We have found the enemy and he is…
I was surfing the Web this morning, and came across an announcement that the Institute for Progressive Christianity his holding a symposium on
The Fight against Fundamentalism. (sorry, link no longer works)
It struck me as rather odd, and indeed likely to be counterproductive. There are surely more important issues to engage the attention of Christians in the world, whether they call themselves “Progressive” or “Fundamentalist” or “Emerging” or “Mainstream” or “Evangelical” or even “Orthodox” — issues like climate change, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, trade imbalance, health and many more.
Many years ago I was at a student gathering to discuss ecumenical cooperation among Christian students in South Africa, which was under threat from the Dutch Reformed Churches, who were advocating the splitting of the Students Christian Association into four separate ethnic bodies.
There was a visitor from overseas, Albert van den Heuvel. and in referring to the Gereformeerde Kerk, commonly known as the Doppers, the most conservative and fundamentalist of the three Dutch Reformed Churches, he said that Karl Barth had once said of the Doppers that one should not worry too much about them, because they believed that the Bible was the Word of God, and so one day God would speak to them through the Bible. And it was interesting that it was when South Africa had a Dopper president, F.W. de Klerk, that the opposition parties were unbanned, and negotiations begun that led to the first democratic elections in 1994.
Now historians may argue about whether that was caused by F.W. de Klerk’s Dopper conscience, or simply his political savvy, but the fact remains that it was a Dopper president.
Now some Fundamentalists may have strange and very unChristian political and social ideas, but the point remains — they believe the Bible is the word of God, and so some day God will speak to them through the Bible, and they will realise the error of their ways. Treating “Fundamentalism” as the enemy is really not likely to help in the process.