The Fundamentals of Fundamentalism

Nicole Criscuolo

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The Politics of Interpretation

What does this phrase/concept mean?

Reason, tradition, experience, and scripture - What do we go by when discerning belief? Is it rationale and the reality of a situation? Is it what the Church has practiced for centuries and our own familial traditions? Is it what you and/or others have experienced directly? How does our situation shape our perspective? Is it literal, strictly scripture?

Fundamentalism is...

In general, when discussing fundamentalism/literalism, what do you think of? How about in a religious sense? How do you think this affects our world?

Fundamentalism is characterized by a rigid adherence to basal principles, often by intolerance of other views and an opposition to secularism. In ecclesiastical terms, specifically with respect to Christianity, fundamentalism is the practice and belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true, discrediting all modern biblical hermeneutics and criticisms. Christian fundamentalists read and interpret the Bible strictly through a scriptural, literalist lens. Fundamentalism may appear to be a reasonable perspective and way of practice, but this may very well be detrimental to the purpose of the Bible and dangerous to our society.

Why is this important?

Where Jesus and the apostles received their teachings by direct revelation, we receive information from the Bible. But when looking at this further, we must ask ourselves - Are we really following what God wanted, or are we following what the authors of the Bible convey to us? Did God intend for Jesus’ words & Christianity to be debated, or are we only supposed to read the Bible in one way just as Jesus only taught what was given to him by God (a fundamentalist approach)? Is there really a correct way to interpret the Bible?

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves." (Romans 14:1, 13, 19, 22)