a correspondence I carried on with someone on Facebook with whom I have a mutual friend.

    The discussion was sparked by the Bill Nye / Ken Ham debate on creationism that ran at the beginning of February. Our mutual friend is an evolutionary biologist and an atheist (she’s also one of my best friends as well as my coworker), and she wanted to share the video on Facebook as a way to have some conversation. This particular person is a hardcore creationist, and he immediately began pushing back against all the people on the thread who were talking about how hardheaded Ham’s presentation had been (Bill Nye: “I would change my position with adequate evidence.”; Ken Ham: “No amount of evidence could change my mind.”). Most of the people talking were not professing Christians, so I imagine the conversation looked very one-sided to this fellow, and to be fair, it was–creationism is an absurd, illiterate theological position that ignores established science, and doesn’t deserve equal time in conversations about the historical origins of the universe.

    I chimed in as a Christian who’s very comfortable with evolution to point out that reading the creation stories of Genesis as accurate history is problematic because it typically leads to a position where we assume that God made the universe with an apparent age, which I think runs into the logical problem of admitting as foundational to our understanding of God is that he’s lying to us about our world. The conversation went on for a bit, until the accusation that I did not “believe the Bible” came on, at which point I told the guy that he was looking for me to be a specific kind of Christian instead of accepting that we might have different beliefs, but we were both legitimate believers.

    At that point, he chose to message me privately to continue our conversation (probably because I compared a Calvinist interpretation of God to a Lovecraftian horror; not my most gracious moment) which proceeded for several weeks where we argued back and forth about various things until he concluded that I simply wasn’t a Christian because I don’t subscribe to his specific dogma. In my second instance of being ungracious, I took to concluding each message to him with a benediction for him as my brother in Christ. I think that might have pissed him off.

    There’s a lot more to the story, but that’s the general outline (Morgan, I even made reference to you as a potential middle ground between the two of us, but it seems that even a moderate Methodist was too liberal for him). I spent about a month mulling over the entire incident and blogged about it extensively. If anyone is interested in that, here’s a link to the first post in the series (it was pretty much my only topic for several weeks, so the subsequent entries should be relatively easy to find on my blog):

    http://jkjones21blog.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/walk-humbly/

    I don’t know how helpful it will be, Morgan, but I did spend some time wrestling with how to evangelize to this particular fundamentalist, and he put me through the emotional wringer for my trouble. The only conclusion I’ve found in the end is that ideas should never be given a pass if you disagree with them, but you have to tread carefully to avoid attacking the people espousing them (and that seems to be really hard with fundamentalists because they wrap themselves so tightly in their beliefs).

    • MorganGuyton

      I remember your blog series on that conversation. It was definitely helpful to my thinking.

  • summers-lad

    I don’t know what goes on in a fundamentalist’s brain either, although I suspect it is much the same whether the fundamentalist calls himself a Christian, a Moslem, an atheist or something else. So I’m afraid I’m not answering your question, but I hope this helps.
    The psychiatrist M Scott Peck wrote that one of the things that led him to Christian faith was what he called “non-computing experiences”. I prefer to call them “things that don’t add up”. One of mine (not, I think, one of his) was that there are people who believe harsh, ungracious doctrines about God but whose character and lives display gentleness, grace and love. God’s Spirit in them overrides their theology. And that is what really matters.
    There are others whose doctrines are so solid that it is really hard to find a way through. In this part of the world one of the features of fundamentalism is a rigid sabbatarianism. A few years ago I tried to take on (by letter) a Free Presbyterian minister on this topic, and quoted Romans 14:5. He thanked me for it, but his reply proved that he hadn’t begun to understand the point. If God’s law means, above all, keeping the Sabbath, I suppose anything that challenges it is heresy.
    When John the Baptist was having doubts about who Jesus was, Jesus healed many people and told John’s disciples to report what they had seen. His healings didn’t convince most of the Pharisees. Same power, different result.
    I try, not very successfully, to practice the Quaker principle of “answering that of God in all people”. I suspect that in there is a key to the answer you are looking for. But I hope others will comment from more practical experience.

