Today I would like to talk about fundamentalism – which seems appropriate given C’s piece on the new test act. Fundamentalism appears to be a relative term. In the eyes of many secularists, all of us here at AATW would count as fundamentalists: we believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, and that He is the only way to the Father, and that He will return again to judge the living and the dead. In the eyes of many “hard-core” fundamentalists, however, we would not be considered part of their ranks. Many of us do not buy into conspiracy theories; many of us do not believe belief in the “seven year tribulation” is dogmatically required; many of us are not premillennial in our interpretation of Revelation 20; and many of us do not believe our faith should be enforced upon others via a theocracy.
Fundamentalism can also take a secular form, however, and France is the nation par excellence that embodies this. Christians can see certain upsides in this: if we are all equal before the law, then we should be protected from tyranny at the hands of other religions. But this kind of fundamentalism can rapidly turn into oppression, into people being persecuted merely for preaching the Gospel. The Gospel is offensive – at least it should be. We are in a war: the Kingdom of God is driving the Kingdom of Darkness from this earth, and the latter is not going quietly.
However, the methods of the two realms are not the same (although we have often fallen into the temptation to use the tactics of the enemy). The secularists are trying to create the theocracy that many orthodox Christians are accused of imposing – but with different values. Christians advance the kingdom by heavenly warfare: prayer, preaching the Gospel, acts of true love, laying down our lives. Satan forces to preserve their power through violent warfare: blood, tears, and lies, seduction and fleeting pleasures. His realm is passing away, but God’s will last forever.
What are the fundamentals of our faith? What determines our view of the Kingdom, our engagement with the world, and our hope for the future? There are many points we could discuss from the Nicene Creed, but there is plenty of material on this blog about this point, including many excellent incarnational and Trinitarian pieces by C.
Christians are a people apart, whether they realise it or not. The Apostles refer to us as priests, as kings, and as temples of the Holy Spirit. Holy things are marked by their separation that is what consecration means, to be devoted to God, excluding other options and uses. To be in covenant with Yahweh is to forsake the gods of nations, to have nothing more to do with them. This marks Christianity as an “intolerant” faith, and this was one of the reasons why the Israelites and the early Christians were persecuted. Our God is the God of gods, there is no god like Yahweh. Not only is He jealous for us, but we are jealous for Him: His glory is not to be shared with another. Baal did not create the universe; Baal did not spend his life to save humanity; Baal is not Lord of Heaven and earth.
Christians have a theology of fall and restoration. We live with the conviction that the world is not as it should be. It was created good, but evil found its way in and corrupted it. Christ came to destroy the works of darkness and commissions His Church to do the same. We wait for Him to return to bring things to their consummation. The wicked will be expelled and the righteous will inherit the earth.
Christ has authority to do this. Our beliefs are not built on traditionalism or “the rights of the proletariat”. Our belief is founded on Jesus Christ, who is Yahweh and is also human. He has the right to determine how this world should be, and He showed us how to live. Not even Pilate could find fault with Christ.
So, I submit that true Christian fundamentalism springs from the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He is the Way. the Truth, and the Life.