I have spoken often about fundamentalism. It is, in my opinion, a deeply dangerous and destructive methodology. It has been my opportunity to visit a number of blogs devoted to those who have come through the dark night of fundamentalism.
It is not a pretty picture. Never have I seen people so pained, so wounded, so mistrustful. They feel, and quite legitimately I might say, betrayed.
Some are so locked in pain and betrayal, that they are no longer seeking, as they claim; they are defending their newly discovered errancy of the bible. Those, I have had to release, because my offerings are not helpful, they trust only their own conclusions and that is probably correct at this point in time.
It is said, “to be a fundamentalist, you have to have a book. And then you have to forget that book has a history.” R. Joseph Hoffmann [h/t to Do You Ever Think About. . .]
What is ironic is that in discarding the inerrancy doctrine of fundamentalism, most ex-fundies don’t discard the rest of the ideology. They now “prove” errancy by the same literalistic interpretations that they just discarded. They buy into the fundamentalist claim that if the one thing is errant, then the whole book is suspect and worthless, and “your faith is a sham.”
One would think that once you have faced the betrayal, you would throw out every single tenet propounded by such practitioners. But for whatever reason, as I said, this is not the case.
I came across a poem, written by one who is truly seeking for a new way. She is intelligent, well read, and I think past the searing pain of her past. I have found many of her posts deeply moving and thoughtful. She asks good questions. She listens carefully. She wrote this poem, that bespeaks some of the things I have mentioned. I reprint it here. Do go and see her blog and offer her support.
My field of view within Christianity is littered with weeds.
Where some see God’s grace, I grieve for the un-elect.
Where some praise God’s sovereignty, I shudder at eternal conscious suffering.
Where some shun apostates, I resonate with their questions.
Where some obtain solace in their Bibles, I find confusion.
Where some worship with joy, I am riddled with anxiety.
Will I be able to see a flower where I once saw a weed? [Like A Child]
The first two lines especially bespeak a reliance on “old fundamentalist” teaching. At least to me. For there is nothing in the bible from which one must conclude that there is any “elect”, nor is there any reason to conclude that there is any “eternal conscious suffering” imposed at least from outside one’s own mind. One can argue from literal readings I suppose that this is the case in both instances, but the more reasoned and exegetical majority opinions don’t suggest these severe conclusions.
If I may, let me write a response:
Where some grieve for the unelect, I see God’s creation as Good where all are welcomed.
Where some shudder at eternal conscious suffering, I see God’s loving embrace, wiping away every tear.
Where some are plagued with questions, I welcome each one as searching to probe deeper into the mystery.
Where some find confusion in the Bible, I find an unending fount of insights being refined and yet to be refined, awaiting.
Where some are riddled with anxiety, I take comfort in the mystery to which we are invited.
Please understand, I respond, not to cast down the heart-felt feelings of another, but to offer how I view the world. I can but pray that those who are in pain, find solace, and hear again God’s voice, for I promise, it is there, in the very places it has always been–everywhere.