    • MorganGuyton

      Good wisdom here. That’s a great example of Jesus’ response to John the Baptist as his form of evangelism.

  • Mark

    Good article and difficult for me to respond in the sense that I consider myself a fundamentalist, as I fully embrace the fundamentals of the Christian faith. However, since I don’t consider there to be more than 6-7 foundational, FUNDAMENTAL pillars of the faith, I can say that one does not necessarily have to oppose nor support gay marriage, as one example, to be a fundamentalist. So, in this sense, I don’t believe I need to be converted. Hope this gives you just one more opinion. Thanks for helping me think.

    • MorganGuyton

      Thanks so much for your gracious response. I’m really glad that there are people out there who self-identify as fundamentalists in a positive sense. I think the negative connotation of that word for me comes from the particular historical context of growing up as a moderate Southern Baptists in the 1980’s. I appreciate learning what fundamentalism means to you. I probably agree on most if not all of your fundamentals.

  • Kay

    Insightful … Right down the line you hit home on my experience in fundamentalism. I could no longer stay comfortable nor at peace in my spirit with the things I was hearing. Over time parts of it began sucking the life out of me. Wonderful people in many way, still loved by me, but I had to leave over it being more harmful than helpful to my wellbeing.

    • MorganGuyton

      That’s hard!

  • Stacey Fischer

    Where do I start?… Former fundie, here. I grew up in fundamentalism and only just recently left that thinking a few months ago.

    In my experience, if a person grows up “fundy” several things are ingrained (brainwashed?) on a weekly basis. Those are: Humanity is depraved and in need of salvation; the Bible in inerrant and should be taken literally for the most part; One must constantly evaluate their life to make sure there is no sin and that they are “walking in God’s will.” Other must haves include: evangelizing your friends, family, neighbors, etc. that are “unsaved” because they are all “going to hell” unless you give them the “good news”. The good news does not mean the same thing as the definition you gave. Fundy definition: the unbeliever is destined to hell, but if you pray the “sinners prayer” (and mean it) then God will forgive you and welcome you into the family of God because Christ paid the “debt of sin” through his death on the cross and his resurrection. If you believe all that, then you are saved and led to share the gospel with others.

    As far as how you evangelize to a Fundy, I would say this: unless, the Fundy starts to really think about certain common sense things like, the evidence for evolution, the “problem of hell”, the unreasonableness of believing a book is absolutely inerrant, basic flaws in Fundy thinking, etc., don’t bother. Agree where you can with them and agree to disagree in others. If you like deep theological discussions, go for it.

    If you REALLY want to know what makes a Fundy tick, just visit a small Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church and visit for a month as an “unbeliever”. You will understand what it is all about real quick.

    I am learning so much now about religion, God, etc. since I have stepped out of the bubble. I am so grateful to be out, it is unbelievable. It has been a two year process of blogs, (like yours) books, and research on my own, but I have finally escaped and found freedom.

    • ash

      Stacey, I am in a similar place, though still sort of “trapped” in the Southern Baptist church we joined a couple years ago. Of course, I use “trapped” as a sort of dramatic description, as it’s my choice to keep attending. I grew up in a Presbyterian church, and had my own ideas about the Good News, Jesus, hell, etc. My husband was raised in a Southern Baptist church, so it all makes sense to him. When we first attended our current church, I was so emotionally attracted to it because everyone was so outspoken about their faith, and so friendly. The further I went along, the more it all “seemed” to resonate with me, until I finally was baptized there and joined. It was actually when I started to really read the Bible that a lot of what was being preached and taught made me do a double-take. So I started down the rabbit’s hole, and have ended up in a place where it blows my mind that what my fellow church-goers believe is Good News actually sounds good to them! It is a delicate balancing act right now…they are good people, but it’s difficult to resist being angry toward some of their beliefs, if that makes sense. It definitely makes me question my own heart. There should be no place for such anger if I truly trust each individual deserves his/her own chance to grow and evolve.
      Morgan, because of all this, I completely related to your list of types and post. Even though it is generalizing, it is very similar to what I often perceive. Very interesting, and definitely makes me think!

