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A lover of the liberal arts, especially antiquity in its diverse forms, I am nonetheless wholly devoted to, utterly transformed by divine revelation. I seek to know the thought of the past, articulate my deepest longings aroused by the wise, and understand the uneasy relationship between reason and revelation; all for the sake of proper action and contemplation, both now and in the future.


Epiphany! (misspelled!)

So I have been searching for the answer to a nagging question: What is Christian fundamentalism? I have heard many different interpretations of this question but now have found the True Answer. First to note: Christian Fundamentalists have become something to be shunned; fundamentalism is considered a pejorative term and certainly not used for self-identification. It deserves a closer look than most of us are willing to give it, and this is precisely what I am going to do. Fundamentalism is the belief in five "fundamentals" of the Christian faith in general and Protestant faith in particular. In many ways it was an attempt to solidify and unify Christian beliefs so that the Protestant faith would not merely be blown about like the wind. (Roman Catholics have never needed this because of their emphasis on the magisterium.) The five fundamentals are:
  • The inerrancy of the Bible
  • The virgin birth of Christ
  • Christ's substitutionary atonement
  • Christ's bodily resurrection
  • The authenticity of Christ's miracles.
We will examine these one by one and how they line up with ancient Christian thought. First, to examine the "inerrancy of the Bible". This is a huge distinction for Protestants. Because they had severed themselves from Catholic authority, they needed a substitute. So the Bible, in essence, became the paper pope of Protestantism. (nice alliteration there, Mr. Davis!)
Lest this sound like heresy to the uninitiated, let me distinguish inerrancy from infallibility. Inerrancy refers to a quality of complete and total accuracy - everything the Bible says is true, whether it is concerning doctrine, science, or details. Infallibility refers to the moral and doctrinal teachings of Scripture as being totally accurate - everything Jesus said, everything the New Testament writers said about faith, what the Prophets said about faith and God is perfectly true.
We can instantly see how these are in conflict with each other. Infallibility acknowledges the possibility for scribal errors, grammatical mistakes, and slight scientific errors in the text, and certainly in translation. Inerrancy does not allow for this save for the last item, translation errors. Some have evaded the problem by claiming the King James Version of the Bible was divinely inspired and therefore inerrant.
The inerrency of Scripture is not in alignment with ancient Christian thought.
The Virgin Birth of Christ has been believed by Christians since antiquity. It is in alignment with historic Christian thought.
The Atonement teaches (as far as I can understand) that Christ's Passion enables us to be reconciled with God and attain heaven. if this is true, than it is in alignment with historic Christian thought.
The last two, the Resurrection and reality of Christ's miracles are also in alignment with Christian thought. The latter, however, is not "fundamental" in my opinion. It certainly follows, and the Church has believed it, but it is not necessary for Christian life. Why you would want to believe that Christ reconciles us to God and deny He ever performed miracles is beyond me, but that is another story.
So Fundamentalists line up pretty well with ancient Christian practice, dogma, and belief. The biggest difference lies in the understanding of the Bible. I knew there was more to Fundamentalism than met they eye. I have heard that believing that Jesus literally rose from the dead makes one a Fundamentalist. If that is true, I am a part of it, along with all true Christians. Denying the Resurrection and Passion of Jesus makes one...a Gentile. (Gentile refers to non-Christian according to St. Thomas Aquinas)
So I have slightly distanced myself from the Fundamentalist beliefs but still share quite a majority. I believe in the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, (put a question mark on this one - I'm not sure what the Church teaches and how this lines up with what Protestants believe) the reality of Christ's miracles, and His Resurrection.
It is sad that Protestants have had to do this. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox rely on the magisterium of the Church (I am not completely sure about the Orthodox - don't quote me!) to guard and defend the faith. When you strip that protection away ("Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will never prevail against it") the results are there for anyone to sadly gaze upon.

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