By Carrie Hunter
We Evangelicals have a reputation to uphold. We cannot, under any circumstance, be confused with Them. Them of course being those crazy, unsophisticated, hard-line, uncharitable, literalistic, mean-spirited, dogmatic, absolute-certainty–possessing, Fundamentalists.
So in order to avoid being even remotely confused with Them, here is a helpful checklist you should keep on hand at all times. Seriously, print it out, fold it up and store it safely away in your purse or wallet. Reference it whenever you begin to discuss theology, or the Bible with a fellow believer, or even with the lost.
Using these 12 helpful hints should prevent you from being thought a Fundy.
1.) Use the words “journey” and “story” and “conversation” when talking about your faith. Fundies never say such things. They aren’t telling stories whilst on their journey. They are quoting Scripture on their walk with the Lord. Oh and get in the conversation. A conversation bespeaks a two-sidedness; a dialogue. Fundamentalists don’t dialogue; they just monologue. They want you to listen to them while you sit quietly and learn.
2.) Sympathize with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox systems while shunning the “Fundamentalist system” for its legalism. Fundies are legalists because they emphasize works (good or bad) meaning they are neglectful of grace. The RCC and EO are merely carrying on in their tradition that emphasizes works and are neglectful of grace (and “they wouldn’t say” they are neglecting grace anyway)
3.) Always use the phrase “but that’s not what they would say” when confronting someone who is clearly misrepresenting a system as aberrant (for example if someone says “the Roman Catholic system is in direct conflict with Paul’s teaching on grace” you chime in with “but that’s not what they would say.”) However do not do this when representing a Fundamentalist. Don’t worry about what they would say. Caricature their position, erect a strawman, then boldly tear it down with the greatest of courage and conviction.
4.) Really, really, really, try to be relevant. (Fundamentalists are separatists and don’t see the need to be relevant. You are far more sophisticated than that.)
5.) Let people know how sophisticated you are by the number of books you have read (and I don’t mean the 66 books in the Bible either – as those are the only books Fundies read.)
6.) Be sure your book list includes a hefty amount of liberal authors so people will know you have “investigated the options” yet have remained strong in the “historic” faith. (And you have to be able to counter Fundy objections to the liberal authors by saying “but that’s not what they would say.”)
7.) Be vague. Be very, very vague. That way you will never be pinned down on anything, by anyone. Ever.
8.) Talk about grace, but reach out in a humanitarian act of open-minded ecumenism and embrace systems that reject it (except for the Fundamentalists’ system – heap scorn on that sucker.)
9.) Use history as the basis for your “essentials to be a Christian” list. Fundies use Scripture. Ewww.
10.) Whatever you do, don’t talk about Hell. If you make mention of the word Hell, you will, without question, be thought a Fundy. (I am worried even now that someone will think I’m a Fundy because I used the word Hell twice in as many sentences. I used it a third time. Oh the horror, the unspeakable horror… now everyone will think I’m a Fundy.)
11.) Never, ever appeal to John MacArthur, John Piper or Al Mohler as references (unless of course you are pointing out how wrong they are). Instead punt to G.K Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright on all matters (and if you absolutely have to point out how they possibly, perhaps, kind of, potentially, by chance, may be remotely wrong, just make light of it.) Plus bonus points for using those who go by their initials. Initials shorten our speaking time and in order to “be in the conversation” we want to talk less and listen more.
12.) Make it a point, to always let everyone know how uncertain you are on pretty much all doctrine. Show that you are continually asking questions. Even when making a declarative statement, let the sentence end with an upward inflection so it will sound like you are asking a question? Never state anything dogmatically? Unless you are stating how wrong Fundies are, then you can’t be dogmatic enough?
Folks this is serious business. We have to be sure to uphold our Evangelical stance. Wait, hold on now… a stance is kinda Fundy, isn’t it? Maybe we should rethink what we call a position on which we take a stand. Maybe we shouldn’t really take a stand for anything; to take a stand for something means you are ultimately standing against something else. Fundies stand against things, so we have to be really careful with this. Proceed with caution on your stances? (that can be #13.)
**”An easy way to gather a wimpy army is to summon all the soldiers who are boldly determined not to sound like fundamentalists.” ~ John Piper
Please let it be known that this post does not represent a position held by the ministry. However, let it also be known that our ministry allows for a diversity of views within the staff. The ideas here are a result of months of discussions had with a very good friend of mine (you know who you are.)
My friend and I have noticed a growing (and disturbing) trend in pop Christianity. The trend? That of people reacting to anything that appears to be remotely like Fundamentalism (often times going so far as to treat traditional Evangelical views on core doctrines as “fundy.) My friend and I decided what best describes this trend is the term “Fundaphobia.” To expound upon that would take a much longer and more serious post.
I don’t do those.