      • Stacey Fischer

        Ash, What you are saying makes complete sense. Please don’t get me wrong, I love the people at my old church. They ARE good people, and I will stay friends with them as long as they allow. I am tethered there in a sense, because I have kids that attend the Christian school attached to the church.

        I am learning that we can still have a lot in common, but I choose not to get into deep discussions anymore, because it makes me look like an “apostate” or a heretic in their eyes. I just don’t want to deal with it.

        Unfortunately, what started it all for me, the looking and searching process, was that my husband, who was also raised in the church, lost his faith all together nearly two years ago and is now an atheist. Not. A. Fun. Experience. In my quest to “bring him back (which I would not recommend) I began to see where the problems really lie, especially in fundamentalism. Although, I have not lost my faith, it has certainly changed.

        I wish you all the best in your journey! There is a great big world out there outside of fundamentalism and really is not as scary as the “church” makes it sound.

        • MorganGuyton

          Thanks so much for sharing your experiences Stacey and Ash!!!

        • ash

          Thanks, Stacey 🙂 In my own way, I feel like I am starting to see the beauty of things again…

    • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

      Do you read the NIV?

    • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

      What do you believe and why do you believe it?

      • Stacey Fischer

        Brian, your question is straightforward, so I apologize in advance if my answers don’t fit what you are asking. I will do my best. Basically, what I am doing is starting over with the presupposition that God DOES exist and moving forward from there. As far as “why” I believe what I do at this moment in time, is based on what I am learning outside of fundamentalism and comparing it to what I was taught from the cradle up. I am evaluating, praying, and searching. I am reading books written by non-fundamentalist Christians. Some of the authors I have read are: Brian McLaren, Robb Bell, Marcus Borg, Roger Wolsey, Karen Armstrong, John Shelby Spong, etc.. I am also reading books about Christian history, religion, how the Bible was put together, as well as several books about doubt, (Jason Boyett) atheism and agnostism from former Christians, such as Frank Schaffer, Kenneth Daniels, and John W. Loftus. One book that I found intriguing was by Peter Rollins, called Insurrection. Rollins is interesting but I have no idea where he fits. He is either brilliant or a quack; I haven’t decided. I freely admit I have strong biases (just being honest) against, Dennett, Dawkins, Harris and others like them, because they come across anti theist and IMO they still feel toxic and I really have no interest at this time to read what they have to say. There are plenty of atheist authors out there that come across more civilly. As far as what I believe at this moment in time, I believe there is a God. I believe that he loves every human being and that Christ’s sacrifice was enough to pay whatever price was necessary. I believe Jesus’s commandment to love one another trumps everything else; it was after all his greatest commandment. I believe my place on this planet is to show Christ’s love and that is best done by serving the “least of these.” I do NOT believe in hell the same way that I was brought up to think. I admit honestly, that I am a work in progress. I still pray for God’s direction. I still read my Bible (KJV, NIV, ESV – I have all three and often compare them) but I try to do so using a 1st century lens, rather than the lens of 2014. Most of all, I am open to being wrong. I hope that helps. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  • Harvey L

    I haven’t made any sort of study on Fundamentalism, but I’ve always thought of myself as one. I believe that the Bible is inerrant, but I think we seldom assemble the pieces correctly. I believe in the total depravity of mankind. I believe that God provided for the repudiation of sin in the person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, who lived a perfect life, voluntarily died in my place, and rose from the dead in triumph over death. I believe that those who trust their lives and souls to Christ are spiritually reborn, and sin and death have no hold on this new creation. That’s it, those are the fundamentals.

    What seems to be being discussed here, I like to call the “sin factor.” The Bible gives us great descriptions about what the life of a Christ follower will look like, and far too many believers become ensnared in thinking that sin avoidance will result in becoming Christlike. Unfortunately, the results of a behavior modification driven approach results only in a counterfeit life, one which, just like the Pharisees during Jesus’s time on Earth, distracts and confuses those who would seek the Kingdom first.

    Assuming that I have a relationship of some sort with someone so misled, I usually try to engage them in a discussion of 2 Corinthians 5, in which Paul describes us as new creations, that the old one no longer is truly us, and that we are not to consider one another according to what remains of what we were without redemption. If they can wrap their heads around it, I have seen people who were trapped by their slavery to legalism transformed to the freedom found in the love of Christ, the love he desires to pour through us into everyone we encounter.

    • MorganGuyton

      Thanks very much for adding these insights. I share your fundamentals for the most part, though I might word some of them differently. I think you’re really onto something with recognizing the “sin management” version of Christianity. I think some people are so into talking about how opposed they are to sin, they forget about Jesus altogether.

  • Former fundamentalist. Offspring of a Tennessee Church of Christ elder. What broke me was young earth creationism. It was taught as one of the fundamentals (if you can’t believe Genesis, how can you believe the Gospels?). After getting my ministry BA and MA at a fundy university, I suddenly went full-atheist after deciding I could not reconcile young earth creationism with reality. I describe my journey here: http://brennanhughes.com/how-young-earth-creationism-made-me-lose-my-faith-for-a-while/. After three years I regained faith on account of some quasi-mystical experiences (I’m sorry if this is the wrong blog to talk about that). My wife transitioned from fundamentalism due to osmosis from me. We were both “cradle” fundamentalists, but she was “disaffected” by the time we married, and my anti-legalistic interpretations of scripture resonated with her.

    I stayed in the conservative churches of Christ, even working a few years as a full-time minister. I viewed my fundy brothers and sisters as a mission field, and attempted to gently woo them toward a more open world-view by teaching on love and grace and exposing people to heterodox ideas to stimulate discussion. I have now given up that project and attend a wonderful neocharismatic church where nobody bats an eye at my mystical tendencies.

    There are others like me, where God leads us through a necessary period of atheism or agnosticism to “clean house” spiritually and intellectually so we can be receptive to a more nourishing, existential, and open-hearted faith.

    I would begin evangelizing fundamentalists the same way I evangelize those who have become atheists: I pray that God will show himself to them personally (sorry for another link, but here: http://brennanhughes.com/can-friend-loses-faith/). If my story resonates with anybody, I would be happy to talk about it further, as I see this as an aspect of my ongoing personal ministry. I suspect that conversion stories like mine will move our fundamentalist friends more than intellectual arguments. God bless this wonderful blog!

    • MorganGuyton

      This is definitely not the wrong blog to talk about quasi-mystical/charismatic experiences. I’ve had quite a few of them myself. I’m very glad to make your acquaintance.

    • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

      What made you deny the global flood of Noah, the judgment on sinful man was not a reality?
      What made you deny that the rock layers and fossils all over the world were evidence left behind of the global flood of Noah?
      What made you decide to interpret the evidence from a naturalism based presupposition that denies God, instead of from a biblical view.?
      All the evidence of the global flood has to be reinterpreted once the flood is denied by atheists and that is where the old earth view comes from, not evidence, we all have the same exact evidence, it is interpretations of the evidence that differs.
      If you don’t believe God about that one then why believe anything about Jesus?

      • That’s a terrific question, Brian! I used to make the same arguments myself back when I thought every single story in the Bible had to be equally historically accurate in order to hold any truth value. For me, it’s not about denying anything, but accepting something better. The Bible is a spiritual book that for most of its history has been interpreted for the most part allegorically rather than as a perfectly factual historical record. I absolutely believe in the resurrection as a historical fact because the New Testament writers go out of their way to argue for the historicity of the event (see 1 Cor. 15 for example).

        In contrast, the literary features of the creation suggest that it’s written to convey deep truths about God, creation, and humanity rather than to record a historically accurate account. Genesis 1 is written in poetic meter. The first human, in Genesis 2, rather than having his own name is simply named Adam (“Human”). His story is the story of every one of us. There are great and powerful truths about the nature of God that one finds in the creation and flood story (to name 2 examples) that remain perfectly true regardless of whether these texts accurately record literal historical events.

        I have not turned away from a “biblical view” because I do not think that making
        the Bible’s truth depend on literal historical accuracy is a biblical view at all. Ancient readers did not expect literal historical accuracy from spiritual texts, and our evangelical forebears made an unfortunate error when some of them applied
        modernistic historical standards to a collection of texts that originated from cultures where such standards had never been conceived. In other words, to read the OT stories literally as to every detail is often to miss their point.

        To use your own example, I agree that the Noah story absolutely teaches us today about humanity’s sinful tendencies and the real threat of God’s
        judgment. Insisting that the story must be historically accurate in all its particulars does nothing to enhance the power of those truths. In fact, I think it distracts from them.

        Every moment that’s wasted arguing with someone over, for example, whether the Garden of Eden story actually happened a few thousand years ago is a moment that could be used discussing the beauty and order of the universe
        that was created in love by a benevolent Father and redeemed through
        Christ to usher in a new creation! When I finally accepted that the truths of Genesis are more properly spiritual and allegorical rather than literally historical, I freed myself from having to argue with other faithful believers who accept mainstream biology and geology. My faith in the Trinity is perfectly compatible with mainstream science. My faith is in Christ, and my mission is to proclaim his
        gospel of the new birth; I am freed from having to fight over science and the minutia of pre-Christian history. Praise God!

        • MorganGuyton

          Great response Brennan!

        • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

          Well, I differ from you as I believe on Jesus Christ and are not ashamed of him nor his words and don’t need to rewrite the bible to appease atheists and the lukewarm “Christians”.

          For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels Luke 9:26

          http://whichbiblewouldjesususe.com

          • MorganGuyton

            You’re right. God knows my heart and you don’t. Be blessed.

          • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

            For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels Luke 9:26

        • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

          Jesus the real man died a real death on a real cross for the sins of the first two real people that first occurred in a real garden

          If the first Adam is not historically accurate then you have no need for the last Adam (Jesus)

          • MorganGuyton

            The fact that Paul used the word “adam” which means “humanity” in Hebrew for Jesus actually shows that the word has a figurative usage for him and not a literal one. If Adam were just a proper noun for a historical person, it would make no sense for Paul to call Jesus a second adam. There is a first humanity inaugurated by the first humans represented allegorically by the story of Adam and Eve. There is a second humanity inaugurated by Jesus.

          • BRIAN HUGH GRIFFITH BHG

            You were so ashamed of God’s words, and men thinking you are crazy that you needed to allegorize them in order to seem “intelligent” to atheists, what you have reduced your faith down to as a result makes no sense at all.
            For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels Luke 9:26

    • Stacey Fischer

      Brennan, I would love to talk to you! Not appropriate here, but thank you for the gift you just gave me in giving our background!

  • Chris Harrison

    Hi Morgan, I am late to this conversation, but have been following it, since I read your blog post. My personal opinion is that being trollish and confrontational will accomplish nothing positive. I’d stick with love and kindness coupled with some gentle questioning. That’s how my views about Christianity started to change. You are right that a little disaffection with fundamentalism doesn’t hurt the process either!

    I’ve attended some very fundamentalist churches in the past and shared what I now see as some pretty negative viewpoints. I’ve been away from fundamentalism for a long time now. That time and perspective has helped me to see those changes as a journey. I doubt that you will convert anyone from fundamentalism I quickly. I think it will be more of a process, that might be quite lengthy. I know this is very cliche, but don’t get frustrated, you don’t know what seeds you’ve been sowing. Your blog has helped me wrestle with my changing viewpoints over the last few years. Thanks for your ministry.

    Here are a couple of blog posts I recently wrote about how my thinking on affirming LGBT relationships changed. Again, it was a lengthy process.

    http://wp.me/p3i2c5-60
    http://wp.me/p3i2c5-6k

    • MorganGuyton

      Sweet. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Chris!